President Serzh Sarkisian has moved to set up a new and powerful law-enforcement agency that will be tasked with conducting criminal investigations.
Sarkisian’s press office indicated on Wednesday that the “united investigative body” will bring together corresponding divisions of Armenia’s police, Defense Ministry and State Revenue Committee (SRC). It said in a statement that this structural change is aimed at increasing the effectiveness of inquiries into various crimes and the independence of officers conducting them.
The statement made no reference to the investigating arms of the National Security Service (NSS), the former Armenian branch of the Soviet KGB, as well as the Special Investigative Service (SIS), suggesting that they will not be incorporated into the new agency. The SIS is subordinate to prosecutors and charged with investigating crimes committed by state officials and electoral violations.
The statement also announced that Sarkisian has formed an ad hoc commission that will draft new laws and legal amendments required for the creation of the new security agency. The commission is headed by former Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian.
Galust Sahakian, a deputy chairman of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), said that Hovsepian, who resigned as chief prosecutor less than two weeks ago, is also likely to be appointed as head of the new body. Sahakian pointed to Hovsepian’s “valuable experience” in law enforcement.
Zaruhi Postanjian, a former trial attorney who is now a parliament deputy representing the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage), brushed aside the official rationale for restructuring the Armenian security apparatus. “All of Serzh Sarkisian’s initiative are aimed at prolonging and strengthening his rule,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).