By Ruzanna Stepanian
A small political party opposed to Armenia’s leadership said on Thursday that unknown individuals have tried to set fire to its headquarters in Yerevan, demanding a criminal investigation it what it considers an arson attack.
Hovannes Hovannisian, the leader of the Liberal Progressive Party (AAK) claimed that the assailants poured petrol on the office door and set it ablaze the previous night. He said residents of the apartment block housing the ground floor office were quick to notice and put out the fire.
Police inspected the scene shortly after being informed about the incident. An official inquiry was underway on Thursday.
Hovannisian would not speculate on who may have been behind the reported arson attack, saying only that it was politically motivated. “We are engaged in politics only,” he told RFE/RL. “There is nothing else we do. Therefore, this action is directed at our political activities.”
As well as opposing President Robert Kocharian, the AAK has a staunchly pro-Western agenda that calls for Armenia’s eventual withdrawal from a Russian-led military pact and accession to NATO and the European Union. It holds no seats in the current Armenian parliament, but is an active member of a recently formed coalition of opposition parties campaigning against what they see as a growing presence of “criminal elements” in government.
Hovannisian supported Kocharian and headed the foreign relations committee of the previous National Assembly before joining the opposition camp in 2003. His party has been in talks with other, larger pro-Western opposition groups over the formation of a new anti-government alliance ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections.
(Photolur photo: Hovannes Hovannisian.)