Ishkhan Zakarian, the head of the Armenian parliament’s Audit Chamber, has stepped down after agreeing to manage the parliamentary election campaign of a new alliance which is being set up by businessman Gagik Tsarukian.
Hermine Naghdalian, a deputy parliament speaker, said during a National Assembly session on Thursday that Zakarian has submitted a letter of resignation to speaker Galust Sahakian. Under Armenian law, he will be formally relieved of his duties unless he withdraws the resignation within the next 15 days, Naghdalian told lawmakers.
Zakarian took a leave of absence last month shortly after Tsarukian announced his decision to return to politics and participate in the April 2 elections at the head of a new bloc. It will comprise the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) founded by the tycoon and several smaller groups.
A spokeswoman for Tsarukian, Iveta Tonoyan, said Zakarian has accepted the BHK founder’s offer to take over the bloc’s election campaign headquarters.
“Ishkhan Zakarian said earlier that he is one of the founders of the Prosperous Armenia Party and that he will stand with is friend Gagik Tsarukian,” Tonoyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “In his statement made today he reaffirmed that, saying it’s his moral and political duty.”
Tsarukian is due to be reinstated as BHK chairman at a party convention on Friday. The one-day gathering may also be followed by the signing of a declaration on the creation of his bloc.
Tsarukian resigned as BHK chairman and quit politics altogether two years ago under strong government pressure provoked by his attempts to scuttle President Serzh Sarkisian’s controversial constitutional reform. Announcing his political comeback on January 17, he criticized persisting socioeconomic hardship in Armenia but stopped short of blaming the government for it.
Zakarian too angered Sarkisian in 2013 when an Audit Chamber report presented by him to lawmakers alleged widespread abuses in the administration of state procurements by various government agencies. The government strongly denied those allegations. Zakarian has kept a low profile since then.