September 30
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A group of members of the opposition Consolidation Movement on Monday held a protest in front of the main government building in Armenia, and demanded to punish those accountable for the tragic fire that occurred in a military accommodation in Armenia.

The demonstrators were holding respective banners, as well as the photos of the 15 soldiers who died as a result of this fire.

Menua Soghomonyan, one of the leaders of the Consolidation Movement, stated that the first person accountable for this tragedy is PM Nikol Pashinyan, and the second person—defense minister Suren Papikyan, adding that both Pashinyan and Papikyan should resign.

Avetik Chalabyan, a member of the Consolidation Movement and a public and political figure, told reporters: "There is an impression that the Ministry of Defense, which also runs from the government building, and the army have a very loose connection with things."

According to him, the Armenian army needs equipment to build new roads, bunkers, dig combat positions, etc., but all that is simply not there.

"The largest part of our country's budget is being provided to defense," he added.

Subsequently, the demonstrators marched in silence to Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral to light candles in memory of the 15 soldiers who died as a result of the aforesaid fire.

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. But no one is a suspect or an accused yet within the framework of these criminal proceedings.

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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