On October 23, 2023, volunteer Hovik Avagyan, a resident of the village of Taghavard, took 52 soldiers who were retreating from Hadrut near Kirs Mountain after the blockade to the village of Zardanashen, then under Armenian control. The next day, October 24, Hovik Avagyan was killed by sniper fire in a position between the villages of Zardanashen and Taghavard.
Hovik lived with his family in the village of Taghavard in the Martuni region. Hovik and his wife Emma have 3 daughters. On the first day of the war, September 27, Hovik Avagyan was in Stepanakert with his wife. They heard the sounds of bomb explosions and Hovik returned to Taghavard with his wife.
Two days later, seeing that the situation was becoming more and more tense, Emma moved to Yerevan with the girls. Hovik Avagyan was injured in the First Artsakh War and suffered from second degree disability. The wife, Emma, urged her husband to leave the village during the war, but Hovik remained in the village. “I won’t leave the village, how will I face the villagers later?” Hovik said.
The last time Hovik was seen by the head of the village of Zardanashen, Volodya Danielyan. On his way to meet the reservists who had come to the village, he saw Hovik standing alone near a tree and said the reservists were coming. A few hours later, gunshots were heard. The village clerk learned that a villager had been killed and began to call everyone in neighboring positions one by one. Only Hovik did not answer. The husband of Hovik’s eldest daughter, Gayane, called Hovik the morning of the day he died and asked him why he was not leaving the village, because all the other villagers had already left. Hovik said it was already late. Hovik’s body was brought back by his wife Emma’s brother. Hovik’s phone and gun were not with him, but his passport was in his pocket.
Hovik was buried on October 25 at the Taghavard cemetery. The cemetery was located in Verin Taghavard, which came under Azerbaijani control on October 27.
On December 19, 2020, the remains of Hovik Avagyan and 4 other villagers buried in Taghavard were taken out of Verin Taghavard through the efforts of Russian peacekeepers and the International Committee of the Red Cross and reburied in the fraternal cemetery of Stepanakert, which passed to Azerbaijani control in 2023.