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Pashinyan fires top security officials after wedding party 

8 June 2020
Cars parked outside the residence of Armenia's Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Artak Davtyan. Photo: Hraparak.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has fired the Director of the National Security Services (NSS), Head of Police, and the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces. 

The firings came a day after the head of the Armed Forces, Artak Davtyan, hosted his son’s wedding, possibly in violation of COVID-19 restrictions. 

Photos and video from outside Davtyan’s residence, where the wedding was held, were published by Hraparak on Sunday. They showed a large number of vehicles, including some with Ministry of Defense number plates, parked outside of the house.

In the video, loud music can be heard blaring from the house’s yard and when a service worker opens the door to the front yard to journalists, several people can be seen dancing.

Armenia’s Special Commission on the State of Emergency has announced that it is investigating if the wedding party violated any of the anti-coronavirus restrictions in place — which include banning more than five guests.

Artak Davtyan has headed the army’s general staff since 24 May 2018, shortly after the Velvet Revolution. The Director of the NSS, Eduard Martirosyan, and Head of Police, Arman Sargsyan, were both appointed on 19 March 2020.

Hraparak has reported that after the publication of the pictures and video, the police went to Davtyan’s residence, where the party was still taking place. Upon their arrival, the wedding festivities reportedly ended and the police filed an administrative report.

The contents of the report are, for the moment, unknown. 

In a statement on Monday morning, Davtyan said he believed he had not broken any rules but that he was willing to shoulder the responsibility if it was discovered that he had. 

‘I would like to remind everyone that everyone has the right to private life,’ Davtyan said. ‘I ask that certain people and the media not include me in political games.’

Pashinyan’s naming and shaming

The firings come after a week of concerted social media campaigning by the Prime Minister to name and shame people violating anti-coronavirus regulations. Many of the photos and videos he has shared have been of large weddings, high school graduation parties, and picnics. 

After photos of a school gathering in Ararat Province were shared by Pashinyan, the region’s governor, Garik Sargsyan, issued a strict reprimand against the school’s headteacher while the teacher present at the gathering was fired. 

Pashinyan announced on Monday that he had appointed Onik Gasparyan the new Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Argishti Kyaramyan as the new Director of the NSS, and Vahe Ghazaryan as the new Head of Police. 

On Monday evening, President Armen Sarkissian signed their appointments making them official. 

In his announcement, Pashinyan thanked all three former officials for the work they had done.

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