Home Armenia Armenian Defense Minister Crowdfunds Soldier’s Surgery

Armenian Defense Minister Crowdfunds Soldier’s Surgery

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YEREVAN:At issue is the medical care of Albert Dallakyan, a 21-year-old who was accidentally shot in the head by his commanding officer last June. Dallakyan has already undergone three surgeries in Armenia, but his family says he needs another operation, for which doctors in Armenia don’t have the top-of-the-line equipment. The family wants to get the surgery in Germany, where it would cost $45,000, but the Armenian government won’t pay for the surgery abroad since it technically could be performed in Armenia, albeit at a greater risk of failure.

An Armenian-American activist started a crowdfunding effort to pay for the costs of the surgery in Germany, and the controversy began when Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan promoted the campaign on his Facebook page. He also pledged to pay 10 percent of the cost himself, along with “a few of his friends,” he said in the post. (As of this post’s publishing, Sargsyan had in fact contributed $6,015.)

Many didn’t see the act as quite so charitable as Sargsyan intended it. “Mr. Minister, do you consider it a normal phenomenon for a sovereign country to organize such a surgery through fundraising,” one Facebook commenter asked. “What law-abiding leaders we have, who refuse to circumvent the law! BRAVO,” another said, with evident irony. On January 17, several opposition activists took advantage of the public outcry and held a press conference criticizing Sargsyan. The political opposition has piled on, as well.

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