A senior member of a radical Armenian opposition group has been controversially fired by his private employer just days after leading a demonstration outside the presidential palace in Yerevan.
Gevorg Safarian of the Founding Parliament movement has worked as a security guard at the Ayb private school for the past eight months. He said on Wednesday that he was laid off on August 21, one day after a Founding Parliament rally outside President Serzh Sarkisian’s offices.
The opposition group rallied several dozen people there to protest against an alleged attack on one of its female supporters reported earlier this month. Safarian was detained by riot police on the spot after throwing eggs towards the presidential administration building. He was freed several hours later.
The Ayb school administration confirmed Safarian’s sacking but flatly denied any political motives behind the move. In a statement, it said it has simply decided to cut 16 jobs, including Safarian’s, as part of “structural changes” planned at the school.
The oppositionist insisted, however, that his dismissal was an act of “political persecution” by the Armenian authorities. “If it was indeed the result of a job cut they would have informed me much earlier,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “So it’s clear that the real reason was the eggs thrown at the presidential palace.”
The Founding Parliament leadership backed these allegations. It stressed that Ayb’s board of trustees is headed by Rev. Mesrop Aramian, a well-known clergyman who also serves as an adviser to President Sarkisian.
Safarian was among five leading members of the Founding Parliament who were arrested in April ahead of the group’s planned protests in Yerevan supposedly aimed at toppling Sarkisian. They were released from custody one month later.
Last November, Safarian was attacked and seriously injured by unknown men in the city center just hours after attending a street protest against a series of arson attacks on cars belonging to Founding Parliament activists. The opposition movement blamed the authorities for the violence.
The Founding Parliament holds no seats in the Armenian parliament and is critical of the country’s mainstream opposition parties. It has so far failed to attract large crowds to its periodical anti-government rallies.