On January 19, 15 servicemen were died in a fire erupted in the military shelter located in the Azat village of Gegharkunik region. After the incident, heated discussions started on the Internet about both the details of the incident and the conditions of the shelter of the servicemen.
At the government session on the same day, Prime Minister Pashinyan explained since when that house served as a military shelter.
“Yes, it is clear that the shelter, has served as a military one since 2020, it is clear that the conditions there are not usual, but that does not mean that… it doesn’t matter, any shelter where people live and serve must comply with fire prevention rules,” the Prime Minister noted.
After the incident, the Investigative Committee initiated a criminal proceeding, an investigative group was formed, and according to the statement issued by the IC, a number of important circumstances regarding the incident were revealed.
“Particularly, according to the preliminary data received, the engineer-sapper company of the N military unit of the RA Ministry of Defense has been deployed in one of the houses of the Azat village of the Gegharkunik region since May 13, 2021,” the RA Investigative Committee said in a statement.
Later, in the evening of January 19, during an interview on Public TV, Ambassador with Special Assignments Edmon Marukyan also touched upon the conditions of the deployment of soldiers. Marukyan answered the question: why do soldiers live in such conditions?
“Obviously, we have the same questions, the same questions occurred to us as well, and since it is not my field of activity, I must say that after the attack, on September 13 [of 2022], when the military unit (the Sotk military unit, ed.), was blown up, the government ordered Italian modular barracks instead of the military unit, and the company that was supposed to supply it even offered to bring the modular military barracks used in Afghanistan, the government did not agree and demanded a new one. It ordered a completely new one, and as far as I know, it has already arrived in Armenia.”
Based on the formulations of Edmon Marukyan, it can be inferred that the soldiers were deployed in the building burnt the day before after the September aggression, when the adversary bombed the Sotk military unit.
In fact, 3 different state entities mention different periods of deployment of servicemen in Azat village: from 2020 according to the Prime Minister, from May 13, 2021 according to the Investigative Committee, and from September 13, 2022 according to Edmon Marukyan.
Fact Investigation Platform contacted Defense Ministry Press Secretary Aram Torosyan to find out when, the servicemen were deployed in Azat village and which of the official bodies’ statements is true.
In a conversation with us, Torosyan noted that this shelter was temporary, intended for concentration (deployment) in the given region until the completion of the construction of a permanent location in compliance with modern standards, which is planned for the end of 2023.
“Months ago, the Ministry of Defense procured Italian-made modular barracks, the first batch of which is already in Armenia. At the moment, the improvement activities of the area, building of engineering networks are underway, after which they will be installed,” added the Press Secretary of the Ministry of Defense.
As for the period of deployment, Aram Torosyan said that he refers to the Prime Minister’s statement, thus confirming that the house in the village has been serving as a temporary shelter since 2020.
“The building was foreseen as a temporary shelter for the deployment of this unit from 2020, it was occupied with greater frequency from 2021 until, as I already mentioned, the completion of the construction of the permanent location,” Torosyan specified.
Moreover, the Press Secretary of the Ministry of Defense also provided us with photos and videos of the new modular barracks, which, according to the ministry, will be ready for operation by the end of this year.
Thus, according to the Press Secretary of the Ministry of Defense, the said house in Azat village has served as a temporary shelter since 2020, which the engineer-sapper company has occupied with greater frequency since 2021. Accordingly, the statements of the Prime Minister and the Investigative Committee complement each other, while the statement of Edmon Marukyan is wrong in this regard.