YEREVAN — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has appointed Armenia’s former human rights ombudswoman, Kristine Grigoryan, as the first head of Foreign Intelligence Service formally set up by his government about a year ago.
Armenia already had intelligence services operating within its National Security Service (NSS) and military when the National Assembly approved last December the creation of the Foreign Intelligence Service (FIS). The NSS division is supposed to be fully replaced by the FIS within three years.
“The main task of the service is to forecast opportunities and external threats to the state and society and to provide political decision-makers with reliable, credible intelligence information about them,” PM’s press secretary, Nazeli Baghdasaryan told the Armenpress news agency following Grigoryan’s appointment announced on Wednesday.
Grigoryan unexpectedly resigned as ombudswoman in January after less than a year in office. She said at the time that she is planning to move on to another job.
The 42-year-old lawyer, who has never worked for security agencies before, has not been seen in public since then. A senior pro-government lawmaker, Gagik Melkonyan confirmed rumors that she underwent relevant training before taking up her new post.
“She has been trained but I don’t know where,” Melkonyan told the Hraparak daily. “She came back and got appointed.”
Citing another, unnamed source, the paper claimed that Grigoryan was trained by “Western intelligence services.” It noted that the chief of Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, Richard Moore, visited Yerevan and met with Pashinyan just days before the Armenian government pushed a bill on the FIS through the parliament. U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns visited Armenia in July 2022.
Grigoryan could not be reached for comment, and nothing is known about the structure and size of her nascent agency.