Vladimir Gasparian, the chief of the Armenian police, has called on his subordinates to stick to political neutrality in enforcing law and order before and after the May parliamentary elections.
In his remarks made at a meeting with several dozen senior police officers late last week, Lieutenant-General Gasparian stressed it was President Serzh Sarkisian’s demand that the national police force show a ‘proper’ attitude towards all participants of the electoral process.
“I want all of you to remember that we, the police officers, serve all of the people. Therefore, we must defend the interests of all,” Gasparian said, according to his press service.
He suggested that ideal law enforcement implies only the division of citizens into “those keeping the law and those breaking it.”
“Your professional knowledge will be your strongest weapon during the periods before and after the elections,” Gasparian said, also stressing the importance of ensuring the accuracy of voter registers, which is part of the Police’s responsibility in Armenia.
Armenian opposition groups and civil society representatives have long accused the national police force of showing strong loyalty to the authorities, while behaving intolerantly towards the government’s opponents.
Detentions or ill-treatment of opposition activists distributing leaflets or engaged in other political activities have not been uncommon in Armenia in recent years. The country’s main opposition group, Armenian National Congress (HAK), claims police had acted on orders from the government to restrict people’s movement by putting roadblocks on the main highways leading to capital Yerevan ahead of virtually all of its public rallies in the past four years.
The HAK plans to hold its next public rally in Yerevan on Friday.