By Emil Danielyan
President Robert Kocharian appointed on Tuesday the director of Armenia’s oldest and largest film company, Gevorg Gevorgian, as his new culture minister.
The cabinet post, reserved for parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian’s Orinats Yerkir Party, has been vacant since the January 5 scandalous resignation of the previous minister, Hovik Hoveyan. Hoveyan was forced to quit after reportedly attacking and pistol-whipping several utility workers that had briefly cut electricity to his Yerevan apartment.
Orinats Yerkir leaders have since screened over a dozen potential candidates, none of them reportedly affiliated with the party, for the job. The party’s governing board approved the choice of Gevorgian and asked Kocharian to formalize his appointment late on Friday. A mechanical engineer by training, Gevorgian has run the recently privatized Hayfilm studio for the past 14 years and had previously worked there as a production manager.
Gevorgian, 57, has not been involved in political activities in the past. Newspaper reports quoted him as saying over the weekend that he has no plans to join Orinats Yerkir, something which seemed a must until now. Hoveyan, for example, joined the party just days before his appointment as minister in April 2004.
Baghdasarian and his associates now appear more concerned with avoiding further scandals at the Armenian Ministry of Culture and Youth Affairs that bring negative publicity to Orinats Yerkir. The party, which has the second largest faction in parliament, had to replace its culture ministers twice in 18 months under embarrassing circumstances. Both Hoveyan and his Orinats Yerkir predecessor Tamara Poghosian developed highly controversial reputations with their eccentric discourse ridiculed by the local media.