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Armenian Ruling Party’s Ombudsman Candidate Approved by State and Legal Affairs Committee

The Armenian National Assembly’s Standing Committee on State and Legal Affairs voted 7 to 4 on Friday in favor of endorsing Arman Tatoyan's candidacy for the position of the country's next human rights defender. Tatoyan, currently a deputy Justice Minister, was appointed for the position by the ruling Republican Party's (RPA) parliamentary faction. The National Assembly will vote on Tatoyan's candidacy in a secret ballot at a plenary session.

Heritage party NA faction leader Zaruhi Postanjyan, who was nominated for the post by independent lawmaker Edmon Marukyan, received 4 votes in favor.

At the start of today's debate, Gagik Melikyan, the secretary of RPA's faction, asked Marukyan whether the Heritage party was aware that he had put forward Postanjyan for the Ombudsman's job. “You want to make the faction's sole member a human rights defender, thus closing the faction. Do you want to deprive [Heritage party] of the chance to speak from the high podium of the parliament? I don't think it's right to dig another party's grave, and I don't want you, namely, to serve as a gravedigger,” Melikyan said.

“If there are any gravediggers in this country, then it's not us. I'm entitled to discuss Heritage-related issues here; if Zaruhi Postanjyan was nominated, then she must have gotten her party's approval. As for  the faction's closure, I'm surprised it has caused RPA so much trouble,” Marukyan replied.

Postanjyan herself expressed confidence that she was qualified enough to carry out human rights activities: “The Ombudsman is neither a midfielder nor a person with limited rights, and during my years practicing law I have even been subjected to political persecution,” she said. 

RPA lawmaker Levon Martirosyan asked Postanjyan why she would puts forward her candidacy for job of Ombudsman when the parliamentary mandate provided more opportunities for protection of human rights: “You want to decrease your status on multiple levels. You know full well that you will not be elected Ombudsman; even from an arithmetical point of view, your faction does not have enough members in the parliament to vote you through. It seems like once again you only need a microphone.”

“I'd prefer fighting rather than having some job. You're choosing your future Ombudsman, and you are free to follow your conscience. I just want the Republican Party to know that they'll always have a competitor. There should be competition on all platforms,” Postanjyan replied.