Taron Markarian, a 33-year-old son of a former Armenian prime minister, is almost certain to become Yerevan’s new mayor after being nominated for the vacant post by President Serzh Sarkisian.
Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) announced on Tuesday that it will propose Markarian’s candidacy to the municipal assembly dominated by HHK members.
HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov said the decision was initiated by Sarkisian and unanimously approved by the party’s governing body at a late-night meeting on Monday.
Markarian was already receiving congratulations from friends and sympathizers on his Facebook page on Tuesday. He did not respond to those messages.
Under Armenian law, Yerevan’s Council of Elders must elect by the end of this month a successor to Mayor Karen Karapetian who unexpectedly resigned late last week for still unclear reasons. Markarian, who has served as deputy mayor since 2009, was always seen as Karapetian’s most likely replacement.
“He has proved to be a good deputy mayor,” Sharmazanov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I think he has also demonstrated that his character corresponds to the standards set for state officials by President Serzh Sarkisian.”
“I am convinced that together with our municipality colleagues Taron Markarian can address the problems facing our capital,” he said.
The Yerevan municipality, meanwhile, said the Council of Elders will meet on Friday to decide practical modalities of the selection of the next mayor.
A senior member of the HHK, Markarian began his political career in 2005 when he was elected mayor of Yerevan’s northern Avan district at the age of 27. His late father Andranik was Armenia’s prime minister and the HHK leader at the time.
Markarian’s name was high on the list of HHK candidates in the May 2009 municipal elections which the ruling party won by a landslide amid opposition allegations of fraud. He was elected deputy mayor after the vote.
Sharmazanov insisted that the HHK is satisfied with the previous mayor’s performance.
Karapetian has attributed his resignation to “personal reasons” and “transfer to another work” and denied any political reasons for the surprise move. According to unconfirmed reports in the Armenian and Russian press, he has been offered a senior position in Russia’s Gazprom natural gas monopoly.
There has also been media speculation that Sarkisian regards Karapetian as a potential backer of his predecessor Robert Kocharian who is allegedly keen to resume political activities and challenge the current president.