More than a dozen local officials in a big village near Yerevan stepped down on Monday in protest against the controversially elected successor of its mayor assassinated in April.
The 13 officials make up practically the entire staff of the village administration. The two other staffers were sacked by Artur Muradian last week immediately after he took over as new mayor of Proshian.
Muradian, who is a member of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), narrowly defeated another candidate, Vova Sahakian of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) in a disputed election held earlier this month. The vote took place three months after the still unsolved killing of the previous village chief, Hrach Muradian. It was denounced as undemocratic by Dashnaktsutyun.
The village officials loyal to the slain mayor described their resignations as an expression of protest against the Armenian authorities. They said the authorities’ handling of the local election reinforced their view that Hrach Muradian was shot dead for political reasons.
“We worked in an atmosphere of trust,” one of them, Lusine Petoyan, said. “Today that trust is gone. If the case had been solved, things might have been different.”
The mayor denied any political motives behind his predecessor’s killing and said he will have no trouble forming a new staff. “There are many well-educated young people in the village who can do the job,” he told reporters.
Artur Muradian also insisted that he is a legitimately elected mayor.