Parliament Member Babukhanian Stabbed

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–A member of Armenia’s National Assembly Hayk Babukhanian was attacked on February 4 by unknown assailants at about 3:30 PM in the town of Artashat–some 30 kilometers from Yerevan.

Babukhanian is the deputy chairman of the Union for Constitutional Rights Party (SIM) and has been heading the presidential campaign of Aram Karapetian.

Babukhanian and his driver were in Artashat to prepare for Karapetian’s campaign rally in the town square. According to a local SIM activist Hrayr Khachatrian–Babukhanian fired a shot in the air from his pistol to scare off a large group of "drunk and drugged youths" that advanced on them.

Babukhanian was subsequently stabbed with a knife–and was rushed to a Yerevan hospital. Doctors revealed that his life is not at risk.

President Kocharian strongly condemned the attacks and ordered an official inquiry.

In a written statement Kocharian deplored the violence–saying that it "cast a shadow" on the election campaign. "I strongly condemn and find unacceptable any attempts to turn the election campaign into brawls and violence," he said.

"I call on all the candidates and their supporters to pursue civilized pre-election efforts and refrain from such provocations. We must not allow anyone to smear the reputation of our people and question their resolve to build a civilized–democratic–and tolerant society."

Kocharian also said that he has ordered law-enforcement agencies to investigate the incident and punish the guilty.

In a statement–Parliament chairman Armen Khachatrian said–"It was with indignation and alarm that I heard about the act of violence in Artashat that took place during presidential candidate Aram Karapetian’s pre-election campaigning. I condemn this act and ensure that it will not recur during pre-election efforts. . . I am also confident that those guilty will be quickly found and punished in accordance with the law of our country. I wish Hayk Babukhanian strong health and early recovery."

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