By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The Armenian parliament elected on Friday the new chairmen of its standing committees on defense and social affairs that were headed by senior members of the Orinats Yerkir party until its withdrawal from the governing coalition.
Deputies voted overwhelmingly to endorse the coalition leaders’ decision to give the posts to the governing Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and the United Labor Party (MAK).
The new chairman of the parliament committee on defense and security, Aramayis Grigorian, was nominated by Dashnaktsutyun despite not being formally affiliated with the nationalist party. “I am not yet a member of Dashnaktsutyun, but don’t rule out anything,” he said after his election.
Grigorian and his brother Arayik, a member of the Dashnaktsutyun faction in the National Assembly, are the owners of a vodka company based in the southern Ararat province. Aramayis Grigorian was hardly known outside his Ararat constituency until he reportedly scuffled with Minister for Local Government Hovik Abrahamian on the parliament floor last year.
Grigorian exposed his lack of experience in defense-related matters when he was asked by RFE/RL whether he had voted in December 2004 for the controversial deployment of a small Armenian army unit in Iraq. “I must have voted for the deployment,” he replied. “A lot of time has passed since then. I don’t remember exactly right now.”
But the 41-year-old lawmaker did recall, after a brief pause, that the Dashnaktsutyun faction voted against the deployment.
The parliament committee on social affairs, healthcare and education will be headed by MAK member Mnatsakan Petrosian. He too has kept a low profile in the legislature until now.
(Photolur photos: Aramayis Grigorian, left, and Mnatsakan Petrosian.)