Melee At Yerevan City Council: Ruling Party Members Physically Assault Female Councilmembers
Mayor Taron Markaryan said: “We also condemn the use of force and here no one was subjected to the use by anyone else.”
YEREVAN—What was supposed to be Yerevan City Council’s first session of the year Tuesday turned violent, when members of the Republican Party of Armenia physically attacked and assaulted female city council members from the opposition Yerkir Tsirani party, who had decided to bring putrid—and possibly toxic—sewer water from the Noubarashen neighborhood to demonstrate the unhealthy conditions the citizens of one of the poorest parts of Yerevan endure on a daily basis.
Members of the Yerkir Tsirani party donned medical gloves and masks and proceeded to present their fellow city council members with what they termed a “gift” from the residents of Noubarashen—jars of sewer water, which they claimed pollutes the air of the neighborhood. The demonstration was done to illustrate the air that the citizens of the area breath on a daily basis and the odors that they have to endure in their life. They wanted their fellow city councilmen to get a whiff of what their constituents were breathing.
Two members of Yerkir Tsirani, Sona Aghegyan and Marina Khachatryan, proceeded toward the chamber. Yerevan Mayor Taron Margaryan, seeing that they were approaching him, immediately instructed those on the floor to block the two women’s way.
Members of the Republican Party of Armenia and Artur Grigoryan, the city council communications director immediately blocked the two women’s way, after which members of the city council began pushing and shoving the women, screaming profanities and attempting to beat the women who were steadfast in their goal to deliver the message.
Things got more complicated when Khachatryan, one of the Yerkir Tsirani members at the center of the incident slapped a Republican Party of Armenia member who was violently pursuing her. He retaliated by slapping her in the face. She later told Azatutyun that the Republican Party member was attempting to pull at her clothes and was shoving her around.
Republican Party of Armenia members were trying to forcibly remove the women from the City Council Chambers. Members of the opposition “Yelk” party were attempting to quell the unrest and separate the factions that were pushing and shoving one another.
Republican Party of Armenia city council member and a former Karate champ, Gor Vardanyan, did not take part in the shoving match. Instead, he picked up Khachatryan and took her to the hallway. After the incident, Vardanyan told Azatutyun that he simply removed the city council member “who was displaying improper behavior.”
The police arrived on the scene and a recess was called. Members of the Yerkir Tsirani party were left outside and not allowed in the chambers. Police also were impeding the journalists at the scene.
The female members of the Republican Party of Armenia did not defend their female colleagues on the city council and rationalized the violence by saying “it was an attack on [mayor] Taron Margaryan.”
After the incident, Mayor Markaryan issued a statement saying, “We also condemn the use of force and here no one was subjected to the use by anyone else.”
The emergency dispatch also sent medical units to the scene. Yerkir Tsirani leader Zeruhi Postanjian told Azatutyun that two medical units were sent, one to address a heart complaint the other a psychiatric unit that was supposed to take the women to a psychiatric facility.
Postanjian invited the press to the party’s offices to demonstrate that allegedly while the melee was taking place, the party’s offices at the city council were broken into and the putrid-smelling sewer water was thrown at the furniture. She vowed to take pursue legal action.