Pashinian Ally Defends Choice Of Mayoral Candidate In YerevanTuesday, December 11, 2018
Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian on Tuesday defended the decision by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s Civil Contract party to nominate a prominent Armenian comedian as its candidate for the vacant post of Yerevan’s mayor.
The previous mayor, Taron Markarian, resigned on July 9 under apparent pressure from Armenia’s new government. Residents of the Armenian capital are expected to elect next month a new municipal council that will appoint Markarian’s successor.
Civil Contract’s mayoral candidate, Hayk Marutian, is a 41-year-old actor famous for his performances in popular comedy shows aired by Armenian TV channels. He has also produced his own shows and films in the past several years.
Avinian said that he was among those members of the party’s governing board who Marutian’s candidacy on July 29. He expressed confidence that Marutian would make a good mayor.
“I think that Hayk Marutian will be a [positive] revelation for the public in his new role,” Avinian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “I myself was surprised to see Hayk Marutian the actor transform into Hayk Marutian the politician. He is a person with strong organizational skills who can bring about real change in Yerevan.”
The 29-year-old vice-premier dismissed critics’ claims that Marutian’s entertainment industry background does not make him fit to run the city of one million. “Hayk Marutian is not just an actor,” he said. “He is a producer, a job which requires very serious organizational work.”
Marutian, commonly known as “Kargin Hayko,” actively participated in mass protests in April and May that brought down Armenia’s former government. He joined Civil Contract shortly after Pashinian, the main organizer of the protests, became prime minister on May 8.
One of Marutian’s main challengers in the mayoral race will be Naira Zohrabian of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the country’s second largest parliamentary force led businessman Gagik Tsarukian. BHK representatives say their party will be aiming for victory in the upcoming elections.
Other major political groups, including Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK), have not yet nominated mayoral candidates. Markarian, the former mayor, is a senior member of the HHK.
It remains unclear whether Civil Contract will enter the race on its own or in an alliance with the two other parties making up the Yelk bloc. Those parties, Republic and Bright Armenia, are understood to be considering fielding a joint candidate.