Armenian General Defends Army Abuse Leak

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian’s chief military adviser effectively defended on Thursday individuals who filmed and publicized abusive treatment of two soldiers by their commander, which has caused public outrage in Armenia.

The official, Colonel-General Mikael Harutiunian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the scandal could actually help the Armenian military combat chronic hazing and other abuses within its ranks.

The amateur video posted on Youtube earlier this month shows a uniform-clad man hitting and humiliating the conscripts during what looks like a picnic. The Armenian Defense Ministry subsequently identified him as Major Sasun Grigorian. Grigorian was last week arrested and charged with abuse of power, a crime punishable by between two and five years in prison.

The ministry initially questioned the veracity of the footage and said those who posted it on the Internet are keen to “discredit” the Armed Forces. A ministry statement issued on Wednesday said that military investigators are currently interrogating another serviceman who shot it on a mobile phone camera in the presence of his father and brother.

“Of course, it would be better if they immediately reported the incident to their commanders so that they could take action,” said Harutiunian. “But I see nothing wrong in the spread of that video. Maybe that will help the army command do a better job.”

Harutiunian, who previously served as defense minister and chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff, denounced the violent scene as “unacceptable.” “Such officers have no place in the army,” he said, expressing confidence that the army will be “cleansed” of them in the near future.

The head of the Defense Ministry’s Investigative Service conducting the inquiry would not say on Thursday whether the investigators want to prosecute the video shooter as well as the still unknown persons who publicized the embarrassing footage. Armen Harutiunian (no relation) said only that the inquiry will be “complete and comprehensive.”

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6 Comments

  1. Ara Manoogian said:

    I’m glad to see that the President’s office has chimed in and in the good way. Thank you General Harutiunian, I’ve always known you as a decent and fair person.

  2. harry milian said:

    If we want to be and need to be better than those we criticize, then we are compelled to do the right thing and act better.

  3. Arman said:

    “Of course, it would be better if they immediately reported the incident to their commanders so that they could take action,”

    The thing is Mr. General that the public doesn’t have any trust in government and are tired to fight with the bureaucratic and oligarchic representatives. I think posting this kind of material on internet says that the people do not take the country seriously since their hopes died some time ago. It is one of these situations when a very tired person is ready to lose his life and starts laughing.

    Mr. General if you care about this than you could start a website where people could submit unanimous abuse video shots. This is not a racket science Mr. General.

  4. Satenik said:

    Justice prevailed this time. There are very few incidents that a direct report to the commanders or superiors takes you very far, not only in Armenia but almost anywhere in the world, otherwise slightest digressions or abuse of power would be sorted out there and there but we know that , this is not always possible hence thw wistleblowers in so called free and democratic countries in the core of Europe, wether by “leaking” news to the newspaper or video leaks….so Armenia is not the only country but I’m very glad that General Harutuinian defends that leak.

  5. Ara Manoogian said:

    RETRACTION

    Though I am glad to see the president’s office chime in, I was mixing up General Harutiunian with someone else.

    The only thing I know if General Harutiunian is that he was the Minister of Defense who signed the order to ready the army on Feb. 23, 2008, to stand up against the people protesting the elections, which ended in the death of 10 people on March 1-2 of 2008. So to say that I know him to be a fair person is not accurate. I stand corrected.

  6. eddy said:

    The best would be if the ruling regime/elect and so called opposition (inside parliament and around “mathendaran” Levon´s ANC ) start talking responsibility for the country and the security and live of every single citizen, instead regarding the country as their own property! We should not forget and ignore the sad reality that Armenian has a population of 3 Mil, but more than 250 citizens/people have lost there lives in car accidents alone from beginning of this year!!!

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