Armenia’s Police and National Security Service have reported that they immediately executed the order issued by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in the wake of yesterday’s wiretapping scandal to conduct raids to disarm “so-called bodyguards of oligarchs and [former] high-ranking officials” who illegally possess weapons.
Speaking at a rally in Yerevan Tuesday night Pashinian reacted angrily to the tapping of telephone conversations between the chiefs of the National Security Service and the Special Investigation Service in which they discussed an ongoing investigation into the 2008 postelection violence. The prime minister pointed an accusatory finger at “some people connected with oligarchs and high-ranking officials who have acquired wiretapping equipment and created their own ‘special services’ working in parallel with the special services of the State.”
“All of these so-called ‘special services’ will be identified and destroyed. All groups possessing weapons illegally will be disarmed. I order the police and the National Security Service to start raids immediately,” Pashinian said.
Police spokesperson Ashot Aharonian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) today that actions were taken “immediately after the order.” He did not provide details, noting that when there is information subject to publication it will be published.
Samson Galstian, a spokesperson for the National Security Service (NSS), also told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that there is still no information that can be made public.
Armenian authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the wiretapping scandal, with Prime Minister Pashinian describing it as a “conspiracy and crime against Armenian statehood.”
Pashinian ordered law-enforcement agencies “to find the conspirators as soon as possible and hold them accountable in the strictest terms.”
Asked by an RFE/RL’s Armenian service correspondent today to comment on the results of his orders to the law-enforcement bodies, Pashinian briefly replied: “Everything is correct, everything is accurate.”
The head of the Armenian government also said that he did not see any “external trace” in the wiretapping of the heads of the special services of Armenia.
The audio of the conversations leaked to the media yesterday was apparently supposed to compromise the Pashinian government as it purportedly showed that the prime minister and security officials directed the judiciary in the case of former president Robert Kocharian, who is charged with “overthrowing the constitutional order” in connection with the 2008 unrest in which 10 people were killed.
Kocharian’s office issued a statement later on Tuesday, claiming that the contents of the conversations showed that the case was “a classical example of a political vendetta.”
Eduard Sharmazanov, a deputy parliament speaker representing the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia, meanwhile, said that the leaked audio proved that “selective justice” is being administered in Armenia. He further blamed the authorities for being “incapable of securing phone lines even at the level of top security officials.”