By Abdul Kerimkhanov
For several years, a law had been in force in Armenia to give amnesty to young people who left the country and escaped military conscription. Draft evaders could return to Armenia, pay a fine and not serve in the army.
However, the Armenian Defense Ministry found out that too many people who prefer to pay money and leave the country took advantage of this law, thereby saving themselves from service in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region currently under Armenian occupation. The amount of redemption from the army was 14.8 million drams, which is about $30,000.
At the beginning of the year, Chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on defence and security Andranik Kocharian stated that 10,000 people took advantage of this law. “My Step” faction deputy Sasun Khachatryan, in turn, spoke about the number of 11,000 dodgers.
Criticizing this law, Khachatryan stated that it encourages 24–25-year-old draft evaders to continue hiding for a couple more years.
However, changes have occurred in the military sphere of Armenia. Deputy Defense Minister Gabriel Balayan stated that the law will be valid only until December 31, 2019.
This news is tantamount to a tragedy for thousands of draft dodgers who, from January 1, 2020, will be criminals in their homeland.
Instead of the old amnesty law, Armenian officials tried to pass a new one. Another deputy from My Step Hayk Sargsyan suggested solving the problem for 10 million drams (about $21,000), with the condition that conscripts should spend one month in the barracks, receiving the basic military skills. The law also concerned mainly Armenians permanently residing abroad.
He said the initiative is aimed at preventing the wish of the Armenian citizens to emigrate, promote immigration by offering alternative military service opportunities which will allow the citizens to be free from mandatory service by serving just one month. If after one month the soldier expresses wish to continue the military service he may get the paid sum back and serve for another 23 months.
Thus, Armenians lost another opportunity to slope away from the army.
The winter conscription in Armenia will begin much earlier in the fourth quarter of 2019. Instead of January 1-January 31, this time the Armenian government decided to start this unpopular event with the Armenian youth earlier, namely on December 16.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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