Former Justice Minister Arpine Hovannisian said on Monday that she has suspended her membership in the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) in order to start a law practice and run a new think-tank.
She indicated that she will join the ranks of those attorneys who do not hesitate to defend presently unpopular individuals.
Hovannisian, 35, served as justice minister from 2015-2017 before becoming a deputy speaker of the former Armenian parliament elected in April 2017. She has been one of the most vocal HHK critics of the country’s current leadership which ousted HHK leader Serzh Sarkisian from power last spring.
The once powerful party narrowly failed to clear the 5 percent vote threshold to enter the new parliament elected in December. It is still headed by Sarkisian.
In a Facebook post, Hovannisian announced that she is joining, as a partner, a law and consulting firm that was recently founded by Davit Harutiunian, another senior HHK figure and former justice minister.
An HHK representative told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that Harutiunian remains formally affiliated with the party. At least two other former members of Sarkisian’s government also work for the firm called Davit and Partners.
Hovannisian, who is a lawyer by education, also revealed that she has set up a non-governmental organization that will analyze political developments and propose solutions to challenges facing Armenia.
“I will continue my active involvement in political and social processes, carry out in-depth analyses of decisions made [by the authorities] and will not shy away from voicing strong criticism if need be,” she wrote.
“It is essential that my views voiced at this stage are not viewed in the light of a political trajectory or party affiliation. This is especially important in the context of my decision to set up a non-governmental organization,” the former minister added, explaining the suspension of her HHK membership.