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Yerevan Mayor Confirms Resignation

Yerevan Mayor Karen Karapetian.

Yerevan Mayor Karen Karapetian.

YEREVAN -- Yerevan Mayor Karen Karapetian has confirmed that he has decided to resign after less than one year in office, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Karapetian wrote on his Facebook page that "I have tendered my resignation." He attributed the unexpected decision to "personal reasons" and his "transfer to another [job]."

Karapetian wrote that "I made the decision with great difficulty and am stating with all responsibility that there is no subtext of political or intragovernmental disagreements, as is claimed by some [as the reason for the resignation]."

He added that "at the same time, I feel sorry for unfulfilled tasks and obligations as well as those expectations and programs that the country's supreme leadership and the public had in connection with my tenure."

According to some newspaper reports, Karapetian, who previously managed Armenia's national gas-distribution company, has received a lucrative job offer from Gazprom or another Russian energy conglomerate.

In a separate interview with the Armnews TV channel, Karapetian confirmed that he was likely to work in Russia, but did not elaborate.

On October 27, Armenian media speculated that President Serzh Sarkisian is unhappy with Karapetian's controversial policies, which have sparked angry demonstrations by street traders and kiosk owners in the capital.

Another theory suggested by commentators is that Sarkisian regards Karapetian as a potential backer of his predecessor, Robert Kocharian, who is allegedly keen to get back into politics and challenge the current president.

Karapetian insisted, however, that he had enjoyed "unlimited" support from Sarkisian throughout his short tenure. He also dismissed as "absurd" media claims about his uneasy rapport with the presidential administration.

Under Armenian law, Yerevan mayors are chosen by the municipal assembly, not in a popular vote. Sarkisian's Republican Party (HHK) holds the majority of seats in the assembly, known as the Council of Elders.

Derenik Dumanian, the leader of the HHK faction in the council, claimed earlier to be unaware of the mayor's resignation plans.

"Under the law on Yerevan, if the mayor wants to step down he has to appeal to the Council of Elders and the council will then make a decision," Dumanian told RFE/RL. "The faction and the council have received no official application to that effect as yet."

One of Karapetian's likely successors is Deputy Mayor Taron Markarian. His late father, Andranik Markarian, served as Armenian prime minister in 2000-08.

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