President Serzh Sarkisian’s influential son-in-law, Mikael Minasian, on Thursday urged two prominent opposition politicians to stop accusing each other of secretly collaborating with him.
The row was sparked on Wednesday by two senior members of the opposition ORO alliance. They claimed that Minasian is behind Yelk, another opposition bloc that did much better than ORO in Sunday’s parliamentary elections.
“The authorities managed to create a 100 percent loyal parliament,” one of them, Armen Martirosian, told a news conference. “We now have a parliament formed by three persons: Serzh Sarkisian, Gagik Tsarukian and Mikael Minasian.”
Yelk will have 9 seats in the 101-member parliament, while ORO will not be represented in the National Assembly because it won only 2 percent of the vote, according to the official election results.
One of Yelk’s leaders, Nikol Pashinian, hit back at Martirosian and the other ORO member, Hovsep Khurshudian, on Thursday. “Mikael Minasian, his father-in-law or anybody like them cannot stand behind us,” he wrote on Facebook. “They can only stand in our shadow.”
Pashinian suggested that the two ORO figures themselves have ties to Minasian, effectively accusing them of complicity in the violent dispersal last July of a demonstration held in Yerevan in support of anti-government gunmen occupying a police station. He argued that unlike another organizer of that demonstration, Andrias Ghukasian, Martirosian and Khurshudian were released shortly after their arrest.
Minasian, who is now Armenia’s ambassador to the Vatican, responded to the bitter recriminations with an open letter addressed to Pashinian and Martirosian. “I do not personally know you, Mr. Martirosian, or you, Mr. Pashinian,” he wrote. “My personal attitudes towards both of you are friendly, without any biased reservations.”
“Please stop this debate of fabrications. It is not only unpleasant but also harmful in terms of my professional activities,” added Minasian.
Minasian developed considerable political clout after Sarkisian was first elected president in 2008. He served as first deputy chief of the presidential staff from 2008 through the end of 2011. Political analysts regarded him as Sarkisian’s chief political and public relations strategist during that period. Some went as far as to proclaim him the president’s future successor.
Minasian, who is married to the president’s elder daughter, was named to run the newly established Armenian Embassy in the Holy See in 2013.