Two men were arrested in Stepanakert late on Thursday on suspicion of involvement in an assault on a local opposition leader which caused outrage in both Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.
The outspoken politician, Hayk Khanumian, was kidnapped outside the Karabakh parliament building and driven outside Stepanakert before being beaten up by a group of men on Monday. He was severely injured and required hospitalization.
The attack came the day after Khanumian helped to rally hundreds of people who greeted General Samvel Babayan, a former commander of the Karabakh Armenian army, during his return to Karabakh after several years of self-imposed exile. He pledged to campaign for Babayan’s re-appointment as army chief.
Babayan, who has lived in Russia since 2011, has strongly criticized the Karabakh leadership in recent weeks.
The Karabakh police said that as a result of its “investigative actions,” two men came forward on Thursday evening to confess their role in the beating. A police statement referred to them as army volunteers. It said nothing about their motives.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) from his hospital bed on Friday, Khanumian said: “I was beaten up by two dozen individuals and the names of these two men don’t tell me anything. I may recognize them if am brought face to face with them.”
“I hope that there will be more arrests and the whole circle of criminals will be identified,” he said by phone.
Khanumian, who holds his National Revival party’s sole seat in the Karabakh parliament, insisted that the attack was politically motivated. “The question is which officials had known about or participated in the attack,” he said. “I think that some officials helped to organize it.”
The oppositionist refused to name any of them. He also revealed that Bako Sahakian, the Karabakh president, telephoned him on Wednesday to inquire about his health and assure that “all culprits must be punished.”
Sahakian strongly condemned the attack in a statement issued earlier this week.