The Armenian military confirmed on Tuesday reports of yet another non-combat shooting within its ranks that left one soldier dead.
In a written statement, Armenia’s Defense Ministry said Sergeant Arsen Chobanian, 26, was shot dead by a fellow serviceman last week at an army outpost guarding an unspecified section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. It said the suspected shooter, Harutiun Vartanian, was arrested and charged with premeditated murder.
“A criminal investigation into the case is continuing,” the statement added. It gave no further details, saying only that the two soldiers are natives of the northeastern Tavush region bordering western Azerbaijan.
According to Armenian media reports they served in an army corps stationed in Tavush on a contractual basis.
The military unit was already rocked late last month by the mysterious shooting of Lieutenant Artak Nazarian. His relatives believe that the 30-year-old was killed by fellow servicemen.
Military investigators insist, however, that Nazarian committed suicide after being badly ill-treated by a deputy commander of his battalion and three soldiers. All four men are now under arrest pending investigation.
Nazarian was found dead the day before another officer and five soldiers serving at an army unit in Nagorno-Karabakh were shot dead in still unclear circumstances. Military investigators say one of those soldiers went on a shooting spree and killed himself after a bitter dispute with the officer.
The deadly incidents cast a renewed spotlight on chronic abuse, corruption and mismanagement within Armenia’s Armed Forces. Eight senior and mid-level officers were dismissed and more than a dozen others demoted as a result.
Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian discussed the deaths at an emergency meeting with the top army brass and senior Defense Ministry officials earlier this month. He ordered them to “meticulously analyze what happened” and “take steps to strengthen discipline in the troops.”