Another activist of the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) claimed on Tuesday to have been attacked by government loyalists while campaigning in a Yerevan district notorious for election-related violence and fraud.
Karen Tovmasian said activists of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) in the Malatia-Sebastia district verbally and physically abused him on Monday as he distributed campaign letters to voters signed by Nikol Pashinian, an HAK leader running for parliament in a local single-mandate constituency.
“I realized that they are going to attack me and immediately stopped the first taxi in sight to flee,” Tovmasian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I got in the car and shut the door but they … opened it and wrested 25 letters by Nikol Pashinian, shoving and hitting me in the process.”
“I remember their faces. I saw them coming out of the [nearby] HHK office,” he said.
A national police spokesperson told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the Malatia-Sebastia police launched an investigation after receiving a complaint from Tovmasian later on Monday. The police have already identified the men who stole the letters and summoned them for interrogation, the official said.
The incident took place the day after three other HAK activists were reportedly assaulted by supporters of the local HHK candidate Samvel Aleksanian while handing out the same campaign materials to Malatia-Sebastia voters.
The activists as well as the HAK leadership accused Aleksanian of organizing the attack to intimidate the Pashinian campaign. Aleksanian denied any involvement, however.
In a written statement, the Armenian police said a 41-year-old man came forward on Monday to state that he bitterly argued with the three oppositionists and “shoved” two of them, Gayane Arustamian and Babken Garoyan. The man identified as Vartan V. said he might have injured them as a result, according to the statement.
Arustamian, who is also a well-known journalist, accused the police of trying to cover up the violence. She insisted that the HAK activists were confronted by at least 10 men inside an apartment block. “I was hit, not shoved, and by two persons,” she said. “I remember their faces.”
Garoyan, who suffered a broken nose, gave a similar account. “It all started when they slapped and punched Gayane,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “There were multiple blows. There wasn’t just one attacker,” he added.
All four activists allegedly attacked by Aleksanian’s backers are running for the National Assembly on the HAK ticket under the system of proportional representation. Arustamian is also an election candidate in another single-mandate constituency in Yerevan.