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Hayk Makiyan

Relatives of Soldiers Killed/POW in 2020 Karabakh War Demand Meeting with Pashinyan 

Hrachik Vardanyan is not happy with the slow progress of a court case looking into how forty members of a sixty-man Armenian military unit were killed or captured during the 2020 Karabakh war.

Vardanyan’s son Aristakes is still listed as missing in action when the unit found itself surrounded by Azerbaijani forces in the town of Kovsakan (Zangilan) in the south of the Artsakh Republic. The area was part of the "liberated territories" outside Nagorno Karabakh proper captured by Azerbaijan during the war. 

Vardanyan and other relatives of those forty Armenian soldiers today gathered outside Yerevan’s Government Building early this morning, demanding a meeting with Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan. They waited in vain.

After the war, a criminal case was initiated regarding the incident. Former Deputy Chief of the General Staff of Armenia’s Armed Forces Andranik Makaryan, commander of the military unit Arsen Abgaryan, chief of staff of the military unit Sargis Kulakchyan and head of the military unit's recruitment department Ellada Harutyunyan now face charges of incompetence and inaction in the face of danger.

Hrachik Vardanyan tells Hetq it’s not easy to reach Yerevan from the Shirak village of Hatsik to attend the court hearings.

“We come from the villages, drive 100 kilometers. After arriving, there’s five minutes of talk and then we’re told today’s session has been postponed,” says a frustrated Vardanyan, adding that he feels like the court system, rather than providing answers, wants to erode the patience of the relatives.

 In 2021, Hrachik Vardanyan’s daughter, fraught with angst over the loss of her brother, died from a heart attack. Another son died in a car accident. His surviving son now lives abroad. 

Mr. Vardanyan says the family found it near impossible to accept the loss of Aristakes, a sadness not assuaged by the court system.  

(The unit in question is an anti-radiation, chemical and biological protection unit. The unit's informal name is Kimikneri zoramas).

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