Yet another member of an Armenian pressure group challenging the government was severely beaten by unknown men and hospitalized on Monday after taking part in an opposition demonstration in downtown Yerevan.
The incident took place shortly after several dozen people, most of them members and supporters of a small nationalist party, marched to the headquarters of the ruling Republican Party (HHK) in protest against what they see as grave threats to Armenia’s independence. The demonstrators were joined by Smbat Hakobian of the Alliance of Freedom Fighters, which unites Armenian veterans of the Nagorno-Karabakh war who are highly critical of the current government.
Several protesters said that Hakobian was assaulted by a group of plainclothes men on Abovian Street. They said police officers deployed nearby ignored their cries for help and stepped in only after they blocked the busy street.
The street remained blocked in the following hours, with the protesters demanding that law-enforcement authorities identify and arrest the attackers. The police did not immediately detain anyone in connection with the incident.
Hakobian was to taken to an intensive care unit of a Yerevan hospital. Photographs of his heavily bloodied face posted on social media suggested that he suffered very serious incidents.
Three other prominent members of the Alliance of Freedom Fighters were attacked in a similar fashion in Yerevan late last year after actively participating in a series of rallies staged by mainstream opposition parties. Nobody was prosecuted in connection with those assaults which the group blamed on the government.
Two of the victims, Razmik Petrosian and Manvel Yeghiazarian, claimed to have been attacked immediately after dining at a restaurant with Levon Yeranosian, a controversial deputy chief of the Armenian police. They said Yeranosian ordered his bodyguards to assault them after they refused to stop campaigning for regime change in Armenia.