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Disgruntled Lawmaker Resigns From Armenian Parliament


Armenia -- Arsen Julfalakyan attends a session of parliament, Yerevan, March 24, 2020.

A pro-government deputy has unexpectedly resigned from Armenia’s parliament, citing serious disagreements with Minister of Education, Culture and Sports Arayik Harutiunian.

Arsen Julfalakyan, who is also a prominent Greco-Roman wrestler, accused Harutiunian of mismanaging his areas of responsibility and ignoring expert opinions when he announced his resignation on Facebook late on Wednesday. Julfalakyan also deplored what he called a slow pace of reforms in those areas and criticized the minister’s staffing policy.

He did not give any examples of the alleged mismanagement or other details. Nor did Julfalakyan clarify whether he will also leave the ruling My Step alliance led by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. But he did note his “productive partnership” with Pashinian’s political team in the National Assembly.

Harutiunian did not immediately respond to the criticism. The minister is a close associate of Pashinian,

My Step’s parliamentary leader, Lilit Makunts, refused to comment on Julfalakyan’s resignation. “The only thing I would like you to take note of is Mr. Julfalakyan’s public statement,” she told reporters.

Under the Armenian parliament statutes, Julfalakyan will cease to be a member of the National Assembly if he does not withdraw his resignation within a week. Parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan cited this legal provision in a short statement released on Thursday.

Julfalakyan will be replaced by another My Step member if he reaffirms his exit. The ruling bloc controls 88 seats in the 132-member parliament.

Julfalakyan, 33, is a former world and European wrestling champion who also won a silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He continued to compete for Armenia in international wrestling tournaments even after being elected to the parliament on the My Step ticket in 2018.

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