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Former Armenian Defense Chief No Longer On Wanted List In Russia


Armenia -- An archive photo of former President Robert Kocharian and Former Defense Minister Mikael Harutiunian, undated

Russia has removed former Armenian defense minister Mikael Harutiunian from the list of wanted suspects applied in its territory. This information was reported to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) by the Armenian Police.

Armenian law-enforcement officials said they received a corresponding letter from their Russian counterparts. They did not clarify on what grounds the Russian side made such a decision, citing confidentiality of some of the information stated in the letter.

In Armenia Harutiunian, who served as defense minister during the deadly post-election events in 2008 and issued a controversial order barracking the troops days before the crackdown on opposition supporters in central Yerevan, is charged with overthrowing the constitutional order. Under Harutiunian’s order, which was declassified recently, special groups were set up and armed with service weapons.

Andranik Kocharian, a member of the former fact-finding group investigating the events of March 1-2, 2008, during which 10 people were killed, once personally questioned Harutiunian as part of his mission. He insists that without the former defense minister it would be impossible to disclose the case fully. “Harutiunian would provide more extensive explanations to the investigation body than he gave to the fact-finding group,” he said.

“And when during a televised interview ex-president Robert Kocharian, [who is also charged with breaching the constitutional order during the 2008 events], said he had nothing to do with the troops barracking order, perhaps he was sure that Mikael Harutiunian would never be questioned by the investigation body. I get the impression that it is more important to bring Harutiunian to Armenia and interrogate him,” the former member of the fact-finding group added.

After lieutenant-general Mikael Harutiunian was charged with overthrowing the constitutional order on July 3 and arrest was chosen as a measure for restraint in his relation, his wife told the Armenian newspaper Haykakan Zhamanak that her husband had gone to Moscow for medical treatment.

While the Armenian general has been removed from the wanted list in Russia, he is still on the list of wanted suspects applied in other former Soviet countries.

According to the Russian Interfax news agency Harutiunian has a Russian passport. Last month head of the Armenian Special Investigation Service Sasun Khachatrian, however, said that Harutiunian is only a citizen of Armenia.

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