Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

Problems recorded during and after the war: a review of the reports made to HCA Vanadzor

March 27, 2021

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During and after the hostilities that started on 27 September 2020, HCA Vanadzor received numerous alerts regarding the problems that arose during the war actions. We have classified them according to their nature and present them below. 


Violations of citizens’ right to information were recorded during the hostilities  

✅Since 4 October 2020, the Organization has been receiving alarms from relatives of missing servicemen who do not have any information on their missing relative. In order to get information, they usually apply to hotlines and other telephone numbers of the competent bodies. However, it should be recorded that throughout that period, they did not operate properly. The citizens had to apply to all the possible organizations that could provide any information. The main reason for the aforementioned situation is the lack of one unified or centralized system of information on the location, state of persons involved in hostilities (missing persons, injured persons, persons who fell, and persons captured during the hostilities) both during and after the hostilities.

However, the Ministry of Defense claims that the commission set up to specify and collect the data of the servicemen and other persons who are in captivity or whose location is unknown as a result of the combat operations is engaged in the collection of the data. Data were also collected by the MoD and the relevant subdivisions of the RA General Staff, per their functions.

On the one hand, the MoD informs that the aforementioned commission deals with matters related to captives (as it can be concluded from the name of the commission), and on the other hand, the Ministry notes that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Security service collect data on captives. 

✅There are a lot of cases when, as a result of the lack of proper information, the relatives themselves did search operations on their own initiatives in order to get information regarding their missing relatives: in some cases those persons where found alive, and in some cases, they were found dead. 


Numerous cases were recorded, when the names of missing persons, injured persons, persons who fell during the hostilities, and captives were not included in the relevant lists of names or were included in other lists


✅Failure to provide the relevant bodies with the necessary information or failure to provide the necessary information in a timely manner led to the citizens not being included in the relevant lists, which deprived them or their relatives of the opportunity to receive support in the frame of social support actions. Such lists must be provided by the RA Ministry of Defense, RA Ministry of Emergency Situations, RA National Security Service or RA Police. After the relevant subdivisions of the RA Ministry of Defense and the RA Investigative Committee verify the list of the names of missing servicemen and their family members, the list is also provided to the  “Insurance Foundation for Servicemen”.

✅By the way, in terms of this matter, the RA Ministry of Defense clarifies that those who left for the front without registration, have not been included in their database. The MoD claims that they possess the data on servicemen and reservists who went to the front after registration. Whereas, it is not clear how some persons went to the front without registration. 


Citizens conscripted in the frame of the call-up during the hostilities did not undergo proper health check-up and medical examination


✅It should be emphasized that during the hostilities, health check-ups were not properly organized for persons who were being involved in war actions, persons who participated in the hostilities and those who were still in their military service. Whereas, proper organization of health check-ups of the above-mentioned persons is required by the RA Government’s decision 404. Some citizens joined the military service without undergoing the compulsory health check-up. Moreover, most of them were registered in the military reserve force years ago and obtained various health problems after that. Besides, citizens conscripted in the frame of the mobilization call-up were not provided with medication, if necessary; the medication was provided by their relatives. 

✅Rehabilitation of physical and psychological states  of servicemen and maintenance of their mental health (which was not ensured in most of the cases) was another problem after the hostilities. According to the Organization’s data, the servicemen who got injuries during the hostilities were again involved - without proper treatment, recovery or the necessary medical aid - in military service either during or after the hostilities. Besides physical problems, many servicemen also obtained psychological problems. Despite the condition that the RA Ministry of Defense claims that as of 30.01.2021, servicemen, reservists and volunteers who participated in the military operations were provided with first psychological aid and rehabilitation work as needed /around 6000 injured servicemen, reservists, volunteers/, the servicemen who applied to the Organization informed that they had not received such support.  

✅Covid-19 safety rules were not always observed. Reservists still in military service after the hostilities were infected with coronavirus, however, they refused to conduct the test and without a decision on discharging, they were sent home to isolate; after the period of isolation expired, those servicemen were required to join the military service without medical check-up. 

✅HCA Vanadzor also received alarms that servicemen who had health problems before the war were refused medical service in medical institutions with the reasoning that at that time, operations were carried out only for servicemen severely injured during the war. 

✅Cases were also recorded when for a week on end, the doctor of the territorial polyclinic refused to serve the serviceman injured during his participation in the hostilities and stated that he was to decide when to serve the serviceman. 


Conditions in which servicemen were held, the situation of the provision of food and other necessary conditions during and after the hostilities


✅The Organization was informed that after the hostilities, due to the situation created, the new combat positions or servicemen’s locations were not provided with the necessary conditions in a  timely manner.The servicemen had to sleep in bags envisaged for storing vegetable. The shifts of servicemen of compulsory military service and reservists were not organized properly.

✅The Ministry of Defense informed that there indeed were organizational matters, but then assured that those issues were being solved. With respect to the conditions of the servicemen’s service and provision of food and other necessary conditions, the MoD first claimed that all the military units had been provided with the necessary conditions, and then added that work was being carried out to ensure the living conditions of the personnel on new boundaries and locations, and that it was envisaged to obtain the necessary items in the first quarter of 2021. The Ministry of Defense sent the letter on March 18, i.e., at the end of the quarter, when all that was supposed to have already been bought, whereas, they mentioned that work was being conducted to improve the conditions. 


The situation of securing the social safeguards of persons involved in the hostilities and their family members


✅As contract servicemen went missing, payments of their salaries were suspended. Due to the lack of the relevant legal regulations, at first, the social safeguards of their family members were not ensured, however, some time later, certain projects were introduced and this problem was solved.  

✅Relatives of persons gone missing, and citizens who got injured as a result of the hostilities, as well as citizens who received or are receiving treatment in medical institutions cannot participate in the social support projects prescribed by law, because the state does not collect or process information on them. 10 persons applied to HCA Vanadzor with this issue. 

✅Compensation of citizens for participation in war actions was implemented incompletely: 4 persons applied to HCA Vanadzor with this issue, press also made a publication covering this issue.  

Violations of the right to holiday


✅7 persons, who applied to HCA Vanadzor, mentioned that after the hostilities ceased, most of the servicemen did not exercise their right to regular leave. Leave was not granted even in case of physical and psychological problems.Suspension of leaves was officially attributed to the need to properly implement the objectives set before the Armed Forces and fully organize the service. A press publication also covered the non-provision of leaves to servicemen serving in the frame of “I am” programme. 


Inadequate entries in the military service identification cards of discharged servicemen


✅In military service ID cards of some servicemen who participated in the hostilities, relevant notes were not made or only implementation of combat service was mentioned. 1 person applied to HCA Vanadzor with this request, however, there are also press publications on this issue. Similarly, the note “driver” is made, because drivers are not considered to be participants of war actions.


Other organizational problems


✅Relatives of servicemen who fell during the war encounter problems while identifying and receiving the body of their dead relative: identification and further handover of the body takes quite some time. This is also stated by the RA MoJ Scientific-Practical Center of Forensic Medicine, reasoning that due to the unprecedented growth of medical examinations, it was impossible to observe the terms established by law. Nonetheless, relatives should have predictable terms of getting such information and should not be left in uncertainty. 

✅Official publications were made on the death of 20 servicemen long after their death and funeral.  

✅In dozens of cases, servicemen’s names were officially published in the list of the servicemen who fell during the war, yet their bodies have not been found to date. 

✅In around 60 cases known to HCA Vanadzor Office, the relatives confirmed the fact that the servicemen died, but their names have not been officially published. 

✅During the hostilities, a number of contract servicemen were not informed beforehand that they would be involved in military operations. 

✅In dozens of cases known to HCA Vanadzor, in the frame of the announced mobilization, reservists and volunteers were conscripted to the zone of military operations/frontline without having undergone proper military exercises.

✅In the frame of the announced mobilization, reservists were conscripted for such military professions that they were unfamiliar with and had never dealt with. 

✅Conscription and mobilization service employees refuse to provide military service ID cards to participants of war actions. 

✅We received an alert that as a result of incorrect organization of registering participants of war actions, a person was included in the list of those who avoided the mobilization call-up. 


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