The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) insisted on Wednesday that it did not force the human rights ombudsman, Karen Andreasian, to step down with harsh criticism voiced by some of its senior members.
Vahram Baghdasarian, the HHK’s parliamentary leader, said Andreasian’s resignation announced on Tuesday took him by surprise.
“With regard to the authorities, according to my information, there has been no such talk, no agreement [on the resignation,]” Baghdasarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “It was Karen Andreasian’s personal decision, and I think he will present more detailed clarifications.”
“If he has some personal problems, I believe that they are not connected with the Republican Party’s parliamentary faction,” he said.
Andreasian, who has reported many human rights abuses in Armenia throughout his five-year tenure, was publicly attacked by several HHK parliamentarians in October when he presented the National Assembly with an annual report on the work of his office. The ombudsman denounced the harsh criticism as a smear campaign ordered by an unnamed government-linked individual.
Andreasian faced more verbal attacks from Education Minister Armen Ashotian, a deputy chairman of the HHK, later in 2015. He dismissed them as baseless.
“The resignation is the result of widespread human rights violations in Armenia,” said Zaruhi Postanjian, an outspoken opposition deputy. “There was definitely pressure exerted on him.”
Postanjian urged Andreasian to reconsider his decision to resign. Andreasian has so far refused to give any reasons for the move.
Under Armenian law, the state human rights defender will be formally relieved of his duties by the parliament only if he again tenders resignation within the next 10 days.
While denying any government pressure put on Andreasian, Baghdasarian deplored the ombudsman’s angry reactions to the negative evaluations of his activities. “He should be prepared for such criticisms,” said the ruling party figure. “The problem is that he was prepared for praise but not criticism.”