Former Yerevan Mayor Karen Karapetian has been appointed as first vice-chairman of one of Russia’s largest commercial banks owned by the Gazprom energy conglomerate.
The Moscow-based Gazprombank announced the news in a short statement posted on its website over the weekend. It gave no reasons for the appointment that came just over a month after Karapetian’s unexpected resignation as Yerevan mayor.
A spokeswoman for Armenia’s ARG national gas distribution company mostly owned by Gazprom confirmed the information on Tuesday. Karapetian managed the company before being elected mayor by the Armenian capital’s government-controlled municipal assembly in December 2010.
Gazprom has 43 branches across Russia and total assets currently worth almost $62 billion. It holds major stakes in three foreign banks, one of them located in Armenia.
Announcing his surprise resignation on October 28, Karapetian cited “personal reasons” and his imminent “transfer to another work.” He did not deny reports that he received a lucrative job offer from one of Russia’s energy giants.
The development was followed by the resignations and sackings of several other senior Armenian officials, notably parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian.
Political observers have linked those personnel changes with parliamentary elections due next May. Some of them have speculated that President Serzh Sarkisian is anxious to ward off a possible challenge from his predecessor Robert Kocharian.
Karapetian was named to run ARG during Kocharian’s rule. Like Armenia’s current and previous presidents, he is a native of Nagorno-Karabakh.