YEREVAN (A.W.)—Earlier today, a brawl unfolded during the year’s first session of the Yerevan City Council. The violence started after representatives from the Yerkir Tsirani (YT) party brought samples of sewage from the Nubarashen district in Yerevan, where there is a large state correctional facility. Two female members of the YT party were physically attacked and assaulted by members of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA).
Women of the YT party brought putrid sewage samples to the front of the room, as a “gift” for the Yerevan Mayor from the people of Nubarashen, stating, “The people have to smell it, so you should, too.”
The sewage at the facility is old and has created health hazards, not only for the inmates and people working at the penitentiary, but also for the community living in the vicinity. There have been reports of the sewage overflowing onto the streets.
Nubarashen is also home to the largest unsanitary dumpsite in the country—an issue has been often discussed, but never properly addressed.
In the video, Mayor of Yerevan, Taron Margaryan, is heard calling for police or security to take the women out, but council members immediately begin forcing the women, particularly Marina Khachatryan, out of the room. She resists and an altercation ensues, in which Khachatryan slaps Edmond Kirakosyan of the RPA (allegedly for inappropriately grabbing her), and in the video, he is seen slapping her across the face in response.
Khachatryan’s hair is then pulled from behind, and she is shoved across the room. An article in Hay Zhamanak identifies the names and faces of the six men involved in the violence.
The emergency dispatch also sent medical units to the scene. Yerkir Tsirani leader Zaruhi Postanjian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that two medical units were sent, one to address a heart complaint the other a psychiatric unit that was supposed to take the women to a psychiatric facility.
Postanjian invited the press to the party’s offices to demonstrate that allegedly while the melee was taking place, the party’s offices at the city council were broken into and the putrid-smelling sewer water was thrown at the furniture. She vowed to take pursue legal action.
Once news and footage of the incident leaked, protesters began gathering outside of the municipal building and in the lobby, holding signs reading, “Your nose could not endure the smell, but your eyes are well-accustomed to hitting,” “Women against the regime,” and “You have made this land smell.”
After the incident, Mayor Margaryan issued a statement saying, “We also condemn the use of force and here no one was subjected to the use by anyone else.”
“That foul smell will accompany you wherever you go,” Postanjian told the council members following the melee. “Even your expensive perfume and cognac won’t save you… We are going to poison your lives.”