By Mark Dovich
Anna Vardapetyan was sworn in to her first six-year term as Armenia’s prosecutor general Thursday, becoming the first woman to hold the position.
“I swear to be steadfastly guided by the constitution and laws of Armenia,” Vardapetyan told lawmakers, adding she would work to guarantee fundamental freedoms and strengthen the rule of law.
Lawmakers approved Vardapetyan’s historic nomination 70-0 in late June. The two opposition blocs with seats in parliament boycotted the vote.
Armenia’s ruling Civil Contract party put forward Vardapetyan, at the time Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s assistant, after deciding not to renominate then-Prosecutor General Artur Davtyan.
Hayk Konjoryan, the head of the Civil Contract faction in parliament, declined to say at the time why his party had chosen to replace Davtyan, who began his term during the rule of the Republican Party, which Pashinyan ousted from power in 2018.
While Vardapetyan’s appointment has refocused attention on low levels of women’s representation in Armenian politics, her appointment has also proved controversial, with critics expressing concern over what her close ties with Pashinyan will mean for her independence.
They have also raised the issue that Vardapetyan, who previously served as a former deputy justice minister, has no prior prosecutorial experience.
Vardapetyan became the focus of widespread media attention in Armenia last year when a local news site published what it claimed was evidence of her interfering in a criminal investigation into fugitive businessman Ruben Hayrapetyan, who was close to the Republican Party.
Vardapetyan has since been cleared of any wrongdoing in the case, and she has largely refrained from commenting on the matter publicly.
Earlier this month, Davtyan, still serving as prosecutor general at the time, proposed reintroducing capital punishment for treason, sparking outcry among Armenian civil society activists.
Repeated attempts by CivilNet to contact Vardapetyan for comment on Davtyan’s proposal went unanswered. It remains unclear if Vardapetyan will pursue Davtyan’s proposal.