Late last week it was revealed that, although Syunik governor Souren Khachatryan’s incident of alleged physical abuse against businesswoman Silva Hambardzumyan was discussed during the executive board session of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), no disciplinary measures were taken, which has raised a wave of criticism and public discontent.
Hambardzumyan publicly alleged on November 10, that Khachatryan had stolen 102 million drams ($267,000) worth of equipment from Lichvaz-Tey gold mining. Days later, on November 14, she was allegedly attacked and punched by the Syunik governor at the lobby of Marriott-Armenia Hotel.
Many sarcastically ask “how come former Yerevan mayor Gagik Beglaryan was immediately fired for hitting chief of presidential protocol department Aram Kandayan, but the Syunik governor hitting a woman is not?”
Answers to this question are diverse. Some are convinced that Beglaryan’s assault against Kandayan was not forgiven, because he (Kandayan) is the Godson of Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan’s son-in-law, whereas Hambardzumyan, as she says, does not “have a back”.
“I am simply a businesswoman who dared to voice illegalities,” she told ArmeniaNow.
Some oppositional politicians believe, however, that the issue is more about politics: it would be hard to find a replacement for Khachatryan prior to parliamentary elections.
“During the elections one needs a person who can ensure victory, be it by force or using any lever at hand. Khachatryan is an experience person, whereas a new governor would not be able to ensure victory given the shortage of time,” says Republic party leader Aram Sargsyan.
On November 18 the special Investigation Service interrogated Khachatryan on the incident (a case on physical abuse was filed), however did not bring any charges against him.
On November 16, tax inspectors started auditing Hambardzumyan’s Kalach Company.
She says she thinks it has to do with the incident, but she “wants to believe that it’s a regular inspection. I have nothing to hide. Although, in our country, everything is possible.”