RFE/RL Armenian Report – 09/12/2018

                                                Wednesday, 
Pashinian Blames ‘Counterrevolution’ In Wake Of Wiretapping Scandal
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian speaks on the wiretapping scandal at a 
Yerevan rally, 11Sep2018
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian urged all his supporters in Yerevan to 
defeat ‘counterrevolution’ in an upcoming mayoral election as he addressed a 
campaign rally in one of the city districts on Tuesday night.
Pashinian dedicated much of his speech to the wiretapping scandal involving the 
top officials of security and investigation agencies.
Armenian authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the wiretapping 
of telephone conversations between the chiefs of the National Security Service 
and the Special Investigation Service in which they discussed an ongoing 
investigation into the 2008 postelection violence.
The audio of the conversations apparently supposed to compromise the Pashinian 
government was leaked to the media and posted online by several news websites 
earlier that day.
Reacting to it, the office of former president Robert Kocharian, a key figure 
accused in connection with the deadly events that occurred a decade ago, said 
that the contents of the conversations showed that the case was “a classical 
example of a political vendetta.”
Speaking at the rally Prime Minister Pashinian described the wiretapping of the 
officials as “a conspiracy and crime against the statehood of Armenia.”
“I have instructed the National Security Service, the police to find those who 
organized the conspiracy within the shortest possible period of time and hold 
them accountable in the strictest terms,” he said.
Pashinian also claimed that “some people connected with oligarchs and 
high-ranking officials have acquired wiretapping equipment and created their 
own special services working in parallel with the state special services.”
“All of these so-called ‘special services’ will be identified and destroyed. 
All groups possessing weapons illegally will be disarmed. I order the police 
and the National Security Service to start raids immediately,” Pashinian said.
Remarkably, for the first time in the capacity of prime minister, Pashinian 
directly accused ex-president and ex-prime minister Serzh Sarkisian, whom he 
unseated as a result of sustained peaceful street protests last April, of being 
behind the “counterrevolution”. Also for the first time, he vowed that 
“Sarkisian will appear in court.”
“Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian, you have decided to challenge the people 
of Armenia. Your challenge is accepted,” Pashinian said in a stern tone.
Referring to the investigation of the March 1-2, 2008 postelection crackdown in 
which 10 people were killed, Pashinian accused Kocharian and Sarkisian of 
“usurping power” and said they must be tried for their crimes.
“Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian are responsible for the plunder of 
Armenia and they must be tried,” he charged.
Pashinian stressed in that context that voters in the Yerevan municipal 
elections slated for September 23 must, therefore, support the pro-government 
My Step bloc to ensure its clear victory and thus send a message to the 
“counterrevolution”.
“This mayoral election is an election between revolution and counterrevolution… 
Lots of political parties and groups that pretend to be our allies and 
supporters of the revolution have flirted and continue to flirt with the 
counterrevolution. Don’t give the counterrevolution a single vote,” Pashinian 
said.
“In the coming elections we need more than just a victory. We need an 
unconditional, complete and undisputed majority, we need an unconditional 
surrender of the counterrevolution in this coming election.”
A total of 12 political parties and alliances are running in the September 23 
municipal elections in Yerevan. A number of them were coalition partners with 
the Sarkisian-led Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) in the past. All of them, 
however, have denied current links with the former ruling party. The HHK itself 
is not participating in the race that many analysts believe will become an acid 
test for Pashinian and his political team ahead of early parliamentary 
elections expected at some time before next summer.
Armenian PM’s Order ‘Executed’ By Law-Enforcement Agencies
Սեպտեմբեր 12, 2018
• Tatev Danielian
• Sisak Gabrielian
• Nane Sahakian
Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian (L) introduces the new chief of the 
Armenian police, Valery Osipian, to senior police staff in Yerevan, 11 May 2018.
September
Armenia’s Police and National Security Service have reported that they 
immediately executed the order issued by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in the 
wake of yesterday’s wiretapping scandal to conduct raids to disarm “so-called 
bodyguards of oligarchs and [former] high-ranking officials” who illegally 
possess weapons.
Speaking at a rally in Yerevan Tuesday night Pashinian reacted angrily to the 
tapping of telephone conversations between the chiefs of the National Security 
Service and the Special Investigation Service in which they discussed an 
ongoing investigation into the 2008 postelection violence. The prime minister 
pointed an accusatory finger at “some people connected with oligarchs and 
high-ranking officials who have acquired wiretapping equipment and created 
their own ‘special services’ working in parallel with the special services of 
the State.”
“All of these so-called ‘special services’ will be identified and destroyed. 
All groups possessing weapons illegally will be disarmed. I order the police 
and the National Security Service to start raids immediately,” Pashinian said.
Police spokesperson Ashot Aharonian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service 
(Azatutyun.am) today that actions were taken “immediately after the order.” He 
did not provide details, noting that when there is information subject to 
publication it will be published.
Samson Galstian, a spokesperson for the National Security Service (NSS), also 
told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that there is still no 
information that can be made public.
Armenian authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the wiretapping 
scandal, with Prime Minister Pashinian describing it as a “conspiracy and crime 
against Armenian statehood.”
Pashinian ordered law-enforcement agencies “to find the conspirators as soon as 
possible and hold them accountable in the strictest terms.”
Asked by an RFE/RL’s Armenian service correspondent today to comment on the 
results of his orders to the law-enforcement bodies, Pashinian briefly replied: 
“Everything is correct, everything is accurate.”
The head of the Armenian government also said that he did not see any “external 
trace” in the wiretapping of the heads of the special services of Armenia.
The audio of the conversations leaked to the media yesterday was apparently 
supposed to compromise the Pashinian government as it purportedly showed that 
the prime minister and security officials directed the judiciary in the case of 
former president Robert Kocharian, who is charged with “overthrowing the 
constitutional order” in connection with the 2008 unrest in which 10 people 
were killed.
Kocharian’s office issued a statement later on Tuesday, claiming that the 
contents of the conversations showed that the case was “a classical example of 
a political vendetta.”
Eduard Sharmazanov, a deputy parliament speaker representing the former ruling 
Republican Party of Armenia, meanwhile, said that the leaked audio proved that 
“selective justice” is being administered in Armenia. He further blamed the 
authorities for being “incapable of securing phone lines even at the level of 
top security officials.”
Armenia Hosts Francophonie Forum Ahead Of Summit
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian greets Secretary-General of the 
International Organization of the Francophonie Michaelle Jean in Yerevan, 12 
September 2018
A forum of the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF) opened in 
Yerevan on Wednesday, September 12, one month before the Armenian capital is to 
play host to the 2018 summit of French-speaking nations.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and OIF Secretary-General Michaelle 
Jean attended the event.
In his opening remarks delivered in French Pashinian welcomed representatives 
of all civic organizations taking part in the forum.
“I am proud to say that our country assumes an important task and lives through 
an important period of time by playing host to the Francophone Summit. I want 
to assure you that our government and the whole of Armenia have mobilized their 
forces to host the participants of the summit in the best traditions of 
hospitality. I hope this summit will promote the development of Francophonie 
all over the world, and Armenia will become one of the centers of diplomatic 
activity of Francophonie,” the head of the Armenian government said.
OIF Secretary-General Jean, in her turn, said that the Armenians are preparing 
for the 17th Francophonie summit with the hospitality typical of them. “It is a 
great honor for us to hold a summit in a country where a velvet revolution, a 
peaceful change of power have taken place,” said Jean, adding that while in 
Yerevan she had an opportunity to meet young people who took civil 
responsibility to advance the achievements of the velvet revolution.
About 200 representatives of civic organizations from Francophonie member 
countries are attending the Yerevan forum.
The leaders of Francophonie countries, including French President Emmanuel 
Macron, are due to visit Yerevan for the Francophonie Summit that will be held 
in the Armenian capital on October 11-12.
Later this week Pashinian will travel to France where in Paris he will meet 
with Macron as well as representatives of the local sizable Armenian community.
In a Facebook post today Pashinian wrote: “I hope I will have fully learned 
French by the time the summit of Francophonie is held in Yerevan. Learn foreign 
languages! A citizen of Armenia should speak at least three foreign languages. 
I prefer French, Russian and English, and I should keep improving my knowledge 
of all the three languages.”
Armed Bodyguards Of Armenian Tycoon Detained In Yerevan
• Ruzanna Stepanian
Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian awards a state medal to businessman Samvel 
Aleksanian (R) in Yerevan, 26 September 2015.
The Armenian police have detained five bodyguards of wealthy businessman and 
lawmaker Samvel Aleksanian.
According to a police official, during the detentions that took place in the 
center of Yerevan on Wednesday the bodyguards possessed weapons. The legality 
of these weapons is being currently verified, the source said.
Earlier today Aleksanian, who has close ties to the former ruling Republican 
Party, gave assurances that he was not an “oligarch” and had no bodyguards.
The police also confirmed reports about the brief detention of bodyguards of 
businessman Khachatur Sukiasian. They, however, were released because they did 
not possess any weapons, the report said.
Following a scandal with the wiretapping of telephone conversations between the 
chiefs of the National Security Service (NSS) and the Special Investigation 
Service, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian ordered law-enforcement bodies to carry 
out raids and disarm illegally armed bodyguards working for “oligarchs” and 
some former high-ranking officials.
He claimed that people connected with these circles “have acquired wiretapping 
equipment and created their own ‘special services’ working in parallel with the 
special services of the State.”
“All of these so-called ‘special services’ will be identified and destroyed. 
All groups possessing weapons illegally will be disarmed. I order the police 
and the National Security Service to start raids immediately,” Pashinian said 
at a rally in Yerevan yesterday.
The police and the NSS said earlier today that the prime minister’s order was 
executed and promised to publish relevant information when deemed appropriate.
Kocharian Says Authorities’ Goal Was To ‘Lock Him Up’
Armenia -- Former President Robert Kocharian gives an interview to "Yerkir 
Media" TV, Yerevan, 16Oug,2018
Former Armenian President Robert Kocharian who faces charges of breaching the 
constitution has again accused the current authorities of carrying out a 
political persecution against him, claiming that the telephone conversations of 
two top security officials that were leaked to the media earlier this week 
provided more evidence of that.
In an interview with the “Yerevan. Today” website published on Wednesday 
Kocharian made it clear that he would speak only about the contents of the 
conversations between National Security Service (SIS) Director Artur Vanetsian 
and Special Investigation Service (SIS) head Sasun Khachatrian and would not 
address the fact of the appearance of the wiretapped audio online.
In the conversations, the authenticity of which was confirmed by both 
officials, Vanetsian and Khachatrian discussed the ongoing investigation into 
the 2008 postelection violence in which 10 people were killed.
Kocharian and several other former officials are accused of using the army to 
quell opposition protests, thus “overthrowing the constitutional order” of 
Armenia.
The conversations took place on July 27 when the court decided to arrest 
Kocharian. Based on the contents of the dialogues between the chiefs of the two 
security services who also refer to their consultations with Prime Minister 
Nikol Pashinian on certain circumstances of the case, Kocharian assumes that 
pressure was put on the court.
“All our predictions, all our statements that the case is politically 
motivated, that this is a case of political persecution are proved in this 
telephone conversation. [It proves that] this has nothing to do with the 
investigation of the March 1, 2008 events and has one goal, as they say 
themselves, to lock me up,” the ex-president said.
Kocharian further insisted that after such a scandal the chiefs of the NSS and 
the SIS should resign and offer their apologies for their “crime”, as, he 
argued, “it is obvious that there will be no trust in the prosecution conducted 
or overseen by these people.”
At their joint press conference on September 11 both Vanetsian and Khachatrian 
said they were ready to step down, but only if there were such a demand from 
the public.
They insisted that their conversations did not reveal anything that could be 
used to accuse them or Prime Minister Pashinian of guiding the judiciary.
Speaking in parliament today Pashinian, too, insisted that there was nothing 
about the conversations that could be used to compromise him or Armenia’s 
security services. He gave assurances that he remained committed to his earlier 
pledge not to interfere in the work of courts.
Earlier Pashinian strongly condemned the wiretapping of the country’s 
officials, describing it as “a conspiracy and a crime against Armenian 
statehood.” He ordered a probe to “identify the conspirators as soon as 
possible and hold them accountable in the strictest terms.”
In his interview today Kocharian also criticized Pashinian for his public 
statements. “The most surprising thing for me was Nikol Pashinian’s statement 
that he is responsible for all politically sensitive arrests. He made that 
statement at a rally. We are a member of the Council of Europe. This cannot but 
have consequences for the Republic of Armenia. This is a statement that even 
dictators do not do so straightforwardly. Now I should congratulate the people 
of Armenia that we’ve got a new dictator. Was this the goal of the revolution?” 
the ex-president concluded.
Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
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