YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Karen Andreasian, Armenia’s state human rights ombudsman, unexpectedly resigned on January 12, less than three months after accusing government-linked individuals of waging a smear campaign against him.
Andreasian’s office announced his resignation in a short statement posted on its Facebook page. It gave no reasons for the move, saying instead that the ombudsman thanked his staff and expressed hope that “human rights protection will remain a priority for our state and society.”
According to the Facebook post, no further comments will be provided.
Andreasian, who has served as ombudsman for about five years, did not answer phone calls in the following hours.
The resignation is certain to be linked by many with his recent bitter row with several parliamentarians representing the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).They attacked Andreasian in late October when he presented the National Assembly with an annual report on the work of his office.
The HHK’s Samvel Farmanian launched a particularly scathing attack on Andreasian, calling the 500-page report “sloppy” and “toothless.” Farmanian, who had previously worked as President Serzh Sarkisian’s press secretary, accused the human rights defender of wasting taxpayers’ money and ignoring “reforms” implemented by the government.
Galust Sahakian, the parliament speaker and a senior HHK figure, effectively defended Farmanian.
Andreasian rebutted the accusations on the parliament floor, saying that Farmanian is carrying out an “immoral order” issued by an unspecified person at odds with the ombudsman. He refused to name names, saying only that he did not refer to President Sarkisian.
Under Armenia’s recently amended constitution, the next ombudsman will be elected by the parliament. He or she will need to backed by at least three-fifths of its 131 members.