Ararat Mirzoyan

Pashinyan Aide Reassures Armenian Tycoons

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — A close associate of Nikol Pashinyan has insisted that wealthy businesspeople linked to the outgoing Armenian government will not risk losing their assets after the opposition leader’s widely anticipated appointment as the country’s prime minister.

Ararat Mirzoyan said that the new Armenian leadership will only strive to break up economic monopolies, boost competition and separate business from government.

“There is going to be no property redistribution because that would mean building the state from scratch, which would be fraught with very unpredictable consequences,” Mirzoyan said. “The fact is that there are people who own particular businesses. We are not going to wrest anything from these people. These people will continue [to own their assets.]”

“But the rules of the game will change,” he stressed in a weekend interview. “Nobody will have a monopoly in any sector.”

Mirzoyan specifically referred to wealthy individuals who have been linked to former President Serzh Sargsyan’s Republican Party (HHK) and have long relied on government connections in doing business. “Everyone [in the HHK] can rest assured that nothing threatens their businesses and their, their family members’ and friends’ physical safety,” he said.

“Let the business owners serenely take care of their businesses. They will not need to hold parliament seats or any state positions in order to secure their businesses,” added Mirzoyan.

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Pashinyan likewise reiterated on Monday that he will not wage “vendettas” against the HHK leadership or tycoons close it if the Armenian parliament elects him prime minister on Tuesday. “The page of political and economic persecutions in Armenia has been turned,” he told reporters.

“The new rules of the game will be the rule of law,” Pashinyan said when asked about policy changes that will affect the business community. He would not say whether he will order high-profile inquiries into lucrative firms that have long been suspected of tax evasion.

Some Armenian tycoons have already publicly voiced strong support for Pashinyan’s opposition movement. They include tobacco magnates Mikael Vartanian and his brother Karen. The Vartanian family is one of the richest in the country.

Another tycoon, Gagik Tsarukyan, has struck an alliance Pashinyan. Tsarukyan’s Prosperous Armenia Party boasts the second largest faction in the parliament.

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