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Armenia Defense Minister Tells Mothers of Slain Soldiers ‘What Can I Do?’

Parents of young men killed while serving in Armenia’s armed forces were once again protesting outside the government building in the capital today. They were waiting outside the main entrance in order to speak with RA defense minister Seyran Ohanyan. Learning that Ohanyan is leaving the building from another exit, they, as well as media representatives, rushed to that entrance; however, as told by the Epress.am reporter on the scene, Ohanyan’s bodyguards prohibited reporters from approaching the minister and attempted to obstruct their work — in particular, by not permitting members of the media to audio-record or film the minister who was speaking with the mother of slain soldier Arayik Avetisyan.

The defense minister’s bodyguards advised reporters to send their questions to the ministry’s press secretary.

After speaking with the minister, Anahit Mkrtchyan, mother of Arayik Avetisyan who was killed in 2001, summarized their conversation.

“He said so many years have passed, what can I do? And I said, establish law and order in the army, catch those commanders, replace them — are they irreplaceable? I asked the minister to bring the army to order. He says the army is in a very good state. I am going to go with reporters to the [government] reception [desk]; he wrote my name and said, ‘I’ll call you to receive you.” I am going to keep all of you informed. Give me cognizance, see how I’m going to reveal the crimes in the army. During the time my son [served in the army], they came for vacation [i.e. back home] for [a bribe of] $100; now it’s much more. The children aren’t speaking; they’re afraid — it’s a total fear in the entire country,” she said.

Mkrtchyan described how her son was killed in the presence of 4 individuals in the chief of staff’s office, but she has yet to get some answers. “My son had gone from his vacation; they said he had to take $100 and 2 liters of vodka. He went without the $100. I have a testimony from an eyewitness; I acquired it; then they made it be known that he should go from Armenia, go to Russia. That boy was clearly saying, the battalion commander came, said ‘why didn’t you bring the full amount?’ That meant that my son had taken half the amount, I sent 15,000 drams, but till today there’s nothing about this 15,000 drams clarified through investigation. What happened to that money?”

According to her, she found out that the battalion commander possessed an unregistered firearm and her son was killed with that gun.

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