YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told the Armenian police on Tuesday, June 9, to step up the enforcement of social distancing and other rules meant to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
Pashinyan said this must be the primary task of the newly appointed chief of the national police service, Vahe Ghazaryan.
“The quality of the work of the police will continue to be essential in the fight against the epidemic,” he said, introducing Ghazaryan to senior police officials. “As much as we realize that the entire police staff is on the verge of exhaustion, new impetus should be given [to police efforts] no matter how impossible that may seem.”
Ghazaryan was appointed as police chief on Monday immediately after the sacking of his predecessor, Arman Sargsyan. The latter was in charge of police for only 9 months.
Pashinyan gave no clear reasons for Sargsyan’s sacking at the meeting with the senior police officials. But his remarks suggest that he was dissatisfied with ongoing efforts to make Armenians practice social distancing, wear face masks in all public areas and take other precautions against the virus.
Pashinyan ordered authorities to toughen the enforcement of those rules on June 2 as the COVID-19 epidemic in Armenia reached alarming proportions. He stated the following day that citizens’ failure to comply with them had become so widespread that there is little the police can do about it.