Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan on Friday appointed his political rivals Samvel Babayan and Masis Mayilyan to key posts in his government, with Mayilyan staying on as Artsakh’s Foreign Minister, while Babayan being named as secretary of Artsakh’s security council.
Mayilyan came in second in the recent presidential elections, during which he and Harutyunyan traded barbs and accusations. In announcing Mayilyan’s re-appointment as foreign minister, Harutyunyan said that the two agreed to shoulder “responsibility for our country’s future” as it faces serious “challenges and dangers.”
Babayan’s United Homeland party won the second largest majority in parliament during the March 31 elections. On Monday, he and Harutyunyan signed a memorandum of understanding between their respective parties, effectively giving Harutyunyan, who bloc won 16 of the 33 seats in parliament, a majority.
However, in announcing Babayan’s appointment as a key security leader in Artsakh, Harutyunyan said that Babayan, who was the commander of the Artsakh Liberation Army from 1991 to 1994, never asked for a government post.
“We made the final decision yesterday in Yerevan,” Harutyunyan said in a Facebook Live broadcast on Friday. “Before that Samvel Babayan had never hinted at holding any position, he is always ready for cooperation for the sake of the future of the country and its people.”
“Yesterday I proposed him the position of the Secretary of the Security Council of Artsakh,” Harutyunyan said. “I want to thank Samvel Babayan for assuming this important responsible duty at this difficult period.”
Having been once considered the most powerful person in Artsakh, Babayan has not held political office there for more than two decades. In 2000, he was arrested and charged with allegedly attempting to assassinate Artsakh’s then president Arkady Ghukasyan. He was released from prison in 2004, after which he went to Moscow.
In 2016, Babayan returned to Armenia, only to be charged during the Serzh Sarkisian administration, for money laundering and weapons trafficking. He was sentenced to six years in prison, but in June, 2018 he was released from prison.
Babayan wanted to run for Artsakh president during the 2020 elections. However, the fact that he had not lived in Artsakh for ten years, disqualified him for that contest. He formed the United Homeland party, which won nine seats in the parliamentary elections.