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Armenia’s Defense Minister Busy Raising Funds Instead of Resolving Army Issues

Instead of taking care of and resolving the numerous issues of the Armenian army, the country’s Minister of Defense is busy setting up crowdfunding campaigns, human rights defender Zaruhi Hovhannisyan argued during a press conference in Yerevan on Wednesday, commenting on Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan’s recent Facebook initiative to collect money for the treatment of former soldier Albert Dallakyan.

“High-ranking officers being prone to handling their weapons unsafely indicates deep and serious problems in the army,” she said. Recall, according to official information, Albert Dallakyan received a gunshot to the head on June 24, 2016, at the combat position of a military units in Hadrut as a result of a violation of the rules for safe weapons handling by Lieutenant Avag Nahapetyan. The investigation into the incident is still ongoing.

“The Defense Minister basically gives up his actual and proper obligations and makes fundraising his mission instead,” Arthur Sakunts, the head of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly Vanadzor office, stated for his part. “Wouldn’t it be really strange if the Minister of Agriculture took to his personal Facebook page and urged users to help out the locals of hailed villages, or if the Minister of Health tried to raise funds through Facebook to buy medical supplies for a certain village?” It is the state’s obligation, Sakunts went on, to ensure the soldiers’ safety and, if necessary, to treat their health problems.

According to the human rights defender, the Minister of Defense has all the necessary legal tools to take care of these issues: policy development, legislative field reforms, financial adjustments. “Instead, the minister decides the resolve the issue through crowdfunding, which means that he either admits the state levers are inefficient or refuses to implement them in solving this problem. If they are ineffective, then it is due to his own fault. What can be done to make these mechanisms effective? For example, if he talks about a shortage of budget funds, then there is a problem with the replenishment of the budget,” Sakunts argued, adding that anyone but a minister could initiate a crowdfunding campaign.