YEREVAN—One man was beaten while several others were questioned by the police on Feb. 23, as a result of a bitter feud that sparked between two election candidates of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), RFE/RL’s Armenian service reported.
Two members of the outgoing Armenian parliament, Murad Muradyan and Arayik Grigoryan are among the several candidates fielded by the RPA in a constituency in the southern Ararat province. The two smaller electoral districts that the two were elected by in the National Assembly in 2012 have now merged into one in accordance with Armenia’s new electoral system.
Under the new system, Armenians will be voting in April for a bloc or party and one of its individual candidates running for parliament in a dozen nationwide constituencies. As a result, there will be candidates such as Muradyan and Grigoryan, who, in addition to competing with other parties, will also be competing with each other.
Some areas in Armenia are expected to have close elections races within the RPA.
Grigoryan’s campaign manager, Samvel Hakobyan, was reportedly beaten and injured by a large group of other men in Masis, a small town outside of Yerevan.
Hakobyan was attacked because Grigoryan began opening campaign offices in Masis, which is apparently a region that is under Muradyan’s zone of influence.
Muradyan, acknowledging that several of his men were taken in custody by police for questioning, denied that his men assaulted Hakobyan. He added that Grigoryan is violating election related “agreements.”
“If things continue like this, I too will open up offices elsewhere,” Muradyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Grigoryan and his brother Aramayis, who was recently appointed as governor of Ararat, did not provide any comments regarding the incident.
Meanwhile, senior RPA lawmaker Gagik Melikyan told RFE/RL that he considers these type of acts “serious incidents” and called them “unacceptable” within the party. He explained that the new electoral system is not to blame for the violence.
Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau member and head of party’s political affairs Armen Rustamyan disagreed and said that these types of disputes are expected with the so-called new “rating system.”
According to Rustamyan, the ARF accepted the introduction of the “rating system” as apart of a compromise deal with President Serge Sarkisian that led to the abolition of the smaller single-seat constituencies where the RPA has traditionally been quite successful.