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Removal Of Opposition Lawmaker Sparks Brawl In Armenian Parliament


Pativ Unem lawmaker Anna Mkrtchian and Parliament Speaker Alen Simonian (archive photo)

Security guards have removed an opposition lawmaker from the parliament after she challenged Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, calling him and his loyalists defeatists, during his presentation of a five-year government action plan on Tuesday, sparking a brawl in the chamber.

Before putting her question to Pashinian, Anna Mkrtchian, a member of the opposition Pativ Unem faction, criticized the prime minister for entering the parliament chamber with his bodyguards, something that she said was unprecedented for Armenia’s National Assembly.

Mkrtchian said that the presence of bodyguards in the parliament chamber was now a reality that remained unseen for the public at large.

Parliament Speaker Alen Simonian interrupted the opposition lawmaker, calling on her to exercise restraint and formally reprimanding her. He also formally reprimanded pro-government Civil Contract faction member Hrachya Hakobian, who engaged in a verbal exchange with Mkrtchian.

A brawl in the Armenian parliament between opposition lawmakers and security guards, August 24, 2021
A brawl in the Armenian parliament between opposition lawmakers and security guards, August 24, 2021

During a debate in parliament earlier this month Simonian already once reprimanded Mkrtchian for speaking impolitely about the prime minister and calling him a defeatist, later depriving her of the floor and ordering her removal from the chamber.

Another Pativ Unem lawmaker Tigran Abrahamian inquired from Prime Minister Pashinian about how he treated the remarks made by his teammates against Mkrtchian. Pashinian replied that his teammates reacted quite restrainedly.“I would say that they even reacted softly,” he said.

Mkrtchian reacted to the prime minister’s words from her seat, after which Parliament Speaker Simonian ordered security guards to remove the opposition lawmaker from the hall.

“I ask the security to escort Ms. Mkrtchian out in accordance with Article 52 of the Rules of Procedure,” said Simonian, announcing a 20-minute break.

The entry of security guards into the chamber sparked a brawl between them and representatives of Pativ Unem and the other opposition faction, Hayastan.

When the session resumed, Hayastan’s lawmaker Artur Ghazinian accused Pashinian of provoking the incident with his remarks. Pashinian later dismissed that accusation repeated by another Hayastan faction member Artsvik Minasian, saying that security guards and the parliament speaker have been doing their duty.

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