On June 8, 2020, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan sacked chiefs of the National Security Service, Armed Forces and the Police. New appointments of Colonel Argishti Kyaramyan as head of the National Security Service, Colonel Vahe Ghazaryan as head of the Police and General-Lieutenant Onik Gasparyan as head of the Armed Forces of Armenia are awaiting the approval of Armen Sargsyan, President of Armenia.
Head of police Arman Sargsyan and head of the National Security Service Eduard Martirosyan were relatively new in their tenures. The dismissals come with Nikol Pashinyan’s strong criticism of state officials’ violation anti-epidemiological rules. It has become known that on June 7, head of the Armed Forces of Armenia, General Lieutenant Artak Davtyan organized a wedding ceremony for his son, involving more than 100 guests, including high officials.
In the backdrop of Armenia’s health system succumbing to the surge of COVID-19 contagion, when mobile loudspeakers call on the population to wear masks, keep physical distance, avoid gatherings, when the State of Exception office has banned gatherings involving more than 20 people, when on June 7, Pashinyan stated that “we are walking through hell” as there are 200 people on a waiting list to be hospitalized as the hospital beds have been exhausted, when Nikol Pashinyan resorts on “public oversight flash mob” and not the police to send him photos of violation of anti-epidemiological rules, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Artak Davtyan organizes a wedding party at his mansion and invites other high officials who actually take the invitation and attend the ceremony. Commenting on the situation, early on June 8 Artak Davtyan denied that a 100-so-attended wedding is a violation of rules at the peak of the pandemic in Armenia. “Everyone is equal in front of law. But if I have committed any violation, I will bear all relevant responsibility. But I believe, there has been no violation, let the relevant bodies inspect it. I just want to remind that everyone has a right to private life. I call on people and the media not to intrude into my and my family’s private space and not to involve us in political games.”
Although Pashinyan thanked now former chief of police Arman Sargsyan and chief of NSS Eduard Martirosyan for their efforts to serve the state and people of Armenia, he made it clear in a cabinet meeting on June 8 that “high officials must serve as examples of how important it is to maintain anti-epidemiological rules, but unfortunately, we see cases that run counter to this. I want to make it clear that it is impossible to allow that the actions of high officials, now matter where these actions are, run contrary to the messages of the Prime Minister, the text and context of what the Prime Minister says. This is beyond personal relations. This means an unconditional, indisputable compliance with discipline, a topic we discussed earlier in this Cabinet. I am absolutely serious about this within and beyond the anti-epidemiological context.”
Onik Gasparyan, now chief of staff of the Armed Forces, was the deputy in this post starting 2017.
Argishti Kyaramyan, now head of the National Security Service, was the deputy in this post starting May 5. After the revolution in 2018, he managed to oversee several oversight and inspection departments at the State Revenue Committee, several posts at the State Oversight Committee, and even was deputy of the Investigative Committee for only one day.
Vahe Ghazaryan was the chief of Tavush Marz police after the Revolution. On May 22 2019, he was appointed as Deputy Commander of Police Troops, Deputy Chief of Police.