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Head Of New Armenian Anti-Corruption Body Appointed


Armenia -- The head of the Special Investigation Service, Sasun Khachatrian, holds a press conference in Yerevan, September 11, 2018.

The Armenian government on Thursday appointed a long-serving senior law-enforcement official as head of a newly established agency tasked with investigating corruption cases.

The Anti-Corruption Committee (ACC) will inherit most of its powers from divisions of four Armenian law-enforcement bodies that have long prosecuted corruption-related crimes. One of them, the Special Investigative Service (SIS), will be dissolved after the ACC starts operating in full next year.

The ACC will be headed by Sasun Khachatrian, the SIS chief until now. He was nominated for the post by a government commission that declared him the winner of a job contest organized by it.

Speaking during a cabinet meeting in Yerevan immediately after his appointment, Khachatrian expressed confidence that the new agency will increase the efficiency of the government’s fight against corruption. He said the ACC will start operating by the end of October and will finally take shape “in the course of next year.”

Khachatrian, 44, worked as a senior prosecutor under Armenia’s former governments and was appointed as SIS chief shortly after Nikol Pashinian came to power in 2018. Pashinian has repeatedly claimed to have eliminated “systemic corruption” in Armenia since then.

The SIS and other law-enforcement agencies have launched dozens of high-profile corruption investigations mainly targeting former senior state officials, including ex-Presidents Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian.

Supporters of Kocharian and Sarkisian, who now lead major opposition alliances, as well as other critics of Pashinian say that most of those corruption cases are based on dubious charges and aimed at boosting the prime minister’s popularity, rather than the rule of law. They have accused Khachatrian of acting on Pashinian’s orders.

The outgoing SIS chief again denied executing such orders earlier this week.

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