Yerevan, 8 October 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Albert Bazeyan, a deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, has resigned today, apparently in opposition to recent privatization deals.
The move came on the third day of the parliament's emergency sitting called by the opposition to debate the government's privatization strategy.
The opposition wants the sell-offs to foreign investors of the Yerevan brandy factory and the country's two biggest hotels to be revoked.
The government of President Robert Kocharian has defended the deals as beneficial for the Armenian economy.
Tensions mounted yesterday after the opposition, which includes supporters of the former president Levon Ter-Petrossian, accused the government of breaking the law. They threatened to unseat it by a vote of no confidence.
Announcing his resignation, Bazeyan blamed the opposition and, implicitly, the cabinet of Prime Minister Armen Darpinian, for the dispute. He said Darpinian's opponents are keen to cause "political instability," capitalizing on it ahead of parliamentary elections due next year. He also said the government should have been more transparent in its economic policy. He said "The government's work style doesn't inspire trust."
Bazeyan is a leading figure in the parliament's largest Yerkrapah group, which supports President Kocharian but has yet to formulate an official position on the privatization row.
Kocharian yesterday threatened to take "resolute steps" if the parliamentary opposition succeeds in reversing the sell-offs. The remarks fueled fresh speculations about the parliament's imminent dissolution. The Armenian constitution sets virtually no restrictions on the president's right to call fresh parliamentary elections.