Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan (Aram Arkun photo)

Deputy PM Avinyan Resigns, Cites Differences with Ruling Party

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan on Monday, August 2, announced his resignation and revealed that he had differences with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan during the recent parliamentary race.

Avinyan, 32, is a senior member of the ruling Civil Contract party who actively participated in the 2018 mass protests that brought Pashinyan to power. He was appointed as deputy prime shortly after the “velvet revolution.”

In a Facebook post, Avinyan said he did not participate in Civil Contract’s parliamentary election campaign because he objected to its list of candidates for the snap polls held on June 20. He said he felt that it may be at odds with the “separation of business and politics” championed by Pashinyan’s political team.

“Nevertheless, I am convinced that the separation of business and politics will remain an irreversible principle for our team and that it will manage possible risks,” he wrote. “I will stay on as a member of Civil Contract’s board and do my best to help ensure that all reforms launched by us in 2018 continue.”

Avinyan appeared to refer to the presence of at least two wealthy businessmen on the party’s electoral list. Both tycoons, Khachatur Sukiasyan and Gurgen Arsenyan, were elected to the parliament.

Pashinyan stated shortly after the 2018 regime change that Armenian entrepreneurs no longer need to hold parliament seats in order to protect and expand their assets.

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Avinyan also defended on Monday his and his government’s track record, saying that they have managed to prevent a “collapse of the economy” during the coronavirus pandemic and last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh. They have also created “real prerequisites for development,” he said.

The statement came a few hours after Suren Papikyan, another senior Civil Contract figure who has served as minister of territorial administration and infrastructures, was named deputy prime minister. Papikyan was in turn replaced by Gnel Sanosyan, the governor of Armenia’s Gegharkunik province.

Pashinyan also reappointed his ministers of environment and labor and social affairs and installed Major-General Arshak Karapetyan as defense minister. Karapetyan’s appointment has been widely anticipated in recent weeks.

There were no indications that Mher Grigoryan, the other vice-premier appointed in 2018, will lose his job as a result of the ongoing cabinet reshuffle. Grigoryan is a former banker not affiliated with any party.

The reshuffle began after President Armen Sarkissian formally reappointed Pashinyan as prime minister following the start of the inaugural session of the new Armenian parliament. Pashinyan’s party has a solid majority in the parliament, having won the recent elections.

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