Health Minister Named Pashinyan’s Chief of Staff

Outgoing health minister Arsen Torosyan and newly-appointed minister Anahit Avanesyan
Outgoing health minister Arsen Torosyan and newly-appointed minister Anahit Avanesyan

Outgoing health minister Arsen Torosyan and newly-appointed minister Anahit Avanesyan

YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Health Minister Arsen Torosyan was sacked and appointed as chief of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s staff on Monday.

In separate decrees requested by Pashinyan, President Armen Sarkissian relieved Torosyan of his duties and appointed his first deputy, Anahit Avanesyan, as Armenia’s new health minister.

Torosyan in turn will replace Eduard Aghajanyan as chief of the prime minister’s staff. Aghajanyan has been a key member of Pashinyan’s political team.

Pashinyan did not explain the moves. Torosyan also issued no statements on his sacking and new appointment predicted by some Armenian media outlets over the weekend.

Torosyan, 38, is a senior member of Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party who was appointed as health minister right after the “Velvet Revolution” of April-May 2018. Throughout his tenure he has been criticized not only by opposition groups but also some pro-government parliamentarians.

The criticism intensified after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Armenia hard. Torosyan has repeatedly defended his and other government officials’ response to the unprecedented health crisis strongly condemned by the Armenian opposition.

It was not immediately clear whether Pashinyan decided to replace the health minister because of the pandemic or as part of a cabinet reshuffle promised by him shortly after the Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the autumn war in Nagorno-Karabakh on November 10.

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