Beaten but not Bowed: “When you see Nikol, tell him that Grandpa Abo sends his greetings”
“Revolutionary” Grandpa Abo now coalescing after being kicked by masked men during Reject Serzh protests in Yerevan
Hetq visited some people who actively participated in the latest anti-government protests.
Susanna and her husband Samvel were one of them. Susanna puts demonstration posters on the sofa. Samvel shows one of the many pictures on the wall, which Susanna painted after the revolution.
Samvel Minasyan is looking for videos of the April 22 events on Artsakh Street. That day, Samvel assisted 79-year-old Albert Vardanyan, who was hit and dropped on the ground by one of the police officers serving in a special forces unit.
"It happened during the third explosion. People with black masks came, cursed the man, then kicked him. The old man fell on his head and didn’t move. We ran to help. We even thought that he had died. After that, one of the police officers in civilian clothes hit me, "Samvel recalls. They then asked for an ambulance to transfer Albert Vardanyan to the hospital. Samvel says that the ambulance doctor had refused to take him at first, but then agreed.
We visited Albert Vardanyan (Grandpa Abo) together with Samvel Minasyan. 79-year-old Abo greets us at the entrance to the house, leaning on his walker. He hardly moves and makes his way to the living room. He says the pain is especially strong at night.
Grandpa Abo is a tailor. He says he used to sew trousers and jackets, and he was talented at it. He has two sewing machines. Abo even started to teach the craft to one of his grandsons before the demonstrations.
Grandpa Abo participated in all protests in Yerevan starting from April 13. He adds that he has been taking part in demonstrations since 1988, and many know him by face on the street.
"When they took Nikol by force, I got scared. They started shooting. Were you there when they started shooting?” he asks Samvel. Samvel says he was, and Abo continues. "What were they doing? My neighbor was with me with her daughter and grandson. Then I lost sight of them. I think they ran away. The Erebuni side of the street was blocked by police. Police officers were coming forward in fours, catching young boys by their legs and hands and carrying away. I tried to intervene, then they carried the second, the third… I shouted at them,cursed them. I don’t remember how they dropped me on the ground, and then I heard people askingthem to stop kicking, since I was dead "
Video: The scenes of people assisiting Grandpa Abo start at 14:00
Abo says that his left shin bone was broken, and doctors used pins to repair it.
At first, they demanded 800,000 drams for the surgery, then they changed their minds, saying, "Grandpa Abo, we won’t take any money from you, you are a hero". Grandpa wipes his wet eyes with his hands when recounting this.
"Grandpa Abo, do you remember what you asked after they had brought you to the ward after the surgery?" asks Samvel, knowing the answer.
"Yes, I opened my eyes and asked what had happened to Nikol. Then they told me that Serzh Sargsyan had resigned, oh, that was such a joy", he says, and constantly asks us to pass his greetings to Nikol if we see him.
Grandpa Abo says he doesn’t hold a grudge toward the person who kicked him. He’s glad for having seen smiles on people’s faces.
However, he says he still has some problems with some of his neighbors, who were trying to hold him back from participating in the demonstrations, arguing that it was shameful for a man of his age to participate.
“Once I recover and start walking again, I’ll show them”, says Abo, smiling.
Photos: Hakob Poghosyan