Brawls Break Out in Armenian Parliament

A third brawl broke out in two days in Armenia’s National Assembly on Wednesday, August 25, after an opposition party leader criticized the government and was violently attacked on the floor of the chamber by pro-government MPs.

Footage of the incident from the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty shows chaotic scenes after Vahe Hakobyan, leader of the Reborn Armenia party, leaves the speakers’ podium and is physically attacked by pro-government MPs. Vahagn Aleksanyan, a member of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s ruling Civil Contract party, initiates the violence by kicking Hakobyan in the torso. Other parliamentarians are seen throwing punches at Hakobyan and others, before security wrestles several lawmakers out of the chamber.

The tense political atmosphere in Armenia follows the country’s defeat to Azerbaijan in a war over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020.

Earlier on Wednesday, opposition and pro-government lawmakers hurled bottles back and forth across the chamber at one another after Civil Contract’s Hayk Sargsyan described some former defense ministers as “traitors,” Armenian media reported. One parliamentarian, Gegham Nazaryan, was injured and taken to a hospital, Armenia Today reported.

On Tuesday, Anna Mkrtchyan, a member of the opposition Pativ Unem faction, was ordered to be removed by security after she branded Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his supporters “defeatists” as he presented his five-year plan for the country, Radio Azadi reported. She also criticized Pashinyan for entering parliament with bodyguards, whom she referred to as “okhranniks,” a Russian word for guards, reports said. Members of Pativ Unem brawled with security guards as they removed Mkrtchyan from the chamber.

Armenia’s Prosecutor General Artur Davtyan said the country’s Special Investigation Service would be investigating Wednesday’s incidents. The footage, Davtyan said, portrayed a “disrespectful attitude towards the citizens present at the sitting” and behavior unbefitting of public representatives, adding that violence was being used to hinder the “normal work of the National Assembly.” Credit: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via Storyful

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