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Heroized Armenian Colonel Would Beat Soldiers with ‘Particular Cruelty’

Ararat Melkumyan, a Colonel of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army, has been awarded the Order of Battle Cross of the first degree “for organizing a high-level defense of the north-eastern and southern regions of NKR, repelling Azerbaijani attacks and defeating the enemy.”

At the start of the “Four Day War,” division deputy commander Melkumyan was wounded in the leg, and this is how the editor of “168 Zham” [ARM], who visited the serviceman at the Jabrail military hospital, describes the man: “… [The hospital staff] could barely keep Colonel Mlkumyan in the hospital. He neither wanted to take any medication, nor did he wish to lie down or have his wound bandaged.

“… The Colonel is an incredibly modest and reticent man. Prior [to our meeting], his comrades in arms had told me about his exploits, his resilience, his military preparedness and heroic acts. The Colonel spoke only briefly about the several heights captured by Azerbaijanis, stating that those did not even have any strategic importance to us, and he was bemused that in Armenia their capture had caused such a stir. […] The servicemen we talked to noted that the use of [heavy] equipment by the enemy was unexpected, especially since they did not expect such large-scale hostilities. Therefore, it was better to lose those unimportant strongholds and heights than to take them back at the expense of human lives. [What’s more important], the heights or the lives of our soldiers? They chose human lives. This is what sets us apart from the enemy for which human life has no value at all.

“Colonel Melkumyan, who had to remain under medical supervision for several days, quickly put on his military boots and tried to run out of the room… The nurse tried to convince him to at least lie on a drip. ‘I’m not hurt, I can’t lie down,’ he replied, putting on his uniform. Nothing could stop him: limping, he hurried back to combat positions, to his soldiers…

“His comrades told me he had resisted medical treatment from the very first day of getting injured; he would not even allow doctors to treat the wound: ‘My limping leg gives strength to the soldiers. When a soldier sees me with an injured leg by his side, he won’t be afraid of anything; what’s a tank to frighten our soldier,’ he said and went back to the positions during hot battles.”

Conscripts formerly under his command, however, remember Melkumyan as being an entirely different man. The following is what one of these former soldiers told Epress.am: “In my years of service, [Melkumyan] was commanding officer. He had a nickname – Fringe. He was not just strict towards soldiers; he was particularly cruel to them. He was mentally unstable, always using foul language. Right in front of my eyes he’d make soldier lie down, would take off their belts and hit them forcefully on their heads with the buckle. Once, the guys from Stepanakert even took him out of his car, beat him senseless, tore of his shoulder straps and spit on him. When he got transferred, the entire unit breathed a sigh of relief. People would say, ‘If there’s ever war, we’ll shoot him first.’”