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Armenian Police Chief Fired Over Corruption Case


Yerevan's police chief, Major General Nerses Nazarian

Yerevan's police chief, Major General Nerses Nazarian

YEREVAN -- A police chief in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, has been dismissed following the disappearance of his deputy, who was charged with bribery, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Law enforcement authorities say the deputy, Mihran Keshishian, went into hiding after being formally accused of demanding $13,000 to end a criminal investigation into alleged drug trafficking in Yerevan's Nubarashen prison, the largest in the country.

Yerevan's police chief, Major General Nerses Nazarian, acknowledged the direct link between the firing of Grigor Grigorian, police chief of the city's southern Erebuni district, and the bribery case handled by the Special Investigative Service.

"Every leader is responsible for his staff," he told RFE/RL. "I think that [Keshishian] will be prudent enough to surrender," Nazarian added. "If not, he will definitely be tracked down. He can't remain on the run."

Keshishian apparently evaded prosecution amid sweeping personnel changes initiated by Vladimir Gasparian, the new chief of Armenia's police. At least a dozen senior police officials have been dismissed or moved to other positions since Gasparian's appointment by President Serzh Sarkisian just over one week ago.

In a statement issued on November 9, the police accused the media of spreading false "rumors and gossip" about the 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."

In that regard, Nazarian refuted a newspaper report that said he, too, was set to lose his job. "The minister has told me that we are going to work together better and for a long time," Nazarian said.

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