Two men have been arrested in connection with this week’s murder of a village mayor affiliated with the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), police said on Thursday.
A spokesman for the Armenian police told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the suspects are brothers identified as Artak Petrosian and Arayik Petrosian. They both are residents of Proshian, a big village just west of Yerevan.
It was not clear if they have been formally charged in the killing of Hrach Muradian, Proshian’s longtime mayor. Muradian, 50, was shot dead outside the village administration on Tuesday.
A separate written statement issued by the police said investigators have questioned several dozen witnesses and conducted “complex” forensic tests in their efforts to identify those responsible for Muradian’s death.
Dashnaktsutyun has alleged political motives behind the high-profile killing. A leader of the opposition party, Armen Rustamian, said on Wednesday that Muradian was at loggerheads with local activists of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and other government loyalists throughout his eight-year tenure. He implied that some of them might have had a hand in the crime.
The HHK insisted on Thursday that none of its members was behind the killing. “Republicans are not [members of] Dashnaktsutyun to have a culture of weapons,” Galust Sahakian, the party’s deputy chairman, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “What do Republicans have to with that murder? Putting that theory into circulation is absolute nonsense.”
Sahakian said that while some HHK members may possess firearms they could use them only against “enemies of the nation.”
According to Hakob Muradian, the assassinated mayor’s nephew, the two arrested brothers have actively supported the ruling party. “If they really carried out [the shooting] then someone must have told them to do that,” he said.