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Lawmaker Censured Over Rape Threats


Armenia - Arakel Movsisian, a deputy from the ruling Republican Party, at a parliament session in Yerevan, 2Jul2015.

Armenia - Arakel Movsisian, a deputy from the ruling Republican Party, at a parliament session in Yerevan, 2Jul2015.

An Armenian parliament committee denounced on Tuesday a controversial pro-government deputy for threatening to “behead” and rape those who offend Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian or members of his family.

The deputy, Arakel Movsisian, voiced the threats in May following a libel suit which Ohanian’s wife, Ruzanna Khachatrian, filed against the Yerevan daily “Hraparak.” The latter published an article that blamed her for the death of a well-known businessman’s son.

“Those bastards are not as guilty as their patrons,” Movsisian said in remarks circulated through the Internet. “Their patrons must definitely be found and beheaded. God willing, I’ll catch and personally behead them.”

“If, God forbid, we catch them, they’ll definitely get raped,” he added, arguing that Ohanian is a “national hero” who deserves utmost respect.

A group of Armenian human rights activists urged prosecutors to launch criminal proceedings against Movsisian, saying that his statements amount to death threats punishable under Armenian law. The prosecutors essentially ignored the appeal.

The Helsinki Citizens Assembly, a human rights group based in Vanadzor, subsequently appealed to the Armenian parliament’s Ethics Commission. The commission accepted the complaint.

“We agreed that Arakel Movsisian violated Article 6 of the National Assembly statutes, which relates to improper conduct of deputies,” the commission chairman, Vahan Babayan, told reporters. “The decision was made unanimously and it will be made public at the upcoming parliament session.”

With Babayan refusing to comment further, it was not clear what concrete consequences, if any, the disciplinary action will have. Parliament speaker Galust Sahakian said in May that Movsisian’s threats should not understood literally.

A member of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia nicknamed “Shmays,” Movsisian is notorious for his abusive rhetoric directed at critics of President Serzh Sarkisian. In 2013, for example, he swore at several journalists who staged an unprecedented protest on the parliament floor against Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union.

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