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Armenian Government Members Resign


Armenia - Education Minister Vahram Dumanian is about to speak during parliamentary hearings, Yerevan, February 1, 2021.

Deputy Prime Minister Hambardzum Matevosian and Education Minister Vahram Dumanian resigned on Monday three days after the reelection of a state university head at odds with the Armenian government.

There was widespread speculation that they lost their jobs because of failing to install a different rector of Brusov State University (BSU) handpicked by the government.

Matevosian’s resignation was officially confirmed in the evening. None of the nine members of his staff returned phone calls throughout the day.

The Armenian Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports confirmed Dumanian’s resignation but gave no reasons for it. The minister also declined to comment.

Matevosian, 30, is also the chairman of BSU’s board of trustees that reelected the incumbent rector, Karine Harutiunian, on Friday. She was backed by 12 of the 20 board members.

The eight others voted for Davit Gyurjinian, who runs the Education Ministry’s Language Inspectorate. He is thought to have enjoyed government support.

Armenia - Deputy Prime Minister Hambarzum Matevosian.
Armenia - Deputy Prime Minister Hambarzum Matevosian.

Half of the BSU board members were appointed by the government, suggesting that two government officials voted for Harutiunian along with the ten board members chosen by the university’s faculty and students.

Hundreds of students staged a series of demonstrations in Yerevan this fall against government plans to merge BSU with two other state-run universities. The BSU rector backed the protests. She wants her university specializing in the teaching of foreign languages to remain a separate institution.

According to Tsolak Hakobian, the dean of BSU’s Department of Social Sciences, the government and Dumanian in particular lobbied hard for Gyurjinian’s election because the latter supports the proposed merger. Hakobian suggested that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian fired his education minister due to the BSU vote result.

Unlike Dumanian, Matevosian is affiliated with Pashinian’s Civil Contract party. He was at first elected to Civil Contract’s governing board during a recent party congress. However, the vice-premier was removed from the board after a recount conducted amid fraud allegations found that he did not get enough votes of congress delegates.

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