Young opposition activists campagning for Pashinian severely beaten

Opposition activists beaten and taken to hospital with varying degrees of injuries, Photo via A1+

A group of young opposition activists campaigning on behalf of jailed editor Nikol Pashinian who is running for the Armenian Parliament in a January by-election, were severely beaten and taken to hospital with varying degrees of injuries.

Today, December 27, 2009, at around 5:30 pm, in the courtyard near the buildings at Toumanyan and Nalbandyan streets (“Boxi Hayat”), HAK youth activists for Nikol Pashinyan’s election campaign were approached by a small gang of undesirables, who demanded that the youths stop their election campaigning. When the gang’s illegitimate demand was denied, they attacked the youths, beating them with their fists and with metal pipes, Nazarian blog reports.

Five of the group – Vahagn Gevorgyan, Sahak Muradyan, Sargis Gevorgyan, Tevos Matevosyan and Sergey Gasparyan were transported to a hospital with varying degrees of  injuries (mostly with lacerations and contusions, the result of blows by metal objects). Vladimir Karapetyan, representative of the central office of the opposition Armenian National Congress, also suffered injuries at the scene.
The oppositionists say their group of 10 youngsters, some of whom were female, were attached by about 20-25 supporters of Ara Simonian, a member of discredited politician Artashes Geghamian’s National Unity party, who is also running for Parliament in electoral district number 10 and is seen as Nikol Pashinian’s main rival in the upcoming elections.
Even if I couldn’t independently varify the information above, I have to state, that this is not the first case, when opposition activists are being beaten and harassed.
At least two of the names in the group mentioned above remind me of April and July incidents, where opposition youth were involved in a brawl, and as a result, Vahagn Gevorgyan was convicted and released under a Parliamentary amnesty act, and Sahak Muradian narrowly escaped trial in court due to his being a teanager.
The incident also highlights the importance and tensions in the upcoming elections, which which might put the jailed editor in Paliament and out of reach for law-enforcement, at least temporarily.
Meanwhile, Saterday saw the last session of Pashinian trial. The charismatic and energetic opposition leader is charged with inciting mass disorders and attacking law-enforcement. Prosecutors demanded an 8 year jail term, Pashinian pleaded not guilty, and it’s up to the court, to publish the verdict in January.
Meanwhile, Pashinian intends to campaign via his supporters and very possibly win in January 10 elections, while he remains locked in prison.

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant