YEREVAN—Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Tuesday condemned the wiretapping of Armenia’s top security officers, a recording of whose phone conversation discussing the investigation into the March 1, 2008 post-election protests, was leaked on Tuesday on YouTube.
Pashinyan spoke twice on Tuesday about the wiretapping incident. The first was immediately following the release of the conversation, which was posted on YouTube. He later also addressed the matter during a city council election rally for the My Step Alliance in the Davitashen district of Yerevan.
During his Facebook Live post, Pashinyan said that Armenia’s NSS chief Artur Vanetsyan and the head of the SIS Sasun Khachatryan were wiretapped.
“In my initial assessment, either the SIS head or the NSS director was wiretapped. Who has done it? Why? For what purpose? Did they have the legal right to carry out wiretapping? When did it take place, what is the political purpose of this all? During the August 17 rally I announced that the March 1 case is generally uncovered, and that all murderers should face trial,” said Pashinyan.
In the recording Vanetsyan is heard cautioning—often pleading to—Khachatryan to not arrest Armenia’s former deputy defense minister Yuri Khachaturov, saying that his position as CSTO secretary-general might politicize the case and anger Russia. Vanetsyan tells Khachatryan that while Pashinyan wants Khachaturov remanded, the SIS chief should come up with “other solutions” to this issue.
To address what can appear to be an intervention by the prime minister in an ongoing investigation, Pashinyan explained that he has always said and will continue to say that if remanding a suspect will advance an investigation then he will ask relevant bodies to make an arrest, “even if that person is a family member.”
“Certain people are trying to escape responsibility. I won’t allow it, whether or not I am the prime minister,” said Pashinyan.
Later on Tuesday evening, during the My Step Alliance campaign rally, Pashinyan sounded angry and issued several warnings,
“This is a treasonous crime against the statehood of the Republic of Armenia. And I have ordered the National Security Service and the police, to reveal, in the shortest amount of time, [the names of] those who organized this treason and punish them to the full extent of the law,” said Pashinyan. “Mr. Vanetsyan [the NSS chief] and Mr. [Valery] Osipyan [Armenia’s Police Chief], in two hours, I expect to be briefed on your activities and their results.”
“I am telling all those who have confused our revolution of love and tolerance, our smiles, our patience with weakness; from this moment on, they will feel the full wrath of the state’s strength,” declared an angry Pashinyan who pledged to eradicate Armenia of ‘’all criminals.”
“All illegally armed groups will be disarmed. I have ordered the NSS and the police, from this moment on, to open cases against all oligarchs, high ranking officials, private bodyguards and security,” added Pashinyan.
“Other than some 500 people, the rest of the Armenian nation is united. The bright forces have won in the Republic of Armenia and the failed dark forces cannot return; they have been crushed and they will never stand on their feet again,” exclaimed Pashinyan.