By Karine Kalantarian
Official sources at Armenia’s police avoid naming reasons for the unexpected dismissal of their influential deputy chief so far deemed loyal to the authorities.
Lieutenant-General Hovannes Varian was relived of his duties by a decree of President Robert Kocharian announced late on Tuesday.
Conflicting speculations have been made since regarding the possible reasons behind Varian’s departure from the police system. Problems with health were mentioned among such reasons.
Varian’s denial of the news about his imminent dismissal on Tuesday added to the speculations about his disagreement with the chief of police, Hayk Harutiunian, which, according to some sources, may have happened as early as ten days ago.
One of the duties of Varian, who has held high positions in the system for more than a decade, was to police public order.
He is known to have personally ordered a dispersal of an opposition public rally in April 2004 that resulted in gross police violence against demonstrators and a number of media representatives covering the event.
There has been no indication that Varian may have been fired over police failures to disclose a whole series of high-profile crimes in the recent period or over the recent death in custody of a young man.
Varian is also known to have been in charge of arms licensing in the republic. A newspaper publication a month ago alleged that a massive re-registration of weapons was being on in Armenia. However, officials avoid speaking about any gross violations revealed in the process, which may have led to Varian’s sacking.
According to yet unconfirmed reports, the former deputy chief of police may soon be appointed head of the Rescue Service at the Ministry of Local Government.
Meanwhile, by another decree signed by President Kocharian on Tuesday, chief of presidential staff Armen Gevorgian was appointed Secretary of the National Security Council.