Prime Minister Karen Karapetian was shunned by the mayor of Artashat, his predecessor Hovik Abrahamian’s son, when he visited the town on Wednesday, a senior member of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) complained on Thursday.
Karapetian combined official engagements with participation in the HHK’s election campaign meetings during his trip to Artashat and other communities in the southern Ararat province. The town’s 30-year-old mayor, Argam Abrahamian, is running for parliament on the ticket of an alliance led by his father-in-law, Gagik Tsarukian.
“In my view, it would have been right if the mayor had greeted the prime minister in his town,” Alik Sargsian, the head of the HHK’s regional branch, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“I do understand that he represents another party right now,” said Sargsian. “But I think there would have been nothing wrong if he had greeted [the prime minister.] If I was the mayor I would greet him.”
The Abrahamian family has long had a strong political and economic influence in Artashat and nearby villages. Hovik Abrahamian was one of the HHK’s most influential members even before becoming prime minister in 2014. He quit the ruling party in January more than four months after he was sacked and replaced by Karapetian. More than a dozen HHK figures in Ararat, including the provincial governor, followed suit.
President Serzh Sarkisian launched a thinly veiled attack on Abrahamian later in January. Abrahamian hit back at the president the following day, provoking a stern rebuke from an HHK spokesman.
Unlike his son, the ex-premier is not a candidate in the April 2 parliamentary elections. Nor has he publicly endorsed the Tsarukian Bloc or any other election contender.
Karapetian on Wednesday also attended a campaign gathering in another Ararat town, Masis. Murad Muradian, an HHK candidate running in a local constituency, was conspicuously absent from that event. Some media outlets claimed that the prime minister did not want to be seen standing alongside Muradian because of the latter’s alleged involvement in recent election-related violence in the area.
Muradian flatly denied that when he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “Nobody can block me,” he said. “The prime minister came to a musical school in Masis. I was invited to go there at noon … but the prime minister came at 10:55 in the morning and left half an hour later.”