The municipal council Hrazdan, a town in central Armenia, unanimously accepted on Monday the resignation of its longtime mayor affiliated with former President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK).
Aram Danielian, who has run Hrazdan for over 15 years, is the third HHK-affiliated mayor who has stepped down since the recent change of the country’s government.Unlike the mayors of Armavir and Echmiadzin, he has not faced street protests by local residents.
Explaining his decision, Danielian said he wants to make sure that “the town doesn’t suffer” as a result of regime change in Yerevan. “A new political force has come to power and it now wields financial resources and administrative levers,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “That is why I found it necessary to cede my post to a representative of [Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s Civil Contract] party who could solve the town’s problems.”
Danielian said at the same time that he was “advised” to resign by Romanos Petrosian, the new governor of the Kotayk province of which Hrazdan is the administrative center. Petrosian, who is a Civil Contract member, admitted that he “urged” the mayor to quit.
Under Armenian law, a fresh mayoral election must be held in Hrazdan later this year. The town will be governed by an interim mayor appointed by the central government until then. The government has not yet named Danielian’s temporary replacement.
According to some press reports, a 25-year-old son of Sasun Mikaelian, a prominent Civil Contract member based in Hrazdan, could become its next mayor. Mikaelian, who is also a parliament deputy, was Danielian’s main challenger in the last mayoral election held in 2016. He accused the incumbent of buying votes and abusing administrative resources. The HHK denied the allegations.
Danielian was again put on the defensive last year after his teenage son Razmik was charged with running over and killing a man with a car belonging to the Hrazdan municipality. The 16-year-old had no driving license because of his young age. He not only avoided imprisonment but was also among more than 100 schoolchildren who received medals for academic excellence from Serzh Sarkisian later in 2017.
Sarkisian’s decision to hand the state award to Razmik prompted strong criticism from independent Armenian media outlets. Some commentators portrayed it as further proof of impunity enjoyed by senior government officials, their cronies and relatives.