Armenia’s top police chief and its national security advisor were on May 7 fired at the behest of Nikol Pashinian, the mass protests leader who became the country’s prime minister the previous day following the 'Armenian Velvet Revolution'. The acting finance minister, meanwhile, announced his resignation.
After an official request was made by people’s champion Pashinian, President Armen Sarkisian signed a decree dismissing police chief Vladimir Gasparian, who had been in place since 2011, and national security advisor Georgy Kutoian, who had served for just over two years.
Pashinian subsequently tapped Yerevan deputy police chief Valery Osipian to lead the country's police force. Ospian negotiated with Pashinian and other organisers during the recent tumultuous street protests and campaign of non-violent civil disobedience in the capital Yerevan and other locations across the small impoverished nation of Armenia against cronyism and corruption.
"During the demonstrations, we were on a different side of the barricade from Valery Osipian. I decided... that we will be on the same side," Pashinian wrote on his Facebook page.
Artur Vanetsian, head of Yerevan’s security force, has replaced Kutoian as national security advisor.
Acting Finance Minister Vardan Aramian said he was resigning "with hopes that a new government will continue the efficient search for solutions to make our country more stable in economic terms." A look at Armenia's very poor rankings in international surveys shows how much economic work there is to do to convince the population of 2.9mn that change is on the way and perhaps attract back some of the worldwide Armenian diaspora variously estimated as numbering from seven to 10 million people.
Pashinian, a 42-year-old former newspaper editor, also announced that Eduard Aghajanian will become his chief of staff. The 30-year-old is a member of Civic Contract, the party founded by Pashinian which is part of the minority Yelk (Way Out) alliance in parliament.
On May 14, Pashinian is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a summit of the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
“It’s confirmed now that I’ll meet Putin on May 14 in Sochi … and we will continue discussions, which we’ve started during a telephone conversation,” Pashinian said in a video posted on his Facebook page.
The post was recorded by Pashinian while he sat in a helicopter on his way back to Yerevan from a visit paid to Nagorno-Karabakh, the breakaway region run by ethnic Armenians which is claimed by Azerbaijan.
Moscow has a military base in Armenia. Pashinian has assured Moscow he is not seeking to take his country out of Moscow’s orbit.