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Yerevan Woman’s Life in Danger; State Has ‘No Mechanisms’ to Protect Her From Husband

Naira Smbatyan has been saying for months that her life is in danger, and that her husband Ara Khachatryan (the spouses are currently in a divorce process) wants to take away their 3-year-old son. The woman and her lawyer Nona Galstan now report that the previous night Khachatryan tried to steal the boy with the help of their daughters. Police in Yerevan’s Malatia district took no action to help Smbatyan, insisting that they do not have any mechanisms for her protection; the officers further said they could only respond in case of a crime. Epress.am spoke about the incident with Naira Sambatyan and her lawyer.

“Didn’t I tell you to take the kid away from her?”

On September 13, Naira Smbatyan together with her son, and Khachatryan with their three daughters, went to the National Bureau of Expertise SNTO. The spouses have filed for divorce to a Yerevan court, and yesterday an expert of the Bureau was supposed to speak with the children and the parents to determine their emotional state and the level of the kids’ attachment to each parent.  The expert’s assessment will subsequently be sent to the court, which will decide who will get custody of the children.

Smbatyan recalls that when tried to talk to her daughter on the phone before the appointment, she overheard her husband saying at the other end; “Just wait and you’ll see what happens on the 13th.”

“They had already decided that they would take away my son on that day. He brought the children to the bureau with a specific aim because he holds nothing sacred. If he loved his children, he wouldn’t have told them to steal their brother,” Smbatyan says.

During the assessment, Naira and Ara were placed in separate rooms, while the children were left under the supervision of a female staffer of the bureau. According to Smbatyan, she admitted to the woman that she did not feel safe there. The woman, however, urged her not to worry because “the bureau has strong security.”

“I could constantly hear Ara’s loud voice and the noise he made throughout the assessment. I then realized that he was doing  show to divert the people’s attention to himself.”

At some point during the assessment, Smbatyan heard her son’s voice. Coming out of the room, the woman saw that her daughters were trying to kidnap the kid; “My eldest daughter was holding the door to prevent me from approaching the others. I yelled, ‘Help me! Where’s the security?’ When I finally managed to take back my son, I heard Ara shouting to the girls, ‘Didn’t I tell you to take away the kid? Push her to the ground and take the kid!’”

With the baby in her arms, Smbatyan was able to find shelter at the guards’ room outside the office. “Ara told the girls to stand at the door and block me inside. It was too hot in the room, and the kid was feeling unwell,” she recalls.

The security guards of the bureau, according to Smbatyan, tried to calm the situation, but Khachatryan attacked them, while the girls began to shout not to subject them to violence. “The guards hadn’t even touched them!”

Khachatryan then called the police and reported that his children were being subjected to physical violence; the employees of the bureau reacted by phoning the law-enforcement agency themselves.

“Ara kept saying that he would have me arrested, that he had money and connections in prisons, that he knew judges. He kept threatening everyone,” Smbatyan says.

The woman recalls that at one point her 10-year-old daughter began picking leaves off trees, prompting Khachatryan to grab her hand and yell at the kid; “What are you doing? I didn’t bring you here for this!”

When the police arrived to take the woman and her son to the station for questioning, Khachatryan told two of the girls to stand behind the car, while he stood in front, blocking the way. “All this happened right before the officers’ eyes. Later, when we were outside the police station, he told me I would never leave the building if I went in. The police did nothing to help us. They only said they could do nothing since ‘the man just wants to see his son.’”

According to Smbatyan, her son has been greatly affected by the incident and is still frightened. “He keeps shuddering in his sleep and begging to let go of his legs. I’m really scared of Ara; I don’t feel safe. My only hope is the Women’s Support Center. I have no one else to protect me but them.”

“The responsibility for any crime will fall on the state”

“No state agency has ever taken any adequate measures against Ara Khachatryan’s illegal actions. Turns out he can do whatever he wants, such as subjecting the wife and the kids to violence, and no agency wants to provide them with security or acts in the interests of the child,” Smbatyan’s lawyer, Nona Galstyan, says.

According to the lawyer, the police have already stated several that they are powerless – “we can’t do anything; we do not have mechanisms; it’s your problem and you should deal with it however you like.”

“Thus, we have no government agency that would ensure the security of a citizen. If there is a threat, a citizen is left to their own devices,” Galstyan argues, insisting that all responsibility for any possible crime committed against her client will fall on the state.