Four Armenian opposition parties demanded the sacking of a senior police official on Tuesday as they continued to boycott parliament sessions in protest against last week’s attacks on well-known government critics.
The nearly 50 deputies representing the Armenian National Congress (HAK), Prosperous Armenia (BHK), Zharangutyun and Orinats Yerkir parties walked out of the National Assembly on Monday after its pro-government majority blocked an emergency debate on those attacks. In an ensuing joint statement, they demanded that the Armenian authorities quickly punish those involved in the violence.
The statement said they must also fire General Levon Yeranosian, the commander of the Armenian interior troops widely blamed for one of the attacks. Two opposition activists were assaulted at a Yerevan restaurant last week moments after dining there with Yeranosian.
The general, who is also a deputy chief of the national police, did not explicitly deny his involvement in comments to a newspaper.He said that he will “cut off the ears” of anyone daring to lambaste President Sarkisian.
“The deputy police chief must be punished for his rude and threatening statement. The statement means that at any time he can … act on those threats with weapons. Unfortunately, we have had such tragic cases in the past,” Zharangutyun’s Ruben Hakobian told a joint news conference with senior lawmakers from the three other opposition parties.
The BHK’s Naira Zohrabian said that the authorities’ failure to sack Yeranosian amounts to endorsement of his scandalous remark. Zohrabian also dismissed her pro-government colleagues’ assurances that the authorities had no interest in the high-profile violence. She said the ruling Republican Party’s refusal to debate the issue on the parliament floor suggests the opposite.
Republican leaders in the parliament have condemned the violence. They have also accused the opposition of exploiting it for political purposes.