Armenia’s Defense Ministry announced on Friday a sweeping overhaul of its Soviet-style system of military draft that has long been reportedly riddled with corruption.
The ministry spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisian, said the reforms may well result in further high-level personnel changes within military commissariats recruiting draft-age amen for compulsory military service.
The chief Armenian military commissar, Sergey Chalian, was sacked by President Serzh Sarkisian as recently as on August 9. Sarkisian’s office and the Defense Ministry gave no reasons for the sacking.
Some media outlets have claimed that Chalian was fired after it emerged that dozens of healthy men were exempted from the two-year service on bogus medical grounds. Medical commissions working with commissariats have long been accused of giving such exemptions for hefty bribes.
“As you know, there were problems with this year’s draft: the chief military commissar and several other officials were sacked,” Hovannisian told a news conference. “Other changes may also take place soon. They relate to the mechanism and the entire system of draft, including military commissariats and medical commissions.”
“An analysis of the last draft is in progress,” he said. “During that analysis dismissals from serious positions and a fundamental change of the entire recruitment system are possible.”
Hovannisian declined to give details of the planned reforms apparently initiated by Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian. He said only that the Soviet-era system of army recruitment is no longer viable as evidenced by “different violations” uncovered in that process in recent years.
The official also made clear that the military command will continue increasing the proportion of volunteer personnel within Armenia’s conscription-based armed forces.