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Alik Sargsian (or Sargsyan) is Armenia's former National Chief of Police.
Ex-Governors Trade Accusations
July 18, 2018
Two former governors of Armenia’s southern Ararat province have accused each other of serious criminal offenses, triggering an investigation by law-enforcement authorities.
The Investigative Committee reported on Wednesday that Alik Sargsian, who ran the region from 2000-2008, claimed last week to have been for years blackmailed by another, unnamed ex-governor. According to the committee, Sargsian said the latter threatened to disseminate compromising information about him unless he pays $60,000.
In a statement, the law-enforcement body said that the ex-governor alleged for his part that in 2008 he paid Sargsian to help a young man work for the Armenian police. He claimed that Sargsian, who was the chief of the national police service at the time, accepted the bribe but did not hire the man, said the statement.
The committee added that it has opened a criminal case under corresponding articles of the Armenian Criminal Code. It said the case has been transferred to another law-enforcement body, the Special Investigative Service (SIS), because it involves two former high-ranking officials. Neither man has been charged yet.
Sargsian is currently a member of the Armenian parliament affiliated with the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). It is not yet clear which of his predecessors claims to have bribed him a decade ago.
Sargsian had succeeded as Ararat governor Hovik Abrahamian, who served as Armenia’s prime minister from 2014-2016.
Armenian Police In Rare Apology Over Torture
In an unprecedented public apology, the chief of Armenia’s police service admitted on Friday misleading the nation about the recent scandalous death of a young man in police custody.
“I am going to punish all of my employees who gave me incorrect information and thereby put me in an awkward situation,” he said in a written statement sent to RFE/RL’s Armenian service through a spokesman.
The extraordinary statement came the day after Ashot Harutiunian, a senior officer at the Charentsavan police arrested earlier this week, was formally charged with torturing Khalafian to extract a confession about a theft committed in the town. Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS) said the charge is based on testimony given by other local police officers.
The police categorically denied mistreating Khalafian until then. “I want to make clear that there was no torture,” Sargsian insisted on April 20.
The police chief, whom President Serzh Sarkisian promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general shortly after the April 13 incident, said Friday he based those claims on assurances given to him by the police department of the Kotayk region, which encompasses Charentsavan.
“I am saying beforehand that I am not going to defend anyone and that all the guilty will be punished,” said Sargsian. “I never encouraged beatings, there are more proper ways of doing the job.”
“Let those people whom I misinformed with my statements forgive me,” he added. “As for those who deceived me, they will be punished with all the strictness of the law. I am not going to forgive anyone.”
Still, Sargsian at the same time stuck to police claims that Khalafian grabbed a knife from a police officer’s drawer and stabbed himself to death after the interrogation. “I continue to insist that it was a suicide,” he said.
Whether or not the SIS agrees with this claim is not yet clear. The law-enforcement body subordinated to state prosecutors said on Thursday that will draw a final conclusion about what caused Khalafian’s death only after the ongoing forensic examinations of his body are over.
The dead man’s relatives insist that the 24-year-old was tortured to death -- a claim that was echoed on Friday by Artur Sakunts, a human rights campaigner closely monitoring the case. He also backed the Khalafian family’s claim that forensic medics found at least two stab wounds on his stomach.
“How could a tortured and beaten young man quickly find a knife in a room totally unfamiliar to him?” Sakunts told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “How did he know where it was kept? Or did they put the knife on a table and tell him to kill himself? … So I believe what happened was a murder.”
While welcoming the police apology, Sakunts said Sargsian should have gone further and stepped down. “This is not an ordinary incident,” he argued. “A person died in police custody. In normal countries, the police chief at least resigns in such circumstances. Not to mention bearing personal responsibility for his subordinates’ abuses.”
“A mere apology can not change the situation,” he added.
Armenian Police Chief Sacked
01.11.2011 Ruzanna Stepanian, Irina Hovhannisyan
Lieutenant-General Alik Sargsian, the chief of the Armenian police, was unexpectedly sacked without an official explanation on Tuesday amid reports that President Serzh Sarkisian is planning major personnel changes in the state apparatus.
Sarkisian was quick to replace him by Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Gasparian.
A statement by the presidential press office gave no reason for the dismissal. It said Sargsian will now serve as an adviser to the head of state.
The Armenian president also did not explain motives behind the sacking as he introduced Gasparian to senior police officials later in the day.
“I believe that today, the police of the Republic of Armenia need a leader like Vladimir Gasparian and I am convinced that he will accomplish tasks set before him with honor,” he said. “I am convinced that our people will feel more protected and that reforms in the police will continue.”
“This is a very normal development,” Alik Sargsian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) by phone before that meeting. “Nothing is eternal and I will continue to serve the country, the country’s leader and our people till the end. Nothing will change in my life.”
That Sargsian is set to be sacked was first reported by Armenian media late on Monday.
The police general said he was informed about President Sarkisian’s decision only the next morning. “I see nothing strange in this fact,” he claimed.
Sargsian, who took over the national police service in 2008, insisted that he was fired not because of his track record. “My indicators are very good,” he said. “The situation with crime is under control and public order is maintained.”
Asked why he was relieved of his duties, the 54-year-old said, “It’s up to the president to decide.”
Gasparian, the new police chief, headed the Armenian military police for more than a decade before being appointed deputy defense minister last year. A native of Soviet Estonia, he served in the police in the early and mid-1990s.
Addressing the senior police staff in his new capacity, Gasparian, 53, pledged to uphold “the supremacy of the law” during his tenure. “It’s time to move from words to action,” he said. “I think that we will bring ongoing reforms in the police to their logical conclusion in a very short period of time.”
Neither Serzh Sarkisian, nor Gasparian gave details of those reforms.
Meanwhile, representatives of Armenia’s leading opposition forces suggested political reasons for Gasparian’s appointment and other high-level personnel changes in the government which a leader of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) said are possible in the coming weeks and possibly days.
Aram Manukian of the Armenian National Congress (HAK) portrayed Sargsian’s removal as a sign of government turmoil. “They themselves don’t understand what they are doing,” he said. “Alik Sargsian doesn’t know why he was sacked. Nobody in the Republican Party knows why [Yerevan Mayor] Karen Karapetian was sacked.”
“All decisions are made by one person and that person is confused,” Manukian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
According to Armen Martirosian, a leader of the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, President Sarkisian is keen to install in key government positions more loyal individuals who will help the HHK win the May 2012 parliamentary elections at any cost.
“I have no doubts that this is connected with the forthcoming elections,” said Martirosian. “The authorities do not enjoy the people’s trust and so they will try to reproduce themselves in less than legitimate ways.”
But HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov denied any connection with the elections. “The state system is a live organism and one should not be surprised with such developments,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Sharmazanov also dismissed suggestions that Sarkisian is getting rid of individuals that could back his predecessor Robert Kocharian should the latter decide to return to the political arena.
Some media outlets claimed on Tuesday that one such individual, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Local Government Armen Gevorgian, will also lose his job. A spokeswoman for Gevorgian’s ministry denied those claims, however.