WPS Agency, Russia
December 29, 2011 Thursday

LOADING MISSILES BY THE TON

by Svetlana Gamova
Source: Nezavisimaya Gazeta, No 286, December 29, 2011, p. 1
[translated from Russian]

CLANDESTINE ARMS EXPORT TO ARMENIA TRIGGERED A SCANDAL IN MOLDOVA;
Moldova is selling sophisticated weapons to Armenia, much to the
displeasure of Azerbaijan and indignation of its own legislature.

The arms deal with Armenia was a deep dark secret so that even the
Moldovan parliament knew nothing about it. When a leak exposed the
deal in September, the parliament hit the roof and demanded
explanations from the government. Legislators said that they wanted to
know why the Defense Ministry was selling arms to a conflict area. The
deal was put on hold. Security Council Secretary Yuri Rikichinsky
tried to reanimate it the other day and immediately found himself
under an attack launched by lawmakers.

Rikichinsky was invited to the parliament this Tuesday and asked to
explain his letter to acting president Marian Lupu, one where he had
requested assistance with completion of the deal with Armenia. The
matter concerned missile launchers and rockets (20 tons in all) from
the arsenals of the regular army the Armenians were expecting.

The first shipment (40 tons) was dispatched to Armenia in September.
It fomented a scandal in Kishinev itself and other CIS capitals.
Latvia, a non-CIS country, was the first to respond to Kishinev's lame
excuses that the deal had involved a Latvian intermediary. Latvia
vehemently denounced the assumption and denied its involvement.
Official Baku (Azerbaijani Foreign Minister and President Ilham Aliyev
himself) followed with protests and demands for an explanation.
Moldovan Premier Vladimir Filat had to explain the matter to Aliyev
personally. Nothing is known about what he told the Azerbaijani
president, but Moldovan Army Commander and Chief of the General Staff
Brigadier General Yuri Dominik was thrown to the wolves. He retired,
in other words, but not before he announced that the merchandise had
been sold to the Armenians on the orders from his political masters.
Needless to say, political masters denied everything.

At first, the Moldovan Defense Ministry announced that it was only
selling the Armenians outmoded systems. As it turned out, however, and
the news did nothing to soften the parliament's reaction, the Defense
Ministry was lying through the teeth. According to Omega news agency,
"... the shipment included expensive weapons and systems like 9V862
and 9V863 Kobra missile test complexes, 9V871-3 ones for Konkurs-M
anti-tank missiles... not to mentioned Fagot, Konkurs, Shturm-S, and
Metis missiles by the thousand." Market price of these weapons alone
exceeded $5 million. Moldovan Defense Minister Vitaly Marinutsa in the
meantime told the parliament that only $3.25 million had been received
for the whole lot. The parliament immediately formed a special
investigative panel. The deal was put on hold.

Experts say that the clandestine deal fomented an outcry in the
parliament because it had been kept secret from it... and from
Azerbaijan. Moreover, experts believe that Kishinev went about it in a
thoroughly slipshod manner and did not even take measures to ensure a
proper cover, hence the scandal with Latvia.

Rikichinsky tried to reanimate the deal the other day and thus stoked
the fire of the parliamentary indignation.

WPS'2011