The National Security Service (NSS) claimed on Friday that Major-General Armen Harutiunian abused his position to seal a deal with a private firm that sold $1 million worth of artillery rounds to Armenia’s Defense Ministry.
In a statement, the NSS said that the rounds manufactured in the Czech Republic fell short of the firing range of cannons used by the Armenian army, preventing the latter from successfully carrying out “combat tasks” during the 2020 war with Azerbaijan. The ammunition was designed for a more short-range artillery system, it said.
The statement said that Harutiunian arranged the deal to “embezzle a large sum from the Defense Ministry.” Investigators have brought corresponding charges against the general and the unnamed company’s owner and chief executive, added the statement.
It was not immediately clear whether the suspects will plead guilty to the accusations.
Harutiunian was among seven senior generals who were sacked in February through presidential decrees initiated by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. They included the chief of the army’s General Staff, Lieutenant-General Artak Davtian.
Davtian, two other generals as well as former Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan went on trial in January on charges stemming from the purchase of allegedly outdated air-to-surface rockets for the Armenian Air Force. They all deny the charges.
Unlike the other defendants, Tonoyan is held in detention. In a January statement, he warned the authorities against scapegoating him for Armenia’s defeat in the six-week war in Nagorno-Karabakh. He pledged to make “surprise” revelations in that regard.
Opposition politicians and other critics of the Armenian government hold Pashinian primarily responsible for the outcome of the war that left at least 3,800 Armenian soldiers dead. Some of them claim that the criminal cases against the former defense minister and generals are aimed at deflecting blame from Pashinian.