There must be specific individual consequences. The Prime Minister referred to the consequences of the fire that broke out in the accommodation of the military unit of the Ministry of Defense
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A regular Cabinet meeting was held today, chaired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
The participants of the session, led by the Prime Minister, paid tribute to the memory of the soldiers who died due to the fire that broke out in the accommodation of the N military unit of the Defense Ministry of Armenia located in the Azat village of the Gegharkunik Province on January 19.
Prime Minister Pashinyan referred to the details of the tragic incident, clarifications were presented by those in-charge. Below is the transcript in its entirety.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Dear colleagues, dear people, a terrifying incident happened at night. 15 servicemen died as a result of the fire in the accommodation of the military unit of the Ministry of Defense located in Azat village of Gegharkunik Province. Of course, we have been working over the incident since night, particularlt with the Minister of Defense. Mr. Papikyan, please provide the preliminary data of what happened.
Minister of Defense Suren Papikyan - Mr. Prime Minister, according to preliminary data, in particular, according to the preliminary data reported by the Military Police, a fire broke out as a result of the violation of fire safety rules, during which a prohibited substance was also used. I am talking about gasoline, which was impossible to extinguish.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Naturally, after it was clear about the already irreversible consequences, the first question that arose is that it is necessary to clarify who and what missed to do. I have to record that we found out the following, although there wasn't much to find out. As the minister mentioned, Mr. Kyaramyan, do you also confirm that according to the data of the Investigative Committee, a large amount of gasoline was used, which caught fire and could not be extinguished?
Chairman of the Investigative Committee Argishti Kyaramyan - Yes, Mr. Prime Minister. At around 01:30 at night, a fire broke out at the place of permement location of a company of one of the military units of the Ministry of Defense. In connection with the incident, proceedings have been initiated under Article 532, Part 4 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia, that is, a violation of the rules of conduct with materials that pose a danger to the environment, which negligently caused the death of two or more persons. Members of the investigative team are at the scene and have been working throughout the night. Experts were also involved, and there is a preliminary hypothesis that the fire occurred due to a violation of safety rules, which was done for heating the area. That is the initial hypothesis, which has been sufficiently substantiated at the moment.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Very good. We also found out that, in fact, the fire service of the Ministry of Interior arrived in a timely manner, but of course the distance was quite large, and in the conditions of that distance, it arrived in a timely manner. But I want to continue the idea. We have found out that on December 21, 2022, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces signed an order of with the following title: "On the fires that occurred in the military units of the Armed Forces and their prevention" and clearly instructed, gave an order, what should be done to comply with fire safety rules.
Of course, the entire text should not be published, point 7 states: "Strictly prohibit the use of automobile gasoline, nefras and other types of flammable liquids for the operation of stoves. Keep them separate from other liquids." In other words, this is the order given by the highest military official, and purely observing this order would simply have prevented this incident from happening. But what do we find out? We find out that not only gasoline was used - we have to admit today that all the data we have is preliminary - but also an attempt was made to use it for the stove. Moreover, the minister reported that special burners for lighting the stoves are distributed, etc., so that there is no need for additional things. With a 5-liter container - I say again, preliminary, the examination will clarify the rest - an attempt was made to open it, pour it into the stove, naturally, when there was already an open fire, not only the stove burned, but also the gasoline, the fire spread to the officer trying to light the stove, after which, again according to preliminary data, out of self-defense instinct, the 5-liter gasoline was thrown in the direction of the military unit's accommodation, we assume, naturally, or most likely, not intentionally, after which, it is clear what happened. I hope that, of course, the preliminary investigation, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Investigative Committee will work and reveal all the circumstances.
But I also want to say the following that when we toured various combat positions and units of the Armed Forces on December 31 of last year, at that time my instruction to the Minister of Defense and our agreement was as follows. our traditional approach, that we should deal with the problems in the army in a slightly different way, should simply be stopped, and at that time I gave a clear instruction that there will be no compromises. Even visually, if the service, discipline is not in a proper state, specific responsibility should follow. In that regard, I made a decision this morning and submitted a petition to the President of the Republic to dismiss the commander of the 2nd Army Corps. The President of the Republic has already signed the decision. But I also instructed the Minister of Defense that there should be very specific individual consequences. Mr. Minister, please, report what you have done in that regard.
Minister of Defense Suren Papikyan - Mr. Prime Minister, I am reporting that Chief of Staff of the 2nd Army Corps - Deputy Corps Commander, Rear Service Chief - Deputy Corps Commander, Deputy Corps Commander on combat duty, then Chief of Staff of N Military Unit - Deputy Commander, N military unit deputy commander for the rear, head of the engineering service of the N military unit, commander of the minesweeper company of the N military unit and head of the fire safety service of the rear department of the Armed Forces have also been dismissed.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Do I understand correctly that all those officials had more or less responsibility for implementing the mentioned order of the Chief of the General Staff?
Minister of Defense Suren Papikyan - Mr. Prime Minister, yes, the positions they hold are somehow related to the problem and, naturally, until a more detailed criminal-legal assessment is given to the problem, their further tenure is not appropriate.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - We have 3 people in medical facilities. Mrs. Avanesyan, do you have any information about their condition?
Minister of Health Anahit Avanesyan - Mr. Prime Minister, let me report that we have 3 wounded in the Burn Center. 2 are in the intensive care unit, 1 has lighter injuries, is in a ward.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - In other words, there are 3 people, there are no other soldiers who suffered burns. In general, I say again, what talked about is about official accountability. Who are the objects of criminal and other types of responsibility should be clarified already during the criminal case and proceedings. But it is also obvious that the simplest fire safety rules were not observed. I'm sorry, even if there wasn't this order of the Chief of the General Staff, as far as I understood today, when we discussed in the morning, Mr. Papikyan, you brought a document where without this order, everything is already arranged, that is, there is no need to remind. People should master their work, each in his own direction. Yes, it is clear that the accommodation has been used by the military since 2020, it is clear that the conditions there are not as usual, but that has nothing to do with anything. Any accommodation where people live, work, must comply with fire safety rules.
And this concerns, by the way, I want to draw the attention of our inspection bodies, again how many times we have talked about this topic, the military service separately, but we have large civilian facilities, which we do not close for those reasons, so that it does not turn out that we deprive several 100s of people of the opportunity to earn. But again, I order that there should be no compromise, no case of compromise. Where it doesn't meet the fire code, go and close, just go and close, physically close. Let the investor either make proper investments, observe the fire regulations, if not, let the traders leave it, go and trade in the place where the fire regulations and security are properly ensured. Otherwise, we will just go ahead recording such incidents. No matter how hard the decision is, go ahead and close, starting today. This series must be stopped.