Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has dismissed Vladimir Karapetian, a well-known politician who has worked as his chief spokesman for the past year.
Pashinian gave no reason for the dismissal in a relevant executive order signed on Wednesday. His press office declined to say why Karapetian was relieved of his duties or who will replace him.
“From now on, I am no longer performing the duties of the prime minister’s spokesman,” Karapetian wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday. “This one-year work in Prime Minister Pashinian’s office has been an excellent experience. As I had promised, I have done my job with enthusiasm and dedication.”
Karapetian did not say whether he was fired by Pashinian or himself decided to resign. He refused to comment further when contacted by RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Karapetian, 50, is a former career diplomat who worked as Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman from 2006-2008. He was among several diplomats who were controversially fired after criticizing the former Armenian authorities’ handling of a disputed presidential election held in 2008.
Karapetian subsequently joined the Armenian National Congress (HAK) of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, who was the main opposition candidate in the 2008 ballot. He suspended his membership in the HAK when Pashinian appointed him as his press secretary in January 2018.
The appointment came as a surprise given Pashinian’s strained relationship with the HAK. Pashinian had played a prominent role in Ter-Petrosian’s 2007-2008 opposition movement but fell out with the ex-president after being released from prison in 2011.
Karapetian’s dismissal prompted different comments from Armenian pundits and media watchers. Tatul Hakobian, a veteran journalist working for CivilNet.am, described it as an “ungrateful decision,” saying that Karapetian was a competent and honest member of the prime minister’s team.
Shushan Doydoyan of the Yerevan-based Center for Freedom of Information gave a more mixed assessment of Karapetian’s work. “They have formally complied with [legal] procedures for handling requests for information,” she said. “But I believe that this is the minimum amount of work that must be done by the prime minister’s spokesman or press office. They should take a few steps forward.”
Doydoyan said she Pashinian’s new press secretary should “work in a more proactive way” and make more detailed statements to the media.