Attempted kidnapping of the Prime Minister of Armenia's son: Human rights defenders' comments
In Armenia, the attempted kidnapping of Ashot Pashinyan, the son of the Prime Minister, is being vigorously discussed.
Gayane Hakobyan, the mother of a soldier who died in 2020 during the war in Karabakh, was arrested. She is a member of the Call of Sons NGO, founded by the parents of victims. She is suspected of “attempting to kidnap” and is in jail. The defense filed a complaint with the court about the detention of the mother of the deceased soldier.
Human rights activist Zara Hovhannisyan said that Pashinyan’s son is not responsible for the problems that, according to NGO members, arose due to the actions of the prime minister. In her opinion, society should not allow this to become a precedent, people can turn to officials with their questions, but have no right to sort things out with their children.
Testimonials didn’t match
The day before, a joint interrogation and confrontation of Ashot Pashinyan and the mother of the deceased soldier Gayane Hakobyan were held. This suggests that their preliminary testimony differed significantly. Information about the results of the confrontation was not disclosed.
It is known that Gayane Hakobyan is suspected of committing a crime on the grounds of Article 191, part 2, paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code, “the abduction of a person or his close relative in connection with the performance of state, political, official, professional duties or public activities.”
“Based on his emotions, he will decide whether to let go or not”
On May 17, the Haykakan Zhamanak newspaper, owned by the family of the Prime Minister, was the first to disseminate information about the attempted kidnapping of Ashot Pashinyan. Later, the information was confirmed by the police, saying that Pashinyan Jr. filed a complaint about the crime, on the basis of which a criminal case was initiated.
According to the data obtained by the investigation, Ashot Pashinyan met with the parents of the soldiers who died during the 44-day war in the courtyard of the Court of Appeal. The prime minister’s son was approached by the mother of one of them, who offered to sit in her car, which was parked nearby, and talk calmly. When Pashinyan got into the car, the car started, and the woman said that “they will drive further so that they are not interfered with.”
“In the car, the woman started talking about the 2020 war, territorial and human losses. Seeing that the latter was behaving inappropriately, exceeding the speed limit, violating traffic rules, he demanded to stop the car in order to get out.
The woman said that her son was taken away and killed without asking her, she has nothing to lose and she can kill him, therefore, without asking him, she will take him to Yerablur [the pantheon where the dead Armenian soldiers are buried], where, based on her emotions will decide whether to let him go or not,” the investigative committee said in a statement.
On the way, when the car was not moving at high speed, Ashot Pashinyan jumped out. He was hit by a car following him and injured his leg. According to the Prime Minister’s son, the car also contained the parents of the fallen soldiers, whom he noticed at the courthouse.
“Jumped out of the car for no reason”
This statement was made by the public organization “Call of the Sons”. NGO representatives claim that Ashot Pashinyan got into the car “without objection, without anyone’s intervention.” In their opinion, this is a refutation of the fact of abduction.
Ruben Melikyan, who represents the interests of Gayane Hakobyan, also believes that her actions cannot be qualified as kidnapping. According to the lawyer, no violence was committed against Ashot Pashinyan, he voluntarily got into the car, and Gayane Hakobyan “did not take any measures that would deprive him of the opportunity to get out of the car.”
Human rights activist Zara Hovhannisyan claims that Ashot Pashinyan is not the person who could answer the questions of the parents of the dead servicemen.
“The state could do much more: firstly, stop, prevent the war, and secondly, give answers to the parents of the dead military personnel and show more attention and care for them. But this cannot in any way justify such an attitude towards the son of the head of state or the person responsible for any action,” she said.
According to Hovhannisyan, a child is a separate person who is not responsible for the problems “that have arisen due to the activities of the parents.”
Commenting on the testimony of representatives of the NGO, who claim that there can be no talk of kidnapping since Pashinyan got into the car voluntarily, she stated:
“Even if he got into the car voluntarily, this does not exclude the occurrence of unforeseen circumstances in the car. In any case, if an unpleasant conversation takes place in the car and a person asks or calls to stop the car, then the driver must comply with this wish. I assume that he threw himself out of the car, as this requirement was not met.”
According to the human rights activist, in a case when the child of a high-ranking civil servant refuses state protection, the society itself should take on this function, and not infringe on his rights.
Human rights activist Zhanna Aleksanyan says there is no information about obvious criminal acts from which one could draw unambiguous conclusions. According to her, it is necessary to find out what happened in the car from which Ashot Pashinyan jumped out:
“There are no reports that a weapon was pointed at him. In case of such danger, he could jump out of the car. What threat could the woman who was driving the car at that moment pose?”
According to Aleksanyan, if he agreed to talk, then he was ready for “a difficult conversation, he could go to the cemetery where the soldiers are buried, get out of the car and talk.”
At the same time, he calls for abandoning a superficial assessment of the situation. He recalls that the parents were at the building of the Court of Appeal, since an administrative case was initiated against them in the framework of the criminal case dated September 21 last year. And it is precisely such incidents, according to her, that cause a split between the state and the families of the dead military personnel.
“If even one policeman was punished, these people would not be so angry. And the police officers were not only not punished, but were not even identified,” she stressed.
The human rights activist called on Ashot Pashinyan to “show generosity” and withdraw his report about the crime submitted to the police.