By Astghik Bedevian
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) will get hold of another senior government position that was controlled by the Orinats Yerkir Party until its withdrawal from Armenia’s governing coalition last week, it emerged on Thursday.
Leaders of the nationalist party allied with President Robert Kocharian told RFE/RL that they have been offered to name the new governor of the northeastern Gegharkunik region. One of them, Armen Rustamian, said Dashnaktsutyun’s governing body in Armenia will meet later on Thursday or Friday to decide who should get the job.
Dashnaktsutyun representatives already run two other Armenian provincial administrations in accordance with their party’s 2003 power-sharing agreement with Kocharian, the Republican Party (HHK) and Orinats Yerkir. The latter’s forced exit from the coalition enabled it to boost its presence in the government.
Kocharian appointed on Wednesday another Dashnaktsutyun leader, Levon Mkrtchian, as minister of science and education, raising to four the number of ministerial portfolios controlled by the party. The previous education minister, Sergo Yeritsian, was sacked despite defecting from Orinats Yerkir along with several other senior government officials.
Among those officials is Gegharkunik’s outgoing governor, Stepan Barseghian. Sources said he will likely become deputy minister for local government in place of Orinats Yerkir member Gagik Aslanian who reportedly remains loyal to Orinats Yerkir leader Artur Baghdasarian. Aslanian, three other deputy ministers and two regional vice-governors affiliated with Orinats Yerkir have tendered their resignations.
Baghdasarian’s decision last week to resign as speaker of the Armenian parliament and pull his party out of the coalition followed the defection of ten wealthy members of the Orinats Yerkir faction in the National Assembly. It currently holds only nine seats in the 131-member legislature.
Baghdasarian’s faction looks set to shrink further, with sources close to the government saying that one of the remaining Orinats Yerkir legislators, Khachik Petrosian, will also likely defect in the coming days. Petrosian is a nephew of the former head of Armenia’s National Security Service, Karlos Petrosian.
(Photolur photo: Armen Rustamian.)