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Diana Ghazaryan

Azatamout Residents Protest; Demand Mayor's Resignation

Residents of Azatamout, a community in Armenia’s Tavoush Province, staged a protest outside the cultural center this morning demanding the immediate resignation of Mayor Zhora Martirosyan.

The incident that sparked today’s protest occurred on September 24 at the local elementary school.

According to school Principal Larisa Hakobyan, the mayor’s grandson pushed another classmate when the two were looking at a class book. The two boys exited the school and the mayor’s grandson hit the classmate.

The situation in the community deteriorated soon afterwards with the families and friends of the two boys splitting into camps and a round of name calling.

Hakobyan says Mayor Martirosyan visited the school the following say in an attempt to get the two boys to shake hands and reconcile, but to no avail.

That evening the parents of the two boys argued outside the cultural center and a knife fight ensued.

Hakobyan says the following day she saw some twenty cars blocking the road to the school. Parents weren’t allowing children to enter the school.

“This story goes back years. The incident just sparked the latest round. The Republican Party of Armenia found that mayor, with a fourth-grade education, and stuck us with him,” says Hakobyan.

Some 80% of eligible voters in Azatamout have signed a petition calling for Martirosyan’s resignation, arguing that he’s unleashed a wave of intimidation in the community.

This past July, the Tavoush Provincial Government investigated the activities and decisions made by Martirosyan and found that he had been distributing monetary assistance to villagers without the permission of the municipal council.

For the past two years, Martirosyan and certain council members have been at loggerheads, accusing one another of procedural violations regarding budgetary expenditures.  

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