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Erebuni District Police Chief Fired Over Corruption Case

The police chief of Yerevan’s southern Erebuni district, Grigor Grigoryan, was sacked on Wednesday following the disappearance of his deputy charged with bribery.

Law-enforcement authorities say the officer, Mihran Keshishyan, went into hiding after being formally accused of demanding $13,000 to end a criminal investigation of alleged drugs trafficking into Yerevan’s Nubarashen prison, the largest in the country.

The chief of Yerevan’s police department, Major-General Nerses Nazaryan, acknowledged the direct link between Grigoryan’s sacking and the bribery case handled by the Special Investigative Service (SIS). “Every manager is responsible for his staff,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

“I think that he will be prudent enough to surrender himself,” Nazaryan said, referring to the fugitive officer. “If not, he will definitely be tracked down. He can’t remain on the run.”

Keshishyan apparently evaded prosecution amid sweeping personnel changes initiated by Vladimir Gasparyan, the new chief of the Armenian police. At least a dozen senior police officials have been dismissed or moved to other positions since Gasparyan’s appointment by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan just over a week ago.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the police accused media of spreading false “rumors and gossips” about motives behind those changes and thus “interfering with the normal work of the police.” “The ongoing cadre changes in the [police] system are … aimed at improving its work and effectiveness,” said the statement.

In that regard, Nazaryan refuted a newspaper report that said he too is set to lose his job. “The minister has told me that we are going to work together better and for a long time,” said the police general.