Captivity continues for Armenian soldier in Azerbaijan. What do experts on both sides have to say?
Baku has requested that two Armenian soldiers be placed on the Interpol wanted list. Their names, says the Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan, were said by the Armenian officer now in captivity. The Azerbaijani servicemen who took the video of his capture have been discharged.
Azerbaijan contacted Interpol with the request to consider the soldiers, who are charged with attempted sabotage in the country, as wanted. Interpol’s response is as yet unknown.
This information was given by the Armenian officer who was captured on the Azerbaijani side of the line of contact on 23 August, 2020, says the ministry of defence.
At the same time, the Azerbaijani servicemen who captured him have been discharged from duty. They have also been charged with illegally recording the capture on their mobile phones and distributing the footage on social media.
Yerevan refutes the accusation the officer was sent to stage a diversion, and claims that the Armenian prisoner of war is being coerced.
What did the captured Armenian officer say?
Lieutenant Gurgen Alaverdyan of the Armenian armed forces was captured on 23 August in the Qoranboy district of Azerbaijan. According to a statement from the prosecutor general, he admitted that he had been ordered to organise provocations and diversions including explosions, on Azerbaijani territory.
The prosecutor general also states that Alaverdyan was following the order of his commanding officer Vazgen Vartanyan and that Armenian serviceman Armen Jamalyan was to assist him.
The court charged them, in absentia, with five counts of breaking the law of the civil codex. Then a request for an international search was submitted to the central Interpol office, reported the Azerbaijani Prosecutor General’s press-secretary.
Smartphones on the battlefield
While the prosecutor general was requesting an international search for the two Armenian soldiers from Interpol, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence discharged 14 Azerbaijani servicemen who had participated in the capture of Gurgen Alaverdyan.
The platoon and company commanders were also demoted.
This was first reported on social media, and then confirmed by the ministry of defence.
]The reason was the use of smartphones on the battlefield, stated the ministry in a press-release:
]”A number of soldiers have sent photos and videos with the prisoner to their relatives, which then ended up on social media”.
Comments from Baku
Military observer Asaf Guliev said in an interview with JAMnews:
“For some years now Azerbaijan has been trying to get two of its citizens, Dilham Askerov and Shahbaz Guliyev, released from captivity in Nagorno-Karabakh. These two normal people have been declared saboteurs and sentenced to long-term imprisonment.
As such, the legal process and declaration of an international search for the Armenian servicemen is necessary for Azerbaijan to set a legal precedent, but it will hardly lead to their arrest.
But this kind of punishment for Gurgen Alaverdyan, the serviceman who was taken into captivity, it not the right thing to do. Yes, they broke the rules and should be punished. But they ministry should have told journalists and bloggers about it early. That way they could have avoided widespread discussion and negativity among the public.
Comments from Yerevan
Military expert Karen Hovhannisyan said in an interview with JAMnews:
“This is all like the Turkish model. The Turks first charged the Kurds with trying to sabotage them, and then they started ‘retaliatory military actions’.
Armenia has said from the beginning that the serviceman got lost. There was no sabotage and no attack.
It’s likely that Interpol won’t even look at Azerbaijan’s request, since the Armenians have ground enough to say that these servicemen are not members of a saboteur group”.