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Interim Heads Of Armenian Police, Security Service Named


Armenia -- Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian addresses protesters outside the main government building in Yerevan, September 19, 2019.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian named the new, interim heads of Armenia’s Police and National Security Service (NSS) on Thursday.

President Armen Sarkissian formalized the appointments of Arman Sargsian as acting police chief and Eduard Martirosian as acting director of the NSS later in the day.

Both relatively young men are career officers who became deputy heads of their respective agencies shortly after last year’s “Velvet Revolution.”

The previous police and NSS chiefs, Valeri Osipian and Artur Vanetsian, were forced by Pashinian to resign earlier this week for still unclear reasons. Pashinian did not say who will replace them on a permanent basis when he announced the interim appointments at a cabinet meeting in Yerevan.

The premier stressed that both Sargsian and Martirosian are legally empowered to perform their new duties in full. “I want to congratulate our colleagues and wish them success,” he said.

Sargsian, 41, met with senior police staff later in the day, reportedly telling them that the Armenian police will undergo “institutional changes” soon and must “build on achievements” and “eliminate existing shortcomings” in the meantime. “It is essential that within a short period of time the public sees a new, more competent and professional police,” a police statement quoted him as saying.

Armenian law has until now required the heads of the police and the NSS to be high-ranking career officers. On Monday the Armenian parliament passed in the first reading legal amendments allowing political appointees to run the two law-enforcement agencies. This fuelled media speculation that Osipian’s and Vanetsian’s permanent replacements will be outsiders.

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