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Armenia Table of Contents


Internal Security

In the early 1990s, internal security was endangered by growing radical opposition to the moderate domestic and foreign policies of the Ter-Petrosian government. By 1993 a widespread breakdown of law and order in the republic had eroded the authority of the Armenian state.

Shortly after independence, a special internal security force was formed under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, whose special status in the government alarmed many observers in the ensuing years. The original mission of the internal security force was to prevent guerrilla attacks on military installations in the first months of independence. Since that time, this militia also has acted as the sole general (and nominally apolitical) police force. As originally formed, the internal affairs unit had 1,000 troops, including one assault battalion, two motorized patrol battalions, and one armored patrol battalion. Three specialized companies, including a canine unit for drug detection, also were formed. Elements of the former KGB have remained active under Armenian direction. All police agencies are under the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Border patrols are administered by the Main Administration for the Protection of State Borders. Some of the patrols on the Iranian and Turkish borders are manned by Russian troops, whose presence is partially funded by Armenia. The rest of the border patrols are made up of Armenian troops serving under contract.

In early 1994, Armenia completely reorganized the State Administration for National Security (SANS), the umbrella agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs that heads all national security activities. All agency activities except border patrols were suspended for three months while staff were reevaluated and an announced focus on intelligence and counterintelligence was introduced. The controversial measure may have been instigated by the assassination of Marius Yuzbashian, a former chief of the Armenian branch of the KGB; SANS had failed to investigate the assassination fully when it occurred, in the fall of 1993.

Experts saw a serious long-term threat to internal security in the independent mercenary Fidain forces that had been trained and expanded by Armenian political parties to fight in NagornoKarabakh . The end of the Karabakh war would free these combathardened forces, which did the bulk of the fighting in Karabakh, for possible guerrilla activity within Armenia on behalf of their respective opposition parties.

Data as of March 1994