“The decision to fire me from my job was taken by the wife of Tigran Torosyan, the President of the National Assembly, just because I asked that my job responsibilities be clearly stated”, confidently states Antranik Sargsyan, Head Visitation Section at the Department of Protocol at the National Assembly. They removed him from his position on April 7, 2008.
It was noted in the dismissal notice that, “For crudely violating the workplace order, i.e., being intoxicated on the job.” Antranik Sargsyan poses the question, “In the dismissal notice it isn’t even stated where or when I was allegedly intoxicated while on the job, who made this claim and why an internal investigation wasn’t conducted. Why wasn’t I presented with any official documentation showing that such a complaint had been duly registered?”
On April 30th Antranik Sargsyan brought a court suit demanding that the directive dismissing him from work be declared invalid. 33 year-old Antranik had been working at the National Assembly for nine years. He started as a regular staffer and worked his way up to Section Head. During the years he has been awarded with a number of commendations for his work.
What exactly transpired for the National Assembly President to dismiss such a well-rounded employee? Mr. Sargsyan recounts that, “On the afternoon of April 2nd our Department Director Artak Hovhannisyan requested that I see to the travel arrangements of Tigran Torosyan’s daughter. (His daughter is Lusineh Harutyunyan, an advisor to her father Tigran Torosyan). At around 3:00 that afternoon we saw Tigran Torosyan off on his flight to Saint Petersburg. After work I went to the birthday party of my colleague’s son and drank a bit of beer. I went home afterwards to relax. At around 10 minutes to 3 that night our driver arrived and we both went to the government summer residence where we picked up the passport and suitcase of Mr. Torosyan’s daughter. Mr. Torosyan’s wife, Araxya Vardanyan, commented that my breath smelt of alcohol and I replied that I had a bit of beer to drink at the birthday party. At the airport I handled the paperwork and asked the staff at the official delegations hall to try and obtain a seat up front in the plane if possible for Lusineh. The seat assigned was in the seventh row of the economy class, by the window. I wasn’t able to reserve a seat for the Munich - Athens leg of the flight. I told the girls at the airport that Lusineh would be arriving shortly and to see that she gets on the plane without any delay. I then returned home and went to bed.
At 4:40 that night Araxya Vardanyan called me up on the phone and started to complain at the top of her lungs about not getting a good seat for her daughter for the Munich - Athens flight and demanded that I immediately go to the airport. I caught a cab and went straight there. Afterwards I learnt that she had sent our driver to my house to pick me up. At the airport she started to complain that since I was drunk I couldn’t perform my duties satisfactorily. I replied that attending to the daughter of the National Assembly President wasn’t included in my job description, especially not during my off-hours.
That same day Araxya Vardanyan also got into a quarrel with the service staff at the airport. However, those employees refused to talk about the incident. One of the female workers merely stated that a government minister witnessed the incident. If at internal investigation of the matter were to take place at the National Assembly they would be obliged to call this minister as a witness. The necessity for such an investigation is long overdue since this isn’t the first incident of its type regarding Tigran Torosyan and his wife. Articles in the press have appeared regarding the dismissal of a number of chauffeurs due to the personal intervention of Araxya Vardanyan.
We at “Hetq” still haven’t received any clarification on the matter either from Tigran Torosyan himself or from Hayk Kotanyan, Head of Staff at the National Assembly.
Mr. A. Sargsyan states, “They had no right to sack me. My workday ends at 6 p.m. I’ve performed similar errands for the wife and daughter before and never received a ‘thank-you’ for my efforts. After nine years of service they throw me out on the street. But I’m certain that I’ll win the case in court and that I’ll be reinstated to my job,”
Antranik, who is expecting his second child, is a civil servant with a law degree. However, he has little hope of finding other work within the halls of government given the negative character reference included in his dismissal notice. He can’t since Tigran Torosyan has personally decided to penalize the civil servant that hasn’t executed the orders given by his wife, Araxya Vardanyan. Tigran Torosyan has often given a number of public moral lectures, especially during the past few months.
In general it seems that our government officials view their staff as personal vassals who must humbly attend to the needs of their family members as well. In the eyes of law enforcement, this incident could serve as a shining example of the abuse of one’s official position and could serve as the basis to criminally indict one of the top figures of the regime. In addition, such abuse of one’s official position has occurred periodically over time. But it’s clear to all of us that such criminal indictments are impossibility here in our country.