Why Armenian authorities not interested in tragedies of dead soldiers' families

Why Armenian authorities not interested in tragedies of dead soldiers' families

The problem of social payments for families of deceased servicemen is one of the most painful topics for the Armenian society. According to Armenian laws, relatives of the deceased are entitled to compensation from the government, and payments are made by the Military Insurance Fund. However, this system of social benefits is of selective nature.

The Armenian authorities are now forced to answer the uncomfortable questions of the mothers of servicemen who died or became disabled while performing military service. Often problems begin with extracts from troop commanders' orders on the exclusion of soldiers from the personnel record. Sometimes relatives have to prove that a soldier died precisely while performing military service, otherwise, his death can be qualified as an accident or death due to health reasons, in which case no payments are provided.

Military service in Armenia is now secretly referred to as the "poverty tax". Indirectly, this was confirmed by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who sent his son to the front line to demonstrate his closeness to the people. It's no secret that among the large Armenian elite's children, there are hardly a dozen or two of those with experience of military service.

Armenian propaganda does not stint the words of gratitude to the participants in the Karabakh conflict, but it’s improper in the media to speculate on the sad results caused by the bloodshed. The Karabakh conflict is a non-discussion topic for modern Armenian politics. The conflict allows politicians to evade conversations on socio-economic issues, involve the diaspora in solving problems, and finally, it is used for the PR. Any rhetoric that is somehow related to the Karabakh war, but does not meet the ideological call to fight, is not welcome in the media scene.

But there is a different reality behind the mythological concept of the conflict's "sacred" nature. Anahit Harutyunyan, the mother of Grigor Harutyunyan, who died in April 2016, is literally crushed by a bureaucratic machine, for which she’s been "the hero's mother" once a year, but the rest of the time she is a "malicious non-payer". She barely makes a living, put up her apartment for sale, hoping to pay off her debts. See "This is how family of soldier who died in Karabakh lives in Yerevan".  Moreover, this tragedy is not an isolated case.

The fate of the victims' families is beyond the public policy framework. This is room for maneuver for political and social structures with principles of one-time assistance which only they understand. They are not disclosed and presented to society. According to the established rules, financial assistance provided to families of those who died after January 1, 2017 can be three, or even four times larger than to those whose relatives died during the escalation of the conflict in April 2016, although the Armenian army's losses were significant back then. Moreover, payments do not take into account the level of inflation in the country and are not supported by significant benefits. The social security policy is ephemeral, since it is aimed primarily at maintaining the idea of social support, but does not take into account the real incomes and losses of a particular family. But victims of the Karabakh conflict are often those from low-income families. In other words, where "heroism" ends, there's money.

The apotheosis of tragedy for every family that lost a loved one in the war is the indifference of Armenian officials. The authorities accept no responsibility for the fate of families, taking the most beloved, sometimes their only hope for the future, from them. Situations similar to those that happened to Anahit Harutyunyan once again confirm that Armenian society is in no way protected from the unpredictable consequences of the Karabakh war.

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Vestnik Kavkaza

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