Academic Dispute: Minister dismisses rector; rector refuses to be dismissed

The news that Armenia’s Education and Science Minister signed a decree on Tuesday to dismiss Valery Brusov Yerevan State Linguistic University (YSLU) rector Suren Zolyan, attracted public attention distracting it momentarily from the full-swing election campaign.

The indirect dispute between minister Armen Ashotyan and Zolyan started early this month, when Zolyan received a strict reprimand and was subjected to disciplinary penalty for not fulfilling his duties properly, namely for being absent from Armenia on March 19-23 without informing the minister. According to the minister, Zolyan has violated the demand of Armenia’s Law ‘On State Non-commercial Organizations’, namely assigning the implementation of his duties to another person without a decision of an authorized state body. Zolyan received a warning from Ashotyan, followed by checking held at the university, during which some violations were registered.

However, Zolyan, who has been rector of Brusov University since 1997, has released a statement in which he advises Ashotyan “to follow the law on Legal Acts, according to which the rector of YSLU is elected by the council of YSLU and the decision is confirmed by the Government of Armenia.”

Media speculate a political coloring to the controversy, as the rector is supported by Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP), and when a few months ago PAP leader Gagik Tsarukyan financed and gave scholarships to some students and professors of the university, Zolyan was believed to have become a PAP member, too.
A PAP press officer told ArmeniaNow that Zolyan has not become a PAP member.

Ashotyan, in his turn, has posted on his Facebook page that this issue does not have a political context.

Activist students of YSLU, who have decided to fight for their dismissed rector’s return, on Wednesday morning, were planning to gather in front of Armenia’s Ministry of Education and Science and express their protest against the minister’s decision. However, they were not allowed to miss their lessons, and as YSLU representatives inform, the education process is not interrupted and the lessons at the university are not suspended on Wednesday.

However, later on Wednesday, after the classes YSLU students gathered in front of their university to show their support to the rector by protesting against the minister’s decision. Holding posters “YSLU is us and Mr. Zolyan” the students then marched to the Education Ministry building.