Mayor of Yerevan removed from office after a series of disagreements with the ruling party
Hayk Marutyan was removed from the post of Mayor of Yerevan. The decision was made by the Council of Elders, which is, in fact, the city parliament. The reason is political disagreements with the ruling Civil Contract party in Armenia.
Hayk Marutyan was elected to the post of mayor, while still being a member of Civil Contract, but left the party a year ago. However, up to this point, he did not comment on the reasons for leaving the party, or on the situation around him.
The disagreements between the mayor and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who heads the party, were often covered by media resources close to the authorities after the defeat in the Karabakh war – in December 2020. But no details about what those disagreements were caused by and what exactly was happening had not been reported.
Now, a year later, a critical article about the mayor appeared in the “Haykakan Zhamanak” (Armenian Time) newspaper, owned by the family of the Prime Minister of Armenia. Armenian society immediately started talking about the beginning of an open phase of confrontation. A few days later, the procedure of impeachment of the incumbent mayor Marutyan began.
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A vote of no confidence
On December 17, the My Step faction of the Council of Elders, of which Hayk Marutyan himself was a member, presented a draft vote of no confidence in the mayor. Political crisis that broke out due to a disagreement with Marutyan was cited as the main reason.
Immediately after that, an active discussion on the effectiveness of his work began on social media, many began to write about his achievements. In fact, a campaign was launched to protect the mayor, although prior to this crisis, Facebook users often criticized his work.
Until 2018, Marutyan was a successful screenwriter, director and comedian, famous for his oppositional views. During the days of the “velvet” revolution, he joined the team of Nikol Pashinyan, who announced his intention to change the government of Armenia. Then he joined the Civil Contract party, whose leader is Pashinyan.
The ruling party issued a statement claiming that they consider Hayk Marutyan’s service as mayor “illogical,” since he left the Civil Contract party of his own free will in December 2020.
Manukyan was appointed mayor of Yerevan after a bloc backed by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan won the 2018 elections to the Yerevan Council of Elders. Marutyan was the first number on the list of the bloc, which allowed him to get the post of mayor of Yerevan automatically – without a vote of the Council of Elders.
Hayk Marutyan’s withdrawal from the party, according to his teammates, indicated that he did not intend to share political responsibility with them.
In addition, they claim that Marutyan did not effectively fulfill his obligations to the residents of Yerevan, enshrined in the party’s electoral program, and, most importantly, he is now bein accused of failing to combat systemic corruption in the mayor’s office.
“Mayor decided to leave the party before the war, not after.”
Former party members accuse Hayk Marutyan of leaving his team at the most difficult time – in the aftermath of the 44-day war in Karabakh, the defeat of the Armenian side, amid the political crisis in the country. Then all the opposition forces rallied in the fight against the Pashinyan government.
However, this information is denied by the members of the Council of Elders who support Marutyan. In particular, Grigor Yeritsyan, who voluntarily resigned on December 17, in protest against the beginning of the impeachment of the mayor. Marutyan decided to leave the party before the war, not after.
“A war starts, and naturally, all disagreements are put aside. A month after the war, in December, the mayor submits his resignation from the party. […] Amid the political crisis and possible early elections, the party leadership asks the mayor not to advertise his decision, and he did not”, said Grigor Yeritsyan.
In addition, on the eve of the parliamentary elections, which took place in June 2021, according to Yeritsyan, the ruling force accused the mayor of not supporting the election campaign, although he had already left the party. The information about leaving the party began to be exaggerated when they decided to dismiss Marutyan, and he refused to fulfill this demand.
Marutyan: “They only tried to improve their lives”
The former mayor also spoke openly about the reasons for the disagreement with his team.
Marutyan does not agree with the opinion that he betrayed the “values of the revolution”. He believes that the ruling party is “trying to privatize the values of the revolution”, which is unacceptable for him personally and for the thousands of people who supported it without being party members.
“Ministers and deputy ministers receive 1 million drams [approximately $ 2,000] in salary, and this is a secret. We are not talking about technocrats, but about revolutionaries. I thought that the goal of the revolution was to improve the lives of others, but in reality, they tried to improve their own lives, all while the poverty level in the country reached 30%”, said Hayk Marutyan.
He also said that he received calls from officials who demanded the dismissal of employees of the mayor’s office because of comments on social media, which was unacceptable to him. Then representatives of the authorities and his team asked for help and patronage to their relatives.
Marutyan denied the accusations against him, in particular, concerning systemic corruption in the mayor’s office. According to him, there is not a single state body in Armenia that would fight internal corruption as effectively as the Yerevan City Hall.