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Armenian President Names New Chief Of Staff

Vigen Sarkisian
Vigen Sarkisian
YEREVAN -- A U.S.-educated senior aide to Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian has been formally appointed as his new chief of staff, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Vigen Sarkisian (no relation to Serzh Sarkisian) has formally taken over the presidential administration more than a month after the resignation of his predecessor, Karen Karapetian.

The president's office said on September 9 that Karapetian was relieved of his duties "at his own request." The precise reason for the resignation is unknown.

Karapetian, whose brother Samvel is one of Russia's wealthiest Armenians, was the parliamentary leader of Serzh Sarkisian's Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) before being appointed as chief of the staff in September 2008.

Analysts say that Karapetian was never as influential as his deputy, Mikael Minasian, Serzh Sarkisian's son-in-law and reportedly closest confidante.

In a statement, the presidential press service said Vigen Sarkisian was introduced to the staff by the president immediately after his appointment today. The latter was cited as expressing confidence that Vigen Sarkisian will perform his new job "with success."

Vigen Sarkisian, 36, who has already been serving as acting chief of staff, was a foreign policy adviser to former parliament speaker Babken Ararktsian before graduating from Boston's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 2000.

From 2000-03 he worked as an assistant to then-Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian. He then worked for President Robert Kocharian in the same capacity and stayed in the presidential administration after Kocharian handed power to Sarkisian in April 2008.

Since then, foreign policy and national security issues have been Vigen Sarkisian's key areas of responsibility. He has also taught international relations and public administration at the American University of Armenia since 2001.