Parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian has cancelled a planned official visit to Ukraine amid signs of tension within the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
Abrahamian was due to fly to Kiev later this week for talks with President Viktor Yanukovich and other top Ukrainian officials. His spokeswoman, Gohar Poghosian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Thursday that the visit has been postponed until this autumn.
Poghosian declined to give reasons for the delay, saying only that it is unrelated to an upcoming a meeting of the HHK’s governing body headed by President Serzh Sarkisian.
The meeting scheduled for Thursday evening was expected to discuss Sarkisian’s apparent discontent with senior HHK lawmakers’ failure to defend his government against corruption allegations made by the Audit Chamber.
Sarkisian signaled his anger as he lambasted the Audit Chamber chairman, Ishkhan Zakarian, over the weekend. He said the HHK leadership will discuss the behavior of the ruling party’s parliamentary faction.
Abrahamian, who is thought to have a tense rapport with Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian, criticized the government last month immediately after Zakarian presented lawmakers with an Audit Chamber report alleging widespread misuse of budgetary funds. The government rejected most of those allegations, with Tigran Sarkisian accusing the parliamentary body of having ulterior political motives. President Sarkisian sided with the government in the row.
Eduard Sharmazanov, a deputy parliament speaker and the chief HHK spokesman, acknowledged that the head of state is unhappy with the HHK faction’s failure to support the government on the parliament floor. “It is normal for a party leader to have greater expectations from his team,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “We are human beings and may make mistakes. Mistakes are made only by those who work.”
Sharmazanov was reticent about the agenda of the late-night HHK meeting. He said it will discuss “internal political issues” but refused to elaborate.