Healthcare Minister Arsen Torosyan (center) cuts short his press conference disrupted by his former adviser Gevorg Tamamyan, at right, September 3, 2019

Former Aide Tamamyan Disrupts Armenian Health Minister’s News Conference

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) – Armenian Health Minister Arsen Torosyan cut short a news conference on September 3 after it was gatecrashed by one of his former aides who accused him of mismanagement and corruption. Dr. Gevorg Tamamyan, who until recently advised the Armenian Justice Ministry on child oncology, entered a conference room of the Yerevan-based Hematology Center where Torosyan met the press. Tamamyan said he too wants to ask the minister questions.

Torosyan suggested that Tamamyan hold a separate news conference instead. The latter refused, leading Torosyan to end the news conference.

“I have no problem with him,” Torosyan told reporters as he left the room. “But he probably has a problem with me because he is pursuing some other interests. I won’t say who I’m talking about.”

Tamamyan then read out his questions to the minister in the presence of the journalists and a dozen doctors from the sate-run clinic specializing in treatment of childhood leukemia. Ester Demirchyan, the executive director of a charity helping the Hematology Center’s patients, was also in attendance.

The charity called the City of Smile was founded last year by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s wife, Anna Hakobyan. Tamamyan is a member of its board of trustees headed by Hakobyan.

The former official, who now works at the Hematology Center, accused Torosyan of disrupting government-funded treatment of cancer in Armenia. In that regard, he deplored the sacking of the head of the National Oncology Center, Armen Tananyan. The minister has alleged corrupt practices in the hospital.

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Tamamyan also decried the fact that after taking office last year Torosyan sharply increased government funding for a medical center owned by his wife. The center performs computer tomography and magnetic resonance imaging.

The health minister apologized to the journalists for cutting short his news conference in a live video address aired through Facebook later in the day. “I couldn’t concentrate in that tense atmosphere,” he said.

Torosyan also accused his former subordinate of staging the “show” in a bid to discredit him.

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