March 21
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Armenia has no problem with spending money on the army; there was no case and there is no case since 2018 that no purchase was made due to lack of money. Alen Simonyan, speaker of the National Assembly (NA) told this to reporters in the NA Monday, referring to the remark that modular military units could have been set up in Armenia since last September, instead of spending lavishly.

"It's not like there is money and a choice is made whether to spend it on buying a car or on the army," he said.

When asked whether one or two years would have been enough for the military unit in Azat village to be properly furnished and such an incident would not have occurred, Simonyan answered: "It is a construction crew, next to which there is also a modular cabin. The biggest problem with that cabin was that safety rules were not followed. For example, there should have been no bars on the windows. For that, people who were responsible for security, those people have been punished and will be punished.

As for political accountability, the political leadership has done everything and will continue to do. If these changes hadn't happened, I assure that there would have been many more such accidents. However, I consider it inappropriate to make the unfortunate incident a subject of political speculation and try to put it on the political agenda."

At around 1:30am on January 19, a fire broke out in the accommodation of the engineering-sapper platoon of the military unit located in the territory of Azat village of Armenia’s Gegharkunik Province. Fifteen servicemen have died as a result of this fire, and seven others were injured. Four of them were discharged from the Vardenis town hospital after receiving medical treatment, whereas three others with severe burns were transported to National Center of Burns and Dermatology in the capital Yerevan.

The identification of the bodies of the 15 servicemen who died in the fire has been completed, and their remains have been handed over to their parents.

Criminal proceedings have been launched into this incident.

No one is a suspect or an accused yet within the framework of the criminal proceedings into this incident.

Immediately after the incident, the commander of the 2nd Army Corps and seven other high-ranking military personnel were relieved of their positions.

A few hours after the incident, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at the Cabinet meeting of the government that an officer had poured gasoline in the stove of the aforesaid accommodation. After which, when the fire had gotten to him, he had thrown—with a self-protective instinct—the 5-liter can of gasoline in his hand towards the accommodation, and this had caused the fire.

But later, the platoon commander told reporters that there was no gasoline in the accommodation, essentially refuting the PM. The Military Prosecutor also stated that it is not yet clear whether it was gasoline or diesel fuel.

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