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The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) insisted on Friday that parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian decided to step down not because of being distrusted by President Serzh Sarkisian.


A senior HHK representative also said that Mikael Minasian, Sarkisian’s influential son-in-law and aide, will assist, rather than oversee, Abrahamian in the latter’s new capacity as the HHK’s election campaign manager.

Abrahamian announced his resignation earlier this week amid mounting speculation that Sarkisian is neutralizing government figures that could lend support to his predecessor Robert Kocharian’s possible bid to return to power.

Abrahamian denied being a Kocharian loyalist and said he simply wants to accomplish what he considers a more important mission ahead of the May 2012 parliamentary elections.

Some opposition politicians and media commentators insist, however, that Abrahamian was in fact put in a difficult situation seeing as he will have to earn the Sarkisian-led HHK votes at the expense of the reputedly pro-Kocharian Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK). One of the outgoing speaker’s sons is married to a daughter of BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian.

“If there was a question of distrust here, I think that … the president of the republic would not have offered [the speaker to run the HHK campaign] in the first place and there would have been a different person in charge,” Hovannes Sahakian, a senior HHK parliamentarian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Sahakian also said that Sarkisian’s decision on Thursday to dismiss Minasian as deputy chief of the presidential administration is not aimed at enabling to the president to keep a tight rein on Abrahamian. Minasian will only be helping Abrahamian to “better organize” the HHK’s election campaign, he said.

Minasian, 34, likewise stated on Thursday that he decided to leave the president’s staff to help the HHK campaign manager “properly prepare the forthcoming elections.” President Sarkisian wants to hold “the best elections” in Armenia’s history, he claimed.

Opposition leaders dismiss such assurances. Anahit Bakhshian of the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party claimed that the authorities are only keen to develop new “mechanisms” for vote rigging and buying.

Armen Rustamian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), similarly said that the latest high-level changes in the country’s leadership are solely aimed at ensuring its “reproduction.”
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