In the village of Proshyan, near the entrance to the big house of the Azatyans, the family lineage tree is displayed. The root is written in capital letters, AZAT (a masculine name, which translates as FREE). On the names of several men following Azat are black crosses: these are the names of family members who have been killed by Turks. A black cross appeared on the very last branch of the family tree named after Aristakes Eduard Azatyan on November 6.

On that day, November 6, a soldier who was killed in Askeran military unit in Artsakh was eighteen years old, a grandson of a Sassun descendent, patriot, and family man. He was a first-year student at the Polytechnic University. He was drafted to the army through Minister Vigen Sargsyan’s novelty, within the framework of the “I am” program and had to serve for three years.

On the day of the boy’s death, the Artsakh Defense Army reported that the soldier got gunshot wounds in unclear circumstances at 8:20 PM. Only a few hours after the statement of the Defense Army, the Investigative Committee reported that a criminal case was initiated under Article 110, Part 1 of the Criminal Code, for “inflicting suicide or attempted suicide by indirect or indifferent intent or negligence through threat, cruel treatment and regular humiliation of personal dignity.”

According to this report, the young man was hit by a deadly gunshot in his lower jaw, near the iron bridge about 70 meters from the control point of the military unit, with a AK-74 rifle attached to him. The family received information from the military unit that private Azatyan was killed in the military unit while standing in the line, and with soldiers all around him.

Investigatory agencies usually assure that the suicide article may change in the future. In practice, however, the preliminary investigation body does not discuss other versions and everything is done to substantiate the suicides of soldiers.

The Azatians deny suicide hypothesis reliantly. “Such a thing is excluded,” they insist. “He always considered suicidal persons week people, he had no problems, no psychic, no financial, always was content with the army, always said that everything was fine, always was in good mood,” tells the victim’s father, Eduard Azatyan. He and others are patiently waiting for the state authorities, hopeful that after the revolution a justice era is established in Armenia and the corresponding bodies will definitely find their son’s murderer.

The military commissar informed about the incident on the same day it occurred. “He told us that he had received a call from the military unit saying that Aristakes had been killed in the unit: they have no weapon there, nothing, how did he shot himself?” wonders Aristakes Azatyan, the soldier’s grandfather.

He was present at the autopsy. He tells that there were traces of bullet on his grandson’s throat and head. He noticed an injury in the palm of his hand and scratches on his left hand wrist. “The skin was cut straightly, it was a fresh wound on his hand. I asked the investigator, where was his watch, he had a watch, which was donated by the military commissar. He said, well, there isn’t. And I said nothing,” says grandfather Aristakes.

It is not ruled out that before his death the soldier was in fight, and the traces of the struggle remained on his hands.

“From the very beginning I was told that he had remained backwards, there was no one beside him when a shot was heard,” tells the victim’s father, Eduard Azatyan. “The commander of the platoon told me differently; he said that he [the son] was not remain at the end of the line, and there were people beside and after him. Shots have been heard, and he, the commander, who was about fifty meters away, approached and saw that the boy was on the ground, there were bullets next to him and the boys were screaming ‘water, water’.”

The parents were told that the soldier had two weapons and he had killed himself from his own weapon, but they did not explain how is it that soldiers walk with charged weapons in the military unit.

Yesterday, grandfather Aristakes went to the Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan; he assures that he has a kinship relationship with him. He managed to talk to the minister only on the phone. Aristakes was told that the investigation was under way, they promised that everything would be clarified. Why does David Tonoyan speak of the investigation if the soldiers were given to him, not to the investigators? Why the soldiers have loaded weapons in their hands in the military unit?

Why no commander has committed suicide, but only the soldiers do so far? Why the atmosphere in the Armenian army does not change in the past half a year after the revolution; after all, what is done to eliminate the suicides and murders in the military units? These are questions that have to be answered not by the investigators and prosecutors but by the defense ministers of Armenia and Artsakh, but they never do so.

Syuzan Simonyan

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