Bako Sahakyan Accelerates: Combination of Three Generals


The President of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan has done a reshuffle in government. The secretary of the National Security Council Vitaly Balasanyan has been discharged, which the press had announced on the eve. However, the transfer of the former minister of defense Levon Mnatsakanyan from the position of Director of the Emergency Service to Chief of Police is more interesting than the discharge of Vitaly Balasanyan.

Levon Mnatsakanyan left the position of Minister of Defense a few weeks ago. It was reportedly the consequence of tension with Yerevan.

If so, it means Bako Sahakyan is doing a strict gesture addressed to Yerevan by returning Mnatsakanyan to the position of chief of police, which is a higher status in security agencies.

On the other hand, it is a little or significantly primitive to think that Levon Mnatsakanyan himself or his position is a problem for Yerevan. It is another issue that the press, as well as former government circles which control most media, are trying to generate such intrigues and build on the anti-governmental propaganda based on it.

However, if Yerevan was going to dictate a reshuffle in Artsakh, it would have done it earlier and in a package. The reshuffle in Artsakh is the expression of a broader domestic context, of course, one related with the setting in Armenia but not the Yerevan-Stepanakert “confrontation”.

A fight for government is going on in Artsakh which is, most probably, branching out towards Russia, considering the recent PR event by Russian famous figures in Artsakh State University a few weeks ago. At the same time, it is known that another former minister of defense of Artsakh Samvel Babayan has bid for the presidential election in Artsakh. Earlier he had shared his vision of settlement of the issue of Artsakh under the Russian “mandate”.

In this context, a few days ago Vitaly Balasanyan announced that he starts a movement headlined Powerful, United Armenia. This is interesting in two ways. Firstly, the bidding for the “Russian mandate”, secondly, the address of the Russian “emissaries” at Artsakh State University, and thirdly, in the context of the approach of Sasna Tsrer Party on declaring Artsakh a region of Armenia as some members of this party had a conflict with Vitaly Balasanyan who said those who call Artsakh a region of Armenia had better not try to cross the border of Artsakh. The complicated relations between the party and Balasanyan date back to July 2016 when Balasanyan acted as a middleman between them and Serzh Sargsyan during the storming of the police station by the future members of this party and afterwards assumed the responsibility for their security in prison after the standoff ended.

By the way, apparently the position of Secretary of the National Security Council of Artsakh was Serzh Sargsyan’s gratitude to Vitaly Balasanyan.

In this regard, it is interesting whether Balasanyan’s resignation and involvement in the presidential election in Artsakh is the end of his cooperation with Serzh Sargsyan or yet another stage of it. It is interesting as the trajectory of the ongoing race for power in Artsakh obviously runs across Russia.

By the way, in this context another decision is interesting. Artur Aghabekyan left the position of advisor to the president of Artsakh, announcing that he will continue to follow and not be indifferent towards developments relating to Artsakh. Is Artur Aghabekyan’s resignation an indication that he will be active in the electoral process in Artsakh and what is his status going to be?

In this context, Levon Mnatsakanyan’s appointment to the position of chief of police symbolizes the heated controversy expected at the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Artsakh. The police may have a huge importance in managing the situation, therefore Bako Sahakyan has appointed experienced Levon Mnatsakanyan.

At the same time, can this appointment indicate a possibility of acceleration of processes? The election in Artsakh is in spring 2020. There will be both presidential and parliamentary elections. Is there an intention to divide them, for which Bako Sahakyan may resign earlier, which explains the combination of three generals?

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