Servicemen of the Nagorno-Karabakh Army. Photo by Alvard Grigoryan for the Caucasian Knot

16 August 2019, 13:57

Gazaryan's desertion to Azerbaijan raises questions to Karabakh officers

There were no soldiers' complaints about discipline in the military unit, where Araik Gazaryan had served; however, the officers of the Defence Army of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) are indirectly responsible for the fact that their soldier occurred on the side of Azerbaijan, the rights defenders interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" believe.

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on August 12, the press service of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) reported that Araik Gazaryan, a soldier of the NKR's Defence Army, deserted to the side of Azerbaijan. The soldier said that he fled because of the lawlessness in his military unit, the Azerbaijani MoD has asserted, claiming that he "was subjected to physical and moral pressure by his commanders, as evidenced by haematomas on his head and injuries on his body."

On August 14, the Investigating Committee of Armenia announced that Araik Gazaryan had got no bodily injuries before he crossed the border with Azerbaijan. The NKR's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has called Gazaryan to be a prisoner of war and said that it would seek his return to his homeland.

Margarita Khachatryan, the chair of the NGO named "Zinvor" (Soldier), who periodically visits military units of Armenia and NKR, has assured that the military unit, where Araik Gazaryan had served was "quite exemplary."

Ms Khachatryan has urged not to treat the soldier as a deserter yet, but to wait until the completion of the inquiry into the case.

"I've spent so many years in these military units, day and night, and I don't know such a case in this military unit. This is a disciplined unit. All assumptions remain just assumptions, and they should not be taken as dogma. Only Araik can tell what has really happened," Ms Khachatryan has stated.

Arthur Sakunts, a rights defender and the head of the Vanadzor Office of the Helsinki Civil Assembly, believes that a full investigation should be conducted of Araik Gazaryan's crossing the border with Azerbaijan in order to clarify all the circumstances.

Moreover, in his opinion, no matter what the outcome of the investigation would be, "the command of the military unit is responsible for the fate of their soldier."

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on August 16, 2019 at 10:57 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

Author: Armine Martirosyan; Source: CK correspondent

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