Dashnaktsutyun Protests Against ‘Murder Cover-Up’

Hundreds supporters of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) marched to the presidential palace in Yerevan on Tuesday to protest against law-enforcement authorities’ perceived failure to solve the murder of a village mayor affiliated with the opposition party.

The protesters led by Dashnaktsutyun leaders in Armenia demanded that President Serzh Sarkisian intervene in the ongoing criminal investigation into the fatal shooting of Hrach Muradian, the longtime mayor of Proshian, a big village just west of Yerevan.

Muradian was shot dead outside the village administration in April in still unclear circumstances. A local resident was arrested in the following days on charges of carrying out the killing which Dashnaktsutyun considers politically motivated. The 31-year-old man, Arayik Petrosian, denies the charges.

Muradian’s relatives and supporters have also questioned the official theory, saying that other, more influential individuals were involved in the high-profile killing. Some of them accuse investigators of covering up the crime.

Armenia - A candlelight vigil in Yerevan's Liberty Square in memory of Hrach Muradian, a village mayor murdered on April 2, 04Apr2013.
“We are convinced that seven months was sufficient time for investigators to at least achieve tangible results,” Armen Rustamian, a Dashnaktsutyun leader, told reporters covering the demonstration. “But as we can see, the investigation is on the contrary in deadlock.”

Rustamian said President Sarkisian should therefore personally oversee the probe. He claimed that some of the presumed witnesses of the killing left Armenia recently. Dashnaktsutyun leaders said earlier that they are too scared to give testimony.

According to Dashnaktsutyun, the late Proshian mayor was at loggerheads with local activists of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and other government loyalists throughout his tenure. He allegedly received threats from unknown individuals and faced frequent financial audits by other higher-level authorities.

Muradian’s relatives participating in the rally pointed the finger at Kovalenko Shahgaldian, the HHK-affiliated governor of the central Kotayk province encompassing Proshian. His brother, Israel Muradian, said Shahgaldian ordered “endless inspections” of the Proshian administration in an effort to get rid of the mayor. “We don’t suspect anyone except [Shahgeldian,]” said Israel’s wife Lusina.

Shahgaldian shrugged such allegations. “I don’t comment on stupidities,” the governor told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).