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NKR Oppositionist’s Wife Blames President for Violent Attack on Husband

“After being subjected to severe beating, I was made to sign a text I had forcibly written. [My assailants] also shot a video in which they demanded that I proclaim yesterday's events as a mistake,” Hayk Khanumyan, a Nagorno-Karabakh opposition lawmaker who was attacked and hospitalized on Monday with a broken nose and ribs, wrote on his Facebook page subsequently. Kyanumyan then went on to describe signing the statement and shooting the video as a “tactical move to escape the lawlessness.”

RFE/RL's Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) reports that upon exiting the National Assembly building in Stepanakert, Khanumyan was attacked by 7-8 people, forcibly put in a car and taken to the nearby village of Khnatsagh where he was beaten up by nearly 20 people. Former Karabakh army commander Samvel Babayan, who returned to NKR on June 5 after five years of absence, later visited Khanumyan at the hospital and told Azatutyun.am that, according to Khanumyan, the assailants had made him to say in the video that Babayan had paid him to organize the warm greeting he received on his arrival in the Karabakh capital. 

“Khanumyan walked alongside Babayan during Sunday’s procession. He also announced that he and his associates will launch a campaign for Babayan’s re-appointment as commander of the Karabakh Defense Army,” Azatutyun writes, adding that Babayan, however, disavowed that campaign, saying that he had no intention of becoming Karabakh's defense minister. “Offering my candidacy [was a gross mistake] on Hayk Khanumyan's part. I won't become defense minister even if they ask me to,” he stated.

Davit Babayan, the deputy chief of the NKR President's staff, for his part, said in conversation with A1plus.am that he saw no political motives behind the attack on the opposition parliamentarian. “Knowing [Khanumyan], he had it coming really. [The attack] couldn’t have been politically motivated; it’s just how he is –  he is constantly insulting, provoking people. He must have done something [to incite the attack on himself],” the official insisted.

Meanwhile, Khanumyan's wife, Diana Manukyan, blamed Karabakh political authorities, and namely president Bako Sahakyan, for the attack on her husband, “with the intent to hinder his political activity.”

Aravot.am reports that based on Manukyan's report, NKR police have opened a criminal case under article 129 of the NKR criminal code (kidnapping by a group of persons with prior agreement, accompanied with violence or threat of violence.”