In separate decrees requested by Pashinian, President Armen Sarkissian relieved Torosian of his duties and appointed his first deputy, Anahit Avanesian, as Armenia’s new health minister.
Torosian in turn replaced Eduard Aghajanian as chief of the prime minister’s staff. Aghajanian has been a key member of Pashinian’s political team.
Pashinian did not explain the moves. Torosian also issued no statements on his sacking and new appointment predicted by some Armenian media outlets over the weekend.
Torosian, 38, is a senior member of Pashinian’s Civil Contract party who was appointed as health minister right after the “Velvet Revolution” of April-May 2018. Throughout his tenure he has been criticized not only by opposition groups but also some pro-government parliamentarians.
The criticism intensified after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Armenia hard. Torosian has repeatedly defended his and other government officials’ response to the unprecedented health crisis strongly condemned by the Armenian opposition.
It was not immediately clear whether Pashinian decided to replace the health minister because of the pandemic or as part of a cabinet reshuffle promised by him shortly after the Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the autumn war in Nagorno-Karabakh on November 10.
Six other Armenian ministers were sacked in late November and early December.