A former mayoral candidate in Vanadzor was formally charged on Wednesday with violent assault connected with a local election that was held in Armenia’s third largest city on October 2.
Arkadi Peleshian topped the list of candidates of the Armenian Revival Party for the municipal council that controversially elected the city’s new mayor this week. The party, which claims to be in opposition to the Armenian government, finished third in the election, winning 5 of the 33 council seats.
Peleshian was briefly detained on October 5 after the Rev. Rafael Grigorian, the head of the Armenian Evangelical Church in Vanadzor, claimed to have been beaten up by the candidate at his home the previous night. He was released from police custody after pledging not to leave the city pending investigation.
Announcing the preliminary findings of the inquiry, Armenia’s Investigation Committee said Peleshian did assault Grigorian for “not supporting him in the election.” It said the candidate was charged under an article of the Criminal Code that carries up to two months’ imprisonment for such offenses.
“Peleshian has pleaded not guilty and refused to give testimony,” the committee added in a statement.
The announcement came two days after the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) installed its candidate, Mamikon Aslanian, as Vanadzor mayor despite officially controlling only 15 city council seats.
Armenian Revival and two other opposition parties, Prosperous Armenia and Bright Armenia, won a total of 18 seats in the October 2 vote. They agreed on Saturday to jointly back Bright Armenia’s mayoral candidate, Krist Marukian.
Marukian received only 14 votes, however, suggesting that four opposition candidates broke ranks and voted for Aslanian. Bright Armenia says that they were forced by the authorities to secretly switch allegiance.