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Armenian Capital's Mayor Resigns Amid Political Shuffle

Taron Markarian (right) gave no explanation as to why he is stepping down.
Taron Markarian (right) gave no explanation as to why he is stepping down.

YEREVAN -- The influential mayor of Armenia's capital has resigned, in the latest political shakeup to follow the mass protests that brought opposition leader Nikol Pashinian to the presidency.

In the statement announcing his resignation, Taron Markarian gave no explanation for why he was stepping down as Yerevan's mayor.

"I have been committed to my programs and promises. In this regard, I expect the forgiveness of all those fellow citizens with whom I am parting ways," he said.

Pressure had been growing on Markarian since mid-June when the National Security Service searched the offices of a municipal fund supervised by him.

The Yerevan Fund's executive director and another municipal official were detained on suspicion of extorting hefty payments to the charity from people seeking construction permits from the mayor's office.

Markarian has not been seen in public for the last two weeks.

An influential member of the former ruling Republican Party and son of a former prime minister, Markarian had held the position since November 2011. His resignation was announced just a few hours after he met with top city officials from the Republican Party.

Pashinian's rise to the presidency in May has shaken up Armenian politics, with many of his supporters pushing for more efforts to root out the country's corruption and cronyism.

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