Displeasures have arisen among the contract servicemen of the Armenian Armed Forces due to low salaries. Risking their lives on the Armenian-Azerbaijani line of contact, those who guard the shrinking borders of Armenia receive a monthly salary of about 200,000 drams [about $400].

In the conditions of deepening poverty and continuous inflation since the beginning of the year, the Armenian authorities have not taken visible steps to increase salaries of contract servicemen. The authorities ignore social conditions of the servicemen, but spare no effort to make their lives prosperous. This government has set records for distributing high bonuses to ministers, their deputies, secretaries and assistants. The steps to living luxurious lives neither start with seven-digit bonuses, nor end with buying BMWs worth 200,000 US dollars for the NA Speaker. In the mean time, however, the contract soldiers are able to secure their families with bread with great difficulty. Many just leave the military service.

Khachik Barseghyan, a contract soldier who contacted the editorial office of forrights.am, says that today a contract soldier does not receive enough salary to provide the minimum living conditions for his family.

“In the summers we work among snakes, scorpions, we fight with the ground and the hedgehog, and we get less than, for example, a patrolman or a bus driver. Our government needs to know about all this,” said the contract soldier of 13 years.

 Khachik, who lives in the village of Khndzorut in the Vayots Dzor region, presents the problem of all fellow-contract soldiers who, as he says, are standing at the border and thinking about loans, debts they have and a possibility of taking at least some bread home.

“Doesn’t the government know that contract soldiers live in poor social conditions, overwhelmed with debts and loans? We can not keep our families. We are not speaking about buying things for the house or making repairs: we are not able to solve the simplest social problems. We want our government to pay attention to our problems.

I have performed my obligations dutifully. I am grateful to my command staff for appreciating the work of me and my squad. This is the only reason why I am still a contract serviceman; otherwise I would have left the service sooner. Today we, as keepers of the borders and residents of the border village, live very badly. If they have us at least a salary of 350-400 thousand drams, what bus drivers get… How can they not pay us at least what drivers are paid?” says he and axpresses hope tht=at the government will solve this issue.

“Our government should not have allowed me, a contract soldier, to raise such an issue. Ordinary contractors receive a salary of 185,000 drams today, and do not receive any kind of bonus. Is there no budget to pay bonuses to the border guards, or only the ministries, the government and the deputies should receive bonuses? The border guard is modest, is smart… Today, the contract serviseman does a lot of work, keeps the border, digs trenches, but receives 185 thousand drams in the cold, fog, on the line of direct contact with the enemy. As a post superviser, I receive 240,000 drams. If you at the property declarations of the members of the government and the deputies, they show how much money and cars they have, whereas all we can show to our families is how many loans and pledged jewelry we have in the banks,” he says.

Narek Kirakosyan

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