On March 25 Prime Minister Antranik Markarian passed away in his home at the age of 54. The cause of death was a heart attack, as reported by Channel 1Public Television. He was appointed to his position in 2000 by President Robert Kocharian, and was the longest serving Prime Minister since the inception of the Republic of Armenia.
In the 1970s he was one of a few dissidents who called for the establishment of an independent Armenian state free from Soviet rule and was subsequently jailed for his actions. He was a founding member of the Republican Party of Armenia in 1989, and he eventually rose to serve as the organization’s leader, up until his untimely death.
Prime Minister Markarian was perhaps best known characteristically for his mumbling and occasional incoherence whenever he spoke in front of the cameras, as his lips hardly seemed to move. He was also generally quiet when in the public eye. Although he did not really have the appearance that may be attributed to a died-in-the-wool statesman, he always had a dignified look about him, with an aura of professionalism that was not rivaled by many of his contemporaries. I would make jokes about this man with friends regarding where he should really be working or whatever, but now that he’s passed I must admit that he wasn’t a bad person. I have never heard any stories about his potentially perceived affluence and cunning as a businessman behind the scenes, and have not known anyone who has spoken negatively about him. According to his fellow party member and longtime friend President of the National Assembly Tigran Torosian, he never stalled to talk to ordinary people, whether they were morning street sweepers or old men trying to find a way to make a living in their villages. He always appeared to be a gentle, peaceful man who would never deliberately harm anyone. On the contrary, he was known to do whatever he could to help those that petitioned him. Critics have scrutinized his policies and failures to tackle one issue or another, but that is to be expected of any politician.
I cannot guess who will be chosen to serve in his place, not that it matters very much right now. Perhaps some ministers will be reshuffled in the process. But I think it is a great shame that a second Prime Minister died while in office in less than a 10-year time span. I think he was a good man who had much important work left undone. I don’t know what his legacy will be, but I would venture to guess it is having dutifully served his country to the best of his abilities, with honor and valor.