His resignation followed after the uncovering of a series of corruption schemes in the mayor’s office, and a journalistic investigation done into the property of the mayor himself
Taron Margaryan, the Mayor of Yerevan, has resigned.
The announcement appeared on the mayor’s official website. Margaryan had held the position since 2011. In his last address to Yerevanis, he said:
“Throughout all this time I have tried to hear the voice of each and every person and to solve the problems of the city step by step. I tried to be loyal to my promises and platform, and for that reason I ask for forgiveness from all citizens with whom our path now diverges.”
He did not speak at a press conference nor did he provide a reason for his resignation.
Over the past two months, several protest demonstrations have taken place in front of his office demanding his resignation. However, Margaryan resisted.
Many in Armenia believe that he made the decision to resign after results of a journalistic investigation were published. In a 20-minute-long video, the now-former mayor’s property and income sources are described in detail. The wealth of his tight circle of family and friends is also described. Journalists estimated that with Margaryan’s current salary, it would have taken him some 210 years to amass such wealth.
Vahagn Khachatryan, who was mayor of Yerevan from 1992-1996, has also said that he believes Margaryan’s resignation to be connected to the investigation.
“After such films, any official involved in such affairs would resign. In Armenia, the moral ‘code of law’ has long been out of use; but after the new government, which has very different ideological concepts, came to power, the atmosphere has changed. After this film came out, he understood there was no use in remaining in power.”
Khachatryan also says that Taron Margaryan should have left office two months ago when the leader of the then-ruling Republican Party, Serzh Sargsyan, resigned and Nikol Pashinyan replaced him as prime minister.
“Regardless of whether you work well or not, or if you are a team player or came to power through the help of a team, you must leave when the leader of the team leaves, especially given the fact that you were not elected, but rather appointed, because there were no legitimate elections.”
Ani Samsonyan from the ‘Yelk’ bloc (headed by PM Pashinyan), who is also a member of the Yerevan Council of Elders, said that Margaryan had already held a goodbye meeting with city hall employees. She put forward two reasons for his resignation:
“The first reason is the change in the political reality. It is not a secret that Taron Margaryan is one of the most prominent of the representatives of the former ruling Republican Party, a part of the former system. And naturally, in the new conditions, he, I think, was ineffectively governing the city. The second reason is the innumerable complaints of citizens which have built up over the years. In this period, the complaints have increased even more. People simply demanded his resignation.”
Moreover, the National Security Service of Armenia had conducted a search of the mayoral offices and uncovered corruption schemes and numerous examples of abuse of authority among its employees. Two citizens appealed to the National Security Service complaining that when they had requested construction permits from the mayor’s office, they had been told to transfer large sums of money to the Yerevan Foundation in addition to the legal fee for such services.
The head of the foundation was Mayor Taron Margaryan himself. Other trustees of the foundation included his deputies, advisor, administrative secretary, department heads and members of the Council of Elders.
The National Security Service released the following statement:
“While processing the material, it was uncovered that funds which were meant to go straight to the foundation’s treasury ended up in the hands of private individuals.”
Criminal cases were then launched on two charges: ‘Abuse of office leading to serious consequences’ and ‘fraudulent use of official position’.