More than a hundred university students in Gyumri boycotted classes on Tuesday in a show of support for one of their senior professors who risked losing his job after accusing the university rector of corruption.
Hovannes Khorikian, the acting history chair at Shirak State University, and another professor, Gagik Hambarian, made the allegations in an open letter to President Serzh Sarkisian and Prime Minister Karen Karapetian published last week. They requested an urgent audit of the university’s books.
The university’s supervisory Scientific Council loyal to the rector, Sahak Minasian, responded to the letter by expressing “no confidence” in Khorikian. The decision paved the way for his dismissal.
The protesting students, most of them enrolled in the university’s History Department, condemned the move as illegal and arbitrary retribution. A petition signed by them demands its reversal by the council.
The professors’ letter alleged various financial irregularities committed by Minasian. In particular, it accused him of having misused 500 million drams (just over $1 million) in university funds since taking over as rector a year ago.
“An audit would expose the real state of affairs here,” Khorikian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“Enough is enough,” Hambarian said for his part. He also complained that university employees holding administrative positions are paid much more than lecturers.
Minasian flatly denied any wrongdoing, calling the allegations “slander.”