Ruben Vardanyan sacked as Nagorno-Karabakh PM after four months in office. Azerbaijan wanted him gone

Businessman Ruben Vardanyan has been removed from the office of PM of unrecognised Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh), the office of the republic’s President Arayik Harutyunyan reports.

Harutyunyan “lauded Vardanyan’s efforts in both increasing international awareness about Artsakh and addressing many internal issues during the blockade”, the statement reads. Harutyunyan also reported that he offered the PM post to the Prosecutor General of Nagorno-Karabakh Gurgen Nersisyan.

Interfax noted that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev told last week’s Munich Security Conference that he was willing to launch talks with Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian population if Vardanyan leaves the unrecognised republic.

“We are ready to start practical communications with Karabakh’s Armenian community. I said this to the Armenian prime minister in [US] Secretary of State [Antony] Blinken’s presence. But we can only move forward with it when Ruben Vardanyan, a Russian citizen, organised crime oligarch, and a person who laundered money in Europe, leaves your territory,” Aliyev said.

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Vardanyan, former head of Troika Dialog and the first president of Moscow’s Skolkovo school of management, was appointed as Nagorno-Karabakh prime minister on 4 November 2022.

In early September, Vardanyan announced the decision to revoke his Russian citizenship and move to Nagorno-Karabakh. Last year, Forbes estimated his net worth to be $1 billion, ranking him in the top 200 richest people in Russia.

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