The Armenian government on Monday warned Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian against exploiting a violent attack on one of his loyalists to heighten political tensions in the country.
Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian condemned the violence and rejected BHK allegations that the Armenian authorities orchestrated it in a bid to intimidate Tsarukian’s party and other political forces challenging President Serzh Sarkisian.
In a weekend statement, the influential party’s governing board also claimed that tens of thousands of its supporters have expressed readiness to “converge on Yerevan” in response to the kidnapping and beating of Artak Khachatrian, a BHK activist.
“The BHK is asking them to refrain from such steps for the moment,” read the statement. “At the same time we are calling on our chapters and activists to drastically step up their work with the people in the regions in order to jointly hold a day of popular resentment.”
The BHK leadership went on to warn that those responsible for the attacks on Khachatrian and other opposition activists will not avoid punishment. “If the law-enforcement system does not do that, the people will do that,” it warned without elaborating.
Abrahamian strongly denied any government involvement in the violence, calling the BHK statement “unacceptable.” “I expect Gagik Tsarukian to personally monitor statements coming from his political structure,” he said in remarks to Tert.am. “Or else, we will have to regard emotional nonsense contained in them as his personal views.”
“In that case Gagik Tsarukian will personally bear full responsible for possible developments and escalations stemming from such irresponsible statements,” the premier added in what appears to be his first-ever public verbal attack on the BHK leader.
The two men have until now had a warm personal rapport not least because of the fact that Abrahamian’s younger son is married to one of Tsarukian’s daughters. The BHK has generally avoided attacking Abrahamian in its increasingly harsh evaluations of Armenian government policies.