More bullying allegations in Armenian Army. UPDATED

Screen grab from a YouTube video showing Armenian army bullying which was swiftly taken down as soon as it became viral on Armenian social networks, 12Sep2010

A controversial video, entitled “The real face of the Army”, which showed an unidentified male humiliating two young boys dressed in military uniforms, was swiftly taken down from YouTube as soon as it became viral.

“No description for the video is provided, and it’s not known when and where this video was taken,” Unzipped wrote in his blog, posting the video. “What is depicted in this video is simply disgusting,” the blogger continued, citing recent cases of “suicides” and non combat deaths in the Armenian army.

The video was put into circulation in a time, when Armenian Army has just recovered from loud scandals after deadly shootings which claimed more than half a dozen lives in several bullying, harassment and army violence incidents. It also came at a time of intensified clashes between the Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces.

This led some Armenian bloggers to argue, that the video is anti-Armenian propaganda disseminated by Azeri special services, some also claimed it is not the Armenian army at all.

Before the video was taken down I was able to check and see, that the viral one, which generated the most buzz, was uploaded by Slaq.am, a very new online news resource, which is registered by a unknown Armenian company. This doesn’t mean it was the original uploader of the video, but anyway.

The video was re-uploaded again by other YouTube users and will most certainly be reappearing despite attempts to silence it.

One of the recent uploaders, aramanoogian, had this to say about it: “Do people and organizations in the Diaspora care enough to raise the issue of abuse and mismanagement in the army with the representatives of the regime in Yerevan? Would they demand the sadistic officer shown in the video to be court marshaled for humiliating those young… Armenian soldiers? After all, considering that this is happening on a very wide scale across country, this is as close to jeopardizing national security as you are ever going to get. Wake up, people! Tomorrow it might be too late.”

Even if conspiracy theories cannot be excluded altogether, I’m more inclined to think, that this was a genuine video. It’s not a secret, that Armenian Military, like the armies of most other ex-Soviet countries, including rival Azerbaijan, has been plagued with bullying and other abuses resulting in at least a dozen non-combat deaths each year ever since their establishment in 1992.

The Armenian military insists that it is doing its best to address the problem in earnest. It says the number of such incidents has steadily and significantly declined since the late 1990s.

Senior and mid-ranking army officers have rarely been prosecuted in connection with those crimes. Those who are put on trial usually get off with short prison sentences.

PS: It was a hard decision for me to write about this video, and I initially chose to keep silent, even though I’d seen it early on Saturday. It seemed unreliable: because it came at a least convenient time for the Armenian army and because it really was unclear who, where and when are pictured in it. However, as the video got viral, I took it as an indicator, that further discussions are necessary on the state of the Armenian Army, and I’m convinced, that raising these issues will help strengthen the army and not the opposite.

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14 thoughts on “More bullying allegations in Armenian Army. UPDATED

  1. Armenian Defence Ministry condemns dissemination of Army bullying video

    Yerevan, On September 11th a video has been released on YouTube network, which shows how young people dressed in Armenian Army uniforms are being humiliated, beaten and oppressed.

    The low quality of the video material does not allow to recognize faces or hear Armenian speech, however, as the young people shown in the video are dressed in military uniforms, the video has been met with great frustration by public.

    RA Defense Ministry strictly condemns preparation and premeditated dissemination of materials like this one, which aim to damage and discredit the Armenian Armed Forces.

    RA Defense Ministry has taken corresponding steps to verify the authenticity of the video, identify the people shown in the video, disclose the authors, punish those who have been using violence in the video.

    Non-official translation of official Defense Ministry statement by http://www.ditord.com

    • That’s one weak reaction. It sounds to me like they’re not condemning the bullying itself, but only the video made of it. Yeah, I can imagine that it’s annoying when things like this get out in the open….

      • They are saying ab out identifying and punishing the bully, but yes, it’s interesting, how they are “strictly condemning preparation and premeditated dissemination of materials like this one .”

        I have a feeling, that it’s a way of saying, that they don’t believe this video is genuine, but rather, that it’s specifically “prepared” and “disseminated” to damage the image of the military.

        • Maybe they’ll identify and punish the bully, but that’s just that one person. I don’t think they’ll do anything to change the culture that makes behavior like in this video (and worse) possible.

          It’s rather sad (though not so surprising) that they seem to be more worried about the image of the army than about what actually happens in that army.

  2. Official trans-on

    The Minister of Defence of the Republic of Armenia received the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State on European and Eurasian Affairs of the USA
    On September 12, Defence Minister Seyran Ohanyan received Tina Kaidanow, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State on European and Eurasian Affairs of the USA.
    Welcoming the guest the Defence Minister stated that the military cooperation with the US is one of the important pillars of the Armenian defence policy.

    Both sides noted the importance of further development of cooperation between the two countries and discussed the planned military cooperation activities.

    Tina Kaidanow welcomed Armenian participation in the international security stabilization operations, particularly in Afghanistan and stressed the importance of further bilateral efforts on that regard.

    The sides also discussed the recent developments in the region, while strongly emphasizing the imperative to solve the Nagorno Karabakh problem in the peaceful manner and underlined the preservation of the ceasefire regime on the contact line as an important factor for the effectiveness of negotiation efforts.

  3. Lets just wait and see how everything goes and whether more efforts will be put to find and disclose the authors of the video as opposed to finding and punishing the guy who was humiliating the two servicemen

  4. There is a systemic issue that needs to be fixed. The army needs a fundamental reform on its relationship to the state and the relationship between the officers and the privates within it.

    My guess, however, is that there is no political willingness and human and monetary resources to carry out any reform. If things continue the way they are, the outcome is going to be very sad for the country.

    • There have been some interesting discussions on the “systemic” part in Facebook and Armenian blogs, there are some links here, but only available in Armenian.

  5. Is this called “hazing”?

    I hope they castrate this filth even though castration alone is not enough punishment. He most probably has done this sort of thing and more to others too many times that someone decided to take pictures and to expose him on Internet. I am opposed to death penalty but when I read or see such criminal attacks, I am willing to make exceptions and have these parasitic perpetrators put to death. Their victims will carry psychological scars and trauma for life.

    Every soldier should carry a small hidden camera and take pictures of all abuses and tortures in the military.

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