A man reportedly suffering from mental illness was shot and wounded by security officers on Friday while attempting to enter the Armenian parliament without authorization.
Law-enforcement authorities identified the trespasser as Vrezh Galstian, a 25-year-old resident of Masis, a small town 20 kilometers south of Yerevan. They said he threatened officers at the main checkpoint of the parliament compound in Yerevan with a knife and defied their orders to turn back. One of the guards employed by the National Security Service (NSS) fired warning gunshots in the air before wound him in the leg, they said.
According to some law-enforcement sources, Galstian has a past criminal record and history of mental disorders. Eyewitnesses claimed that he referred to himself as Jesus Christ while trying to force his way into the National Assembly.
Moments after being shot Galstian was taken to a hospital run by the Yerevan State Medical University. A university spokeswoman, Victoria Amikina, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), that the wound is not life-threatening and that he will not even need surgery.
Officials from the NSS and other law-enforcement bodies blocked accredited journalists’ access to the parliament building following the incident. One of the officials attributed the measure to “investigative activities” going on outside its main entrance. Investigators could be seen examining the site and carrying out forensic tests there.
Security in around the Armenian parliament has been tight ever since the October 1999 terrorist attack that left its speaker Karen Demirchian, Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian and six other officials dead. The gunmen who killed them apparently had little trouble smuggling weapons into the compound.