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Government Nominates New Candidate For High Court


Armenia -- Edgar Shatirian speaks to RFE/RL, Yerevan, November 27, 2019.

The Armenian government formally nominated on Tuesday a new candidate to replace one of the three members of the Constitutional Court controversially dismissed in June.

The decision was announced one week after the previous government nominee, Vahram Avetisian, withdrew his candidacy opposed by some lawmakers representing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s My Step bloc.

Avetisian, who is a senior law professor at Yerevan State University (YSU), also faced strong opposition from political allies of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian. They argued, in particular, his father, Davit Avetisian, upheld prison sentences handed to Ter-Petrosian supporters when he served as a senior judge from 2008-2016.

The new government candidate, Edgar Shatirian, is a 40-year-old law lecturer whom the pro-government majority in Armenia’s parliament appointed to a state anti-corruption body late last year. Shatirian resigned from the Commission on Prevention of Corruption after its four other members declined to choose him as commission chairman.

President Armen Sarkissian and a national convention of Armenian judges nominated two other candidates for the Constitutional Court in early August. The parliament controlled by My Step is expected to vote on their and Shatirian’s candidacies next month.

In June, Pashinian’s bloc pushed through the parliament controversial constitutional changes calling for the gradual resignation of seven of the nine Constitutional Court justices, who were installed by former Armenian governments.

The amendments required three of them to resign with immediate effect. They also stipulated that Hrayr Tovmasian must quit as court chairman but remain a judge.

Tovmasian and the ousted judges have refused to step down, saying that their removal is illegal and politically motivated. They have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to have them reinstated.

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