YEREVAN — Opposition Hayastan alliance member of Armenia’s parliament Mher Sahakyan was arrested on Friday after assaulting pro-government lawmaker Vladimir Vartanyan, the chairman of the parliament committee on legal affairs, during a session of the panel held behind the closed doors.
Eyewitnesses said that Sahakyan, a member of ARF party, punched Vartanyan following a shouting match between them and other opposition lawmakers.
Vartanyan, who represents the ruling Civil Contract party, suffered an injury to his left eyebrow and was treated in hospital following the incident.
Meanwhile, other senior pro-government lawmakers called the police. Parliament speaker Alen Simonyan could be seen giving instructions to police officers and security guards in the parliament lobby before they dragged away Sahakyan to a police station in Yerevan.
Armenia’s Investigative Committee said later in the day that Sahakyan was placed under arrest on suspicion of “hooliganism.” The law-enforcement agency did not clarify whether it will bring relevant charges against him.
Armenian law gives it three days to decide whether to indict the 35-year-old oppositionist and ask the National Assembly to lift his immunity from prosecution.
Vladimir Vardanyan presented details of the incident in a briefing with journalists.
“The session of the committee was proceeding normally, at one point the process of discussion was disturbed, the MPs started talking quite loudly and I tried to urge Artsvik Minasyan and the rest of the MPs to return to the substantial discussion. After that, in response to my legitimate demand, MP Mher Sahakyan said that I cannot raise my voice against them, and I said that I was conducting the session and continue to conduct it. He approached me (we were already standing) and attacked me without saying anything, hit me and ran away,” said Vardanyan.
The Chairman of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on State-Legal Affairs emphasized that he did not take any actions against MP Mher Sahakyan and remained in the place where he was standing.
“All those who know me will prove that in the 7th and 8th convocations of the National Assembly I was always the person who tried to lead difficult situations to a compromise solution. If the normal course of the session was disturbed, we interrupted the session or tried to find solutions. This time the incident lasted for a minute and, in fact, I performed my legitimate functions. I have not taken any measures against MP Mher Sahakyan and I could not. “Mher Sahakyan approached me and hit me without saying anything,” Vardanyan said.
According to Mher Sahakyan, as a result of the blow, a rather significant cut occurred in the eyebrow area. Vardanyan does not rule out that the blow was made with some kind of tool.
“It was quite a hard blow. I haven’t passed the forensic examination yet, I will probably do it tomorrow,” concluded Vardanyan.