By Emil Danielyan
The first deputy chief of Armenia’s Police Service, Lieutenant-General Ararat Mahtesian, was dismissed on Wednesday in what increasingly looks like a reshuffle of the security apparatus initiated by President Serzh Sarkisian.
The move came six days after the widely anticipated sacking of Hayk Harutiunian, the national police chief. Harutiunian was replaced by Alik Sargsian, a former police officer who has served as governor of the southern Ararat region for the past eight years.
The presidential press service gave no reasons for Sarkisian’s decision to sack Mahtesian as well and to appoint another police general, Armen Yeritsian, in his place.
Both sackings had been predicted by newspapers critical of the Armenian government. They have speculated that Sarkisian is keen to distance himself from key organizers of the suppression of the post-election opposition demonstrations in Yerevan that left at least ten people dead. Mahtesian was assigned last month to submit an official explanation of police actions to a team of prosecutors investigating the March 1 violence.
Another, even more powerful, security official who reportedly played a major part in the bloody crackdown was fired by the president on May 27. Grigori Sarkisian (no relation to Serzh) headed an agency responsible for the security of the country’s most high-ranking government officials. He is believed to be one of former President Robert Kocharian’s most trusted associates.
There has also been media speculation that many high-ranking police officers are unhappy with the choice of their new boss and that some of them could lose their jobs as a result.
(Photolur photo: Ararat Mahtesian.)