Robert Karapetyan has been missing for three months. His remains, identified by a DNA test, were buried 3 months after his death. His mother, Nara, never saw her son’s face. She envies the mothers who were fortunate enough to see their dead children’s faces before burying them.
The day of his death was estimated approximately by his parents. During the funeral, the priest was confused when the victim’s father asked him about the Seventh- and Fortieth-days commemorations dates. How should you observe the church rite, calculate the seventh and fortieth days, if the day of death is not known? “You go and commemorate, but there are no special dates,” the priest said.
“We assume, since we had no information about him since October 6, we will commemorate the One-year of his passing approximately on October 10,” Nara explains.
Robert’s parents last spoke to him on October 6; he was in Hadrut at that time. He was happy, he promised to call again. The parents waited. Their lives seem to have stopped on that date, October 6, 2020. They are mentally stuck on that day.
Three days earlier, Robert’s father, a reservist colonel who had also gone to war, had found him in a bunker in Hadrut. He spent a whole day with him. Then he returned to Armavir, bought some things to take to his son, went to Artsakh, but did not find him. The area of Hadrut where Robert was, was already in the hands of the enemy.
18-year-old conscript Robert Karapetyan was in the army for only one and a half months when he was taken to the front line. He had just come out of quarantine. “He didn’t even know how to put a bullet into the gun; how could he defend himself? I always ask my husband that question: could he have defended himself, or was he just shot and killed?” says Naira Yeghiazaryan.
Reconstructing, reliving those tragic memories again and again, Nara believes that the most painful thing is the attitude of the state, the medal for military service, which was thrown onto their face at night by a taxi driver.
Nara’s niece, Hasmik Martirosyan, wrote that the medal of the killed soldier was brought to the parents by a taxi driver and handed to his father on the roadside at night. The news spread, the internet exploded, a lot of commotion took place.
The Ministry of Defense responded to the sensational information on April 19 with its long-standing habit of spreading denials.
The Ministry of Defense reported: “The medal was handed over to the family not by a taxi driver, but by Lieutenant Edgar Apresyan, who was the commander of the platoon supporting the unit, whose staff member was Robert Karapetyan during the military operations.”
According to the report, Lieutenant Apresyan wanted to hand over the medal to the relatives of the killed soldier under their own roof, but after receiving the parents’ refusal, he handed the medal to his father near the tombstone of the killed soldier. The Ministry of Defense called on the media and social media users “not to exploit topics that are extremely sensitive for the people, to refrain from publishing unverified information.”
This response infuriated the family of the dead boy.
“There was no offer to hand over the medal to us under our roof. The denial is made-up, the Ministry of Defense is lying,” – says Robert’s mother, Nara Yeghiazaryan. “Why should we not tell the truth, what would be the meaning of it? If an officer passed it on, why doesn’t the officer himself come out and say that the parent is lying? He called my daughter in the evening, asked for Robert’s father’s phone number, then said that he would be at the Armavir bridge in fifteen minutes. My husband went there, he went with several people, so there are witnesses. The taxi driver took out a gift bag with the words “Republic of Artsakh” written on it. He was dressed in civilian clothes. When he called, my daughter asked him to introduce himself, but he did not do it. A question arises: an officer comes at night, without an ID, and hands out a medal: Why? Is this how they do things? This is an evaluation. There can be nothing more painful than that. I told my husband, ‘Why did you take it? You had to through it on his face.’ He answered, ‘But what was the taxi driver guilty of?’ The driver said ‘They gave it to me, they said take it [to this address]’. I am not consoled by that medal; I have lost the most precious thing in my life, but at least, after all this, isn’t it possible to have some respect for our children? After all, they paid with their lives… I took it terribly hard. My husband too. He tore the medal box out of anger. “
To the question of Forrights.am why, in her opinion, the Ministry of Defense spreads false news, the mourning woman answered. “Why are you surprised? They lied all 44 days [during the entire duration of the war]: is this something new for you?”