Major Sasun Galstyan’s unruly behavior and violence against two subordinates sparked a public outcry in September, when he was shown apparently drunk harassing sergeant Garik Harutyunyan and private Bakur Yeghikyan, prompting the Armenian military to order an inquiry..
The Defense Ministry initially questioned its veracity and said those who posted it on the Internet are keen to “discredit” the Armed Forces. But it subsequently announced that military investigators have tracked down the officer and soldiers shown in the clip.
The ministry said the video was shot in July on a mobile phone belonging to another serviceman, in the presence of his father and brother. All three men were also questioned by investigators.
A court in the southeastern Armenian town of Kapan found Galstian guilty of abuse of power, a crime punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment. The defendant, who was the deputy commander of an army unit deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh, pleaded guilty to the accusation during the pre-trial investigation.
The embarrassing video surfaced after the Armenian military was rocked by a series of non-combat shootings in late July and August that left seven soldiers dead. More such incidents have occurred since then despite top military officials’ pledges to tackle chronic abuse and corruption in the army ranks. Dozens of servicemen have been arrested, fired or demoted in recent months.