Ara Chalabian has headed the bank’s Department of Corporate Services and Development for the last two years. He announced on Thursday that he is “no longer working at the Central Bank” but gave no reasons for his exit.
Armenian news websites claimed earlier this month that the bank chairman, Martin Galstian, has told Chalabian to resign, citing an order from Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. An article subsequently posted on Hetq.am cited the brothers’ father as saying in a recent private conversation that Galstian told Chalabian that he himself will have to resign if the latter refuses to quit.
Chalabian’s indicted brother Avetik, who leads a small opposition party, effectively added his voice to these allegations when he spoke to journalists during his ongoing trial in Yerevan.
“They demanded that he quit,” he said. “When this criminal case passes its peak we will talk about that [in greater detail] because that demand was absolutely illegal. There are no grounds for forcing my brother out from his job.”
“While being a senior employee of the Central Bank he always maintained complete political neutrality and had nothing to do with my political activities,” added Avetik Chalabian.
The Central Bank again did not confirm or deny the alleged government pressure exerted on Ara Chalabian. Nor did it explain why he lost his job, saying that it cannot comment without his consent.
Pashinian’s office has likewise declined to comment on the allegations that the prime minister ordered the Central Bank governor to get rid of the oppositionist’s brother.
Avetik Chalabian was arrested on May 13 on charges of trying to pay university students to participate in daily anti-government demonstrations in Yerevan. He rejects the charges as government retribution for his active participation in the protests aimed at forcing Pashinian to resign.
The 49-year-old was released from custody on Wednesday one day after the start of his trial.