YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The Armenian government announced on Tuesday plans to introduce a special tax that will finance new and much heftier benefits for the families of military personnel killed or seriously wounded in action.
Armenian Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan publicized details of the scheme at a meeting with President Serzh Sarkisian. In particular, Sargsyan said, the families of soldiers who die or become gravely disabled while on combat duty will be paid 10 million drams ($21,000) each. Wounded soldiers suffering from less serious disabilities will be entitled to 5 million drams.
In addition to these one-off payments, the close relatives of killed or maimed army officers, contract soldiers and conscripts will receive monthly benefits ranging from 100,000 to 300,000 drams for 20 years. The compensation scheme will apply to combat incidents happening after January 2017.
“The program will be financed from a special fund to which every working person will contribute 1,000 drams ($2.1) per month,” the presidential press service said in a statement.
The average monthly wage in Armenia currently stands at 185,000 drams ($390), according to government data.
Sarkisian welcomed the proposed compensations. “I think that we are now able to drastically improve the situation with the help of our fellow citizens,” the president told the recently appointed defense minister, who had previously managed his staff.
Sarkisian added that Armenians will also be encouraged to make voluntary contributions to the new government fund. He argued that many of them rushed to provide financial assistance to the families of dozens of Armenians soldiers killed during last April’s heavy fighting with Azerbaijani forces around Nagorno-Karabakh.