ArmInfo.Political analyst, member of the Public Council under the Head of Police of Armenia Saro Saroyan in an interview with ArmInfo comments on the recent deaths of former security officials, some of the nuances of the work of domestic intelligence services. He shares his own vision of overcoming new threats and challenges to the national security of Armenia, representing a point of view regarding the effectiveness and appropriateness of the recently adopted amendments to various laws of the country.
- Since its independence, a number of murders of high ranked officials occurred in Armenia, moreover, almost all criminal cases remained undisclosed to this day. After the change of power in the country, already two security officials died under similar circumstances: Hayk Harutyunyan and Georgi Kutoyan. And Ashot Karapetyan, the former chief of the Yerevan Police, was blown up by gas in Russia. The authorities, apparently, are leading the case to suicide, society tends to see a single chain in all these deaths. What is your vision of the situation?
The situation is really very complex, considering that the political transformations that began in 2018 were not only not completed, but turned out to be even more complicated. And the deaths of former security officials in the last period in fact give rise to many versions. At the same time, a large part of society is not convinced by the assertion of the current administration regarding the absence of facts in favor of a single chain of these deaths. Even if we accept the official version of the suicide of these individuals - carriers of classified information, it is obvious that various political reasons are the basis of the facts of their death. It is also obvious that there are very serious domestic and foreign political circles uninterested in disseminating, even destroying, information owned by the deceased.
At the same time, the lack of a degree of professionalism among the Armenian special services allowing them to stop serious security challenges faced by our country is a long-known fact.
Armenia has faced October 27, March 1, the overthrow of the constitutional order, the April War, the uprising against the dictatorship, the Velvet Revolution, etc. There was fertile ground for all these events: usurpation of power, thousands of crimes, criminal inaction, omissions, systemic corruption, shattering the foundations of our statehood, the activity of external forces, etc.
All this seems to be the result of the activities of our special services not at full capacity, or rather the result of their inaction. The mere absence of disclosing cases of wiretapping of the director of the NSS and the loss of critical documents already indicates the complete absence of special services in Armenia as an institution. And the suicide of the former director of the NSS in itself, as an illogical and abnormal phenomenon, was another proof of the truth I presented. In such a situation, the possibility of simulating suicides and suicides under pressure and threats, which in essence are political killings, was expected. The current situation already demonstrates that the link between suicides should not be ruled out, moreover it should be considered as the main version during investigation by law enforcement agencies.
- The nuances of the work of the special services have been largely discussed in the context of the bill recently adopted to provide the Police with the opportunity to wiretap citizens in the open mode. The former Head of the NSS main department on protecting constitution and public order and anti- terrorism Tigran Barseghyan in an interview revealed many of the NSS's methods of work to the public. It seems that in our country people talk about the work of special services too openly. Does this come from the interests of our society and the state?
The concentration of public attention on the special services is a natural and irresistible phenomenon. This is facilitated by the formal existence of national security bodies in the country, their absence in a meaningful sense, periodic new challenges to the national security of Armenia, the interest of external and internal forces in its destabilization, a change in the political system, as well as an increase in the dependence of the country's political leadership.
This state of affairs is the result of a lack of security among citizens, but never of the usual curiosity or artificial influence on society in the matter of the NSS. This is precisely the reason for the decision to grant the Police the right to listen on their own. Naturally, if it were not for the lack of security, this right would never have been granted to other state body. The NSS would meet the entire demand.
At the same time, I want to note that today attention is focused not on the legitimate and secret methods and means of the special services, which would be abnormal and unacceptable, but on their fruitless, often very dangerous activities. I am convinced that the public should be demanding in relation to ensuring their own security by the state. And in a situation when former heads of the Police and the National Security Service commit suicide one after another, society is simply obliged to react very sharply.
- In recent years, an influx of citizens of India, Iran, and Arab countries professing Islam has been observed in Armenia. According to some reports, these people are already behaving aggressively in certain episodes. And this is in conditions when some of our compatriots - citizens of Armenia are Muslims. It is appropriate to recall that a soldier of the 102nd Russian Military Base was killed in Gyumri by an Armenian Muslim. In your opinion, does such an influx of representatives of the "Islamic Renaissance" into Armenia create additional problems for our security and the volume of work for our special services?
You have just mentioned a new challenge, the presence of which I recently spoke about. Migration today has thrown down the glove to stability of the state and public order on a global scale. Some supranational organizations and even states, for example, Turkey, which is neighboring with us, adapt migration to serve their own interests. Europe today in fact suffers from migration.
In this light, it is natural that small, 2-3 million societies, such as our, facing the threats posed by migration, are pretty helpless. You noted only one component of this threat - the factor of religion. Meanwhile, there are many similar factors. A single migrant can spread a virus that exceeds the damage done by thousands of migrants. And the state should be ready to withstand all this. And in the absence of special services, it makes no sense to talk about the degree of our resistance to such challenges.
We can only entrust our own security to the superpowers that ensure the protection of our borders, operating secret biological laboratories on our territory, etc. The world has long lived in the supremacy of special services. And the criteria for assessing the independence and sovereignty of a state come from the degree of consistency of its special services, or the degree of its dependence on the special services of other countries.
- On January 22, parliament approved a bill that introduces criminal liability - up to 10 years in prison for belonging to the highest caste of the criminal hierarchy in relation to "thieves in law." In this light what are the perspectives of the fight against thieves, in your opinion? Is a single law sufficient, or are deeper processes necessary?
Thieves' mores are a consequence of our culture. The culture, we inherited from the USSR. Among our compatriots from the Diaspora, possibly other elements of criminal culture, but never thieves mores, exist. In this sense, the introduction of some punitive and protective, formal legislative mechanisms is an important step, however not the main one. It is impossible to replace culture with laws. And deep changes in us are possible only as a result of a change in the value system. And this is possible through the promotion of universal and national values, education, training, the exchange of experience, the introduction of a different lifestyle.
It is impossible to get rid of thieves' concepts in today's conditions when TV shows demonstrate thieves 'morals and criminal environment, TV soap operas cultivate human vices, human manifestations of inequality as a life credo. However, everything is not so bad. There is also a reason for optimism. Compared with other societies in the post-Soviet space, the situation in Armenia looks much better. Due to hospitality, mutual assistance, sympathy and empathy that lie more deeply in us, thieves mores violate our public life only partially. For example, many of our young people today live the dream of achieving good luck in creating new types of robots, rather than striving to take a place in the thieves' world. I am convinced that if a clear, comprehensive state policy is pursued, vicious thieves' morals can be uprooted and sent to landfill.
According to the draft amendments to the law "On Public Service" adopted by the parliament in the second and final reading, the age limit for advisers to state leaders in Armenia has been reduced from 30 to 25 years. How can such a rejuvenation of our leadership affect the work of government agencies, including the country's top leadership? In general, these legislative adjustments are the result of certain thinking. The velvet revolution has become a reality primarily thanks to youth. This made it possible to build trust and sympathy among us regarding youth. At the same time, spinning, this snowball collected a lot of garbage and dirt. As a result, today we have reached the point when illogical, unreasonable, and often dangerous decisions are often made. And certain young people are entrusted with areas in which they cannot even express themselves. Neglect of social experience always leads to negative consequences. And there is a significant difference between a person appointed to the same position at 25 or 45 years old. I am convinced that many officials or lawmakers would make more effective and problem-free decisions if they had a richer life experience. Obviously, the process of involving young people in different positions is the result of political convictions and thinking of the country's leadership. In particular, the management of a number of areas of intellectual, but not experienced and, therefore, dependent, youth is considered the safest. Than specialized, but strong-willed specialists. Such a policy, of course, has negative consequences. Over time, this snowball may well collect all the associated garbage, dirtying even clean snow. I hope that such a policy will be abandoned after all.