By Ruben Meloyan
The longtime government-appointed governors of two Armenian regions were dismissed and expected to be replaced by other loyalists of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s Republican Party (HHK) on Thursday.
Albert Heroyan of the southern Armavir province and Henrik Kochinian of Lori, northern Armenia were relieved of their duties during a weekly cabinet session chaired by Markarian. A government statement on the meeting gave no clear reasons for the move.
Heroyan and Kochinian have been known as staunch supporters of President Robert Kocharian. Kochinian, who had served as transport minister in the early 1990s, accompanied the Armenian leader during his April 2001 peace talks with Azerbaijan’s then President Heydar Aliev on the Florida island of Key West.
The two gubernatorial posts are controlled by the HHK in accordance with a power-sharing agreement signed by Kocharian and his leading political allies in June 2003. It is not clear if the HHK leaders and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian in particular were unhappy with the work of Heroyan and Kochinian. Senior Republican lawmakers claimed to have not been informed of their dismissal beforehand.
Contacted by RFE/RL, Heroyan claimed that he himself tendered his resignation after deciding to retire. “There are no political reasons behind this decision,” he said. “I am not a member of any party, and have not engaged and will not engage in politics.”
Kochinian, for his part, declined comment.
(Photolur photos: Henrik Kochinian, left, and Albert Heroyan.)