Prime Nikol Pashinian heaped praise on Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) on Thursday, saying that it has successfully accomplished its mission since last year’s “Velvet Revolution” that brought him to power.
“As prime minister of the Republic of Armenia, I continue to trust the National Security Service,” Pashinian told senior officers of the former Armenian branch of the Soviet KGB.
“A lot is said about periodical criticism of the NSS,” he said in a speech. “But I want to emphasize one thing. A considerable, if not most or huge, part of the work of the NSS is not visible to the public.
“Security is something which is often not noticed. When security is in place nobody usually thanks anyone for that because that is taken for granted. But when the slightest doubt is cast on security everyone takes out their swords and attacks bodies tasked with ensuring that security.”
The NSS has helped to make Armenia one of the safest countries of the world, Pashinian declared before awarding state medals to three dozen NSS officers.
The remarks came five days after six non-governmental organizations called for a “radical” reform of the NSS. In a joint appeal to Pashinian, they said that the NSS has for decades been engaged in the “persecution” and illegal surveillance of Armenian opposition and civic groups. They urged Pashinian to investigate the alleged abuses committed by the powerful security service.
The appeal was signed by the Armenian branch of U.S. billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (OSF) and five local NGOs that have received OSF grants.
Artur Vanetsian, who headed the NSS from May 2018 to September 2019, charged last month that OSF activities in Armenia pose a national security risk. OSF representatives denounced the claim.
Vanetsian was sacked in September after falling out with Pashinian for still unclear reasons.