Fight in Armenian parliament

Armenian Parliamentarians Exchange Blows After Coronavirus Aid Criticism: Video

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) – Armenian parliamentarians from opposing parties exchanged blows amid a disagreement over the government’s economic response to the coronavirus crisis.

During a debate on May 8, Edmon Marukyan, the leader of the Bright Armenia opposition faction, accused the ruling My Step faction loyal to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of failing to help ordinary citizens amid the economic shutdown.

The opposition has called for larger cash payments to citizens.

Marukyan’s criticism triggered angry remarks from My Step lawmakers, including Sasun Mikayelyan. Displeased by what he heard, Marukyan stepped down from the podium midway through his speech and approached Mikayelyan, who stood up from this seat. The two threw punches at each other before it was broken up by other members of parliament.

“No matter how hard you hit me, I will continue to speak up,” Marukyan stated once he returned to the podium.

“The [2018] revolution took place also to establish a culture of debate here in this parliament,” he said, referring to the events that brought Pashinyan to power two years ago.

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Parliament Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan, seeking to cool the tension in the chamber, soon interrupted Marukyan’s speech to announce a break.

Pashinyan later condemned the fistfight, but blamed the opposition lawmaker for picking the quarrel. Pashinyan said Marukyan’s decision to step down from the podium indicated he was intent on fighting.

“Having watched the video of the incident, I cannot but describe what happened as a miserable provocation,” said Pashinyan.

However, Pashinyan also lamented that his party members “give in to provocations.”

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