Vardges Hovakimian tendered his resignation on Tuesday following a night brawl in the regional capital Artashat involving his son Vahe.
According to the Armenian police, the 22-year-old clashed with another young man outside a local restaurant which is believed to be owned by Sargsian. A police statement said both men caused each other serious injuries and are now under a criminal investigation.
Hovakimian insisted that Vahe was attacked by and beaten up by several men for giving one girl a rose.” “Right now my son is being interrogated,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “My son was severely beaten, but reports claimed the opposite.
“That’s why I’m a little angry. All the reports said my son picked a fight. But he is still in hospital.”
“This was all fabricated by Alik Sargsian,” he charged. The sacked governor did not elaborate on the claim, saying only that he had fallen out with Sargsian. “We’ll talk about that later,” said Hovakimian.
Sargsian is a native of Ararat who governed the region before being appointed as chief of the Armenian police two years ago. He was reputed to be a protégé of parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian.
Artashat and nearby villages are widely regarded as Abrahamian’s de facto fiefdom. The area is notorious for violent attacks on political opponents of the Armenian government.
The government gave no reasons for Hovakimian’s resignation after formally accepting it and replacing him by Deputy Emergencies Minister Edik Barseghian on Thursday.
Hovakimian told RFE/RL that he quit under pressure from President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration. “I still don’t understand what happened and why,” he said. “They just told me to tender my resignation.”
Barseghian, meanwhile, pledged to ensure law and order in Ararat. “There can be no criminal settling of accounts during my tenure,” the new governor told reporters in Yerevan. “High-ranking people will help me realize the region’s potential for socioeconomic development.” Both Sargsian and Abrahamian will be among them, he said.