Armenia’s Investigative Committee initially indicted Lieutenant-General Arzumanian over the capture by Azerbaijani forces of the Karabakh town of Shushi (Shusha) in early November 2020. It claims that he failed to deploy more troops around Shushi beforehand.
The law-enforcement agency went on to also accuse Arzumanian of ordering Karabakh Armenian forces to withdraw from “strategically important” positions retaken by them days after the war broke out on September 27, 2020. It said that the order was illegal and unjustified.
Arzumanian, who was appointed as commander of Karabakh’s Defense Army on October 27, 2020, denies the accusations.
In a joint petition, 24 members of Karabakh’s 33-seat parliament urged Armenia’s Prosecutor-General Artur Davtian and Investigative Committee chief Argishti Kyaramian to free the 49-year-old general pending investigation. They said they can guarantee that he will not obstruct the probe if set free.
The signatories of the letter included parliament speaker Artur Tovmasian, who is a political ally of Arayik Harutiunian, the Karabakh president. A spokeswoman for Harutiunian described Arzumanian as “one of our best military commanders” following his arrest in Armenia.
Arzumanian took over the Karabakh army after its previous commander, Jalal Harutiunian, was seriously wounded in an Azerbaijani rocket strike.
The Investigative Committee last week brought criminal negligence charges against Harutiunian as well. But it did not arrest him.
Armenian opposition leaders criticized the criminal cases against the Karabakh generals, saying they are part of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s efforts to deflect blame for the disastrous war. They hold Pashinian primarily responsible for its outcome.