A deputy chief of the Armenian police on Wednesday criticized a wealthy businessman close to the country’s former leadership for an angry statement which he made after being briefly detained in Yerevan on Tuesday.
The controversial businessman and former parliamentarian, Ruben Hayrapetian, spent nearly three hours in police custody and was set free without charge. The police said he was detained on suspicion of illegal arms possession.
Hayrapetian, who claims to own firearms legally, laughed off this explanation after his release. He said the police action was part of government attempts to intimidate him.
Speaking to journalists outside the national police headquarters, he also said: “One day I will make them lie on the ground and wipe my feet on them.”
The remark prompted strong condemnations from political allies of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. Andranik Kocharian, the pro-government chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on defense and security, described it as a “blow” to the police and the government.
“I don’t remember anyone daring to make such a statement under police walls before,” Kocharian told reporters. He said that the police should have taken strong action in response to what he called a threat voiced by Hayrapetian.
But Vartan Movsisian, a deputy chief of the national police, reacted more cautiously to the controversial remark.
“I cannot evaluate at this point whether or not it was a threat,” said Movsisian. “It may have been a mere emotional outburst. But such statements are certainly not welcome regardless of who makes them.”
Movsisian also defended Hayrapetian’s detention, saying that the police did not break any laws.
Citing similar “suspicions,” the police also detained several anti-government activists last week. The latter denounced the police actions as politically motivated.