YEREVAN -- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has initiated an unexpected shake-up in the leadership of the country’s security services.
The presidential office said on June 8 that it had received suggestions from Pashinian to dismiss the chief of the general staff of the armed forces, Artak Davtian, the director of the National Security Service, Eduard Martirosian, and police chief Arman Sargsian.
Pashinian said that Lieutenant-General Onik Gasparian, Colonel Argishti Kyaramian, and Colonel Vahe Ghazarian will be appointed to the posts, respectively, after President Armen Sarkisian signs the relevant decrees.
Under Armenia’s constitution, the president shall sign the decrees regarding the appointments and dismissals of officials presented by the prime minister.
In a Facebook post, Pashinian thanked Davtian, Martirosian, and Sargsian for their “work and efforts,” without giving reasons for the shake-up.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting, Pashinian said that he did not think Martirosian and Sargsian had "exhausted their potential to serve the Republic of Armenia, its people, the state."
The prime minister also appeared to refer to an ongoing scandal over the wedding party of Davtian’s son, which was held during strict lockdown measures imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Pashinian said that the actions of a high-ranking official cannot go against the public statements made by the prime minister, including those regarding social-distancing rules imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Hraparak daily, the recent wedding was attended by high-ranking military officials.
Cars with license plates from the Defense Ministry were parked outside Davtian’s private house, the paper wrote.
"Everyone is equal before the law, and if I did something wrong, I will be held accountable," Davtian has told the state-run news agency Armenpress.
Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian, who is in charge of coordinating the state of emergency regime, told RFE/RL on June 8 that his office will investigate possible violations of the restrictions.
Avinian said that if violations are revealed those responsible will be held accountable.
Pashinian has initiated a "name-and-shame" campaign on his Facebook account, soliciting photographs from members of the public about instances of flagrant violations of social-distancing rules.