On July 13 a Kamaz truck rammed into a bus causing the death of 18 people. Hrachya Harutyunyan was the driver of the truck. He was arrested and brought to court in woman's dressing gown, without getting appropriate medical support he clearly needed. The humiliating treatment became a major focus of public attention.
The speakers of the press conference included Aram Vardevanyan, Head of Legal Analysis Department at Human Rights Defender's office; Anahit Mayilyan, Hrachya Harutyunyan's niece; human rights advocates Zhanna Alexanyan (Journalists for Human Rights NGO), Avetik Ishkhanyan (Helsinki Committee of Armenia); Samvel Martirosyan, blogger, reporter at kavkaz-uzel.ru; Edward Hovhannisyan, President of “Achilles Center for Protection of Drivers'Rights” NGO.
Invitatitions were sent to the Embassy of Russian Federation in the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian office of Union of Russian Armenians.
“The Caucasians in Russia have always been used for solving inner political issues. That is why the State Duma hasn't been passing the bill on prohibition of disclosure of lawbreaker's nationality since 2007. Another principal issue is that our representations are used to acting in a restricted access mode. I cannot understand why Ombudsman's office should do the Ministry of External Affairs' work. It is crucial that in such cases the state does not remain behind curtains”, Samvel Martirosyan says.
The blogger adds there has been a serious anti-Russian wave in Armenia during the last ten years for which, he thinks, the Kremlin is responsible.
The Ombudsman estimated Hrachya Harutyunyan’s appearance in a woman’s dressing gown as a violation of human rights.
“The 21th article of the Constitution of Russia excludes any mechanism suggesting violation of the right of dignity. The state is responsible for not allowing a person to appear in the court in this condition, even if it is a person’s wish”, Aram Vardevanyan says, reminding of the presumption of innocence factor: Hrachya Harutyunyan is innocent until the verdict of the court is announced.
Yeranuhi Tumanyants notes that the Human Rights’ Defender’s Office in Armenia is in a permanent communication with their colleagues in Russia who have said they will be consistent in their actions.
“We know that Hrachya Harutyunyan is in the investigatory isolation ward, his physical state is not bad but he is in a very hard psychological condition and is under the care of a psychologist and a psychiatrist”, Tumanyants informs.
Anahit Mayilyan said her uncle had participated in the war in 90s. He was made to leave for Moscow to earn some money for the tombstone of his son who had died at the age of 21.
“We have relatives in Moscow who tried to take some clothes to him, but were not allowed to. After so many days we didn't have a single chance to talk to him on phone even for a few seconds. We didn't even know what his health condition is. Everybody can see in the video, that turning the truck to the left he didn't think of saving himself”, Mayilyan says, adding that the day before a Ministry of Defence representative passed 400 thousands AMD to the family for the tombstone of Harutyunyan’s son.
“Bringing someone to the court like this is a disrespectful attitude first of all to the court. I have been following the Russian online media’s work, most of them work in the context of hatred and hostility”, Zhanna Alexanyan is convinced.
“This case has been obviously used for anti-Armenian propaganda. Such an attitude towards a man cannot be defined otherwise than political position. And this is an insult to all of us, beginning from the president of Armenia to common citizens”, Ishkhanyan states, who is sure nothing like that could have happened if the driver was a representative of a Slavonic nationality.