Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) has told a member of a small political party to retract his allegations that the NSS director, Artur Vanetsian, is engaged in illegal entrepreneurial activity.
Garegin Miskarian of the Citizen’s Decision party attacked Vanetsian in a recent Facebook post. Miskarian claimed that Vanetsian and his family had smuggled diesel from Iran and have continued fuel imports after last year’s “velvet revolution.”
The security service categorically denied that in a letter to Miskarian which was signed by an NSS official, Vahe Yengibarian. The latter demanded that the activist retract his “article” in writing.
Miskarian accepted the demand but defended his post on Wednesday, saying that it was based on media reports. He also objected to the fact that the retraction was demanded by the NSS, rather than Vanetsian. “I did not mention the NSS in that status,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Yengibarian insisted, meanwhile, that Vanetsian did not abuse his administrative resources to protect his reputation. Nor did the NSS chief seek to restrict freedom of speech in the country, the official said.
Vanetsian, 38, was appointed as NSS director shortly after the 2018 revolution. He is widely regarded as an influential member of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s entourage. Over the past year the NSS has launched high-profile corruption investigations into some former senior government officials as well as their relatives and cronies.