Armenia’s ruling bloc forced a member of Yerevan’s municipal assembly to resign on Monday after he seemingly urged fellow government supporters to attack Constitutional Court Chairman Hrayr Tovmasian’s daughter on social media.
The 20-year-old member, Henrik Hartenian, posted a link to Sara Tovmasian’s Facebook page and wrote: “Come on, dear guys!”
Hartenian’s Facebook post came amid a renewed war of words between Hrayr Tovmasian and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. It was widely construed as an appeal to his followers to make abusive comments, causing outrage among both supporters and critics of the Armenian government.
The pro-government majority in the city council was quick to issue a statement condemning Hartenian. The latter announced his resignation from the council after a three-hour meeting with the other council members representing Pashinian’s My Step bloc.
“We reaffirmed that this does not befit our value system and runs counter to the principles espoused by us,” Suren Eiramjian, the leader of the My Step group in the city council, said after the meeting. “In keeping with those principles, we asked, urged Mr. Hartenian to resign his seat.”
“Everyone expressed their view and their discontent while [Hartenian] presented his motives,” said Arman Antonian, another My Step councilor. “But motives do not matter in this case.”
Hartenian, who declined to talk to reporters, is also a member of Pashinian’s Civil Contract party, the dominant component of the ruling bloc. His social media post was condemned by a Civil Contract commission monitoring actions of party members.
“Hate speech and intolerance are extremely condemnable,” the commission said in a statement.
Armenia’s human rights ombudsman, Arman Tatoyan, also condemned the young councilor and said all public office holders must show “proper conduct.” “Nobody has the right to target private lives and especially children and steer [political] tension in that direction,” he said.
Tovmasian has been under strong government pressure to resign in the last several months. He is also facing criminal charges which he rejects a politically motivated. The Constitutional Court chairman has said that he will not step down.