Armenian Vice-Speaker Removed by Prosperous Armenia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–One of the two deputy speakers of the Armenian parliament stepped down on Monday in a move ordered by the Prosperous Armenia Party, a junior partner in the country’s governing coalition.

The reason for Arevik Petrosian’s resignation were not immediately clear, and she could not be reached for comment.

“This was a decision made by our party. There are no extraordinary reasons for that,” Khachik Galstian, a spokesman for Prosperous Armenia leader Gagik Tsarukian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

“She will continue to serve as a rank-and-file deputy in our parliamentary faction. The party will nominate her replacement in the future,” he said, adding that Tsarukian himself will not seek to occupy the vacant post.

Asked why the Prosperous Armenia leadership decided to replace her, Galstian said, “I can’t tell. You can ask Ms. Arevik and she will reply.”

Petrosian has been tipped to resign since last week amid rumors that she has fallen out with Naira Zohrabian, another senior Prosperous Armenia parliamentarian. Zohrabian, who chairs the parliament committee on European integration, was asked about them at a news conference on Friday. She insisted that she is not interested in the post of vice-speaker reserved for Tsarukian’s party under its 2008 power-sharing agreement with President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia.

Petrosian, 37, became the first female vice-speaker in Armenia’s post-Soviet history less than three years ago and has kept a low profile since then. She had served as deputy minister of justice before being elected to the National Assembly on the Prosperous Armenia ticket in May 2007.

Prosperous Armenia boasts the second largest faction in the assembly and holds four ministerial portfolios in Sarkisian’s coalition government.

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