Lieutenant-General Tiran Khachatrian was relieved of his duties on February 24 in a decree initiated by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and signed by President Armen Sarkissian.
The decree came just hours after a pro-opposition media outlet quoted Khachatrian as laughing off Pashinian’s claim that the Armenian army’s most advanced Russian-made missiles seriously malfunctioned during last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
In a February 25 statement, the army’s top brass strongly condemned the sacking, accused Pashinian’s government of incompetence and misrule and demanded its resignation. The prime minister responded by accusing the military of a coup attempt and moving to fire the chief of the General Staff, Onik Gasparian.
Gasparian’s dismissal appears to have been delayed by President Sarkissian and opposition groups. The latter have voiced strong support for the military and stepped up their street protests aimed forcing Pashinian to resign.
Court records posted on a judicial website indicate that Sarkissian is the main defendant in the civil case filed by Khachatrian on Wednesday. The prime minister’s office and the General Staff will be involved in the legal action as “third parties.”
The Armenian government declined to comment on the lawsuit. Sarkissian’s office could not be reached for comment.
Khachatrian has made no public statements since his sacking. Incidentally, the general received Armenia’s highest military award, the title of National Hero, from Pashinian during the autumn war with Azerbaijan.
Pashinian’s claim about the Iskander missile systems also provoked a storm of criticism from Russian pro-government lawmakers and pundits. They accused him of incompetence and deceit. Russia’s Defense Ministry said, for its part, that it was “bewildered and surprised” by the remarks.
Pashinian effectively retracted the claim on Monday. His press secretary said he was misled by other Armenian officials.