The party headed by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian officially announced on Friday its decision to replace Marutian by one of his deputies. It controls at least 54 seats in Yerevan’s 65-member municipal council empowered to appoint and dismiss mayors.
The council is scheduled to vote on Wednesday on a motion of no confidence proposed by its pro-government majority.
In a statement issued after a meeting with Pashinian held on Friday, the majority leaders said that Marutian quit Civil Contract in December 2020 and is not running the Armenian capital “with sufficient efficiency.”
Marutian’s spokesman, Hakob Karapetian, dismissed on Sunday the official rationale for the bid to impeach him.
“Thanks to his three-year work Mayor Hayk Marutian has a quite high approval ratings, and I think that one must look for reasons for this whole process behind this fact,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
Karapetian also accused council members loyal to Pashinian of sabotaging his efforts to improve public transport. He said that they attempted last February to block the purchase of hundreds of news buses for the city.
Some council members affiliated with the My Step bloc have openly disagreed with the move to remove Marutian. Two of them, Grigor Yeritsian and Gayane Vartanian, have resigned from the city council in protest.
Yeritsian said on Monday that the mayor’s relationship with Armenia’s political leadership was “in tatters” even before the September 2020 outbreak of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. He said that following Armenia’s defeat in the war Marutian did not publicize his decision to leave the ruling party at the request of Pashinian’s entourage.
Marutian, 45, is a former TV comedian who actively participated in the “velvet revolution” that brought Pashinian to power in May 2018. He was handpicked by Pashinian to lead My Step’s list of candidates in the last municipal elections held in September 2018 and won by the pro-government bloc.