According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia, 13 deaths of servicemen were registered in the army from January 1 to February 17, 2020, four of which were due to accidents, five cases were related to crimes and criminal cases have been initiated in connection with them, and four were resulted from circumstances unrelated to military service, such as illness or personal problems. Recently, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan repeated these same numbers on public television. However, these statistics do not inspire trust. It may turn out that deaths attributed to health problems had actually other causes

On January 1, serviceman Artyom Ghazayan, born in 2000, died in Martakert hospital. He served in the same hospital. On January 1, the Artsakh Ministry of Defense announced that Artyom’s death had occurred on the same day at around 11:30 “due to illness.”

However, the family has reasons not to believe that the cause of the boy’s death was illness. His mother, Yesenia Ghazaryan, assures that his son has served for more than a year and has never had any complaints about his health.

“On December 22, he came on leave and returned on the 27th. He had no complaints whatsoever. On the night of the 31st, right at midnight, my son called, talked to us, to his sisters, and all was well. He had no [health] complaints, he just had flat feet and a crooked spine.”

 She tells that after receiving the news of his son’s death, she fainted. “Then, I don’t remember anything.” She was taken to a psychiatric hospital, but does not remember what happened to her there. The woman spent three days in the psychiatric hospital.

“I opened my eyes and felt strong pain; I wanted to move but noticed that my hands and feet were tied. They were hurting, so I asked them to untie me. I asked why they brought me there. They said you were not well. All I know is that on the second day they gave me pills to put me to sleep. I remained there three days. My daughter came on the fourth day and took me home,” Yesenia recalls the events of those terrible days in a conversation with

In fact, she did not attend her son’s funeral, she was absent, could not say her last goodbye to him; this causes great pain and suffering to the mother.

Artyom Ghazaryan, a resident of Alashkert village, Armavir region, was drafted in July 2018. Because of his flat feet and spinal problems, he was recognized fit for limited military service.

Investigators of the Third Garrison Division of the Military Investigation Department found out that Corporal Artyom Ghazaryan, being inside the building of the checkpoint, fainted and fell down, then was admitted to the resuscitation department of the same military unit where, an hour later, his heart attack and death were reported.

A criminal case has been filed under the following articles of the Criminal Code: Article 315, Part, official negligence, which caused the death of a person by negligence, and Article 376, Part 2, negligent attitude towards the service, which negligently caused serious consequences.

About two months have passed, but so far there is no forensic report.

Artyom Ghazaryan’s father, Arthur Mkhitaryan, noticed that there were huge bruises on his son’s back, which seemed suspicious to him. “His body was bruised — most of his back up to his legs,” he says.

When he asked why his son’s body was bruised, the forensic doctor answered that they had drove him on the road for several hours, maybe that was the reason. This explanation does not seem credible to Arthur Mkhitaryan.

Photos and video by Ani Gevorgyan

Syuzan Simonyan

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