Former Minister of Defense of the Republic of Armenia Davit Tonoyan

Investigators Withhold Details After Former Defense Minister’s Arrest

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) has refused to shed more light on corruption charges brought by it against former Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan, two generals and an arms dealer arrested in recent weeks.

Tonoyan and businessman Davit Galstyan were remanded in pre-trial custody on September 30 after being charged with fraud and embezzlement that cost the state almost 2.3 billion drams ($4.7 million). Both men reject the charges and asked Armenia’s Court of Appeals to set them free.

The two other suspects are a deputy chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff and the commander of its Air Force. The NSS claims that the generals abused their powers to arrange for personal gain a $ 4.7 million contract for the supply of outdated rockets to the armed forces.

The security service said last month that a private intermediary, presumably owned by Galstyan, delivered those rockets to Armenia in 2011 and that the Defense Ministry refused to buy them after discovering that they are unusable. It has yet to clarify just when the ministry changed its mind and decided to purchase the faulty ammunition.

Seyran Ohanyan, Armenia’s defense minister from 2008 to 2016, again insisted on Friday that the rockets were not accepted by the military during his tenure. Ohanyan, who is now a senior opposition lawmaker, said the rebuff forced their supplier to store them at a Defense Ministry arms depot.

“The supplier was obliged to obtain an [export] license and decide their fate over the next years,” he told a news conference. “But my guess is that the company failed to get the license because the rockets were faulty. You should ask them, not me, about that. “

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The NSS questioned Ohanyan as a witness in the case earlier this year. It refused on Friday, October 8, to clarify whether Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan will also be summoned for questioning.

Citing the secrecy of the ongoing probe, the NSS also declined to specify the date of the supply contract signed by the Defense Ministry or give other details.

Pashinyan appointed Tonoyan as defense minister days after coming to power in May 2018. Tonoyan was sacked in November 2020 less than two weeks after a Russian-brokered agreement stopped the Armenian-Azerbaijani war over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Some senior pro-Pashinyan parliamentarians blamed him for Armenia’s defeat in the six-week war. The prime minister faced angry opposition demonstrations at the time.

 

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