By Emil Danielyan
A top general was discharged from Armenia’s Armed Forces on Wednesday in what is widely seen as a prelude to his participation in the May parliamentary elections.
Major-General Seyran Saroyan, the influential commander of the Fourth Army Corps, was relieved of his duties in accordance with a decree signed by President Robert Kocharian. Kocharian’s office gave no reasons for the move.
The decree has been anticipated since press reports last week which said Saroyan, who is a leading member of the Yerkrapah Union of the Nagorno-Karabakh war veterans, has decided to enter politics. He will reportedly run for parliament as a candidate of the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) in a constituency south of Yerevan.
Incidentally, that parliament seat is currently held by Hakob Hakobian, a controversial lawmaker who joined the HHK last year and is currently facing prosecution on charges of fraud, tax evasion and “hooliganism.” Some Armenian media have speculated that the party wants Saroyan to unseat the disgraced parliamentarian. The bearded general, who holds sway in the southern town of Echmiadzin, has declined a comment so far.
Another top general, Deputy Defense Minister Artur Aghabekian, last week pointedly refused to deny Saroyan’s imminent involvement in the electoral race. “It’s good when an officer with ample combat experience wishes to try himself in another area, be it politics or civil service,” Aghabekian told reporters.
Aghabekian, who is also a prominent war veteran, himself has decided to resign from the military and contest the elections on the ticket of another governing party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). His resignation request was formally submitted to Kocharian on Tuesday and is expected to be granted.
(Photolur photo: Seyran Saroyan.)