Russian law enforcement authorities have canceled an arrest warrant issued by Armenia for its former defense minister General Mikael Harutunyan who is wanted in Armenia on charges of breaching the country’s constitutional order during the March 1, 2008 post-election protest standoff that resulted in the deaths of eight civilians and two police officers.
In early July Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS) issued the arrest warrant for General Harutyunyan, who is charged with illegally using the armed forces against protesters in the wake of the contested 2008 presidential election.
“After studying the documents regarding Harutyunyan, accused of the March 1, 2008 events in Yerevan, a decision was made to cancel his search on the territory of the Russian Federation,” the Interfax news agency quoted a Russian law enforcement source.
The source explained that Harutyunyan is not at risk of being arrested in Russian, However, the source explained, if Harutyunyan were to be found another former Soviet republic, which is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, he may be arrested and extradited to Armenia.
The source also specified that the request for the arrest and extradition of the ex-defense minister reached Moscow some time ago. It was not sent by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Armenia, but came through the interstate search. The arrest warrant even specifies Harutyunyan’s residence address in Moscow.
Interfax has reported earlier that Harutyunyan’s extradition would be refused, because he has been a citizen of Russia since 2002.
Harutyunian has been charged along with former president Robert Kocharian and former deputy defense minister Yuri Khachaturov in engaging the Armenian Armed Forces during the 2008 unrest, which is a violation of Armenia’s constitution.
Kocharian was remanded into custody and release almost two weeks later when an appellate court overruled the decision of his remand made by a lower court. Khachaturov, who is currently the secretary-general of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization—the CSTO—was released on bail and allowed to return to Moscow to carry out his duties.