YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The chief of Armenia’s military police and another army general were dismissed on Wednesday following a spate of non-combat deaths of soldiers.
President Armen Sarkissian fired Major-General Artur Baghdasaryan and Major-General Aleksan Aleksanyan in separate decrees requested by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Baghdasaryan has headed the military police since May 2017. He was promoted to the rank of army general as recently as on January 24.
For his part, Aleksanyan was the chief of an Armenian army department tasked with monitoring and maintaining military morale. He had been appointed to that post last November.
Pashinyan promised major “personnel-related decisions” after meeting with Armenia’s top military and law-enforcement officials on Monday to discuss recent weeks’ increase in the number of soldiers dying in non-combat circumstances.
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 victims are believed to have committed suicide or been shot dead 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 ranks.
The chief of the army’s General Staff, Lieutenant-General Artak Davtyan, on Tuesday briefed lawmakers on ongoing efforts to root out the “criminal subculture” and strengthen discipline in the army ranks. Speaking after that meeting, he confirmed that “personnel changes” within the top army brass are imminent.
Davtyan also said that a number of other officers have already been demoted or discharged from the armed forces this month because of the non-combat fatalities. He expressed confidence that military investigators will identify those directly responsible for them.
Pashinyan stressed on Tuesday that the number of non-combat deaths among Armenian military personnel fell to a “historical low” last year. “Our objective is to maintain this dynamic,” he wrote on Facebook.