Kocharian Makes Changes in Cabinet

YEREVAN (RFE/RL–Noyan Tapan)–President Robert Kocharian signed a decree late Wednesday relieving Armenia’s Agriculture Minister Zaven Gevorgian of his duties–a move widely expected for the past several weeks.

Gevorgian will likely be replaced by Minister for Industrial Infrastructures David Zadoyan–the country’s unofficial deputy prime minister. Zadoyan’s post–created more than two years ago–is expected to be abolished.

Sources close to Kocharian’s administration said the planned presidential decrees have been agreed with Prime Minister Andranik Markarian.

Gevorgian has been absent from work for almost a month–fueling speculation about his imminent dismissal. But officials said he simply went on vacation.

Gevorgian–who is thought to have business interests in Armenia and Russia–became agriculture minister in 1999–owing to his close ties with the then parliament speaker Karen Demirchian and his People’s Party of Armenia. He severed his links with the People’s Party last year after the center-left party became openly critical of Kocharian and joined the opposition ran’s.

Gevorgian formed his own party shortly afterwards. But his political plans remain uncertain.

His likely successor Zadoyan has held different ministerial posts since the early 1990s and is a senior member of Markarian’s Republican Party.

The Noyan Tapan news agency reported that on Tuesday President Kocharian signed a decree on appointing Yeghishe Sargsian Ambassador to Romania. Sargsian will reside in Bucharest for the duration of his term.

Sargsian was previously the envoy and advisor at the Armenian Embassy in Germany.

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