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Senior Defense Ministry Official Sacked for ‘Deceiving’ Sargsyan: Press

Three high-ranking officials of the Armenian Ministry of Defense and the General Staff of the Armed Forces were sacked on Tuesday by a presidential decree: Lieutenant-General Alik Mirzabekyan, Major General Arshak Karapetyan, and Major General Komitas Muradyan were dismissed from their posts of Deputy Defense Minister – Head of Department on Material-Technical Procurements of MoD, Head of the Intelligence Department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, and Head of the Communications and ACS Department of the MoD, respectively. 

Commenting on the senior military officials' dismissal, local Zhoghovurd newspaper writes that “the findings of an inspection carried out by the presidential Control Service played a crucial role in their sacking.” According to the paper, one of the dismissed, Alik Mirzabekyan, responsible for supplying the country's Armed Forces with weapons and ammunition, employed a corruption scheme with which he made purchases for the ministry in a company founded by his family member.

“The inspection has also revealed serious violations on Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan's part, so his dismissal in the nearest future is not ruled out either,” Zhoghovurd writes.

In February, 2016, at the request of the country's military prosecutor, the Investigative Committee began preparing materials regarding possible instances of abuse of power by ministry officials; however, a short time later, as noted by the paper, the case was discontinued for lack of evidence.

However, things changed following the escalation of hostilities on April 2 in Nagorno-Karabakh: “The large-scale enemy actions along the Nagorno-Karabakh border gave rise to many questions. The soldiers, along with their relatives, publicly stated that we would not have had that many losses during the four-day war had the personnel been provided with appropriate ammunition. It was also discussed how over the course of years relevant MoD officials had become the owners of huge estates, leaving the army with an arms problem.”

Public concerns only intensified with the dismissal of Material-Technical Procurements Department Head Alik Mirzabekyan, Zhoghovurd writes, going into further detail as to who latter is: “Mirzabekyan was quite close with Serzh Sargsyan and used to be responsible for supplying the soldiers with necessary equipment. In all likelihood, he assured Sargsyan that the army was in a good condition; the four-day war, however, showed that Sargsyan has been deceived.”