In his address to the nation on the occasion of the liberation of Aghdam on November 20, President Ilham Aliyev compared the Azerbaijani and Armenian armies and spoke about desertions in the Armenian army.
"The number of deserters has exceeded 10,000, and they say it themselves, their officials say it," the President said.
Fakt Yoxla examined whether Ilham Aliyev's claim was true.
According to the former head of the Military Control Service of the Ministry of Defense of Armenia, Colonel-General Movses Hakobyan, during the 44-day war, the percentage of mobilization in the Armenian army was 78% in Nagorno-Karabakh and 52% in Armenia. Hakobyan made this statement a day after resigning. He explained his resignation by the fact that Nikol Pashinyan summoned soldiers from Nagorno-Karabakh to Yerevan on November 15.
Information about desertions in the Armenian army existed even before the Second Karabakh War. According to regnum.ru, citing Armenian law enforcement agencies, as of January 2017, 10,741 of the 12,698 people wanted were deserters. A criminal case was opened against them under Article 327 of the Criminal Code.
After the start of the Nagorno-Karabakh war on September 27, tougher amendments were proposed to the Criminal Code of Armenia. The bill, introduced by former Armenian Deputy Minister of Defense, Gabriel Balayan, was adopted in the first reading at an emergency session of parliament on October 28. According to the new amendments, desertion, evasion from training camps and mobilization during the war are punishable by 6 to 12 years in prison. Prior to the amendments, the offense was punishable by 4 to 8 years in prison.
Imprisonment for disobedience during the war was increased from 5 to 8 years. The maximum penalty for this act is 15 years. Deserters in martial law and war or combat situation will be sentenced to 8 to 15 years in prison. Previously, this violation was punishable by 6 to 12 years in prison.
On November 11, President of the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Arayik Harutyunyan, said that when he arrived at one of the battle positions in northern Karabakh on October 3, part of the army withdrew, and some units refused to take the lead, citing insufficient resources to provide the rear.
Former Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armenian Army, former military commissar, Major-General Levon Stepanyan told Sputnik Armenia on November 13 that according to information he received from numerous combatants and law enforcement agencies, at least 10,000 soldiers deserted.
On November 19, the BBC's Russian service reported that Movses Hakobyan had already said that 1,500 soldiers deserted on the fifth day of the war. The general added that they were detained in Karabakh so that they would not return to Armenia and cause panic.
Thus, the statements that the number of deserters in the Armenian army exceeded 10,000 contained considerations. Levan Stepanyan, who made this statement, is not an official at the moment. Although the president of the separatist regime, Arayik Harutyunyan, made statements in this regard, Fakt Yoxla did not receive official information confirming the claim.
Fakt Yoxla is without a verdict when assessing the President's claim.