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Contract Serviceman Forced to Resign Due to Political Beliefs; Defense Minister Sees ‘No Grounds’ for Complaint

Armenia's Defense Ministry forced contract serviceman Tigran Mazmanyan to leave the Armenian armed forces because of his political beliefs. As reported by Forrights.am, Mazmanyan wrote on his Facebook page that in addition to losing his job, he was concerned that authorities might try to “put pressure on me.”

“I worked as a contract serviceman at [one of Defense Ministry’s military units], while continuing simultaneously to fight against injustice.

“It all started back on November 5, 2015: a peaceful assembly and a march was set to be held [in support of Shant Harutyunyan and friends], and I took it upon myself to notify [city authorities] about the rally since my friend, Shahen Harutyunyan (Shant Harutyunyan's son) is a minor.

“The march was scheduled for 6 pm, i.e., I could take part in it after work. On the day of the rally, at around 1 pm, I was summoned by the unit commander […] and warned that high-ranking officials had taken interest in me. [The commander] gives me two options: to either stay and continue my service or resign and focus on my chosen fight. Having been given only 10 minutes to make a decision, I thought, taking into account the current political situation, that my [military] service would be of greater use to my country,” Mazmanyan's Facebook note read.

About two months following the incident, the former serviceman added, he was called in to the military unit and presented with notes and photos from his personal Facebook page: “They said I was making revolutionary and anti-state calls on social networks. I don't think that statements addressed to the person occupying the president's seat should be considered as 'anti-state',” Mazmanyan wrote.

As regards his photo with Shahen Harutyunyan, the former serviceman wrote, military authorities told him: “This is Shant's son. You're close to him. Why would you post this photo? Do you think it's a heroic act or something?”

Mazmanyan was advised to write a memo and resign voluntarily: “Generally, resignation memos are approved no earlier than 30 days after submission; mine, however, took only 15 days, so I don't rule out  that my resignation order had come sooner than I submitted the memo.”

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan commented on the incident, saying that Tigran Mazmanyan “has no grounds for complaint against military leadership: he was engaged in politics, and Armed Forces should remain politically neutral.” The former serviceman, Ohanyan added, had one prior reprimand and resigned from the army “on his own accord.”