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HootNews: Armenian army has 70,000 servicemen – agency

Yerevan, 4 November: The Armenian army currently has around 70,000 servicemen, says a report by Gagik Avakyan, the representative of the organization for cooperation and democracy. The report was circulated at the seminar on “Proliferation of light and small arms in Armenia and Nagornyy Karabakh, problems of security and humanitarian consequences”.

The report notes that the Armenian armed forces have been formed in full compliance with norms and rules of the Soviet Army. All weapons of the Armenian army, including light and small arms, are of Soviet (Russian) models. What is more, the army is equipped with this weaponry to the same extent as stipulated by the military regulations of the Soviet Army, but with an adjustment for a permanent threat of resumed military actions. The report notes that in the opinion of experts, in the event of a military threat Armenia can almost double the numbers of its army personnel during the first stage, and increase it to 180,000-190,000 during the second stage. In connection with the fact that the overwhelming majority of those mobilized will reinforce, first of all, motorized infantry units, experts believe that light and small weapons have been additionally stored at the Armenian Defence Ministry’s depots for 150,000 people.

The official budget to keep the army does not reflect the actual state of affairs at all. Up to 40 per cent of the country’s budget are actually spent for these purposes, according to some data.

Structures set up under the aegis of the Defence Ministry have a virtual monopoly over a number of spheres which are quite profitable in Armenia, such as trade in oil products and tobacco products. A certain part of revenues from them is then deducted for the needs of the army. Out of this so-called “black cash register”, payment for some batches of weapons is also made, and budgetary articles of expenditures do not reflect this at all, the report notes.

Source: Arminfo, Yerevan, in Russian 1315 gmt 4 Nov 02

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