Armenian restaurant faces public ire, boycott after owner shoots dog in public
Director of the Dilijan National Park and restaurant owner Suren Aghajanyan is facing a public boycott and a demand for justice after publicly shooting a dog on the premises of his establishment.
Facebook users demand Aghajanyan be punished to the full extent of a recently enacted law criminalising cruelty to animals.
Moreover, the bill’s initiator, MP Naira Zohrabyan, demands Aghajanyan resign as the director of Dilijan National Park.
Details on the incident
Eyewitnesses of the brutal killing, which occurred on December 1 at Getap restaurant in Dilijan, immediately reported the incident to the police.
However, law enforcement officers who arrived at the scene erroneously stated that the law on the criminalisation of animal cruelty had not yet entered into force.
MP Naira Zohrabyan, the initiator of the bill, was one of the first to respond to the incident, and on her Facebook page commented on the law enforcement officials’ statement:
“Mr. Acting Police Chief, your subordinates do not know the law … I inform everyone, as the author of this law, that it has already entered into force. I have already officially addressed the acting police chief, [requesting he] “launch an investigation against Surik Aghajanyan on the grounds of part two of Article 258 of the Criminal Code of Armenia, which provides for imprisonment of one to three years.”
Zohrabyan said she was informed by eyewitnesses, that in response to their indignation at the event, the deputy police chief of the city of Dilijan said:
“Well, it’s his beast – what’s the matter?”
Zohrabyan indignantly wrote:
“The whole question is still who the beast really is…”
Animal abuse criminalization act
The animal abuse criminalization act came into force in the fall of 2019. The bill was authored by MPs from the Prosperous Armenia party, and provides for fines for cruelty to pets and homeless animals to the amount of 100-300 times the minimum wage, as well as imprisonment for up to 1 year.
The new law also provides for punishment when a crime against animals is premeditated, committed by a group of people and with particular cruelty.
In this case, the bill provides for a fine of 300-500 times the minimum wage or imprisonment for a term of one to three years.
Reactions to the incident
The incident in Getap restaurant in Dilijan has caused a stir; the restaurant’s Facebook page wall has been inundated with photos of the murdered dog and calls for visitors to refrain from frequenting the restaurant.
The police have responded to the incident with an ambiguous press statement:
“[It seems] the owner of the restaurant complex on December 1 at 13:15 shot and killed a dog with a TOZ-16 hunting rifle registered in his name … An investigation and verification of this information is being conducted.”
The restaurant has offered its own account of the event, claiming that the dog was suffering from rabies, and was a threat to the safety of the visitors of the complex.
Facebook users have expressed doubt over this explanation and continue to attack the restaurant’s page.
Armenian Facebook users have been actively discussing the incident since the evening of December 1.
Here are some typical comments:
“I’m never again setting a foot in this restaurant!”
“What a cruel act! A person who kills a dog can kill a person. It’s necessary to disgrace this restaurant and close it!”
“He must be judged, or shot with the same gun.”
“Dog killer! With our new law on the protection of animals, he will be convicted, he will be imprisoned for up to 3 years!”
“Where is the Armenian police, why is this freak still not being arrested? Urgently institute criminal proceedings and put him in jail. And everyone should learn about his punishment!”
“This beast must be punished in all severity of the law!”
“This Surik was not meant to be appointed to the post of director of the National Park. In Dilijan everyone knows about his business and how much he has cut down trees for his business…”
“Not only the guy who shot the dog should be punished – but the ‘acting chief of police’ as well, or whoever he is, so that it serves as a lesson to others.”