Yerevan city council descends into chaos as councillors brawl over sewage leak

Yerevan city council descends into chaos as councillors brawl over sewage leak
Video footage appears to show a councillor from the Yekir Tsirani party spilling sewage in the direction of the Yerevan mayor before being restrained.
By bne IntelliNews February 14, 2018

A meeting of the municipal council in Armenia's capital, Yerevan, descended into violence on February 13, when a group of opposition protesters scuffled with ruling party council members. 

The ruling Republican Party (HHK) has controlled the majority of seats in both national and municipal legislatures for the last two decades. However, Tuesday's stand-off was not the result of long-standing disputes, but rather appears to have been caused by a temporary leak in sewage pipes in the Nubarashen suburb of Yerevan.

Three Yerevan council members, representing the Yekir Tsirani party, brought containers filled with sewage collected from the broken pipes to a council meeting.  Shortly after the meeting started, two of them put on gloves and walked toward the podium, where mayor Taron Markarian was giving a speech, and handed the containers to him, which they called "a gift from Nubarashen residents".

Video footage appears to show one of the Yekir Tsirani members spilling sewage in the direction of the mayor before being restrained. 

A confrontation ensued with a group of angry HHK council members, who called the gesture an attack on the mayor. In the brawl, a Terkir Tsirani councillor, Marina Khachatrian, slapped a male HHK councillor, Edmond Kirakosian, after being jostled by him. The latter slapped her back, and she was dragged out of the meeting room by another HHK member moments later.

The council meeting was interrupted by an emergency recess, and when it resumed journalists had been banned from participating.

Yerkir Tsirani is a small and relatively new opposition party in Armenia, and occupies five of the 65 seats in the Yerevan municipal council. The party, together with its larger opposition competitor Yelk, have frequently clashed with HHK.