On July 17, 2003 the body of Robert Shakaryan arrived in the Stepanakert morgue. We were informed by a source, whose name we are not making public, that the police department received a call at 2 a.m. and officers proceeded to the residence of Nagorno Karabakh minister of the interior, Armen Isagulov, in downtown Stepanakert. Work was still being done on the inside of the house, by a group of construction workers fromYerevan. Robert Shakaryan was the watchman at the house. Shakaryan’s wife Galya, a nurse, was told at the morgue that her husband had died of a heart attack.
At the morgue, his relatives noticed while moving the body that the back of his skull was fractured and protruding through the skin and his clothes were covered in blood. Naturally, they didn’t believe that Shakaryan had died of a heart attack. They said that they also saw bruises on various parts of his body. Meanwhile rumors were circulating in town that Shakaryan had been beaten to death.
Five days later, after his relatives made repeated requests, they were given a document stating that Robert Shakaryan had died of alcohol poisoning. Of course, the relatives don’t believe that alcohol was the cause of death, but they are afraid to complain. Shakaryan’s wife was unwilling to meet with us. Relatives that I met a few times passed a message along to me - she has a son and she is worried about him. The word around town is that after the incident Isagulov’s son left Stepanakert. One thing is clear-- as long as Isagulov is the minister of the interior of Nagorno Karabakh nothing will be ascertained about the real cause of Shakaryan’s death.