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Armenia establishes the Foreign Intelligence Agency: Contours of the reform

photo: gov.am
8 August 2022
Alexander Shpakovsky Alexander Shpakovsky

Alexander Shpakovsky |Minsk

CISS expert

The ruling elite of the Republic of Armenia (RA) announced the creation of an independent Foreign Intelligence Agency (FIA) within the national security system. According to Armen Grigoryan, the Secretary of the Armenian Security Council, FIA establishment was planned in the context of current reforms in Armenia stipulating for «democratization of the security sector». [1]

Interestingly, the announcement about FIA creation practically coincided with the CIA Director William Burns visit to Yerevan on 15 July 2022. There is an opinion that Washington offers consulting, financial and technical aid to Armenia in order to create FIA, meaning deeper interaction between the Armenian intelligence and Langley.

In our view, this situation requires fast adjustment in favor of developing cooperation on the issues of creating the Foreign Intelligence Agency between Armenia and the Russian Federation (its Foreign Intelligence Service), as well as with the secret services of other CSTO member states, which is in line with the agreements executed by the Republic of Armenia in the security sphere.

Organization of intelligence in Armenia at the current stage, personnel issues in the context of the forthcoming reforms

It should be noted that today Armenia does not have a standalone intelligence unit. A specialized structural subdivision of the National Security Service (NSS) of Armenia performs the intelligence functions within the authorities granted to it by the Law «On National Security Agencies of the Republic of Armenia» and other effective legislation.

According to its functional responsibilities, the intelligence unit within the NSS performs the intelligence activities both from the territory of Armenia and from the territories of foreign states. According to the NSS mandate, the Service supervises all the units performing the intelligence activities pertaining to the national security issues in the Armenian territory.

To counteract the national security challenges for Armenia and the external threats against the state, as well as for achieving the tasks associated with the vital interests of Armenia in foreign policy, the intelligence unit obtains, processes and analyzes the respective intelligence information for reporting to the top leadership of the Republic of Armenia. [2]

In addition, the Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces operates within the system of the Defense Ministry of Armenia, which is engaged in resolving the respective tasks in the military and political spheres.

There is low probability of uniting the functions of the military intelligence unit of the General Staff and the intelligence unit of the NSS in the FIA. The most probable option is that the Armed Forces of Armenia will keep their own intelligence, meanwhile, the NSS will lose such function. In this connection, the personnel recruitment for the new intelligence service becomes especially relevant; such recruitment may be done by automatic transfer of the operational workers from the NSS intelligence unit to the FIA, or by recertification of the personnel.

The most radical scenario is also possible, when absolutely new personnel will be recruited to the foreign intelligence of Armenia including people from the so-called the «civil society structures» funded by the Western countries, primarily by the US. Such scenario should not be disregarded taking into attention the close attention to the reforms in the Armenian security sphere on behalf of the CIA and the statements of coordinators of these transformations about the need to democratize» the security system, such discourse being very similar to that of the Soros «public» structures hails who now occupy high-ranking positions in the security organizations of the post-Soviet states.

For example, Alexander Mustyatse, the 34-year-old political scientist was appointed in early June 2022 to the position of the Information and Security Service (ISS) of the Republic of Moldova. Prior to that, he was an expert of the NATO Information and Documentation Center, and occupied a number of high-ranking positions in the Moldova Branch of Soros Foundation. His position is that «the ISS should stop being a KGB splinter». [3] It is remarkable that all the statements about «democratization» and «liberation from the KGB legacy» take place after 30 years since the Soviet Union disintegration, when there are no more hails of the Soviet KGB in the security agencies of the post-Soviet countries.

Interesting enough, Armen Grigoryan, the Armenian Security Council Secretary, the coordinator of the reform in the security sphere and the «founder» of the FIA, also comes from non-government sector, Transparency International in particular, so he had no relation to secret services prior to his appointment in 2018. [4]

At the same time, in our opinion, we should not put our hopes up with respect to professional skills in field work and management of secret services of the so-called «civil society representatives». Indeed, often enough such people, when they come across real public administration challenges, demonstrate outrageous incompetence. On the other hand, the networks of G. Soros and other foreign NGOs practically perform the functions of information collection and analysis, recruitment of influence agents, subversion organization, which, in essence, coincides with the secret services functions, that is why certain people from this sphere are quite capable of fitting into the security agencies of the countries currently being under the influence of the USA.

With account of the above, the staffing issue for the Armenian Foreign Security Agency (FIA) is key from the standpoint of the current geopolitical confrontation, because the South Caucasus is one of the arenas of it. The point is, that until now specialists for the security agencies of Armenia were trained both in national higher education establishments, and in Russian specialized institutes. For example, in 2019, i.e., after the «velvet revolution», the Armenian National Security Service (NSS) organized the targeted recruitment of citizens under 23 years of age to undergo 5-year training in the Russian FSB (Federal Security Service) Academy, in Kurgan and Kaliningrad frontier institutes of FSB, in Oryol FSO (Federal Security Guard Service) Academy.[5]

Hence, in the context of Yerevans plans to establish the Foreign Intelligence Agency, it appears feasible to update the issue of personnel training for the secret service in the Foreign Intelligence Academy and follow-up refreshment training in the Specialized Training Center of the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation. Another option is to consider organization of training of future FIA employees based on the Intelligence Department of the National Security Institute of the KGB of the Republic of Belarus, which is the successor of the famous Higher Training Courses of the KGB of the USSR in Minsk preserving the high standards of training in specialized disciplines and training of state security specialists.

In our opinion, with account of the role of Russia in assuring the national security of Armenia, the loss of influence over the process of developing the Armenian foreign intelligence service is inadmissible. We believe, that Armenian intelligence should be developed on the basis of the Soviet «Cheka» traditions laid by Gevorg Vardanyan, Akop Davtyan, Ivan Agayantz and other USSR KGB officers of Armenian descend, whose biographies today are present at the NSS website as an example for the current employees.

Political subtext

It is reasonably required to recognize that training of personnel in Russian educational establishments specializing in security provides for certain connections between the Armenian secret services employees with their Russian colleagues both on the official (legislative) and on the informal (personal) levels.

At the same time, the opinion of the officers of the Armenian NSS and the entire military/security/law enforcement block to the Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan may be called controversial. On one hand, despite the mass protests against Pashinyans policy the military/security/law enforcement are generally loyal to the Armenian government and perform their duties of protecting the constitutional system. However, there is the reverse side of the coin, as well: in February 2021, General Colonel Onik Gasparyan, then the Chief of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces and 40 high-ranking officers of the General Staff published a statement demanding the resignation of Pashinyan and the members of his cabinet. [6]

Artur Vanetsyan, the ex-Director of the National Security Service, is one of the main opponents of the Armenian Prime Minister. At first, he was one of the triumphers of the «velvet revolution» of 2018 and a member of the ruling cohort, many were viewing him as a symbol of the announced counteraction to corruption. Later, he dissented from Pashinyans opinion, and after his resignation Vanetsyan even was detained by the secret service on the charges of the coup détat attempt targeted at seizing the power. [7]

At present, A. Vanetsyan, who graduated with honors from the FSB Academy of Russia and has good connections in the FSB headquarters at Lubyanka, is the leader of the Airenik (Homeland) political party; until recently, he used to be the leader of anti-Pashinyan parliamentary faction «I have the honor», but later decided to vacate the seat. At the same time, the ex-Director of NSS continues to rigorously oppose the current Armenian leader and speaks of Pashinyan as of an «unhinged personality having become the Prime Minister by a twist of fate». [8]

Thus, the Armenian leadership may be interested in reforming the security sphere not only with the objective to improve its performance (first of all of the intelligence) against the background of the defeat in the Second Karabakh War, but also with the objective of purging and fixing the loyalty to the Armenian government and to Pashinyan personally on behalf of the employees of the Armenian Ministry of Internal Affairs and the security service.

Hence, it may be assumed that the cronies of the Armenian leader and N. Pashinyan personally may be strongly concerned about disloyal officers fortified by their informal connections with the Russian secret service representatives may organize in future a mighty coup dtat to depose the government. With account of the available data about the CIA and MI-6 practices in the post-Soviet area, there is a belief that such concerns are supported and stirred-up by various Western envoys like William Burns and by their turncoat in the Armenian government to assure the country distancing from Russia, including in the sphere of national security and coordination of the secret services operations.

At the same time, it should be noted that despite all the efforts of the current Armenian opposition and even personal relationship between one of its leaders, the ex-President of the Republic of Armenia Robert Kocharyan with the RF President Vladimir Putin, Moscow never supported the protests in Armenia. The distinguishing characteristic of Russian foreign policy, often criticized by various «experts» inside the RF, is its focus on collaboration with official authorities, especially in the partner-countries, and ignoring various opposition groups and the «civil society».

Different from the USA and the «collective West», demonstrating excessively active support of opposition groups in many countries all over the world (the controlled chaos theory), Russias attitude is extremely negative about using the «power overthrowing technologies» and does not apply them in its foreign policy.

Back in April of 2017, The President Vladimir Putin in his interview to Mir channel said that Russia will not allow for «colored revolutions» in its territory and will be assisting its CSTO partners to prevent them. [9] Starting from mid-1990s, Russia has been supporting the Belarus leadership attacked in a hybrid mode during election campaigns, and during the recent five years Moscow was the main stabilizing factor of domestic political situations in Syria, Venezuela, Myanmar, Kazakhstan.

At the same time, the critics highlight that Moscow was relatively passive with respect to the «color revolutions» in Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, and that later resulted in the threats for the RF security and in the need for cupping these threats by way of military operation «to enforce peace» in Georgia in 2008, and special military operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, which started on 24 February 2022 and is going on.

Russia quite consciously was rather calm about social and political transformations in the post-Soviet area (overthrow of power in Kyrgyzstan in 2005, 2010 and 2021, «velvet revolution» in Armenia in 2018) understanding that the domestic policy was the primary influential factor of that, not the external influence.

Moreover, Moscow undertook certain efforts to immediately establish contacts with the new elites of these countries and to engage them into the existing system of the EAEU and the CSTO. In particular, this was the approach towards Nikol Pashinyan and his team, despite some controversial facts of the biographies of some Armenian leaders, their connections with foreign (Western) foundations and anti-Russian narratives before 2018.

Based on the above, all the reasoning pertaining to the «risks» for Armenia associated with continuing the collaboration with the RF in the security sphere is absolutely groundless and may be explained only by the insinuations of the geopolitical competitors. Rather the opposite, in the current situation the biggest risk is the overture with the «collective West» and the CIA, who will continue trying to stir-up Armenia against its traditional partners, promising financial, technical and consultative aid when forming the foreign intelligence agency. However, in reality they strive for control over the security system of Armenia while continuing the cooperation with the regional rivals of Yerevan Azerbaijan and Turkey.

The contours of reform: Georgian practices

It is quite probable, that the forthcoming transformation of the Armenian foreign intelligence will be replicating the changes in the similar sphere in Georgia after Mikhail Saakashvili coming into office.

Thus, assumption is underpinned both by the data we have available and by certain similarities of the situation in both countries. In particular, the foreign intelligence reform in Georgia started after the Rose Revolution was based on the need of the government for new specialists and on the influence of the USA; these processes were intensified (including the adoption of the relevant legal framework) after the failure of the Saakashvilis military venture against South Ossetia and Russia in 2008.

Armenia appears to be in a similar situation at the current stage. In 2018, due to massive turmoil the national government was changed, and the forces opposing the «Karabakh clan» managed to mount to the political stardom for the mid-term perspective. At the same time, the new generation of the Armenian political elite led the country to the defeat in the Second Karabakh War, caused, in our opinion, by the intractability of the Pashinyans team in 2018-2020. In the light of the above-described circumstances quite strong anti-Pashinyans opposition developed in Armenia. Due to the acute problem of loyalty of the secret service officers, the ruling groups in Yerevan are interested in accepting the assistance from the US in forming the conceptually new organization of foreign intelligence.

At the same time, there is a difference between Georgia and Armenia: after 2004, Tbilisi immediately launched the anti-Russian foreign policy and embarked on its course towards integration into the Euro-Atlantic community, while Yerevan remained the member of EAEU and CSTO; the relations with Russia in the area of defense are the key factor of Armenian state security and overall survival.

However, getting back to Georgian practices, it is necessary to say that on 27 April 2010 the Law «On Intelligence Service of Georgia (ISG)» was adopted, according to which the ISG was announced a special-purpose institution of the executive power directly subordinate to the Prime Minister of Georgia and performing the intelligence activities to protect the national interests. The tasks of collecting the information in political, economic, scientific and technical, military, IT and environmental spheres were set for the ISG. According to the law, the Georgian intelligence within its competence participates in counteracting international terrorism and performs foreign counterintelligence activities. [10]

Another law («On Intelligence Activities») also was adopted in April 2010 defining the ISG as «the main organization of the Georgian intelligence service» simultaneously with keeping the intelligence units in the Defense Ministry and in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The official supervision over functioning of the intelligence system was laid on the Prime Minister; the law also introduced the parliamentary control assuring the so-called democratization of the state security organization. Another noticeable fact is that according to Article 9 of this Law the Prime Minister of Georgia decides on the feasibility of interdepartmental negotiations and cooperation between the intelligence institution and foreign services of intelligence and counterintelligence. [11]

Assessing the performance of the Intelligence Service of Georgia, we should note that, in our opinion, ISG is controlled by CIA and uses its capabilities to collect information required for the American secret service. In that way the US monetized the financial, technical and consultative aid rendered to the Georgian intelligence service, as well as training of specialists for Georgina intelligence service in the respective training institutions of the USA and other Western countries.

The Georgian intelligence got spotted a number of times in the attempts to organize spying against Russia, coordination of the so-called non-systemic opposition, participation in organizing successful and unsuccessful attempts of «color revolutions» in the post-Soviet area (the «orange revolution» in Ukraine in 2004, the «denim revolution» in Belarus in 2006, «Bolotnaya» in Moscow in 2012).

One of the efficient instruments for resolving the tasks the ISG faces is numerous Georgian diaspora in different countries across the globe, especially in the RF. We may assume that the Armenian intelligence will also develop interaction with its foreign diaspora (the Spyurk) consisting of more than 10 mln people, it will be one of its key priorities.

In addition, it is quite natural that Azerbaijan and Turkey will remain the key subjects of the intelligence interest of the FIA. We cannot exclude that CIA, if it is not waved off the reform of the security system of Armenia, will be pushing the Armenians to collect information about all the aspects of military and technical cooperation of Russia and Belarus with Azerbaijan, which will mean a breach of the Astana agreements within the Commonwealth of the Independent States dated 1993, according to which the secret services of CIS countries shall not work against each other.

It should be recognized that the considerations described above are just assumptions, and currently there are no contradictions between the secret services of Armenia and those of the CSTO allies. At the same time, to avoid such contradictions in future it makes sense for official Yerevan when reforming the security system and establishing the Foreign Intelligence Agency to align with traditional partners, firstly, to be based on cooperation with the Foreign Intelligence Service and Federal Security Service of the RF. By the way, the units of these Russian agencies are protecting the frontiers between Armenia and Turkey and between Armenia and Iran according to the 1992 agreement.

The CSTO states and mainly the Russian Federation, in their turn, need to be ready to provide the assistance requested by Yerevan in the process of transformation of the security system of the Republic of Armenia.

1. The Foreign Intelligence Agency will appear in Armenia. Vestnik Kavkaza, 12.07.2022. https://vestikavkaza.ru/news/agentstvo-vnesnej-razvedki-poavitsa-v-armenii.html

2. Intelligence. National Security Service of the Republic of Armenia. https://www.sns.am/ru/category//

3. «The ISS should stop being a KGB splinter»: what is to be expected from the new ISS Director. NEWSMAKER.MD, 03.06.2022. https://newsmaker.md/rus/novosti/sib-dolzhen-perestat-byt-oskolkom-kgb-chego-zhdat-ot-novogo-glavy-siba/

4. CIA Director visits Yerevan, the US issues grants for Armenia. Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies,  31.07.2022. https://caspian.institute/product/shpakovskij-aleksandr/vizit-direktora-cru-v-erevan-i-amerikanskie-granty-dlya-armenii-38239.shtml

5. National Security Service of Armenia organizes training of Armenian citizens in the FSB Academy and other higher educational establishments of Russia. Sputnik Armenia, 05.02.2019. https://ru.armeniasputnik.am/20190205/snb-armenii-organizuet-obuchenie-grazhdan-v-akademii-fsb-rossii-i-drugih-vuzah-17130868.html

6. The military demanded Pashinyans retirement. What is known about the situation in Armenia. TASS, 25.02.2021. https://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/10780009

7. The ex-Director of the National Security Service of Armenia is suspected of preparing the assassination of Pashinyan. RBC, 14.11.2020. https://www.rbc.ru/politics/14/11/2020/5fafe51a9a7947973c620ac6

8. The unhinged personality having become the Prime Minister by a twist of fate. 24NEWS.Am, 03.03.2022. https://www.24news.am/index.php/ru/news/222496

9. The «color revolutions» phenomenon in Russian political communications. Voronina D.Ye., International Communications Journal. Publication of the Foreign Journalism Department of Moscow State Institute of Foreign Relations with the RF Ministry of Foreign Affairs. https://intcom-mgimo.ru/2018/2018-09/color-revolution-phenomenon

10. Law of Georgia «On Intelligence Service of Georgia». Legislative Bulletin of Georgia, 27.04.2010. https://www.matsne.gov.ge/ru/document/view/92248?publication=12

11. Law of Georgia «On Intelligence Activity». Legislative Bulletin of Georgia, 27.04.2010 https://matsne.gov.ge/ru/document/view/92242?publication=2

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Armenia establishes the Foreign Intelligence Agency: Contours of the reform

photo: gov.am
9 2022
Alexander Shpakovsky

Alexander Shpakovsky | Minsk

CISS expert

The ruling elite of the Republic of Armenia (RA) announced the creation of an independent Foreign Intelligence Agency (FIA) within the national security system. According to Armen Grigoryan, the Secretary of the Armenian Security Council, FIA establishment was planned in the context of current reforms in Armenia stipulating for «democratization of the security sector». [1]

Interestingly, the announcement about FIA creation practically coincided with the CIA Director William Burns visit to Yerevan on 15 July 2022. There is an opinion that Washington offers consulting, financial and technical aid to Armenia in order to create FIA, meaning deeper interaction between the Armenian intelligence and Langley.

In our view, this situation requires fast adjustment in favor of developing cooperation on the issues of creating the Foreign Intelligence Agency between Armenia and the Russian Federation (its Foreign Intelligence Service), as well as with the secret services of other CSTO member states, which is in line with the agreements executed by the Republic of Armenia in the security sphere.

Organization of intelligence in Armenia at the current stage, personnel issues in the context of the forthcoming reforms

It should be noted that today Armenia does not have a standalone intelligence unit. A specialized structural subdivision of the National Security Service (NSS) of Armenia performs the intelligence functions within the authorities granted to it by the Law «On National Security Agencies of the Republic of Armenia» and other effective legislation.

According to its functional responsibilities, the intelligence unit within the NSS performs the intelligence activities both from the territory of Armenia and from the territories of foreign states. According to the NSS mandate, the Service supervises all the units performing the intelligence activities pertaining to the national security issues in the Armenian territory.

To counteract the national security challenges for Armenia and the external threats against the state, as well as for achieving the tasks associated with the vital interests of Armenia in foreign policy, the intelligence unit obtains, processes and analyzes the respective intelligence information for reporting to the top leadership of the Republic of Armenia. [2]

In addition, the Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces operates within the system of the Defense Ministry of Armenia, which is engaged in resolving the respective tasks in the military and political spheres.

There is low probability of uniting the functions of the military intelligence unit of the General Staff and the intelligence unit of the NSS in the FIA. The most probable option is that the Armed Forces of Armenia will keep their own intelligence, meanwhile, the NSS will lose such function. In this connection, the personnel recruitment for the new intelligence service becomes especially relevant; such recruitment may be done by automatic transfer of the operational workers from the NSS intelligence unit to the FIA, or by recertification of the personnel.

The most radical scenario is also possible, when absolutely new personnel will be recruited to the foreign intelligence of Armenia including people from the so-called the «civil society structures» funded by the Western countries, primarily by the US. Such scenario should not be disregarded taking into attention the close attention to the reforms in the Armenian security sphere on behalf of the CIA and the statements of coordinators of these transformations about the need to democratize» the security system, such discourse being very similar to that of the Soros «public» structures hails who now occupy high-ranking positions in the security organizations of the post-Soviet states.

For example, Alexander Mustyatse, the 34-year-old political scientist was appointed in early June 2022 to the position of the Information and Security Service (ISS) of the Republic of Moldova. Prior to that, he was an expert of the NATO Information and Documentation Center, and occupied a number of high-ranking positions in the Moldova Branch of Soros Foundation. His position is that «the ISS should stop being a KGB splinter». [3] It is remarkable that all the statements about «democratization» and «liberation from the KGB legacy» take place after 30 years since the Soviet Union disintegration, when there are no more hails of the Soviet KGB in the security agencies of the post-Soviet countries.

Interesting enough, Armen Grigoryan, the Armenian Security Council Secretary, the coordinator of the reform in the security sphere and the «founder» of the FIA, also comes from non-government sector, Transparency International in particular, so he had no relation to secret services prior to his appointment in 2018. [4]

At the same time, in our opinion, we should not put our hopes up with respect to professional skills in field work and management of secret services of the so-called «civil society representatives». Indeed, often enough such people, when they come across real public administration challenges, demonstrate outrageous incompetence. On the other hand, the networks of G. Soros and other foreign NGOs practically perform the functions of information collection and analysis, recruitment of influence agents, subversion organization, which, in essence, coincides with the secret services functions, that is why certain people from this sphere are quite capable of fitting into the security agencies of the countries currently being under the influence of the USA.

With account of the above, the staffing issue for the Armenian Foreign Security Agency (FIA) is key from the standpoint of the current geopolitical confrontation, because the South Caucasus is one of the arenas of it. The point is, that until now specialists for the security agencies of Armenia were trained both in national higher education establishments, and in Russian specialized institutes. For example, in 2019, i.e., after the «velvet revolution», the Armenian National Security Service (NSS) organized the targeted recruitment of citizens under 23 years of age to undergo 5-year training in the Russian FSB (Federal Security Service) Academy, in Kurgan and Kaliningrad frontier institutes of FSB, in Oryol FSO (Federal Security Guard Service) Academy.[5]

Hence, in the context of Yerevans plans to establish the Foreign Intelligence Agency, it appears feasible to update the issue of personnel training for the secret service in the Foreign Intelligence Academy and follow-up refreshment training in the Specialized Training Center of the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation. Another option is to consider organization of training of future FIA employees based on the Intelligence Department of the National Security Institute of the KGB of the Republic of Belarus, which is the successor of the famous Higher Training Courses of the KGB of the USSR in Minsk preserving the high standards of training in specialized disciplines and training of state security specialists.

In our opinion, with account of the role of Russia in assuring the national security of Armenia, the loss of influence over the process of developing the Armenian foreign intelligence service is inadmissible. We believe, that Armenian intelligence should be developed on the basis of the Soviet «Cheka» traditions laid by Gevorg Vardanyan, Akop Davtyan, Ivan Agayantz and other USSR KGB officers of Armenian descend, whose biographies today are present at the NSS website as an example for the current employees.

Political subtext

It is reasonably required to recognize that training of personnel in Russian educational establishments specializing in security provides for certain connections between the Armenian secret services employees with their Russian colleagues both on the official (legislative) and on the informal (personal) levels.

At the same time, the opinion of the officers of the Armenian NSS and the entire military/security/law enforcement block to the Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan may be called controversial. On one hand, despite the mass protests against Pashinyans policy the military/security/law enforcement are generally loyal to the Armenian government and perform their duties of protecting the constitutional system. However, there is the reverse side of the coin, as well: in February 2021, General Colonel Onik Gasparyan, then the Chief of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces and 40 high-ranking officers of the General Staff published a statement demanding the resignation of Pashinyan and the members of his cabinet. [6]

Artur Vanetsyan, the ex-Director of the National Security Service, is one of the main opponents of the Armenian Prime Minister. At first, he was one of the triumphers of the «velvet revolution» of 2018 and a member of the ruling cohort, many were viewing him as a symbol of the announced counteraction to corruption. Later, he dissented from Pashinyans opinion, and after his resignation Vanetsyan even was detained by the secret service on the charges of the coup détat attempt targeted at seizing the power. [7]

At present, A. Vanetsyan, who graduated with honors from the FSB Academy of Russia and has good connections in the FSB headquarters at Lubyanka, is the leader of the Airenik (Homeland) political party; until recently, he used to be the leader of anti-Pashinyan parliamentary faction «I have the honor», but later decided to vacate the seat. At the same time, the ex-Director of NSS continues to rigorously oppose the current Armenian leader and speaks of Pashinyan as of an «unhinged personality having become the Prime Minister by a twist of fate». [8]

Thus, the Armenian leadership may be interested in reforming the security sphere not only with the objective to improve its performance (first of all of the intelligence) against the background of the defeat in the Second Karabakh War, but also with the objective of purging and fixing the loyalty to the Armenian government and to Pashinyan personally on behalf of the employees of the Armenian Ministry of Internal Affairs and the security service.

Hence, it may be assumed that the cronies of the Armenian leader and N. Pashinyan personally may be strongly concerned about disloyal officers fortified by their informal connections with the Russian secret service representatives may organize in future a mighty coup dtat to depose the government. With account of the available data about the CIA and MI-6 practices in the post-Soviet area, there is a belief that such concerns are supported and stirred-up by various Western envoys like William Burns and by their turncoat in the Armenian government to assure the country distancing from Russia, including in the sphere of national security and coordination of the secret services operations.

At the same time, it should be noted that despite all the efforts of the current Armenian opposition and even personal relationship between one of its leaders, the ex-President of the Republic of Armenia Robert Kocharyan with the RF President Vladimir Putin, Moscow never supported the protests in Armenia. The distinguishing characteristic of Russian foreign policy, often criticized by various «experts» inside the RF, is its focus on collaboration with official authorities, especially in the partner-countries, and ignoring various opposition groups and the «civil society».

Different from the USA and the «collective West», demonstrating excessively active support of opposition groups in many countries all over the world (the controlled chaos theory), Russias attitude is extremely negative about using the «power overthrowing technologies» and does not apply them in its foreign policy.

Back in April of 2017, The President Vladimir Putin in his interview to Mir channel said that Russia will not allow for «colored revolutions» in its territory and will be assisting its CSTO partners to prevent them. [9] Starting from mid-1990s, Russia has been supporting the Belarus leadership attacked in a hybrid mode during election campaigns, and during the recent five years Moscow was the main stabilizing factor of domestic political situations in Syria, Venezuela, Myanmar, Kazakhstan.

At the same time, the critics highlight that Moscow was relatively passive with respect to the «color revolutions» in Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, and that later resulted in the threats for the RF security and in the need for cupping these threats by way of military operation «to enforce peace» in Georgia in 2008, and special military operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, which started on 24 February 2022 and is going on.

Russia quite consciously was rather calm about social and political transformations in the post-Soviet area (overthrow of power in Kyrgyzstan in 2005, 2010 and 2021, «velvet revolution» in Armenia in 2018) understanding that the domestic policy was the primary influential factor of that, not the external influence.

Moreover, Moscow undertook certain efforts to immediately establish contacts with the new elites of these countries and to engage them into the existing system of the EAEU and the CSTO. In particular, this was the approach towards Nikol Pashinyan and his team, despite some controversial facts of the biographies of some Armenian leaders, their connections with foreign (Western) foundations and anti-Russian narratives before 2018.

Based on the above, all the reasoning pertaining to the «risks» for Armenia associated with continuing the collaboration with the RF in the security sphere is absolutely groundless and may be explained only by the insinuations of the geopolitical competitors. Rather the opposite, in the current situation the biggest risk is the overture with the «collective West» and the CIA, who will continue trying to stir-up Armenia against its traditional partners, promising financial, technical and consultative aid when forming the foreign intelligence agency. However, in reality they strive for control over the security system of Armenia while continuing the cooperation with the regional rivals of Yerevan Azerbaijan and Turkey.

The contours of reform: Georgian practices

It is quite probable, that the forthcoming transformation of the Armenian foreign intelligence will be replicating the changes in the similar sphere in Georgia after Mikhail Saakashvili coming into office.

Thus, assumption is underpinned both by the data we have available and by certain similarities of the situation in both countries. In particular, the foreign intelligence reform in Georgia started after the Rose Revolution was based on the need of the government for new specialists and on the influence of the USA; these processes were intensified (including the adoption of the relevant legal framework) after the failure of the Saakashvilis military venture against South Ossetia and Russia in 2008.

Armenia appears to be in a similar situation at the current stage. In 2018, due to massive turmoil the national government was changed, and the forces opposing the «Karabakh clan» managed to mount to the political stardom for the mid-term perspective. At the same time, the new generation of the Armenian political elite led the country to the defeat in the Second Karabakh War, caused, in our opinion, by the intractability of the Pashinyans team in 2018-2020. In the light of the above-described circumstances quite strong anti-Pashinyans opposition developed in Armenia. Due to the acute problem of loyalty of the secret service officers, the ruling groups in Yerevan are interested in accepting the assistance from the US in forming the conceptually new organization of foreign intelligence.

At the same time, there is a difference between Georgia and Armenia: after 2004, Tbilisi immediately launched the anti-Russian foreign policy and embarked on its course towards integration into the Euro-Atlantic community, while Yerevan remained the member of EAEU and CSTO; the relations with Russia in the area of defense are the key factor of Armenian state security and overall survival.

However, getting back to Georgian practices, it is necessary to say that on 27 April 2010 the Law «On Intelligence Service of Georgia (ISG)» was adopted, according to which the ISG was announced a special-purpose institution of the executive power directly subordinate to the Prime Minister of Georgia and performing the intelligence activities to protect the national interests. The tasks of collecting the information in political, economic, scientific and technical, military, IT and environmental spheres were set for the ISG. According to the law, the Georgian intelligence within its competence participates in counteracting international terrorism and performs foreign counterintelligence activities. [10]

Another law («On Intelligence Activities») also was adopted in April 2010 defining the ISG as «the main organization of the Georgian intelligence service» simultaneously with keeping the intelligence units in the Defense Ministry and in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The official supervision over functioning of the intelligence system was laid on the Prime Minister; the law also introduced the parliamentary control assuring the so-called democratization of the state security organization. Another noticeable fact is that according to Article 9 of this Law the Prime Minister of Georgia decides on the feasibility of interdepartmental negotiations and cooperation between the intelligence institution and foreign services of intelligence and counterintelligence. [11]

Assessing the performance of the Intelligence Service of Georgia, we should note that, in our opinion, ISG is controlled by CIA and uses its capabilities to collect information required for the American secret service. In that way the US monetized the financial, technical and consultative aid rendered to the Georgian intelligence service, as well as training of specialists for Georgina intelligence service in the respective training institutions of the USA and other Western countries.

The Georgian intelligence got spotted a number of times in the attempts to organize spying against Russia, coordination of the so-called non-systemic opposition, participation in organizing successful and unsuccessful attempts of «color revolutions» in the post-Soviet area (the «orange revolution» in Ukraine in 2004, the «denim revolution» in Belarus in 2006, «Bolotnaya» in Moscow in 2012).

One of the efficient instruments for resolving the tasks the ISG faces is numerous Georgian diaspora in different countries across the globe, especially in the RF. We may assume that the Armenian intelligence will also develop interaction with its foreign diaspora (the Spyurk) consisting of more than 10 mln people, it will be one of its key priorities.

In addition, it is quite natural that Azerbaijan and Turkey will remain the key subjects of the intelligence interest of the FIA. We cannot exclude that CIA, if it is not waved off the reform of the security system of Armenia, will be pushing the Armenians to collect information about all the aspects of military and technical cooperation of Russia and Belarus with Azerbaijan, which will mean a breach of the Astana agreements within the Commonwealth of the Independent States dated 1993, according to which the secret services of CIS countries shall not work against each other.

It should be recognized that the considerations described above are just assumptions, and currently there are no contradictions between the secret services of Armenia and those of the CSTO allies. At the same time, to avoid such contradictions in future it makes sense for official Yerevan when reforming the security system and establishing the Foreign Intelligence Agency to align with traditional partners, firstly, to be based on cooperation with the Foreign Intelligence Service and Federal Security Service of the RF. By the way, the units of these Russian agencies are protecting the frontiers between Armenia and Turkey and between Armenia and Iran according to the 1992 agreement.

The CSTO states and mainly the Russian Federation, in their turn, need to be ready to provide the assistance requested by Yerevan in the process of transformation of the security system of the Republic of Armenia.

1. The Foreign Intelligence Agency will appear in Armenia. Vestnik Kavkaza, 12.07.2022. https://vestikavkaza.ru/news/agentstvo-vnesnej-razvedki-poavitsa-v-armenii.html

2. Intelligence. National Security Service of the Republic of Armenia. https://www.sns.am/ru/category//

3. «The ISS should stop being a KGB splinter»: what is to be expected from the new ISS Director. NEWSMAKER.MD, 03.06.2022. https://newsmaker.md/rus/novosti/sib-dolzhen-perestat-byt-oskolkom-kgb-chego-zhdat-ot-novogo-glavy-siba/

4. CIA Director visits Yerevan, the US issues grants for Armenia. Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies,  31.07.2022. https://caspian.institute/product/shpakovskij-aleksandr/vizit-direktora-cru-v-erevan-i-amerikanskie-granty-dlya-armenii-38239.shtml

5. National Security Service of Armenia organizes training of Armenian citizens in the FSB Academy and other higher educational establishments of Russia. Sputnik Armenia, 05.02.2019. https://ru.armeniasputnik.am/20190205/snb-armenii-organizuet-obuchenie-grazhdan-v-akademii-fsb-rossii-i-drugih-vuzah-17130868.html

6. The military demanded Pashinyans retirement. What is known about the situation in Armenia. TASS, 25.02.2021. https://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/10780009

7. The ex-Director of the National Security Service of Armenia is suspected of preparing the assassination of Pashinyan. RBC, 14.11.2020. https://www.rbc.ru/politics/14/11/2020/5fafe51a9a7947973c620ac6

8. The unhinged personality having become the Prime Minister by a twist of fate. 24NEWS.Am, 03.03.2022. https://www.24news.am/index.php/ru/news/222496

9. The «color revolutions» phenomenon in Russian political communications. Voronina D.Ye., International Communications Journal. Publication of the Foreign Journalism Department of Moscow State Institute of Foreign Relations with the RF Ministry of Foreign Affairs. https://intcom-mgimo.ru/2018/2018-09/color-revolution-phenomenon

10. Law of Georgia «On Intelligence Service of Georgia». Legislative Bulletin of Georgia, 27.04.2010. https://www.matsne.gov.ge/ru/document/view/92248?publication=12

11. Law of Georgia «On Intelligence Activity». Legislative Bulletin of Georgia, 27.04.2010 https://matsne.gov.ge/ru/document/view/92242?publication=2