By Emil Danielyan
Karlos Petrosian, the director of Armenia’s National Security Service, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, was dismissed by President Robert Kocharian on Friday.
A one-sentence statement by Kocharian’s office said Petrosian was relieved of his duties at his own request. It did not specify why the latter decided to quit one of the country’s most influential government jobs.
A presidential spokeswoman told RFE/RL that Petrosian tendered his resignation earlier on Friday. Nobody has been appointed in his place yet, she said.
Among his possible replacements is Felix Tsolakian, a career security officer who now heads the State Taxation Service. Tsolakian previously worked as the head of Kocharian’s oversight service.
A former police officer, Petrosian was named to run the former Armenian branch of the Soviet secret police in the tense aftermath of the October 1999 terrorist attack on the Armenian parliament. His predecessor and Armenia’s present defense minister, Serzh Sarkisian, was forced to step down over his failure to forestall the bloodbath.
Petrosian was picked as a compromise figure by Kocharian and government factions locked in a bitter power struggle at the time. Like many other senior Armenian officials, he is thought to have developed extensive business interests in some lucrative sectors of the economy. The legality of his economic activities has been repeatedly challenged by Armenian newspapers critical of the government.
Petrosian might have been one of top government officials whose resignation was demanded recently by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), a member of the ruling coalition. Dashnaktsutyun leaders said the presence of unspecified “high-ranking cadres in the president’s entourage” is one of the reasons for slow socioeconomic improvements in the country.