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Armenian Defense Minister Denies Resignation Talk


Armenia -- Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan speaks in Vanadzor, May 21, 2019.

Armenia’s Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan dismissed on Wednesday reports he will also lose his post following the dismissal of two other senior security officials.

“No, there is no such thing,” Tonoyan told reporters. He insisted that he has not discussed his political future with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.

Asked whether he has any policy differences with Pashinian, Tonoyan said: “No, there can’t be any differences.” Armenian government members are working in a “very synchronized” manner, he added.

Artur Vanetsian, the director of the National Security Service (NSS), hit out at Pashinian after being forced to resign on Monday. The prime minister rejected the criticism in equally strong terms.

Tonoyan declined to comment on Vanetsian’s statement. “The former NSS director is a friend of mine,” he said. “We have cooperated very closely for the past one and a half years and I will leave it to him to make comments.”

The chief of the Armenian police, Valeri Osipian, was dismissed on Wednesday. Armenian media reported his impending sacking late on Tuesday. Some media outlets claimed that Tonoyan will also be sacked.

Echoing statements by other senior officials, the 51-year-old defense minister denied reports that Armenia’s Security Council discussed Osipian’s resignation at a meeting on Tuesday chaired by Pashinian.

Pashinian appointed Tonoyan as defense minister after he swept to power during last year’s “Velvet Revolution.” Tonoyan had served as minister for emergency situations in former President Serzh Sarkisian’s government since 2016. He had previously been a deputy defense minister.

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