Two lawmakers representing the main opposition Hayastan alliance were forcibly removed from Armenia’s parliament on Wednesday after arguing and jostling with pro-government colleagues.
The incident followed a speech delivered by Hayastan’s Artur Sargsian during a parliament debate on the appointment of new members of Armenia’s Court of Cassation nominated by a state judicial watchdog. The nominees included Armen Danielian, a lower court judge who approved in 2021 Sargsian’s arrest declared by the Constitutional Court illegal a few months later.
“Speaking from this podium today, you proudly claimed that you made all your decisions within the bounds of the law,” Sargsian said, appealing to Danielian. “The fact is that you made an illegal decision to arrest me.”
After finishing his speech, he walked towards the judge, telling him to “look me in the eyes before I leave.”
Sargsian’s behavior angered deputies from the ruling Civil Contract party. One of them, Hovik Aghazarian, apparently shouted an insult at the oppositionist. The latter shouted back in anger, triggering a scuffle with other Civil Contract lawmakers.
Parliament speaker Alen Simonian responded by ordering security officers to forcibly remove Sargsian from the parliament auditorium. Another Hayastan deputy, Gegham Manukian, was also forced out after attempting to stop the guards from dragging away Sargsian.
Hayastan leaders condemned the use of force, saying that the incident was provoked by Aghazarian. The pro-government parliamentarian, who is known for his flamboyant behavior and statements, did not deny insulting Sargsian.
Simonian afterwards reprimanded both Sargsian and Aghazarian. Still, he blamed the opposition for the ugly scenes on the parliament floor.
A group of opposition lawmakers were similarly evicted from the chamber last month after occupying its podium in protest against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s statements on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.