GORIS (RFE/RL) — Law-enforcement authorities in Armenia said late on Wednesday that an unknown gunman opened fire on a car carrying Suren Khachatrian, the governor of the southeastern Syunik province notorious for violent conduct.
According to the Investigative Committee, Khachatrian, his driver and assistant came under fire on the road connecting the regional capital Kapan to Goris, the governor’s hometown also located in Syunik. “Nobody was hurt,” the committee said in a statement.
The statement added that Yerevan-based senior officers from the committee and the Armenian police rushed to the scene immediately after the reported shooting. “Necessary investigative measures are being taken to clarify all circumstances of the incident,” it said.
The statement also said that a criminal case has been opened under a Criminal Code clause dealing with murder attempts. No arrests were reported in the following hours.
Khachatrian is one of Armenia’s most controversial government officials because of a long history of violence involving himself and members of his family dominating the political and economic life of Syunik. The alleged shooting attack on his car came amid a lingering uproar sparked by the most recent violent incident linked with the family.
Khachatrian’s equally notorious son Tigran was questioned by the Investigative Committee at the weekend in connection with a May 2 brutal beating near Goris of two men by a larger group of local residents. The severely injured victims claim that the attackers were led by Tigran Khachatrian. The latter denies the allegations.
The May 2 incident rekindled allegations by opposition politicians, civic activists and media commentators that the Syunik governor continues to enjoy impunity because of his staunch loyalty to President Serzh Sarkisian. Accordingly, there have been renewed calls for his ouster.
Khachatrian was already sacked in June 2013 shortly after Tigran and one of his bodyguards shot and killed a Goris-based businessman just outside the Khachatrian family’s plush villa in the small town. The shooters were arrested but set free three months later. Suren Khachatrian was reappointed as Syunik governor a year later.