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Authorities Deny False Data On Karabakh War Missing


NAGORNO-KARABAKH -- A fragment of a Smerch rocket sticks out of the ground near the town of Martuni, October 26, 2020

The Armenian authorities denied on Thursday opposition allegations that they are grossly underreporting the number of Armenian soldiers and civilians who went missing during the autumn war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Former President Serzh Sarkisian, who leads an opposition alliance running in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, claimed on Wednesday that as many as 1,064 people remain unaccounted for seven months after a Russian-brokered ceasefire stopped the war.

Sarkisian publicized a document drawn up earlier this year by a state insurance fund that compensates the families of military personnel killed, wounded or missing in action. He accused the authorities of hiding the real number of missing residents of Armenia and Karabakh.

Armenia’s government and Investigative Committee insisted on Thursday that the number currently stands at 275.

The document cited by Sarkisian was sent by the insurance fund to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s office in April. Pashinian spoke around that time of 321 Armenians missing from the Karabakh war.

According to the fund’s deputy director, Smbat Saiyan, it has paid monthly compensations to the families of 1,083 missing persons until now.

“This doesn’t mean that the number of missing persons now stands at 1,083 because after the first payment we have had cases where a person stopped being considered missing. That is, their whereabouts or the fact of their death has been established or their dead body has been identified,” Saiyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Saiyan said 475 families are continuing to receive monthly compensations for their missing members. He suggested that the smaller number given by the Investigative Committee is more accurate and up-to-date.

According to official figures, at least 3,700 other Armenian soldiers and civilians were killed during the six-week war.

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