YEREVAN — For the second day in a row security guards have been called into the Armenian parliament chamber as another brawl between pro-government and opposition lawmakers broke out during the presentation of the government’s five-year action plan on Wednesday.
Much of the 2021-2026 program that has been laid out in parliament by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan focuses on the new government’s vision of Armenia’s future in new geopolitical realities in the region created after last year’s defeat in the war against Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armenia’s former defense minister Seyran Ohanyan, now an MP from the opposition Hayastan (Armenia) alliance, provoked today’s scuffle in the National Assembly by hurling a bottle with water at MP Hayk Sargsyan from the ruling Civil Contract party of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. The scuffle quickly developed into a punch-up with MPs from both camps hurling bottles at each other.
In his speech Hayk Sargsyan in particular, criticized the former governments for their mishandling of the economy and army affairs that led to large-scale out-migration and a decrease in the country’s defense capabilities before the 2018 “velvet revolution.” He said that the new Pashinyan government did not have enough time to redress the situation.
In an apparent reference to opposition criticism that some members of the current government did not serve in the army, Sargsyan said that all former defense ministers during whose tenures people were exempted from military service by phone calls were “traitors.”
As lawmakers began to throw water bottles at each other, Parliament Speaker Alen Simonian interrupted the session and called in security guards to restore order in the chamber.
Another brawl in the parliament between pro-government and opposition members broke out shortly after the lawmakers resumed work. It began during the speech of opposition Hayastan faction member Vahe Hakobyan. It is seen on the video that parliament majority and minority deputies exchanged blows during a mass brawl that followed. Another break in the session was announced and security guards were called in. Several lawmakers were escorted out of the session hall.
The Prosecutor’s Office later said that the brawls in the Armenian parliament on Wednesday will become a matter for investigation.