Armenian Justice Minister Unexpectedly Sacked Over ‘Violent’ Subordinate

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Justice Minister Gevorg Danielian was unexpectedly sacked on Thursday for what the Armenian government described as a failure to punish one of his high-ranking subordinates allegedly involved in violent conduct.

In a written statement, President Serzh Sarkisian’s office accused Danielian of “inadequately performing official duties” but gave no details.

Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan clarified at a weekly meeting of his cabinet that Danielian was dismissed in connection with a recent assault on an employee of the Justice Ministry’s Service for the Mandatory Execution of Judicial Acts (SMEJA). The official was reportedly beaten up by Mihran Poghosian, the controversial head of the agency.

“The head of the Service for the Mandatory Execution of Judicial Acts has committed a serious violation of ethics rules,” Tigran Sargsyan told ministers. “The justice minister was instructed to publicly punish the head of the SMEJA for that behavior. Unfortunately, the justice minister has failed to carry out that instruction.”

“A lot depends on the behavior of each of us, and we must be very demanding towards our subordinates and consider inadmissible the kind of behavior that directly undermines public trust in us,” he said. The prime minister did not specify whether Poghosian too will be dismissed or face prosecution.

The SMEJA chief is believed to have extensive business interests. One of the companies reputedly owned by him was accused by pro-opposition media of buying votes for Serzh Sarkisian during the February 2008 presidential election.

Contacted by RFE/RL’s Armenian service, a SMEJA spokesman could not say whether or not Poghosian has confessed to the beating. He only pointed to a short statement that was posted on the Justice Ministry’s website.

According to the statement, Danielian issued a formal “reprimand” to Poghosian on Wednesday. The justice minister did not attend Thursday’s cabinet meeting and could not be reached for comment.

His humiliating sacking, clearly engineered by Prime Minister Sargsyan, is a serious blow to Armenia’s influential and politically ambitious Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian. Danielian has long been regarded as Hovsepian’s protégé. He held high-level positions in the Prosecutor-General’s Office before being appointed as justice minister in 2007.

Danielian’s ouster is also a further indication of Tigran Sarkisian’s increased political clout. The former governor of Armenia’s Central Bank highlighted it last month when he publicly accused several government ministers of mismanagement and fired some of their deputies.

The reformist premier is now tipped to top the list of the ruling Republican Party’s candidates in Armenia’s next parliamentary elections due in May 2012. The party is headed by President Sarkisian

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3 Comments

  1. eddy said:

    well, I am not sure that there is somebody else to fill the gap ..still, I would suggest that President should resign too… because he has become for many reasons vulnerable … in order to remain on power, he and his “party/Reps ” are conceding too much not only to Turks !

  2. Seervart said:

    Eddy, Unfortunately Sarkissian’s gaining and staying in power as the ballots were rigged, he had to concede to outside powers and forces; such as America and others too. Otherwise he wouldn’t have to accept the demands from world powers to go about the protocols. However now, he is listening to Diaspora and in his latest speech to the Azeris, he conveyed to them a very good and a strong message, that if the Azeris would resolve to their war rehetorics and attack Artsakh, then Armenia will recognize the independence of Artsakh. If I was Sarkissian, I would have accepted Artsakh’s independence a good while ago.

  3. Vazken said:

    How to snare a corrupt Minister…
    The phrase ‘Slowly, slowly catchee monkey.’ It comes from the days of British colonialism when many far eastern countries were under British rule. Soldiers posted there used to try to catch monkeys to keep as pets and despite all their efforts were not very successful. Many natives spoke ‘Pidgin English’ which was a simplified form of English. They showed the soldiers how to do it by demonstrating a simple but effective method. This was to place a basket containing fruit in a clearing in the jungle where the monkeys lived. The basket would have a narrow opening and be tied to the ground. Monkeys would come along and stick their arms inside the basket to get at the fruit. The opening was just wide enough to allow for this but as the fruit was grasped the fist was too big to get out of the basket. The monkeys were so greedy that even when soldiers approached they would not release the fruit and thus be easily caught. Naturally this took patience on the part of the captor who would have to wait quietly until the monkey was snared. Thus the slow approach proved to be more effective hence the phrase.

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