YEREVAN (Azatutyun/news.am) — The Armenian authorities continued to face tough questions from human rights activists and other critics on Friday, January 20, one day after 15 soldiers died at their military barracks destroyed by a major fire.
According to the Armenian Defense Ministry, the fire erupted early on Thursday at the makeshift barracks in a border village in eastern Gegharkunik province that housed 22 soldiers of an engineer-sapper company.
The soldiers who died were: Aram Manukyan, 20, from Lori; Volodya Nersisyan, 19, from Aragatsotn; Gor Martirosyan, 19, from Tavush; Rostom Asryan, 19, from Lori; Mushegh Hambarchyan, 19, from Ararat; Taron Gharibyan, 20, from Ararat; Pavlik Abazyan, 19, from Tavush; David Sargsyan, 19, from Aragatsotn; Hrachya Grigoryan, 19, from Yerevan; Narek Avagyan, 19, from Yerevan; Gagik Barseghyan, 19, from Kotayk; Misha Dumikyan, 19, from Lori; Hayk Kirakosyan, 19, from Armavir; Sergey Gevorkov, 19, from Ararat and Hamlet Davtyan, 19, from Gegharkunik.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Defense Minister Suren Papikyan said hours later that it was sparked by an officer who poured gasoline into a woodstove in breach of the military’s fire-safety rules.
Armenia’s chief military prosecutor, Grigor Elizbaryan, echoed that theory in an interview with Armenian Public Television aired on Thursday evening. But he said at the same time that forensic tests will determine whether the blaze was caused by gasoline or less flammable diesel.
Another junior military officer serving in the village insisted that no gasoline was stored in or just outside the two-room village house turned into the barracks.