Minister Quits After Son’s Arrest

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Urban Development Minister Ara Aramian stepped down on Friday following the arrest of his son accused of involvement in a high-profile gunfight in a Yerevan caf earlier this month.

"Given the artificial uproar [over the incident] that could damage the reputation of the country’s leadership–my party–and me–I find it ethical to resign," he told RFE/RL.

Aramian denied that the decision was taken under pressure from his Orinats Yerkir Party–which has been coping with the political fallout from the shooting. The party’s leader–parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian–promised to announce plans to replace him on Wednesday.

The arrest of 24-year-old Hayk Aramian was announced by prosecutors on Monday. He was charged with an attempted murder and illegal arms possession. Aramian was among at least five men wounded in the apparent settling of score.

His father effectively denied the charges. "My son never carried weapons–drank–or smoked in his life. He has always been a benchmark for his friends," he said.

According to media reports–relatives of other senior government officials also took part in the gunfight–which broke out while the presidents of Armenia and Georgia dined at a next-door jazz club.

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