Zaruhi Postanjian, an outspoken opposition lawmaker, said on Thursday that she will travel to Strasbourg later this month to challenge her controversial ouster from the Armenian delegation at the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE).
Armenian parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian decided to replace Postanjian by a pro-government deputy in late October just weeks after she embarrassed President Serzh Sarkisian during his appearance at a PACE plenary session.
Postanjian, who is affiliated with the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, challenged Sarkisian to respond to allegations that he gambled away more than $90 million in a European casino. The president scoffed at the question that triggered a barrage of condemnations and insults from government loyalists in Yerevan.
The change in the Armenian parliamentary delegation means that its credentials have to be recognized by the PACE at its winter session scheduled for January 27-31. Postanjian expressed confidence that the Strasbourg-based assembly will demand that she be reinstated as PACE member. She argued that the European People’s Party, a coalition of Europe’s leading conservative parties comprising Zharangutyun, has invited her to the session.
“If Zharangutyun is not represented in our delegation then its mandate will be disputed at the initiative of the European People’s Party, which has the largest faction in the PACE,” Postanjian told RFE/RL’s Armenia’s service (Azatutyun.am) by phone from Boston, where she is currently taking a six-month course at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Naira Zohrabian, another member of the PACE representing the opposition-leaning Prosperous Armenian Party (BHK), dismissed Postanjian’s statements. She insisted that Postanjian will fail to regain her PACE seat. Zohrabian reaffirmed in that regard her strong disapproval of the embarrassing question asked to Sarkisian.
Neither the BHK and nor two other opposition parties represented in Armenia’s parliament have condemned Postanjian’s removal from the PACE delegation.