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Kristine Aghalaryan

Gevorg Loses Arm on Artsakh Frontline, But It's His Heart That Is Truly Broken

Kristine Aghalaryan
Grisha Balasanyan 

19 year-old Gevorg Movsisyan lost his arm while serving on the frontline in Artsakh. The soldier was on advanced guard duty with the Yeghniker Unit.

On the night of July 13, 2010, the enemy had advanced and a close-range firefight ensued. He saw the burst of gunfire and then felt excruciating pain. His arm felt like it was burning.

In a Yerevan hospital, Gevorg's arm was amputated. Doctors couldn't save the arm after the long trip from Artsakh.

While convalescing, he met a young female medical student undergoing training. They fell in love and planned to get married.

Those plans too have been cut short. The girl's parents have decided to relocate the family to Russia, even though their daughter has one year left to graduate.

It appears they do not want their daughter to see Gevorg or to marry him. A man with one arm isn't a suitable husband in their eyes. They don't seem to care that Gevorg sacrificed a limb in the defense of the homeland.

Anzhela Movsisyan, Gevorg's mother, heard about the incident one week later. Relatives postponed breaking the news to her due to her heart condition.

She recounts how she went to the hospital to see her injured son. She says Gevorg wanted a home cooked meal which she brought the next day.

The doctors told her that Gevorg would feel pain for another two years after the limb was removed.

"I broke down. Gevorg would say that he could feel his fingers. But how could he. The hand was gone," says the mother.

Anzhela says that after the hand was amputated and he woke up, Gevorg knew that the hand was gone.

"He didn't lose control and using his left hand he gave me the thumbs up sign to say that he was all right."

Gevorg told us that his life has changed in so many ways since the accident.

"I am different than before. I lose my temper and can't walk that far due to a pain in my leg," Gevorg said looking at the floor. "My uncle was also injured in the war. He lost his right hand."

Doctors have advised the young man not to walk too far or to smoke. But Gevorg has started to turn to cigarettes to calm himself.

They devised an artificial limb for him to use but he finds it heavy and cumbersome.

Gevorg turns 20 on October 25.

He lives with his family in the village of Tretouk in the Vardenis district of Gegharkunik Marz.

The family relocated to Armenia from Kirovabad in the 1990s.

They do not own the dilapidated house they live in. It had been abandoned and the village mayor let them move in after arriving.

The house lacks the basic utilities. The Movsisyans own no livestock and grow potatoes on a small parcel of nearby land

Albert, Gevorg's brother, is also thinking of enlisting in the army. In terms of getting a job, there are few other options.

Anzhela says they submitted his enlistment papers but word came back that they missed the deadline.

Albert is preparing a new batch for the next enlistment period. In the meantime, he does odd jobs to make some extra cash for the family – baling hay and harvesting potatoes.

The only stable breadwinner is Artur Movsisyan, their father. He also serves in the army as an enlistee.

Gevorg has decided that a university degree is the path to take. With a degree, he believes he can land a decent job with decent pay. He desperately wants to help support his family and gets frustrated that right now he can't. Physical labor is out of the question.

The young man applied to the Yerevan State Agrarian College in hopes of pursuing a degree in accounting.

The college told him that they can only offer him a 50% tuition discount.

Given that the family couldn't afford the other 50%, Gevorg enrolled at the local Vardenis College where he wouldn't have to pay any tuition.

He also wants to work while attending class. The Ministry of Defense has promised to find him suitable employment, but they haven't yet made any specific proposals.

"I guess they want me to show up and make several requests. I'm not used to begging. If they ask, I tell them what I want," Gevorg says.

He notes that computer work at a military base would be ideal.

Mrs. Anzhela says that the Defense Ministry has picked up the cost of Gevorg's medications but that's the extent of their assistance.

The young man also receives a monthly disability pension of 30,500 AMD ($85).

She says it took them a year to get all the necessary paperwork in order. It was a bureaucratic nightmare of delays and missed deadlines.

Nevertheless, the mother thanks God that her boy is alive.

She says that Gevorg's inner strength and optimism fills her with hope as well.

Before we left, Gevorg said he was ready to sacrifice his life in defense of the homeland.

The only subject that caused real dejection was that of his girlfriend.

Whenever we brought it up, Gevorg turned away and remained silent.

It was his heart, more than anything else, which was truly broken.