Interior Minister Slams Ministry Separation Idea

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Interior and National Security Minister Serj Sarkisian strongly criticized those politicians who want his ministry to be split in two–accusing them of incompetence.

He said Wednesday that proponents of the separation have a "very superficial" idea of the law-enforcement system and never dealt with it.

Last month–the parliament’s committee on defense and security voted to approve a legislative act that would restore the separate existence of police and national security in Armenia. The move was initiated by the opposition Hayrenik (Fatherland) group–which believes that Sarkisian’s ministry has acquired disproportionate powers. Hayrenik leader Eduard Yegorian earlier this week compared the Interior and national security ministry with the infamous Soviet NKVD–Josef Stalin’s secret police responsible for the mass repression of the 1930s and 1940s.

Sarkisian claimed that it is a normal practice in democracies to have "police and counterintelligence" co-existing within the same agency.

"Do they want to replicate Syria or say Uganda?" the minister asked–speaking to reporters. Earlier–Sarkisian said supporters of the separation are intent on gaining government levers to use them in the forthcoming elections. President Robert Kocharian–for his part–has argued that deciding on the government’s structure is his exclusive prerogative.

The Armenian interior ministry was merged with the national security department (former KGB) in late 1996–in the wake of a troubled presidential election.

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