Random or Planned?: Attack on former politician raises questions

ArmeniaNow.com, 23 April 2004

Random or Planned?: Attack on former politician raises questions

(From media and ArmeniaNow news sources)

An attack on a prominent oppositional figure on Thursday has sparked outrage
by anti-government sympathizers who see the act as a premeditated order by

Ashot Manucharyan, who in the late 1980s was a member of the “Karabakh
Committee” and later was Minister of Interior and then National Security
Advisor during the first term of President Levon Ter Petrosyan was severely
beaten while walking on Tumanyan Street in Yerevan in mid-afternoon.

Gayane Markosyan, a human rights activist who was with Manucharyan at the
time, said three unknown men attacked Manucharyan. She described the men as
having shaved heads. One of the attackers, Markosyan said, pushed her aside,
while the others kicked and beat Manucharyan. The victim was taken to
hospital, where he underwent surgery and is being treated for broken jaw

Since a falling out with Ter Petrosyan in 1994, Manucharyan has been out of
the public light, but is believed to be influential still among the current

He has been active in Intellectual Forum, a gathering of moderate
oppositionists who do not support a specific party, but are opposed to the
current administration. Manucharyan was reportedly on his way to a Forum
meeting when the attack occurred.

An associate of Manucharyan, who was active with him during the Karabakh
Movement told ArmeniaNow the attack on Manucharyan is “without doubt”
connected to the present opposition movement.

“The attack,” Manucharyan’s comrade said, “represents a level of desperation
(by authorities) that is frightening.”

Poet Silva Kaputikyan, who has become an opposition celebrity after, in
protest of violence against the opposition, returned a State award she was
given by President Robert Kocharyan, gave a response to Manucharyan’s

“Beating in Armenia has become the basic means of politics and the most
influential part of state terror,” Kaputikyan said. “All cases when force
has been used should be viewed from this standpoint.”

Police have not released information about the attack, except to say that an
investigation has been opened.

Ashot Kocharyan, spokesperson for Robert Kocharyan, said the President would
not be making an official statement concerning Manucharyan, but said that he
could speak for the President in saying that he “condemned” the attack.

The attack on Manucharyan came during a week in which at least 76 arrests
were made on oppositional sympathizers, bringing the total number of such
arrests to more than 500 arrests since regular demonstrations began three
weeks ago.