YEREVAN – The National Assembly blocked on Monday the launch of a new parliamentary inquiry into the 2008 deadly post-election violence in Yerevan that was demanded by its opposition minority.
Only 46 members of the 131-seat Armenian parliament backed the initiative put forward by the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) and backed by three other minority factions. Sixty-six other deputies, most of them members of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), voted against.
An HAK bill circulated last month envisaged the creation of an ad hoc commission tasked with investigating the March 1-2, 2008 street clashes between security forces and opposition protests, which left ten people dead. The HHK promised to agree to such a probe in late 2012 but effectively reneged on that pledge afterwards, setting last-minute conditions that were rejected by the HAK.
Speaking during parliament debates on the matter held in late February, HHK lawmakers questioned opposition assertions that the proposed commission could help to solve at least some of the killings. The ruling party’s parliamentary leader, Galust Sahakian, officially rejected the opposition initiative shortly before Monday’s vote. “Those who think they can organize shows on one or another issue are wrong,” he said.
The motion was voted down after a warning issued by Levon Zurabian, an HAK leader. Zurabian said that the parliament majority would share responsibility for the 2008 bloodshed and what he called “obstruction of justice” by the Armenian authorities.
The authorities have said in the past that the violence resulted from former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s attempt to forcibly seize power in the wake of the February 2008 presidential election in which he was the main opposition candidate. Ter-Petrosian, who leads the HAK, and his associates insist that the authorities deliberately used lethal force to enforce the results of blatant vote rigging.