Armenian law-enforcement authorities on Monday pledged investigate allegations that a senior prosecutor beat up a man in a bitter street dispute in Yerevan.
Ruben Grdzelian, a 33-year-old Yerevan resident working as a journalist, claimed to have been assaulted by the prosecutor, Movses Manrikian, and three other men while strolling in the city center with his family late on Saturday. Grdzelian said Manrikian insulted and punched him after shouting abuse at his small children who played in front of a garage belonging to the prosecutor.
“When he hit me, I hit back and then others attacked me,” Grdzelian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), referring to Manrikian’s son and two other companions. “They toppled me and hit me until I lost consciousness,” he claimed.
Manrikian admitted verbally abusing the children, saying that they were left unattended and risked being run over by his car coming out of the garage. But he insisted that Grdzelian was the first to throw a punch.
“I told him, ‘Take your sons of a b**** and get the hell out of here,’” Manrikian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “He said that I am a son of a b**** and hit me first.”
Grdzelian’s pregnant wife, Tatevik Bujarian, who witnessed the incident, insisted, however, that it is the prosecutor who started the fight. “When I and my mother-in-law tried to separate them he hit me as well,” Bujarian said. “They kept hitting Ruben until he lay motionless.”
Grdzelian, who runs the Yerevan bureau of the Russian news agency Regnum, had a bruise under his right eye when he spoke to RFE/RL. He ruled out any connection between the incident and his professional activities.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian said he has instructed the Special Investigative Service (SIS), a law-enforcement body subordinate to state prosecutors, to take “all necessary measures to clarify the circumstances of the incident.” The official, Sona Truzian, did not comment further.
The SIS did not open a formal criminal case in connection with the incident as of Monday evening.
Manrikian holds a senior position at the prosecutor’s office of the central Kotayk province.