YEREVAN (A.W.)–Ruben Hayrapetyan resigned from Parliament on July 3, following a meeting with President Serge Sarkisian. Hayrapetyan is the owner of Harsnakar restaurant in Avan, Armenia, where three military doctors were beaten on June 17. One of the doctors, Major Vahe Avetyan, died on June 29 from severe head trauma. A public outcry, and petitions demanding his resignation, ensued soon after.
“I can’t forgive myself and I don’t know how to ask for forgiveness,” Hayrapetyan said in his resignation letter. “I would have given anything to be there on that ominous night, to grab the fists that hit those young men, and to stop this tragedy that stole a life, destroyed families, and left children orphaned. But I cannot. Vahe is no longer with us; and I have to live with that; and I have to look in the eyes of his family members. I don’t know how,” he added.
Hayrapetyan noted that although those responsible would be held accountable by law, the issue is more complicated. “Now a lot of people are blaming me, even for things that I’m not responsible for or that are made up. They are probably right. But I’m first to blame myself. I hereby announce that I feel morally obliged to relinquish my parliamentary mandate. I ask for forgiveness from my voters, because I will not be able to realize their expectations, but I am certain that I am obliged to take this step,” said Hayrapetyan. “I hope one day Vahe’s family will forgive me. I will do everything to that end regardless.”
Harsnakar is a grand-scale restaurant and function hall owned by Hayrapetyan, also known as “Nemets Rubo,” a known oligarch. It is where the wealthy hold extravagant wedding parties. Hayrapetyan owns numerous business ventures, among them the Bjni mineral water company (which bottles Bjni and Noy), a hotel called Harsnakar on Lake Sevan, and a bank. He is also the president of Armenia’s Football Federation.
Although Hayrapedyan maintains he had no connection with the beating, his personal bodyguard, Garik Markaryan, allegedly inflicted the fatal injuries on Avetyan.
Exactly what happened on June 17 between the quarrelers remains unclear. Words were exchanged at two separate times between the servicemen and staff over an apparent dress code violation, the second conflict occurring after Avetyan returned to the premises, having gone home to change out of his athletic clothing. Just why Markaryan felt obligated to severely beat Avetyan has yet to be revealed. Accounts from eyewitnesses have yet to come to light, likely due to fears of retaliation.