Azerbaijan's intent to prosecute NKR leadership outrages Yerevan
Azerbaijan intends to detain NKR President
Azerbaijani law enforcement agencies have announced that they intend to detain the president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Arayik Harutyunyan, “as soon as possible”. The “leader of the self-proclaimed regime” will be brought to justice by the operational departments and intelligence agencies of the special services”, said Nemat Avazov, head of the investigative department of the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Baku accuses Arayik Harutyunyan of “shelling Ganja” in 2020, during the 44-day war in Karabakh. In this regard, the Azerbaijani authorities launched a criminal case and put him on the international wanted list.
In response, the Armenian Prosecutor General’s Office stated that “measures have been taken to prevent an attempted illegal political persecution through the Interpol General Secretariat”. The basis for this is Article 3 of the Charter of Interpol, according to which the organization is prohibited from interfering “in matters of a political, military, religious and racial nature”.
Below is a breakdown of events and explanation of Azerbaijan‘s actions – both from the point of view of Baku and Yerevan, including:
- opinion of the Minister of Justice of Armenia,
- joint statement of the Ombudsmen of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh,
- opposition’s support for Arayik Harutyunyan,
- reaction of Armenian social media users,
- commentary of an expert from Baku.
- Op-ed: national interests of Armenia are an obstacle to peace agreement with Azerbaijan
- Ex-Transport Minister: benefits and drawbacks of Armenian-Azerbaijani railway are yet to be seen
- Op-ed: Azerbaijan may conduct a counter-terrorist operation in Karabakh
Reports from Stepanakert
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the unrecognized republic stated that there were no applications or requests for the detention of Arayik Harutyunyan in the NKR.
“Azerbaijan is trying to sow fear, it is possible that they will also try to somehow harm the officials of Artsakh and attack them”, David Babayan said.
In his opinion, this is another provocation by Azerbaijan and, apparently, such statements and even attempts at practical steps will continue:
“They will try to harm someone with such methods, at the very least there will be threats to life, perhaps they will seize, kidnap or publicly humiliate someone – they have always committed actions like this. In a word, this is a terrorist country, and it continues its natural, expected policy – there is nothing new here”.
David Babayan believes that all this may happen to the NKR officials in Turkey and other countries that support Azerbaijan.
Opposition supports President Harutyunyan
Three NK opposition forces came out in support of Arayik Harutyunyan. Their joint statement says that, despite internal political disagreements with Harutyunyan, they cannot “remain indifferent to obvious encroachments on any of the institutions of the statehood of the Republic of Artsakh”:
“Azerbaijani authorities, which have unleashed aggression against our people since the 1990s and become famous for numerous war crimes, are trying to mask their own sins”.
The opposition calls to “start a counter-campaign”, in particular, to set in motion a process against the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan, according to which they will be brought before an international court for war crimes.
Reports from Yerevan
“Criminal prosecution for self-defence is illogical”
The Minister of Justice of Armenia Karen Andreasyan stated that the criminal prosecution of Arayik Harutyunyan by the law enforcement agencies of Azerbaijan has no grounds:
“Any reasonable person understands that this criminal case cannot have any justification under international law. The people of Artsakh organized self-defense during the war unleashed by Azerbaijan. Criminal prosecution for self-defence is illogical”.
“Indifference will lead to new provocations”
“Even if, from the point of view of international law, the accusation of Azerbaijani law enforcement agencies has no factual grounds, the risks arising from it do not decrease. In the current situation, the relevant bodies of the Republic of Armenia will have to take steps to stop the Azerbaijani blackmail through various international structures”, said Tigran Abrahamyan, a deputy from the I Have The Honor opposition faction of the Armenian parliament.
In his opinion, if the Armenian authorities do not react to this situation and show their “indifference”, then “new Azerbaijani provocations” should be expected.
The oppositionist warns that the threat from Azerbaijan to arrest the president indicates the beginning of much deeper and more dangerous processes than it might seem at first glance:
“Given the fact that many of our compatriots ended up on Azerbaijan’s ‘black lists’, this is actually a threat to more than one person”.
“Hiding their own war crimes”
The Ombudsmen of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh issued a joint statement emphasizing that the criminal prosecution of Araik Harutyunyan by the Azerbaijani authorities has political motives, is based on the manipulation of facts and is
- an attempt to cover up their own war crimes,
- an attempt to mislead the international community,
- an attempt to intimidate the civilian population of NK.
“The persecution and blackmailing by the so-called ‘blacklists’ of Armenian and NK figures, as well as international public figures, experts and journalists, is the best proof that the calls for peace and the statements of the Azerbaijani authorities are, in fact, false. They are used as a smoke screen for the outside world and are aimed at hiding their true intentions.
Under the calls for peace, they hide their criminal acts against the civilian population, because they have not yet received a targeted response and responsibility for their genocidal policy and have not been punished for their crimes”, said Armenian Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan and Nagorno-Karabakh human rights activist Gegham Stepanyan.
Armenian social media users reaction
“Armenia should launch a criminal case against the President of Azerbaijan, and put him on the international wanted list for targeted bombing of the civilian population during the war”.
“Who will prevent Azerbaijan from prosecuting Arayik Harutyunyan? Russian peacekeepers, Putin or someone else?”
“When will Azerbaijan be held accountable for using prohibited weapons against civilians, for setting fire to forests with phosphorus and poisoning soldiers with it?”
“The one who mercilessly bombed the civilian population, including children and the elderly, the hospital and the maternity hospital, is now shamelessly making demands because we are silent”.
“The residents of Nagorno-Karabakh are calling for the arrest of Erdogan and Aliyev for starting a war. We have lost a whole generation of young people. Cultural and historical monuments were destroyed. Prisoners of war are being held in inhumane conditions. When will the UN wake up, where are the representatives of UNESCO, Europe? Artsakh is a democratic country, but undemocratic Azerbaijan is more important – the reserves of petrodollars have not yet dried up”.
Commentary from Baku
According to political observer Agshin Kerimov, in recent days in the territories of Azerbaijan, where Russian peacekeeping forces are temporarily stationed, there has been activity of “separatist groups who remain there”:
“Feeding on illusory dreams of the security of their “state”, illegal gangs are still trying to carry out some kind of engineering work in the internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan.
It is useless to wait for the separatists to make any contribution to the normalisation of the situation in the region. They are hysterical.
But we should not forget that since the end of the second Karabakh war, Azerbaijan has greatly increased its ability to monitor and control the territories where the Russian peacekeeping contingent is temporarily stationed. Every step of the illegal Armenian armed forces is monitored by the Azerbaijani army.
On February 15, Azerbaijani servicemen thwarted an attempt at engineering work near the Aghdam region. Before that, there was another similar case.
All these illegal actions of the separatists are taking place against the backdrop of a statement by a representative of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Azerbaijan about the imminent arrest of the leader of the regime, Arayik Harutyunyan, and his transfer to custody.
Indeed, infiltrating the Azerbaijani army and doing what is necessary to capture the leader of the separatists is an easy job for the Azerbaijani armed forces. This goal, among other things, will be served by anti-terrorist operations, which are quite possible in Karabakh.
In other words, from a technical point of view, the arrest of Harutyunyan is not very difficult. As for the question why he has not been arrested yet, it is due to the temporary situation in that part of the country.
Speaking of Russian peacekeepers and the territory where they are temporarily deployed, one cannot ignore the fact that Azerbaijan has the full right to carry out legal measures, including the use of military force, within its internationally recognised borders.
But Baku wants to resolve this issue without resorting to conflict with the peacekeepers, and, therefore, negotiations are underway with Russia on this topic. In other words, Harutyunyan’s arrest will be carried out under the sanction of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan. If this cannot be done, he will be arrested as a result of a special operation”, Karimov explained.