On April 9, the deputy chairman of the Republican Party Armen Ashotyan referred to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s statement that some Armenian airlines were involved in the transfer of weapons to different countries. Pashinyan made this statement during his Facebook press conference on April 6.
In response to that statement Armen Ashotyan said: “Out of nowhere Nikol sacrificed Armenia’s position in the overall propaganda, media and political field just to throw dirt at the former authorities.”
Ashotyan considers Pashinyan’s statement “treacherous” and quotes facts about the Azerbaijani Silk Way airline, claiming that the Azeri airline, according to international reports, was involved in the transportation of illegal weapons.
In fact, both the expert circles and the international organizations have published facts that really prove that some Armenian airlines are involved in the process of weapons transfer.
In 2013, the UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts released Report N 1973 in which Armenia’s name was mentioned in connection with the process of delivering weapons to war-torn Libya. According to the report, on September 10, 11, and 12, 2011, despite the embargo, ammunition was transported from the Albanian capital Tirana to the Libyan city of Benghazi by an Armenian air carrier.
According to an investigation by UN experts, MEICO, a company under the Ministry of Defense of Albania, applied to DG Arms Corporation, a company registered in Armenia, expressing readiness to buy surplus weapons, which were to be transferred to the United Arab Emirates. MEICO preferred to make the deal not with an independent agency, but with a company with state involvement. The Ukrainian company Ukrinmash joined the process, and the Armenian DG Arms Corporation involved the Armenian air carrier “Hayk Avia”. According to the report, 2 million bullets and 1000 AK-74 rifles were transported to Benghazi and not to the UAE by “Hayk Avia” IL76 TD plane. The UN Panel of Experts requested information from the Armenian authorities on this case and received answers. The same document states that “Hayk Avia” had previously violated the ban on the transportation of weapons to Sudan and Eritrea.
According to the electronic register of legal entities, the shareholder of the Armenian DG Arms Corporation involved in the purchase of weapons is David Galstyan, who is involved in ammunition business. He is also the person who through one of his offshore companies signed an agreement with “Kalashnikov” to organize a production of rifles in Armenia.
In February 2019, Hetq referred to a report by Conflict Armament Research, which reported that Armenian air carriers were actively involved in transporting cargo to Africa’s conflict zones. According to the publication, since 2013, supplies have been made by Armenian planes in South Sudan, transporting ammunition and manpower for the government forces of South Sudan. This was reported by UN experts. For example, in 2014-2015, an Armenian plane transported weapons and ammunition to Rubkona, and later the Armenian government informed the UN experts that the operator of the plane was Air Armenia, which is currently bankrupt. In 2015, another plane belonging to Skiva Air Armenian Airlines was found unloading weapons and ammunition in Rubkona. According to another part of the report by Conflict Armament Research, the AN-74 aircraft belonging to “Skiva Air” made regular flights to the village of Paloich and transported spare parts for the South Sudanese army. According to the investigation, the Armenian air carriers also appeared in Somalia and Darfur, again for transportation of weapons. Here the name of “Hayk Avia” is mentioned.
One of the documents published by Wikileaks also refers to the 2009 meetings of former US Ambassador to Armenia Marie Yovanovitch with Serzh Sargsyan and former director of the National Security Service Gorik Hakobyan, where the issue of weapons that got from Armenia to Iran was discussed. In a conversation with the ambassador, Sargsyan admitted that Armenia buys weapons from Bulgaria and did not deny that these weapons could have appeared in Iran or Iraq on the initiative of other people. According to the same Wikileaks document, Serzh Sargsyan had denied before that meeting that any weapons had been transported to Iran. The American side also reported that weapons had been found in the warehouses of “Hezbollah” in Iraq, which were of Bulgarian production and were among the ammunition sold to Armenia. Gorik Hakobyan assured the Americans that they would conduct an investigation to reveal the circumstances of the transportation of the weapons and would inform the Americans about the outcome.
Thus, Armen Ashotyan’s assertion that Nikol Pashinyan is making an “out of nowhere” statement about Armenian airlines’ involvement in the transportation of weapons does not correspond to the reality. In fact, there is sound evidence that some airlines have been involved in transportation of weapons.