A son-in-law of Gagik Tsarukian was appointed as governor of Armenia’s central Kotayk province on Thursday in a further sign of the former Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader’s reconciliation with President Serzh Sarkisian.
The appointment came almost one month after Tsarukian stepped down as BHK leader and retired from active politics under strong government pressure. Many of his associates, including the newly appointed governor, Karapet Guloyan, also quit Armenia’s second largest parliamentary force.
Tsarukian’s exit led the BHK to essentially stop challenging Sarkisian. The party threatened to depose him with street protests as recently as in February. The president responded by harshly criticizing Tsarukian and ordering tax audits of his numerous businesses and inquiries into other “crimes” possibly committed by the tycoon.
The order has not resulted in any criminal cases. Guloyan’s appointment appears to be another government reward for Tsarukian’s capitulation, which has eliminated a potentially serious threat to Sarkisian’s hold on power.
“I discontinued my political activities and have no connection [with the BHK] anymore,” Guloyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) after a cabinet meeting in Yerevan that formalized his appointment. “Don’t ask me political questions,” he said.
The 35-year-old, who is married to Tsarukian’s elder daughter, claimed that his father-in-law had no hand in his promotion. He said he was named regional governor only because “the government appreciated my work” as mayor of Abovian, Kotayk’s second largest town that has long been Tsarukian’s stronghold.
Guloyan has run the town 15 kilometers north of Yerevan since 2008.