YEREVAN—The shake-up of police and security officials continued on Wednesday, which also saw the surprise resignation of Armenia’s Prosecutor General.
Kevork Kostanyan, Armenia’s chief attorney, cited health reason for his sudden decision to resign. President Serzh Sarkisian accepted his resignation, which was announced to colleagues and the public by his press secretary Kristine Melkonyan.
Kostanyan, who became prosecutor general three years ago, previously served as Armenia’s military prosecutor, a deputy justice minister and a legal advisor to Sarksisian.
Deputy Prosecutor General Armen Harutyunyan will temporarily assume Kostanyan’s duties.
Kostanyan’s resignation comes four days after the end of a standoff at a police compound in Erebuni, where a group calling itself the “Daredevils of Sasoun” seized the station holding those inside hostage and making political demands, including Sarkisian’s resignation. Since the end of the seizure, some 47 people have been arrested in connection with the incident.
A day after two precinct police chiefs were fired, Armenia’s National Security Service on Wednesday announced that two of its lead officials were also sacked.
Hrant Yepiskoposyan, the first deputy director of the NSS, and Mnatsakan Marukyan, who headed the NSS’s Investigative Department had vacated their positions, according to a NSS spokesperson.
Armenpress reported, citing NSS official, Samson Galstyan, that Marukyan retired while Yepiskoposyan was fired by a presidential decree. Galstyan did not specify if the shake-up was connected to the two-week standoff at the Erebuni police compound.
Accodring to azatutyun.am Armenian law-enforcement authorities have released one of the gunmen that surrendered to them on Sunday two weeks after launching a deadly attack on a police station in Yerevan.
A law-enforcement source told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Thursday that the young man, Gevorg Melkonian, was set free after signing a written pledge not to leave Yerevan until the end of a criminal investigation into the attack.
Melkonian and another man related to him, Ruben Grigorian, apparently gave themselves up more than 10 hours before the surrender of the remaining 20 gunmen holed up in the police compound. In a video released by the police, they said that they were misled by other members of the armed opposition group and remained inside the compound out of fear for their own lives.
In particular, Melkonian claimed that he and Grigorian never knew that the “Daredevils of Sasoun” were going to attack the police facilityin Erebuni. He said they were only asked to take part in a demonstration outside a prison where Zhirayr Sefilian, Founding Parliament’s top leader, has been kept since being arrested on June 20.
“On our way [to the Erebuni police compound] they said, ‘There may be gunshots, don’t be afraid,’” Melkonian says in the video. He claims that when the group burst into the compound “we didn’t realize where we are and what’s going on.”
The Special Investigative Service (SIS), a law-enforcement body investigating the Erebuni attack, did not officially confirm Melkonian’s release. A spokesperson said that the SIS will issue a statement later on.
A source in Founding Parliament said Melkonian has no defense lawyer and it is not clear what he has been formally charged with.