Beating Victim Vahe Avetyan Remembered

A scene from Saturday's protest (Photo by Anush Khachatryan)

Editor’s Note: Hundreds of people turned out Monday for the funeral of Vahe Avetyan, an Armenian military doctor who suffered fatal injuries after he was beaten at a restaurant on June 17 by bodyguards of Republican Party Parliament member Ruben Hayrapetian at his restaurant outside of Yerevan known as Harsnakar.

Avetian was one of three Armey doctors who were beaten. He sustained the most severe injuries, resulting in his death on Friday.

On Saturday, hundreds turned out for a protest vigil in Yerevan. Below is the coverage of that event.

BY CHRISTIAN GARBIS
From The Armenian Weekly

YEREVAN—On June 30, several hundred people participated in a candlelight vigil held at the Harsnakar restaurant in Avan, Armenia, where three military doctors were beaten on June 17. One of the doctors, Major Vahe Avetyan, died on June 29 from severe head trauma.

The demonstration was organized by a group calling itself the “Self-Determined Citizens of the Republic of Armenia.”

The demonstrators began the vigil on a sidewalk near the restaurant, holding lit candles and posters that read “I am Vahe Avetyan” and “You can’t get away with it.”

Some attempted to approach the restaurant and place candles in the parking lot, but were initially blocked by police. One of the organizers then convinced the police to let a stream of people slowly approach the lot.

ARF leader Armen Rustamian at the protest vigil (Photos by Anush Khachatryan)

Harsnakar is a grand-scale restaurant and function hall owned by Member of Parliament Ruben “Nemets Rubo” Hayrapetyan, a known oligarch. It is where the wealthy hold extravagant wedding parties. Hayrapetyan owns numerous business ventures, among them the Bjni mineral water company (which bottles Bjni and Noy), a hotel also called Harsnakar on Lake Sevan, and a bank. He is also the president of Armenia’s Football Federation.

Although Hayrapedyan maintains he had no connection with the beating, his personal bodyguard, Garik Markaryan, allegedly inflicted the fatal injuries on Avetyan.

The demonstration was peaceful, with people speaking to each other quietly and lighting candles, while others wept and prayed. Anahit Bakhshyan of the Heritage Party was visibly distraught when talking to Civilnet.am.

“I am really tired of this lack of accountability,” she said. “I am disgusted by this situation but…at this moment, I can’t find the words. I can’t find the way out, but I know this can’t happen. I know we have to do something, and if there’s someone who knows what to do I’ll stand by him. But right now, I feel empty.”

Armen Rustamian representing the Armenian Revolutionary Federation also joined the demonstrators.

“The upper echelons of the leadership must teach a lesson and certainly reiterate what is demanded by law—that an obvious murder took place in public sight,” Rustamian said. “If that is not explained, brought to light and condemned…they will have to do something so that [the issue] doesn’t become complicated.”

"I am Vahe Avetyan" said the demonstrators

A few young people were able to approach the restaurant without gaining notice, and wrote words in red spray paint on the walls, such as “House of murder,” and the word “oligarchs” crossed out.

When the protesters realized that a wedding party was going on inside the restaurant, they approached the main entrance, which was guarded by law enforcement officers, including high-ranking members of the police department. When the police did not let the protesters enter the restaurant, they began to chant “Shame, shame,” chastising them for what was perceived as an act of protecting the oligarchic establishment. They also chanted the familiar slogan of the opposition—“Sergik go away”—referring to President Serge Sarkisian. The police responded by forming a human chain in front of the entrance and shoving the protesters away from the entrance. Some of the people from the wedding party began to approach the entrance, which enraged the protesters even more.

The demonstration ended just after 10 p.m. and similar protests continued Sunday in front of the Presidential Palace and the prosecutor general’s office. A memorial service was held for Avetyan on Monday afternoon.

That same evening, only a few hours after demonstrators left the scene, Vartan Samvelyan, a lieutenant colonel in the Armenian military, entered Harsnakar with the intention of blowing up the restaurant with explosives he was carrying, as reported by Tert.am. He was arrested shortly thereafter by the police and is under custody.

Exactly what happened on June 17 between the quarrelers remains unclear. Words were exchanged at two separate times between the servicemen and staff over an apparent dress code violation, the second conflict occurring after Avetyan returned to the premises, having gone home to change out of his athletic clothing. Just why Markaryan felt obligated to severely beat Avetyan has yet to be revealed. Accounts from eyewitnesses have yet to come to light, probably due to fear of retaliation against them.

President Sarkisian was expected by many to publically convey his condolences to the Avetyan family. Ironically, on Monday the Armenian press published photos showing the president sitting side by side with Hayrapetyan at the Euro Cup soccer championship game held July 1.

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12 Comments

  1. Osik said:

    I was on the Internet late last night and Liked one of the comments, she said “this started with Poplavok (Aragast) Restaurant and this one is going to be handled exactly like that one” meaning will be Archived next to that one with out any action; which would be very SAD :-(((

  2. Heghapokhagan said:

    Taking under consideration the track record of this Government Parliamentarian Roupen, in his own words claiming he is above the law, it is the result of Armenian Government’s Corruption. This is a leadership change of opportunity for Armenian Revolutionary Federation!

    • Tsayt said:

      Change in Armenia…by the ballot? not in our lifetime I’m afraid.

  3. Garo said:

    It is the president’s responsibility to protect the country and his citizens, apply true justice, keep the law above everybody, ensure the welfare and the rights of the whole society.
    The country must be cleansed of gangsters (Oligarks) who are nothing but law class, unpatriotic, self-centered criminals who are allowed to milk the country, take away the livelihood of common people, and expect the diaspora to send donations that nobody knows if they even reach their intended destinations..
    If the leadership can’t change the status quo then I will not be surprised if the nation uprises and rebels against the rulers and takes justice in their own hands.

  4. ANON Y MOUS said:

    Armenians all over the world condemns this Barbaric act. The Armenian government must act immediately, and punish the ones responsible. My message to the people responsible for the beating: Shame on you!!
    how could you be so barbaric and show no mercy on your Armenian brothers?? If you are such a strong men, go to the front line, we need strong men, but to protect the Armenian people, and not to beat them to death!!

    My message to the Armenian Diaspora ministry: No Armenian around the world would like to invest, help, or come back to the Homeland, if you do not get rid of these type of people. These uneducated idiots enjoying seats in the Parliament, and believing they represent Armenians around the world. They are dead wrong.

    These idiots represent their interests in the parliament, and it is time for them to step down. A new Armenia including the Armenian diaspora first and foremost must be transparent and free of corruption.

    If this is not achievable, no Armenian around the world will consider even visiting his or her homeland.

    RIP VAHE

  5. Artur said:

    I suggest everyone to take the business some-where else, till Harsnakar is bankrupt!

  6. George said:

    Armenia will be destroyed If President Sarkissian do not make everybody respect the law.

  7. ani said:

    Their “God Father” is Serj Sarkisyan”. He is protecting these criminals. He is putting them in his party.Unfortunately this is not a movie,it is real and very sad.

  8. Tigran said:

    I think that, that the only fair this to be done is to give maximum punishment to whoever were actively involved in the fight. Body guards are trained in martial arts, and they are professional killers by default. Also they are autorized to use force and weapon if necessary. But getting into a fight with civilians is unacceptable. If a body guard get’s into the fight, with a civilian it simly means that he/she simply does not have enough humane qualities to be granted a right to use force in any way. There are tons of body guards in Armenia, who prabably feel, that they serve “The Gods” and they are protected. That is bullshit. If these guys don’t get severe penalties (the maximum determined by the law for disturbing, physically insulting, killing, as well as abusing rights granted to work as a security professional), it means that it is fine to kill civilians in Armenia. I would advise Mr. Ruben Hayrapetyan, if he really has balls, to not support this kind of a sone of the bitch employes and be cool and praud if they get maximum penalty, according to the law’s of Armenia. They simply deserve to be severely downgraded for the rest of their lives, if any. This should become a lesson for other violent psicho fellows who aims to, or already in the position of a guard, military or security professional to feed their sick souls.

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