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06 09 30 - Lawless Living Near Holy See: Unconfirmed shooting spotlights clan rule in Echmiadzin
By Vahan Ishkhanyan ArmeniaNow reporter
An alleged shooting incident in Echmiadzin Monday, remains uninvestigated, leading residents of the city to (privately) voice their anger that powerful figures are operating beyond the reach of the law.
The General of Echmiadzin

It is widely perceived in the city of 50,000 and home of Armenia’s Holy See that Echmiadzin is under the control of Manvel Girgoryan, Deputy Defense Minister and a Lieutenant General Karabakh war hero. On, September 25 at about 8 p.m., Grigoryan’s son-in-law, businessman Artak Poghosyan, is believed to have fired shots at a motorist, presumably because Poghosyan didn’t like the way the man was driving. The alleged incident occurred on Kirov Street, a residential thoroughfare. According to witnesses, Poghosyan and accompanists pulled the driver (believed to be from Yerevan) from his car, beat him, then shot the man in his foot. Sources who provided information to ArmeniaNow could not provide details on the motorist’s identity. State Police say there has been no report filed of any such shooting. Poghosyan is a member of the Ecmiadzin City Council and his wife, Naira Grigoryan, is judge of the Court of First Instance in Echmiadzin. It is not the first time Grigoryan or his associates have been implicated in criminal activity that has gone unpunished. In January 2005, Grigoryan beat Armenian Apostolic Church clergyman Ter Khachatur Knyazyan who had parked in a no-parking area. Last October 13, during mayoral campaigning, men believed to be part of Grigoryan’s clan kidnapped candidate Yervand Aghvanyan’s supporters Martin Vardanyan, Seyran Hakobyan and Gevorg Abrahamyan. At the campaign headquarters candidate (now mayor) Gagik Avagyan they beat Gevorg Abrahamyan and dumped him, bleeding, near Aghvanyan’s headquarters. At midnight September 13, 2003, in a billiards hall on Echmiadzin’s Patkanyan Street, Grigoryan beat 28-year-old Avetik Danghyan, allegedly for refusing to obey his order – to kneel before him. After brutally beating him the general pierced his body with a billiard cue, after which Danghyan fainted. Other crimes, including a murder and a rape, that law-enforcement has no record of, are widely known to have occurred in Echmiadzin. According to a poll conducted by the Helsinki Committee, 116 out of 117 residents of Echmiadzin say there are people in town who stand above law. In January of this year, a number of local and international public organizations, among which were also the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), voiced their concerns over human rights violations in Armenia and spread a statement in which a paragraph was dedicated to the atmosphere of lawlessness and fear reigning in Echmiadzin. “The inability of law-enforcement bodies to struggle against the terrorist system created by certain individuals or clans in certain towns of Armenia, for example in Echmiadzin, is unacceptable. The inability of the state to ensure the protection of citizens’ rights and freedoms from local tyrants needs urgent attention,” the statement reads.


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