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Notorious Former Lawmaker Detained, Freed


Armenia - Former parliament deputy Arakel Movsisian speaks to RFE/RL, 22 June 2018.

A controversial former parliamentarian who has staunchly supported former President Serzh Sarkisian commended an Armenian law-enforcement agency on Friday after being briefly detained by it.

Officers of the National Security Service (NSS) searched Arakel Movsisian’s house in Aygek, a village just outside Yerevan, late on Thursday before taking him to the NSS headquarters for questioning. He was set free a few hours later. The NSS made no statements on the raid.

Movsisian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the NSS officers acted “in accordance with the letter of the law” during the search. “They didn’t do anything illegal,” he said. “They burst into the house very decently. None of the kids in the house got scared.

“They asked my daughter: ‘Are there any weapons in the house?’ She said: ‘Yes, they are kept in the safe over there.’ I wasn’t home [at that point.]”

“I am very grateful to the National Security Service,” Movsisian went on. “There haven’t been such [good] things in the past. There used to be many savage things. They planted guns and papers in my late brother’s house [in 1999.]”

He insisted that he legally owned several pistols found in his Aygek home.

Nicknamed “Shmays,” Movsisian is an influential member of the former ruling Republican Party (HHK) who was a parliament deputy from 2012-2017. He gained notoriety for his abusive rhetoric directed at opposition lawmakers and journalists. In particular, he infamously threatened in 2015 to “behead” those who offend then Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian.

Also, Movsisian has long been dogged by allegations of involvement in electoral fraud and politically motivated violence against critics of the Sarkisian administration.

As recently as in late April, opposition leader Nikol Pashinian accused Movsisian of planning, at the behest of the HHK, violent “provocations” against the protest movement led by him. The former HHK parliamentarian denied that.

Movsisian was seen trying to prevent people from the town of Echmiadzin and nearby villages from joining tens of thousands of anti-government protesters in Yerevan on April 21, two days before Sarkisian’s resignation. Men led by him blocked a highway with heavy trucks commandeered by them.

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