Vazgen Sarkisian, minister of defense and leader of the Unity bloc that swept the May 30 parliamentary elections, has moved beyond his kingmaker role to become the country’s civilian strongman. President Robert Kocharian named him prime minister last week. He will give up the defense portfolio (which he has held throughout the post-Soviet period) but he remains head of the Yerkrapah Union, a paramilitary organization closely linked to the Republican Party, which he also heads. Sarkisian, 40, commanded Armenian volunteers in the Karabakh war against Azerbaijan at the beginning of the decade. He is believed to have been instrumental in rigging the 1995 parliamentary election and the 1996 presidential election of Levon Ter-Petrosian. He is also credited or blamed with engineering Ter-Petrosian’s ouster in 1998 and his replacement with Robert Kocharian as acting, and then elected, president.