By Ruzanna Khachatrian
President Robert Kocharian was poised late on Wednesday to sign a decree relieving Armenia’s Agriculture Minister Zaven Gevorgian of his duties, a move widely expected for the past several weeks.
Gevorgian will likely be replaced by Minister for Industrial Infrastructures David Zadoyan, the country’s unofficial deputy prime minister. Zadoyan’s post, created more than two years ago, is expected to be abolished.
Sources close to Kocharian’s administration said the planned presidential decrees have been agreed with Prime Minister Andranik Markarian.
Gevorgian has been absent from work for almost a month, fueling speculation about his imminent dismissal. But officials said he simply went on vacation.
Gevorgian, who is thought to have business interests in Armenia and Russia, became agriculture minister in 1999, owing to his close ties with the then parliament speaker Karen Demirchian and his People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK). He severed his links with the HZhK last year after the center-left party, which is currently led by the assassinated speaker’s son Stepan, became openly critical of Kocharian and joined the opposition ranks.
Gevorgian formed his own party shortly afterwards. But his political plans remain uncertain.
His likely successor Zadoyan has held different ministerial posts since the early 1990s and is a senior member of Markarian’s Republican Party (HHK).