Manvel Grigoryan was dismissed as deputy defense minister and forced to retire from the Armenian military by outgoing President Robert Kocharyan on April 2, 2008. The sacking came just over two weeks after Serzh Sarkisyan said that the general “tried to get into politics and disobey the commander-in-chief” in the wake of the February 19 presidential election.
The Generals of Echmiadzin
Echmiadzin and surrounding villages have long been considered a de facto fiefdom of Grigorian and another top army general, Seyran Saroyan. The two former truck drivers rose to prominence during the war 1991-1994 for Nagorno-Karabakh, first as militia leaders and then as commanders of regular army units. They both have extensive business interests in the Echmiadzin area and other parts of Armenia.
The burly generals are thought to have been instrumental in President Robert Kocharyan’s victory in a bitter power struggle with government factions that suspected him of masterminding the October 1999 terrorist attack on the Armenian parliament. They were promoted by Kocharian in early 2000 and have since solidified their positions. Both men live in luxury houses in Echmiadzin and usually ride in motorcades made up of expensive SUVs with virtually identical and easy-to-remember license plates.