The Armenian authorities replaced on Thursday two close allies of former Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian who held key positions in his native Ararat province.
Ararat’s governor, Rubik Abrahamian, and the head of the regional branch of the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), Karine Poghosian, stepped down this week following the ex-premier’s decision to quit the HHK.
Poghosian, who is related to Hovik Abrahamian, as well as the latter’s brother Henrik and 11 local officials also terminated their membership in President Serzh Sarkisian’s party.
Prime Minister Karen Karapetian’s cabinet appointed businessman Aramayis Grigorian as Ararat’s new governor at a weekly meeting in Yerevan. Grigorian said that he was offered to take up the post earlier in the day. “The prime minister spoke to me this morning and I accepted his offer,” he told reporters.
Grigorian, who is based in a village in Ararat, already ran the province south of Yerevan from 2013-2014. He served as Armenia’s environment minister from 2014-2016.
The HHK’s new regional leader, Alik Sargsian, is also a former Ararat governor. A retired police officer, he was the chief of the Armenia police from 2008-2011 and was later appointed as a presidential adviser.
“I’m not replacing Hovik Abrahamian, I’m replacing the head of the regional [HHK] chapter,” Sargsian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I’m going to do my job. Time will tell how successful I will be,” he said.
Sargsian declined to comment on his ability to offset the impact of Hovik Abrahamian’s exit on the ruling party’s performance in the area in the April 2 parliamentary elections.
The former prime minister and his extended family have long dominated the political and economic life in much of Ararat. Thanks to his clout, Abrahamian has also managed the HHK’s parliamentary and presidential election campaigns for almost a decade.
Abrahamian decided to quit the HHK more than four months after he was sacked as prime minister. He has still not given a clear reason the move. Some Armenian commentators have speculated that he quit because he sees no prospect of being again appointed to a senior position anytime soon.