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Former Aide Disrupts Armenian Minister’s News Conference


Armenia -- Healthcare Minister Arsen Torosian (C) cuts short his press conference disrupted by his former adviser Gevorg Tamamian (R), September 3, 2019.

Health Minister Arsen Torosian cut short a news conference on Tuesday after it was gatecrashed by one of his former aides who accused him of mismanagement and corruption.

Gevorg Tamamian, who until recently advised the Armenian Justice Ministry on child oncology, entered a conference room of the Yerevan-based Hematology Center where Torosian met the press. Tamamian said he too wants to ask the minister questions.

Torosian suggested that Tamamian hold a separate news conference instead. The latter refused, leading Torosian to end the news conference.

“I have no problem with him,” Torosian told reporters as he left the room. “But he probably has a problem with me because he is pursuing some other interests. I won’t say who I’m talking about.”

Tamamian then read out his questions to the minister in the presence of the journalists and a dozen doctors from the sate-run clinic specializing in treatment of childhood leukemia. Ester Demirchian, the executive director of a charity helping the Hematology Center’s patients, was also in attendance.

The charity called the City of Smile was founded last year by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s wife, Anna Hakobian. Tamamian is a member of its board of trustees headed by Hakobian.

The former official, who now works at the Hematology Center, accused Torosian of disrupting government-funded treatment of cancer in Armenia. In that regard, he deplored the sacking of the head of the National Oncology Center, Armen Tananian. The minister has alleged corrupt practices in the hospital.

Tamamian also decried the fact that after taking office last year Torosian sharply increased government funding for a medical center owned by his wife. The center performs computer tomography and magnetic resonance imaging.

The health minister apologized to the journalists for cutting short his news conference in a live video address aired through Facebook later in the day. “I couldn’t concentrate in that tense atmosphere,” he said.

Torosian also accused his former subordinate of staging the “show” in a bid to discredit him.

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