Armenia's security service, police chiefs sacked at new PM's request

FILE PHOTO - Armenian President Armen Sarkissian attends a wreath laying ceremony to commemorate the 103rd anniversary of mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks, at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex in Yerevan, Armenia April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

YEREVAN (Reuters) - Armenian President Armen Sarkissian dismissed the heads of the security service and police at the request of newly elected Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the presidential press service said on Thursday.

The sackings of Vladimir Gasparyan as head of the police and Georgy Kutoyan as director of the National Security Service follow parliament’s election of Pashinyan as prime minister this week.

The former opposition leader was swept to power by a peaceful revolution driven by mass protests against corruption and cronyism in the ex-Soviet republic.

Pashinyan said in a social media post on Thursday that he had written to the president proposing Kutoyan and Gasparyan be dismissed.

Gasparyan, who had served as head of the police since 2011, will be replaced by Valery Osipyan, the deputy chief of police of the capital Yerevan, a presidential decree published on Thursday said.

Kutoyan, who had worked as head of the national security service since 2016, will be succeeded by Artur Vanetsyan, the head of the service in Yerevan.

The election of Pashinyan, a former newspaper editor who spent time in prison for fomenting unrest, marked a dramatic rupture with the cadre of rulers who have run Armenia since the late 1990s.

On Thursday, acting finance minister Vardan Aramyan said he was quitting his post before the formation of a new government under Pashinyan. Aramyan served as finance minister in the previous government led by former president Serzh Sarksyan, who stood down on April 23 amid protests.

Reporting by Hasmik Mkrtchyan, Writing by Denis Pinchuk and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, Editing by Gareth Jones, William Maclean