The Armenian military signaled on Monday plans to toughen punishment for hazing and other chronic crimes responsible for continuing non-combat deaths of soldiers.
Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian discussed the matter with Armenia’s chief military prosecutor, Gevorg Kostanian, and human rights ombudsman Karen Andreasian. A statement by his press office said they agreed to set up a “working group” tasked with proposing ways of boosting discipline and reducing the crime rate in the armed forces.
The group will “review legislation regulating the armed forces and propose amendments to it,” said the statement. It added that the amendments should lead to a toughening of punishment for crimes committed by military personnel.
It was not clear who join and head the task force.
Ohanian has repeatedly promised a tougher crackdown on abuses within the army ranks. Dozens of servicemen have been arrested, fired or demoted over the past year.
Civic activists monitoring army crime insist that the Defense Ministry is still not doing enough to tackle the problem. They also continue to accuse military authorities of failing to properly investigate soldier deaths.
Ohanian met with the military prosecutor one day after yet another non-combat death reported by the military. Official sources said a 20-year-old conscript, Vladimir Asatrian, shot and killed himself while on duty on a frontline position near Nagorno-Karabakh. No arrests or further details of the incident were reported as of Monday evening.