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A pro-government parliamentarian notorious for his abusive rhetoric has sparked another scandal with death threats addressed to those who “slander” Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian or members of his family.

“Those bastards are not as guilty as their patrons,” Arakel Movsisian told reporters over the weekend. “Their patrons must definitely be found and beheaded. God willing, I’ll catch and personally behead them.”

In videotaped remarks posted on the Internet, Movsisian also warned: “I urge them to stay inside their homes. If, God forbid, we catch them, they’ll definitely get raped.”

The lawmaker who is affiliated with the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) did not specify the cause or target of his fury. But it is clearly connected with a libel suit that was filed last week by Ohanian’s wife Ruzanna Khachatrian against the Yerevan daily “Hraparak.”

Khachatrian is seeking a retraction of -- but not compensatory damages for -- a recent
“Hraparak” article that linked her with the death of a well-known businessman’s son. The paper denies any wrongdoing, saying that it also cited Khachatrian’s comments on the allegations coming from an anonymous source. It has refused to publish a statement demanded by the plaintiff.

A former Defense Ministry official nicknamed “Shmays,” Movsisian has a history of verbal abuse directed at critics of President Serzh Sarkisian and his political allies. He was among HHK deputies who insulted an opposition colleague, Zaruhi Postanjian, after she put an embarrassing question to Sarkisian during a September 2013 session of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly.

Later in 2013, Movsisian caused a media outcry after swearing at a group of journalists who staged an unprecedented protest on the parliament floor against Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union. He avoided disciplinary action for those incidents.

Movsisian’s latest outburst is also unlikely to have any consequences. Parliament speaker Galust Sahakian on Monday pointedly refused to condemn it, saying that the death threats should not be understood literally. “Besides, I myself hear threats and provocations from journalists every day,” Sahakian claimed.

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