The Armenian Defense Ministry’s Investigative Service said the conscript, Artur Ghazarian, shot himself at his military unit in unclear circumstances late on Thursday. Its spokeswoman, Meri Sargsian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that Ghazarian died on his way to hospital.
“An investigation is underway,” Sargsian said, adding that it is being conducted under a Criminal Code article that deals with suicides committed as a result of “threats, brutal treatment or periodical humiliation of personal dignity.”
No arrests were reported as of Friday evening. The Investigative Service declined to specify where Ghazarian served. But according to unconfirmed reports, his is unit is located about 10 kilometers north of Yerevan.
The victim’s father, Gegham Ghazarian, ruled out the possibility of a suicide. “I knew my boy very well and can say for sure that he could not have killed himself,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
The soldier’s death came despite the Armenian military’s assurances that it has stepped up its fight against violent army crime. The problem has had a greater public resonance in the last several months.
Dozens of military personnel have been arrested, fired or demoted since August. Still, human rights groups and families of dead soldiers continue to assert that the military authorities are not doing enough to tackle the problem.
According military prosecutors, 43 Armenian soldiers were killed by fellow servicemen, committed suicide or died in various accidents and as a result of illnesses last year.