Karen Andreasian, Armenia’s human rights ombudsman, claimed to be the target of a smear campaign by government-linked individuals on Thursday after trading bitter accusations with a parliament deputy representing the ruling Republican Party (HHK).
Andreasian was criticized by both pro-government and opposition lawmakers when he presented the National Assembly with an annual report on the work of his office earlier this week. The 500-page document lists scores of human rights abuses allegedly committed by various Armenian state bodies in the past year.
The HHK’s Samvel Farmanian launched a particularly scathing attack on Andreasian, calling the report “sloppy” and “toothless.” Farmanian accused the ombudsman of wasting taxpayers’ money and ignoring “reforms” implemented by President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration. He said the report is full of “unserious” examples of human rights violation.
Andreasian rebutted the harsh attack on the parliament floor, saying that Farmanian is carrying out an “immoral order” issued by an unspecified individual at odds with the ombudsman.
“I have grounds to believe that it was a dirty order,” Andreasian insisted in his latest comments to the press. “If need be, I will publicize those grounds … But I think that getting distracted from my work and dealing with such nasty tricks now is probably what the masterminds want me to do. I won’t do that.”
“I forgive Farmanian for his outburst but I am angry at his immediate boss,” he said. “I hope that his immediate boss will not put Farmanian on a wrong path anymore.”
Andreasian refused to name that “boss.” He made clear only that he did not refer to President Sarkisian or, as has been speculated by some media, Prosecutor-General Gevorg Kostanian.
Farmanian worked as Sarkisian’s press secretary before being elected to the Armenian parliament on the HHK ticket in 2012. In a Facebook post, he said on Wednesday he will not comment further on his war of words with Andreasian.
Galust Sahakian, the parliament speaker and a senior HHK figure, effectively defended Farmanian on Thursday. “We never managed to make Karen Andreasian realize that he has come to present a report to the deputies, rather than teach them lessons,” Sahakian told journalists. “Conflicts can arise in such circumstances.”