Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian gave evidence on Wednesday at the trial of a man accused of assaulting his supporters two years ago.
Activists of the now defunct Yelk alliance, of which Pashinian was one of the leaders, claimed to have been attacked by several other men as they campaigned in Yerevan two days before Armenia’s April 2017 parliamentary elections.
One of those men, Artur Ayvazian, was detained and charged with assault. Ayvazian, who reportedly has a criminal record, denied the accusation and claimed that he himself was hit by the opposition activists.
Pashinian rushed to the scene of the incident at the time. Investigators subsequently questioned him as a witness in the case.
His written testimony was submitted to a district court in Yerevan where Ayvazian is now standing trial. The defendant’s lawyer, Hayk Alumian, demanded that Pashinian also give testify in the court. The former Yelk leader accepted the demand.
Moments after taking the witness stand, Pashinian dismissed prosecutors’ objections to some of the questions asked by Alumian. “I have nothing to hide from the court,” he said.
In particular, Alumian challenged the prime minister to clarify his relationship with the chief investigator in the case, Suren Navoyan. Pashinian denied having personal ties to the latter.
But he did say that Navoyan was one of the law-enforcement officials who supported last spring’s “velvet revolution” which brought Pashinian to power. The premier also said that he once telephoned Navoyan to inquire about the status of the inquiry into the 2017 incident.
Pashinian downplayed his court appearance, extremely rare for a serving Armenian leader, when he left the courtroom afterwards. “I think that every citizen of Armenia they must report [for cross-examination in court] when they are notified by an investigator or a court,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.