HCA Vanadzor presents summary statistics of death cases of servicemen of the Republic of Armenia, and Republic of Artsakh/NK Armed Forces in 2020, classified as those related and those not related to war actions. The data were collected through information disseminated by mass media and official sources, as well as responses to information inquiries addressed to the Ministry of Defense, RA Prosecutor General’s Office and Investigative Committee.
The report also touches upon the number of those killed as a result of the aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan on 27 September 2020 with unhidden and immediate support of Turkey and involvement of mercenary terrorists. If we compare the number - of those killed - published by the Republic of Artsakh/NK MoD (3015), the number published only by mass media (104) and the number per those who applied to HCA Vanadzor (47) with the number provided by the RA Prime Minister (3621), it becomes clear that at this moment, the names of 455 killed persons have not been published officially or by mass media.
Thus, though five and a half months have passed since war actions ceased, the final number of those killed is not known yet.
In 2020, 100 servicemen’s death cases - not related to war actions - were recorded in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia, and Armed Forces of the Republic of Artsakh/NK.
25 of them occurred as a result of health problems, 22 occurred as a result of car crash, 18 occurred as a result of suicide or inciting suicide, 17 occurred as a result of ceasefire violation, 9 occurred as a result of accidents (3 as a result of avalanche, 1 as a result of falling into a gorge, 1 as a result of a fire that started in the car, 1 as a result of a tractor overturn, 1 as a result of a bee sting, 1 as a result of ethanol poisoning, 1 as a result of a collapse during construction at the house), 4 occurred as a result of murder (2 intentional murders, 1 murder with hooligan motives, 1 murder with the purpose of concealing another crime or facilitating its commission), 3 occurred as a result of the breach of the rules for handling weapon, 1 occurred as a result of breach of combat duty/service rules, 1 occurred as a result of a mine explosion.
Official publications were made only regarding 44 out of 100 death cases in 2020, no official publication was made regarding the other 56 cases.
Preliminary information with respect to 24 out of the mentioned 56 cases was disseminated by mass media, while HCA Vanadzor learnt about the other 32 cases from responses to information inquiries addressed to the RA Central Military Prosecutor’s Office, RA Ministry of Defense and RA Investigative Committee.
Moreover, among the 56 cases that were not published officially, there were death cases (13) related to the military service and death cases (42) not related to military service, as well as 1 case the relation of which to military service is unknown.
Thus, HCA Vanadzor office records that official bodies continue not providing information on death cases in the armed forces even in cases when, according to them, they are related to military service.
Comparing the causes of death cases in 2019 and 2020, we record that in 2020, death cases caused by ceasefire violation increased by 13, almost twice as many suicide cases were recorded (8 more cases than recorded in 2019), death cases caused by health problems increased by 12, death cases caused by accidents increased by 7, death cases caused by car crashes increased by 6.
Suicide and murder cases are mainly caused by breach of statutory relations among servicemen, which means that issues related to military discipline remain unsolved and worrisome. Besides, the continuity of suicide cases and murders in the armed forces indicates that either proper service investigation is not conducted into such cases, or the steps aimed at the prevention, elimination or solution of issues identified as a result of the investigations are not yet effective.
In comparison with 2019, death cases as a result of suicide (18) and murder (4) in 2020 respectively amount to 22% and 5% of death cases recorded in non-combat conditions.
It should be mentioned that in 2020, 8 out of 18 suicide cases and 2 out of 4 murders were recorded during war actions or just a month/a month and a half after the war actions ceased.
8 out of 17 death cases caused by ceasefire violation occurred before the war actions unleashed by Azerbaijan on 27 September 2020, only 6 of which occurred during combat operations that took place on the line of contact between Armenia and Azerbaijan in July 2020.
9 more cases were recorded in December 2020, i.e., after the leaders of the Republic of Armenia, Republic of Azerbaijan and Russian Federation signed an agreement on ceasefire on November 10.
Speaking about observation of service safety rules, it should be mentioned that in 2020, 1 death case occurred as a result of an explosion.
In 2020, 25 servicemen’s death cases were recorded as a result of health problems; 5 of them were officially considered as related and 20 were considered as not related to military service. Death cases of 3 compulsory-term servicemen and 2 contract servicemen were considered as related to military service, while death cases of 10 contract servicemen, 8 officers, 1 reservist and 1 non-commissioned officer were considered as not related to military service.
As the statistics shows, death cases caused by health problems are also quite worrisome, even if they are officially considered as not related to military service.
RA Law “On approving the Internal Service Code of the RA Armed Forces” enshrines sanitary-hygienic, anti-epidemic and medical-preventive measures for servicemen.
However, statistical data allow for claiming that in-depth and controlling or preventive check-ups of servicemen are not implemented properly; while if they were ensured, death cases that occur for these reasons could be prevented.
It should be mentioned that the number of death cases caused by health problems in 2020 is unprecedented, as over the past 10 years, the maximum number of death cases caused by health problems was 13 recorded in 2018 and 2019.
Touching upon issues related to servicemen’s health state, Covid-19 situation in Armenia and mass media study on Covid-19-related death cases of servicemen, it became known that 3 such cases were recorded. However, on 28 March 2021, Chief of the RA Armed Forces military-medical department, colonel Sahak Ohanyan informed the media that 10 Covid-19-related death cases had been recorded in the Armed Forces.
In 2020, the number of death cases caused by car crash also increased; 22 such death cases were recorded, 14 of which were officially considered as non-related to military service and 7 were considered as related to military service; in 1 case, it is unknown whether the death case recorded as a result of car crash was related to military service.
Factually, death cases recorded in 2020 as a result of technical issues amount to 22% of the total number of death cases.
With regard to death cases caused by accidents, it should be recorded that in 2020, they amounted to 9% of the total number of death cases.
It should also be mentioned that the majority of the cases (21) of 2020 occurred in December. Moreover, most of the mentioned cases, i.e. 9 cases occurred as a result of violations of ceasefire agreed upon after the war, 5 cases occurred as a result of car crash, 3 cases occurred as a result of health problems, 2 cases occurred as a result of suicide, 2 cases occurred as a result of breach of the rules for handling weapon.
It is noteworthy that the majority of the death cases of 2020 occurred in August and October, June and November (12 and 9 cases respectively), 7 cases occurred in February, July and September, 6 cases occurred in January, 5 cases occurred in May, 3 cases occurred in March, 2 cases occurred in April.
33 out of 100 servicemen who died were contract servicemen, 23 were officers, 21 were compulsory term servicemen, 17 were reservists, 4 were non-commissioned officers, 1 was a senior non-commissioned officer, 1 was a volunteer.
Observing the death cases per their cause and type of the relevant servicemen’s service, it is clear that suicide (7), health problems (3), car crash (3), breach of the rules for handling weapon (3), ceasefire violation (3) and murder (2) are causes of death among compulsory-term servicemen.
Causes of death among contract servicemen include health problems (11), car crash (9), accidents (7), suicide (5), ceasefire violation (1).
Causes of death among officers were health problems (8), car crash (6), ceasefire violation (4), accidents (2), suicide (1), mine explosion (1), murder (1).
Reservists’ death causes were ceasefire violation (9), suicide (4), health problems (2), murder (1), breach of the rules of combat duty/service (1).
Non-commissioned officer’s death causes were health problems (1), car crashes (4).
1 volunteer’s death cause was suicide.
It can be recorded that suicide, health problems and car crashes caused death cases among compulsory-term servicemen, contract servicemen, officers, volunteers.
With regard to classifying death cases as related and not related to military service, according to the information provided to HCA Vanadzor by RA Central Military Prosecutor’s Office, 55 out of 96 death cases were considered as related to military service, 41 were considered as not related to military service. The RA Investigative Committee provided HCA Vanadzor with information only on the 61 servicemen’s death cases, which were under pretrial proceedings in the RA IC General Military Investigative Department subdivisions.
It should be mentioned that in response to HCA Vanadzor written information inquiries, RA Ministry of Defense provided data only on the death cases recorded in January-June 2020 and refused to provide information on death cases that occurred during July-December. This is incomprehensible, because the RA MoD had different views on the provision of information of the same content; besides, RA MoD provided information on servicemen’s death cases during the first half of 2020 by names, without giving the causes, while the Ministry refused to provide information on death cases that occurred during the second half of 2020, considering the information subject to be classified by the RA MoD system, and yet that information was provided to mass media.
The report includes criminal cases initiated on account of servicemen’s death cases in 2020. According to the information disseminated officially and by mass media, criminal cases were initiated under various Articles of the RA Criminal Code on 63 out of 100 death cases in the Republic of Armenia, and Republic of Artsakh/NK Armed Forces. 56 of the initiated criminal cases are in the preliminary investigation stage, criminal cases initiated on 4 cases were discontinued based on the lack of a criminal act, a criminal case initiated on 1 case was suspended due to the existence of force majeure, the progress of criminal cases on 2 death cases is unknown.
Initiation of criminal cases on 9 out of the other 37 death cases was refused. The RA Prosecutor General’s Office considered 8 of the mentioned cases as not related to military service and 1 of the mentioned cases as related to military service.
In 28 cases, it is not known whether criminal cases were initiated or not, and if they were initiated, then under which Articles of the RA Criminal Code. 27 of them were considered by the Prosecutor’s Office as death cases not related to military service; HCA Vanadzor learnt about 1 case from the response to one of the information inquiries addressed to the RA Ministry of Defense.
Late publication of the report is connected with incomplete information on the final number of death cases that occurred as a result of the hostilities.
Full report is available HERE (in Armenian)
The annex is available HERE (in Armenian)