A 28-year-old lawyer working for the Armenian government was appointed as the country’s new justice minister on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian handpicked Rustam Badasian for the post nearly two weeks after the resignation of the previous minister, Artak Zeynalian. Badasian’s appointment was formalized by President Armen Sarkissian.
Badasian has until now served as deputy head of the State Revenue Committee comprising the national tax and customs services. He took up that position following last year’s “velvet revolution” which brought Pashinian to power.
Pashinian hired Badasian as his lawyer after being detained on April 22, 2018 during mass protests against Armenia’s longtime leader Serzh Sarkisian’s attempt to extend his rule. Pashinian was freed the following day just hours before the announcement of Sarkisian’s resignation.
Badasian had worked for private law firms from 2014-2018, specializing in business law and tax affairs in particular.
Zeynalian, the former justice minister, is a prominent politician and former civil rights campaigner. He tendered his resignation on June 7 after one year in office. He has still not given a clear reason for the move.
In televised remarks aired last week, Pashinian hinted that the resignation resulted from his policy differences with Zeynalian. But he did not shed light on them.
“The government is a live organism and tasks set for the government change over time,” the prime minister told the Shant TV channel. “Not only tasks but also the surrounding environment change. There arises a need to make personnel changes.”
Zeynalian’s resignation came just over two weeks after the start of sweeping judicial reforms announced by Pashinian. That announcement in turn followed a Yerevan court’s controversial decision to release Robert Kocharian, a former Armenia president and Pashinian’s bitter foe facing grave criminal charges, from prison.