Marutian voiced the allegations on Wednesday shortly before the municipal assembly ousted him in a vote of no confidence initiated by its majority loyal to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.
He claimed that during his three-year tenure he routinely received phone calls from unnamed “various officials” asking for construction permits, land allocations, tax advantages and other privileges for “people close to them.” He did not name any of them, saying only that he rejected all such requests.
Marutian further alleged that Armenia’s “most high-ranking officials” repeatedly pressured him to sack municipal employees posting or “liking” comments on social media critical of Pashinian’s government. He said he withstood that pressure as well.
Leaders of the pro-government My Step bloc controlling the city council scoffed at the allegations, saying that the outgoing mayor has never told them about the alleged pressure before.
Daniel Ioannisian, a prominent civic activist leading the Yerevan-based Union of Informed Citizens, likewise rebuked the ousted mayor for not going public with his accusations earlier.
“This is part of a broader problem that we have, and Marutian’s case is not the first time we hear about such stories after the sacking of people involved in them,” he said.
Still, Ioannisian took Marutian’s claims seriously and submitted a relevant “crime report” to Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General.
A spokesman for the law-enforcement agency told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that it is “examining” the report. The prosecutors did not announce a formal criminal investigation as of Thursday evening.
The prosecutors claimed to have still not received a separate report filed by Ioannisian earlier this week. It stems from allegations about government pressure exerted on city council members refusing to impeach Marutian.
Two such members affiliated with My Step claimed to have been blackmailed ahead of the vote of no confidence.
One of them, Lusine Mkhoyan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Tuesday that council majority leaders threatened to strip her of her seat for absenteeism if she continues to support Marutian. Mkhoyan said she skipped many sessions of the municipal council because of her maternity leave and infection with COVID-19.
The other member, Grigor Yeritsian, claimed to have been forced to resign from the council. “I would have never thought that my colleagues could warn me that I will have to go if I don’t vote against [the mayor,]” he said.
Marutian pointed to these allegations in his farewell speech on Wednesday. “With ‘good old’ methods, they literally threatened to fire one member of the Council of Elders and cut funding to another,” he charged.
Armen Galjian, the council majority leader, denied the accusations.
My Step, which is controlled by Pashinian’s Civil Contract party, holds at least 54 seats in the 65-member council. The motion of no confidence in Marutian was backed by 44 council members.