YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Artur Vanetsyan, the former head of Armenia’s most powerful security service, has announced his entry into active politics, saying that he will set up a party to challenge Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s government.
In an interview with the editors of nine Armenian newspapers publicized on Thursday, February 6, Vanetsyan said the party will strive to disprove government claims that the country’s former leaders are the main political rivals of the current authorities.
“A very important practice has emerged in Armenia, which is called dividing the society into [pro-government political] whites and [opposition] blacks,” he said. “I think that it’s a false political agenda that has been brought to our landscape; a political agenda whereby the former rulers are the alternative to the current authorities. I can assure you that there is no such thing.”
“There will be no return to the past,” added Vanetsyan. “I am someone who will be fighting against a return to the past.”
Pashinyan appointed Vanetsyan as director of the National Security Service (NSS), the former Armenian branch of the Soviet KGB, immediately after coming to power in the “Velvet Revolution” of April-May 2018.
Vanetsyan worked as a deputy chief of the NSS’s Yerevan division up until the revolution. He quickly became one of the most influential members of Pashinyan’s entourage, overseeing a number of high-profile corruption investigations launched by the new authorities.