Armenia′s PM Pashinyan axes police and security chiefs | News | DW | 11.05.2018
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Armenia's PM Pashinyan axes police and security chiefs

Armenia's new prime minister says he has sacked the heads of the country's police and security service. Nikol Pashinyan was swept to power this week after popular protests.

Armenian President Armen Sarkissian dismissed the heads of the security service and police on Thursday at the request of Nikol Pashinyan, who was elected prime minister by parliament earlier this week after missing the mark earlier in May.

"I've just signed a statement to the president about relieving the police chief, Vladimir Gasparyan, and security service head, Georgi Kutoyan, of their duties," Pashinyan, a former newspaper editor who once spent time in prison for fomenting unrest, wrote on his Facebook page Thursday.

Armenia's parliament elected Pashinyan prime minister this week after he helped lead weeks of protests against the ruling Republican Party, transforming the political landscape. Critics had accused longtime leader Serzh Sargsyan, who stepped down on April 23, and his Republican Party of corruption, doing the bidding of powerful oligarchs and failing to tackle widespread poverty.

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'The same side'

Sarkissian will replace Gasparyan, who had served as head of the police since 2011, with Valery Osipyan, the deputy chief of police in the capital, Yerevan, according to a presidential decree published on Thursday. Pashinyan underlined the symbolism of the appointment: "During the demonstrations, we were on a different side of the barricade from Valeri Osipyan. I decided ... that we will be on the same side."     

Pashinyan appointed Artur Vanetsyan, who currently heads Yerevan's security services, to the countrywide role. "The National Security Service must perform a serious function in the fight against corruption, which we must wipe out very quickly from Armenia," the prime minister said as he announced the personnel change. Before being elected prime minister, Pashinyan said he would eradicate corruption and ensure "a normal life in the country."

In recent weeks, the hugely popular Pashinyan and his supporters put pressure on the Republicans through civil disobedience, leading to Sargsyan's shocking resignation  just a week after, following 10 years as president, he assumed the prime minister title to take advantage of new powers given to the office.

mkg/rc (Reuters, AFP)

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