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Former Communist Minister Dies




By Armen Zakarian

Leonid Hakobian, a popular politician and the only Communist Party member to have held a ministerial post in the Armenian government since independence, died early on Thursday at the age of 65.

Party officials said the death was caused by a heart attack.

A leading figure in the Communist Party (HKK), Hakobian was an outspoken critic of Armenia’s post-Soviet governments. He was twice elected to the parliament from the same single-mandate constituency in Yerevan, capitalizing on widespread public disillusionment with the country’s post-Communist leadership.

In early 2000 he joined the cabinet of then prime minister Aram Sarkisian as minister for urban development. His appointment was part of Sarkisian’s efforts to build a broad, multi-party coalition against President Robert Kocharian, with whom he was locked in a bitter power struggle.

Although Hakobian kept his job after Sarkisian’s dismissal in May, he stepped down in December 2000 before being elected a member of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences.

The Communists reverted to their harsh anti-government rhetoric his resignation.
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