General Nerses Nazarian, the longtime head of Yerevan’s police department, was dismissed on Monday following media reports about his growing disagreements with General Vladimir Gasparian, the national police chief.
A spokesman for the Armenian police, Ashot Aharonian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that Nazarian was immediately replaced by another senior officer heading the police Directorate General of Criminal Investigations. Aharonian refused to comment on reasons for the move ordered by Gasparian.
The sacking came after reports in the Armenian press claiming that Nazarian is increasingly at odds with Gasparian. In particular, the latter was allegedly unhappy with Nazarian’s management of riot police forces that clashed with opposition protesters during President Serzh Sarkisian’s inauguration for a second term on April 9.
The Yerevan police chief personally oversaw the generally restrained use of force against opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian and thousands of his supporters that attempted to march to the presidential palace in the Armenian capital.
Gasparian arrived at the scene and negotiated with Hovannisian moments after the brief clash. He then escorted the opposition leader and some of the protesters to the Armenian Genocide Memorial. Later in that evening Gasparian publicly ordered Nazarian to let them approach the presidential building.