The National Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to appoint Armenia’s new prosecutor-general nominated by President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK).
Artur Davtian, 37, will take up the post more than a month after the resignation of his predecessor, Gevorg Kostanian.
The resignation, which the 38-year-old Kostanian attributed to “health problems,” came just days after the end of a deadly standoff between Armenian security forces and opposition gunmen that seized a police station in Yerevan on July 17.
The Armenian parliament approved the ruling party’s choice of the new chief prosecutor by 97 votes to 3 after a heated debate. Deputies representing the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) boycotted the vote.
Opposition lawmakers rejected Davtian’s candidacy during the debate. They accused Armenian prosecutors of opening politically motivated criminal cases, ensuring the impunity of violent government loyalists and executing other government orders.
“Why do you think they hang Serzh Sarkisian’s pictures in their offices?” one of them, Nikol Pashinian, said.
Aram Manukian, an HAK deputy, claimed that the Office of the Prosecutor-General has for years ignored evidence of government corruption and other abuses sent to it by his opposition party. “If your agency doesn’t even bother to respond, should I think that it’s fighting against corruption and other economic crimes? No,” he told Davtian.
Eduard Sharmazanov, a deputy parliament speaker and a senior HHK figure, rejected the opposition allegations. “We are electing a prosecutor, not a savior,” he said. “There is almost no systemic corruption within the prosecutor’s office.”
For his part, Davtian, who has worked as Yerevan’s chief prosecutor until now, told reporters before the vote: “I will stick to only one rule of the game: the laws of the Republic of Armenia.”