Armen Arustamyan from Sarushen defended his birthplace until the last bullet. He refused to leave the position when his comrades were killed and he was left with only one person in the end.
One person survived from the position near Sarushen village of Askeran region, who was wounded and saved by somehow reaching the forest. He told details about Armen’s heroic fight to his brother Artur Arustamyan.
“That man said that only two of them were remained. Seeing how Armen was fighting he was ashamed and said, let’s go back. Armen emptied the Kalashnikov machine gun, emtied the two other machine guns, then fought with a hand pistol, and finally threw the grenade. Then he said that the Turks were approaching, and that’s when they shot him,” said his brother Artur Arustamyan in a conversation with Forrights.am.
Armen was 32 years old. He joined the Artsakh Defense Army in the last year. Before that, he lived in Russia. But, coming to Artsakh and seeing the situation, he decided to stay and fight.
“He came from Russia. He saw the situation in Artsakh, saw that everyone is serving [in the army] and said, ‘I am also entering the service for my homeland’. I said that it was not necessary, he replied: ‘As you serve, so will I’,” said Arthur, who last spoke with his brother on September 19, 15 minutes before the intense battles. He noted that his brother served so well that he was appointed the commander of the position in a short time.
“When the fight started, I called him, he told me to be careful; there are drones in the sky. We talked for a few minutes, then they [the Azeris] started shooting. He said, wait a minute, 20 Turks are coming towards me, I told him to shoot, he said, ‘I’m starting my PK’, and he hangs up. I called after 15 minutes, he was unavailable. I was crying, I said that I was feeling that my brother is no more; he hanged up the phone abruptly. I called everyone who was by his side, everyone was unavailable,” Artur recalls.
For two days, Arthur was unable to get in touch with his brother, who was in Sarushen’s position, and his mother, who lived in the village. Arthur started to look for Armen; he received information that his brother is in the area called Mingi. Although it was already being controled by the Azerbaijanis, Arthur decides to come forward to that place.
“I go to Mingi’s school, open the door and see that there are many people, children lying on the ground. Someone from our village is there and tells me that Armen is no more,” said Arthur, noting that his brother’s body was taken to Armenia and buried in Yerablur military cemetery.
Artur Arustamyan is also a soldier of the Artsakh Defense Army. September 19 was doubly difficult for him. At the same time, he fought against the enemy in the positions and tried to get information about his brother who was in another position and his mother who was left alone in the village.
“They called and said that the villagers were being slaughtered. I called my mother; she was unavailable. I was like crazy that day. My mom managed to contact me in the afternoon of September 20,” said Artur, noting that he was able to find fuel to transport his brother’s body with huge difficulty. Due to lack of fuel, he could not visit her birthplace Sarushen for the last time.
“There was no gas, how could I go? I got gas with great difficulty to get to Stepanakert,” he says and notes that he cannot get the order to leave Artsakh out of his mind. “They came and said, ‘Leave your weapons, go away, Karabakh has been given.’ I took the news very badly, but what could I do if our leaders had agreed?”
Arthur, like almost all Artsakh residents, is trying to get an answer to a question where to live with his family. He, his wife, minor child, mother and his wife’s mother are almost out of the house. They cannot rent an apartment because of the prices. The apartment rental support given by the state, 200 thousand drams, is not enough for a family of five to rent a house outside of Yerevan. Arthur says that his mother is forced to live in a relative’s house temporarily; he and his wife settled in a temporary house in Etchmiadzin. However, the owners of that house asked to leave in a few days, because their relatives are returning from abroad.
A few days ago, some people damaged Arthur’s car, broke the windows, and stole the license plates. He hoped that he would be able to drive a taxi before finding a regular job, but now he is deprived of that opportunity.
Narek Kirakosyan is a journalist, works on the principle of "a person is an absolute value".