On January 25, Armenian conscript Shavarsh Galstyan was found dead at the combat position of one of Defense Ministry’s military units with a gunshot wound to the jaw and presumed by officials to have committed suicide. The soldier’s relatives, however, are convinced that he was killed.
Speaking to Armtimes.com, Galstyan’s grandmother said she had spoken to her grandson three days prior to the incident, who told her that he was being transferred to another position. The soldier, however, did not explain why, saying only that it was a “complicated story” and he could not talk about it over the phone.
Galstyan’s aunt also does not believe that the soldier could have committed suicide. She is convinced that the weapon was put in his hands after he had been killed; “It is clear to us that this was not a suicide. The inside of the kid’s hands are bruised: they had been tied. It’s evident that he was tortured, beaten, and only then was the weapon put in his hands. His face is completely swollen… He was my sister’s only child; how can she live after this? How could they do such a thing? I demand fair investigation; please ensure that those who are guilty are punished,” the aunt told Armtimes.com.
According to the relatives, after his father’s death 5 years ago, Shavarsh and his mother moved back to Armenia from Russia. “He came to supposedly live in his native land, to serve here. He had only 3 months of service left, and look what they did to him. He knew well that his mother would be left alone, how could he have committed suicide, even if he had been driven to it? He would have never resorted to this, he would have found a way out. I do not know how, but I am sure he was killed,” the aunt said.
During one of their visits to the unit, she added, they had noticed Shavarsh was being kept in very poor conditions; “His boots were completely broken down; his feet were covered in bruises; his shirt was torn… Is that a way to treat a soldier? I just want Serzh [Sargsyan] to know that the curses of all these soldiers’ parents will reach him; let him not think that he will get away with this. They claim [our soldiers] die from enemy bullets, but 50 percent of the soldiers are killed by their own bullets.”