Episode 217 | Recorded: January 24, 2023
Some time between 00:30 and 1:00 am on January 19th a fire broke out in the military barracks housing a company of sappers in the Armenian Army, in Gegharkunik province. The fire quickly spread and as a result 15 men died, and 3 who escaped were severely injured.
Let’s discuss the social and political aspects. What this event means for the Pashinyan government, and also how the Armenian population is dealing with this loss.
The first theories came from Pashinyan and defense minister Suren Papkiyan in the morning of the 19th. Investigations had barely started, let alone completed yet.
The main theory provided by the government is that the captain of the company set his hands on fire as he poured gasoline from a 5-liter canister into the heater. He dropped the canister, setting the barracks on fire. The door got jammed, preventing people from fleeing.
The government, including representatives of the investigative committee say that there are other theories also being investigated, yet, for some reason this gasoline theory is being broadcasted loudly before the investigation is complete.
Almost the entire leadership of the 2nd Corps was removed by the time we heard the news.
The EU Council yesterday, January 23, approved a new mission to Armenia. The new mission will be for 2 years and will include 100 unarmed monitors.
New EU monitoring mission to come to Armenia. Lavrov expressed caution about this, saying that if Azerbaijan is against this mission, then it may create problems.
Both Lavrov and Zakharova have recently dropped hints in their public statements that the Armenian side is not being honest with its public about previously made agreements.
For instance, Zakharova, in a Q/A session on January 12, said that there are “principled positions, not tactical, not even strategic, but a matter of principles” about which the Armenian side should be honest about. Zakharova further expanded that “… there are agreements, that people either observe or if they don’t observe them, then they need to say that approaches have changed. This needs to be discussed honestly and publicly with one’s own people.”
Armenia president Vahagn Khachaturyan visited Estonia and said something like: Estonia as a small country is in NATO and they’re able to gain protection from the alliances with Russia and CSTO. He further complained that Armenia has not been able to get help from its military allies adding an ominous note that “nothing stays the same forever and throughout time, there always is a necessity to change something”
Artsakh State Minister Ruben Vardanyan was interviewed by Stephen Sackur on BBC’s Hardtalk show.
Sackur was clearly fishing for pro-Western declarations on the part of Vardanyan, but Vardanyan didn’t get drawn into commenting on conflicts that are completely out of scope and interest for an embattled leader in a small country in deep crisis.
Sackur tried to fish for anti-Putin comments in the context of Ukraine, and in the lack of support Russia has provided for Armenia, and so on.
We hope you found our Week in Review helpful. We invite your feedback and your suggestions. You can find us on most social media and podcast platforms. Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts.
Tevan Poghosyan is president of the International Center for Human Development. Mr. Poghosyan was an MP in the National Assembly between 2012 and 2017 from the Heritage party. From 1997 to 1999 he served as the Nagorno-Karabakh Public Affairs Office Director in Washington, D.C.
Hovik Manucharyan is an information security engineer who moved from Seattle to Armenia in 2022. He co-founded the ANN/Groong podcast in 2020 and has been a contributor to Groong News since the late 1990s.
Asbed is founder of Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.