Chernomyrdin Denies Sanctioning of Illegal Arms Transfer

MOSCOW–Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin vehemently denied Tuesday that his government had sanctioned the illegal shipment of military arms to Armenia over a period of two years between 1994 and 1996.

Speaking to reporters at a hastily-called press conference in Moscow–Chernomyrdin stated that he nor any other government member had "passed any decisions and given any sanctions for supplies of military hardware and ammunition to Armenia," despite revelations in the spring of this year by Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin and then-CIS Minister Aman Tuleyev that arms had made an unapparent way to Armenia at some time during the armed conflict between Azerbaijan and the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Chernomyrdin went on to state that in March of this year–the Russian Prosecutor’s Office sent an inquiry to the Russian government submitting documen’s that indicated the government’s absolute compliance with a September 1993 Russian decree outlawing the shipment of military hardware–arms–equipment and ammunition to both Armenia and Azerbaijan until the regional conflict was resolved.

According to press reports–more than $1 billion in weaponry had been delivered to Armenia free of charge in the span of two years–while other reports claimed that cash paymen’s from Yerevan for the arms had been channeled into Russian election campaigning–and for that reason–the exchange was not deemed illegal–and no inquiry was ordered.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valery Serov met with Levon Ter-Petrosyan in Yerevan June 30 to discuss such matters as cooperation between the two nations in nuclear power technology–rail transport and banking–and reports from Armenia’state that nothing was said regarding the alleged illegal arms transports at that time.

Ter-Petrosyan has been invited to visit Moscow later on this year by Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

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