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Two Generals In Armenia Fired Over Noncombat Army Deaths

Generals Artur Baghdasarian (center) and Aleksan Aleksanian (second from right) at a meeting with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in Yerevan on February 17.
Generals Artur Baghdasarian (center) and Aleksan Aleksanian (second from right) at a meeting with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in Yerevan on February 17.

The chief of Armenia's military police and another army general were dismissed on February 19, following a spate of noncombat deaths among soldiers.

President Armen Sarkisian fired Major General Artur Baghdasarian, head of the military police, and Major General Aleksan Aleksanian in separate decrees requested by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.

Baghdasarian had headed the military police since May 2017. He was promoted to the rank of army general on January 24.

For his part, Aleksanian was the chief of an Armenian army department tasked with monitoring and maintaining military morale. He was appointed to that post in November.

Pashinian promised major “personnel-related decisions” after meeting with Armenia's top military brass and law enforcement officials on February 17 to discuss the issue of soldiers dying in cases not related to combat.

The Armenian military has reported 13 such deaths since the beginning of this year. Eight of these soldiers have died in accidents and other circumstances not related to their military service.

The five other fatalities are believed to have been either related to suicide or shootings by other servicemen in separate incidents investigated by law enforcement authorities.

The shootings have caused outrage in Armenia and cast a renewed spotlight on the chronic problem of hazing and other abuses in the army.

The chief of the army's General Staff, Lieutenant General Artak Davtian, on February 18 briefed lawmakers on ongoing efforts to root out the “criminal subculture” and strengthen discipline in the army ranks. Speaking after the meeting, he confirmed that “personnel changes” within the top army brass are imminent.

Davtian also said that a number of other officers have already been demoted or discharged from the military this month because of the noncombat fatalities. He expressed confidence that military investigators will identify those directly responsible for them.

The prime minister stressed on February 18 that the number of noncombat deaths among Armenian military personnel fell to a “historical low” in 2019.

“Our objective is to maintain this dynamic,” he wrote on Facebook.

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