The chief of President Serzh Sarkisian’s staff, Karen Karapetian, unexpectedly stepped down without an official explanation on Friday.
A short statement by the presidential press service said Karapetian was relieved of his duties “at his own request.”
It said Sarkisian thanked the official for his three-year service and “wished him success in his further activities” at a special meeting with the presidential staff organized on the occasion.
No further details were reported. Sarkisian’s office said later in the day, that a senior presidential aide, Vigen Sargsian, will serve as acting chief of staff.
Karapetian, whose brother Samvel is one of Russia’s wealthiest Armenians, was the parliamentary leader of Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) before being appointed as chief of the staff in September 2008. Analysts believe that he has not been as influential as his deputy Mikael Minasian, Sarkisian’s son-in-law and reputedly closest confidante.
Media reports last December claimed that Karapetian is facing growing pressure from his subordinates to resign because of allegedly facilitating the scandalous beating by then Yerevan Mayor Gagik Beglarian of an official from the presidential protocol department. They said he even offered to quit after being shunned by presidential staffers.
Karapetian dismissed those claims as “disinformation” at the time. He insisted that his rapport with with Sarkisian remains “normal and businesslike.”
Karapetian also came under media fire in November 2010 after insulting one of the employees of a chemical plant who demonstrated outside the presidential palace in Yerevan to demand payment of their back wages. He never apologized for that.