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The Poor Are the First to Fight in Nagorno-Karabakh

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Killed during the April 2016 conflict (left to right): Ulvin Mammadov (20, Azerbaijan); Kyaram Sloian (19, Armenia)

In Armenia, they are called heroes; in Azerbaijan, martyrs. One lived in a stone house with a dirt floor and no roof; the other in a mud hut with a dirt floor and a tarpaulin roof.
 
While the opposing forces hold seemingly irreconcilable positions on Karabakh’s fate, most of the soldiers who died in action during Armenia and Azerbaijan’s April 2-6 conflict had a common trait – they came from socially vulnerable families.
 
Long frustrated by alleged corruption within their respective armies, that fact agitates many ordinary Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Military service in both countries is obligatory for males once they turn 18. Most Armenians serve for two years; Azerbaijanis for 18 months.
 
Online and offline, a major complaint heard in both countries is the same – soldiers without influential connections or the ability to pay bribes are the ones who bear the brunt of combat. The sons of the wealthy or government officials are believed to be shielded from dangerous assignments.
 

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Vusala Alibayli is a freelance journalist based in Azerbaijan. Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Armenia and editor of MediaLab.am. Nazik Armanakyan is a photojournalist based in Armenia and working for Armenianow.com. Famil Mahmudbeyli is a freelance photographer based in Azerbaijan.

The Poor Are the First to Fight in Nagorno-Karabakh

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