YREVAN (RFE / RL) – Families of Armenian soldiers killed in last year’s war with Azerbaijan have expressed outrage over a “large-scale and colorful” celebration of the upcoming Independence Day in the country. Armenia promised by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Pashinyan announced on Wednesday September 8 that such festivities will be held in the Central Square of the Republic of Yerevan on September 21 to mark the 30e anniversary of the country’s declaration of independence from the disintegrating Soviet Union.
“It will be first and foremost dedicated to our martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the independence, security and sovereignty of Armenia,” he said at a cabinet meeting.
The announcement appears to have angered many relatives of the Armenian victims of the six-week Nagorno-Karabakh war that erupted nearly a year ago.
Some of them took to social media to condemn him and even threatened to disrupt the planned event. They said any pompous celebration would be highly inappropriate in a country that still mourns the war dead and has yet to find, identify and bury all of its fallen soldiers.
According to official figures, around 3,800 Armenian soldiers were killed and more than 200 others disappeared or were taken prisoner during hostilities interrupted by a ceasefire brokered by Russia last November. Armenian research teams in Karabakh are still recovering, almost daily, the remains of soldiers on former battlefields now controlled by Azerbaijani forces.