Gagik Tsarukian, the leader of the main opposition Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), said on Tuesday that he has been infected with the coronavirus.
Tsarukian posted on his Facebook page a short video of him saying jokingly earlier this year that “the coronavirus doesn’t hit good people.”
“So the coronavirus does not bypass good people either,” he wrote. “Quick recovery to all carriers of the virus!”
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Iveta Tonoyan, Tsarukian’s spokeswoman, confirmed that he has caught the disease.
It was not immediately clear whether the 63-year-old businessman and former arm-wrestler, who also heads Armenia’s National Olympic Committee, is receiving treatment at home or in hospital.
Several other members of the Armenian parliament affiliated with the BHK tested positive for the virus late last week. At least seven deputies representing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s My Step bloc also reportedly got infected and had to self-isolate in recent days.
The Armenian health authorities have registered 25,542 coronavirus cases in the country of about 3 million so far. They said on Tuesday that 14 more people infected with COVID-19 have died in the past 24 hours.
According to the Ministry of Health, the virus was the main cause of 10 of those deaths. The official death toll from the epidemic thus rose to 443.
Despite the reported infection of at least a dozen lawmakers, Armenia’s 132-seat parliament convened in the morning for an emergency session initiated by My Step.
The BHK’s 25-strong parliamentary group has boycotted parliament sessions for the last two weeks in protest against its pro-government majority’s June 16 decision to lift Tsarukian’s immunity from prosecution. The BHK leader is facing accusations of vote buying which he rejects as politically motivated.
On June 21, a Yerevan court refused to allow law-enforcement authorities to arrest Tsarukian pending investigation. Prosecutors appealed against the ruling.