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Prominent Armenian General’s Rank Restored


Armenia -- Former Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian, Yerevan, 14Jun2016

Vagharshak Harutiunian, a former Armenian defense minister, has been reinstated to the rank of lieutenant-general which had been controversially revoked by former President Robert Kocharian.

Harutiunian served as defense minister for almost a year from 1999-2000. He was among senior Armenian government officials who challenged Kocharian in the wake of the October 1999 deadly terrorist attack on the country’s parliament.

Virtually all of those officials, including Prime Minister Aram Sarkisian, were sacked when Kocharian prevailed in the power struggle in May 2000. Harutiunian subsequently joined Sarkisian’s opposition Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party.

Kocharian stripped him of his military rank in 2002 in a presidential decree which was condemned as illegal by Harutiunian and opposition leaders.

President Armen Sarkissian annulled that decree late last week. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Friday that the decision was requested by him.

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Aram Sarkisian said he personally asked Pashinian to help “redress the injustice” committed by Kocharian.

Another senior member of Hanrapetutyun, Hovik Arsenian, also welcomed the resulting decisions. “[Harutiunian] is a worthy son of our state and I am sure that he will continue to fight for our people and our country’s security,” he said.

Harutiunian, who is known as a strong advocate of Armenia’s close military ties with Russia, himself declined to comment. He said he will hold a news conference soon.

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