Armenian law-enforcement authorities have arrested a man suspected of throwing a hand grenade towards former President Robert Kocharian’s private residence in Yerevan late last week.
The 32-year-old suspect identified as Hovannes Muradian was taken into custody from his Yerevan apartment in a joint operation conducted by the Armenian police and National Security Service.
The police said that Muradian “confessed his deed” shortly after the arrest. “Circumstances are being clarified,” read a police statement. There was no word on his motives.
A separate statement released by Armenia’s Investigative Committee on Tuesday said Muradian hurled a training grenade when he approached in his car a security checkpoint at the main entrance to Kocharian’s compound on Friday. “Searches have been conducted in a manner defined by the law,” it said.
Meanwhile, the suspect’s father, Sergey Muradian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that his son has suffered from schizophrenia for the past several years. “From time to time, he would stop taking medication and go through acute periods [of the disease,]” said Muradian.
In his words, Hovannes has furiously disparaged and cursed Armenia’s current and former leaders “every time the disease became acute.” He said his son is therefore not fit to stand trial.
Kocharian’s press secretary, Victor Soghomonian, said that the grenade did not explode or hurt anyone when he confirmed the incident on Friday night. He said that the ex-president, who governed Armenia from 1998-2008, is now visiting Moscow on business.
Soghomonian downplayed the “ludicrous incident,” saying that it should not be “blown out of proportion.”
By contrast, a senior representative of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) swiftly blamed it on unnamed “forces interested in destabilizing the situation in the country” in the wake of a sharp escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Once a close ally of Sarkisian, Kocharian has increasingly criticized his successor’s policies in recent years, fueling speculation that he plans to return active politics.