Yerevan City Council votes to remove Mayor Hayk Marutyan from office

Հայկ Մարության

By Emilio Luciano Cricchio

Forty four members of the Yerevan City Council voted in favor of a no confidence motion against Mayor Hayk Marutyan on December 22. With the motion, the council members removed him from office and elected ruling party councillor Hrachya Sargsyan as mayor.

Ten members of the 65 seat city council voted against the motion. A simple 33 vote majority was needed to dismiss the mayor.

Marutyan was a key ally of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan during the 2018 Armenian Velvet Revolution. He was elected mayor in September 2018, winning a landslide victory with over 80% of the vote. Marutyan left the party in December 2020 following the Nagorno Karabakh War.

Speculation about Marutyan’s further rift with Pashinyna’s ruling Civil Contract party had been in the headlines as of late. According to members of the ruling party, Marutyan had severed ties with the team that “brought him to power.” In addition, in a post on its official page on Facebook, the Civil Contract party accused Marutyan of not cleaning up corruption in the Yerevan Municipality, and taking credit for the work of others.

The Armenian Times newspaper, which is owned by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his family, has accused Marutyan of meeting with Pashinyan’s archrival, former President Robert Kocharyan. However, this was denied by both Marutyan’s spokesperson and Kocharyan’s legal team.

During today’s sessions of the Yerevan City Council, Marutyan explained why he had cut ties with the ruling party and launched a scathing attack.

The former mayor explained that disagreements had taken place between him and members of the ruling party on issues like the salary increases of ministers and deputy ministers.

“One might ask why didn’t you speak about this earlier? I have raised this issue many times within the Civil Contract party, at different levels, but to no avail,” Marutyan said.

“Why did the speaker of parliament buy a car for himself worth $200,000, when the poverty level in the country is at 30%?” Marutyan asked members of the council, alluding to a recent scandal related to Parliamentary Speaker Alen Simonyan’s purchase of a state-funded $200,000 BMW.

Furthermore, Marutyan stated that he would receive calls from officials of different ranks, asking him to dismiss staffers who had liked or written certain comments on Facebook that they did not approve of.

Marutyan’s dismissal, which is viewed as a political move, has caused an uproar in the country’s political arena. He remains popular among Yerevan’s residents for his administration’s handling of a waste management crisis in 2019 as well as for transport reform.

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