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Opponents Threaten Legal Action Against Yerevan Mayor


Armenia - Hayk Marutian is inaugurated as mayor of Yerevan, October 13, 2018.

Opposition members of the Yerevan city council on Friday threatened to sue Mayor Hayk Marutian if he refuses to release details of bonuses paid to about 2,000 municipal officials late last month.

Marutian allocated a total of 1.2 billion drams ($2.5 billion) for the yearend financial rewards to the employees of his office and the administrations of Yerevan’s ten districts.

The opposition Luys alliance wants him to name those officials and specify the amounts of bonuses paid to each of them. The mayor has so far refused to disclose such information on the grounds that it may constitute a privacy violation.

The Luys leader, Davit Khazhakian, condemned that stance, saying that it runs counter to an Armenian law on local self-government in the capital. “If the matter is not solved we will be ready to appeal to the administrative court,” he warned.

Khazhakian suggested that the municipal authorities may be worried about negative public reactions to the disclosure demanded by Luys.

One of Marutian’s deputies, Hayk Sargsian, brushed aside Khazhakian’s claims. He said the mayor’s office has asked the Armenian Ministry of Justice to advise whether details of the bonuses can be made public.

“I can say that the mayor did not receive a bonus,” Sargsian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “I want to make clear that we are not worried about anything. Why? Because we are open and transparent.”

Armenia - Mayor Hayk Marutian chairs a session of Yerevan's municipal council, December 21, 2018.
Armenia - Mayor Hayk Marutian chairs a session of Yerevan's municipal council, December 21, 2018.

Luys controls only three seats in Yerevan’s 65-member municipal council, compared with 57 seats held by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s My Step alliance.

Marutian, 42, is a close ally of Pashinian. The council appointed the former TV comedian as mayor after last September’s municipal elections in which My Step won 80 percent of the vote.

Khazhakian and the two other Luys councilors have repeatedly criticized Marutian. In particular, they accused him of failing to improve garbage collection and address the dismal state of public transport in the city.

Marutian and his team have dismissed the criticism. They claim to have already rooted out corruption in the municipal administration, which is thought to have been widespread under the previous mayors.

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