Samvel Alaverdyan, a 38-year-old resident of the Malatia-Sebastia community of Yerevan, was killed during a shootout with Azerbaijani forces in Yeraskh on July 14.
The incident received international feedback. During a meeting with the acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on July 14, French Ambassador Jonathan Lacoste expressed condolences over the death of the Armenian soldier in Yeraskh and called the ceasefire violation inadmissible. Yesterday, Nikol Pashinyan touched upon the border incident before the government sitting, and NA Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan offered to observe a minute of silence in memory of the soldier who died as a result of the July 14 incident on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
The Armenian Ministry of Defense put all the responsibility for the incident on the Azerbaijani side. Azerbaijan, which suffered one loss and one wounded, blamed the Armenian side.
However, no official went to the house of the killed soldier, no one shook the hands of his family members. Only the friends of the victim, the representatives of the military commissariat, the district police officer went to offer condolences to the relatives.
Today Samvel Alaverdyan’s body was buried. Samvel’s teenage son, Hayk, refuses to accept his father’s death. He did not attend the funeral. At the time of our visit, he did not get off his bed at all.
Hayk was the first member of the family to read the condolence message of the Ministry of Defense on his father’s death: “Gagik Samvel Alaverdyan, born in 1983, a contract soldier of the N military unit of the RA Armed Forces, was fatally wounded by a provocation carried out by the Azerbaijani armed forces in the Yeraskh section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border on the morning of July 14. The Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Armenia shares the grief of the loss and expresses support to the family members, relatives and colleagues of the deceased serviceman.”
“Look what false things they write, they are not ashamed, how can such a thing happen?” the boy said to his mother and grandfather with a laugh. Samvel’s father, 61-year-old Gagik Alaverdyan, refused to believe in his son’s death. July 14 was his birthday, when in the morning his son, 38-year-old Samvel Alaverdyan, a contract soldier, called his father and congratulated him on his birthday in a typical low voice, wishing him good health. How could he have died in the morning if he had called his father? Then they found out that there was a mistake in the message of the Ministry of Defense. Samvel died not in the morning, but between 11 am and noon.
“He congratulated. This was his gift. A battle went on, he fell in the fight,” says Gagik Alaverdyan. His wife, Astghik, is devastated by grief. They have no more children. “We had two children. My daughter was sick; she died young. And now, we are burying my son. Who will endure?” Samvel received a severe gunshot wound in the shoulder. “There was no shoulder for them to bring. He was not taken to the hospital, he died of hemorrhage,” said the father.
The family lives in terrible conditions. The walls of the house are black, murky. The doors are broken. The concrete floor is bumpy, covered with tattered artificial carpet. The only bright spot is Samvel’s children, Hayko and Suzy. Hayko, not believing that his father is dead, Susie with a bright look and bitter coffee, which she hurriedly prepares for the guests.
Samvel Alaverdyan was buried in debts. The relatives say that he has to go to contract service. “It was a year and a half ago, he had loans to banks.” He had to go and serve to bring a few pennies to repay the loans,” says Samvel’s nephew, Arayik. He is with Samvel’s widow and sister at this difficult time. “Find a job for Hasmik. Hasmik does random things, she works as a maid. I will help, of course, but it is not enough. How should she raise the children?”
What Samvel Alaverdyan brought home was really “pennies”. 30% of the contract soldier’s 180,000 AMD salary was automatically transferred from his bank account to repay the debt every month. He supported his wife and two school children with 120 thousand AMD, helped his mother and father.
Now Gagik Alaverdyan is heartsick. Seeing us, he whispers one thing only, repeats constantly: “Help my son’s family! I am a sick person, I have had heart attacks several times; I do not know what to do. Help! How should we take care of the children?”
Photos by Ani Gevorgyan