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Russian FM Clarifies Moscow’s Stance on Detentions of So-Called Former Leaders of Separatists in Karabakh Region

By Vusala Abbasova October 6, 2023

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In Wednesday’s press briefing, Zakharova corrected an Armenian journalist’s question about Russia’s potential assistance to the detainees.

Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, made it clear that Moscow has nothing to do with the detained so-called former leaders of the illegal separatist regime in the Karabakh (Garabagh) region of Azerbaijan.

In Wednesday’s press briefing, Zakharova corrected an Armenian journalist’s question about Russia’s potential assistance to the detainees.

"Are you sure you've addressed the right recipient for your question?” Zakharova asked. “Is it necessary to take them? You seem to have everything mixed up. If you want to ask what Yerevan is doing to assist its citizens, as you mentioned, that's a question for the official representatives of the Armenian Foreign Ministry.”

She went further to clarify that the people detained by the Azerbaijani authorities are citizens of Armenia. Some of them have renounced Russian citizenship, and some initially only had Armenian citizenship, she said.

Since late September, Azerbaijan’s State Security Service has detained a number of former "officials" of the illegal separatist regime in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, including Ruben Vardanyan, who previously held the "position" of the so-called "state minister"; former “deputy commander” of the so-called “Nagorno-Karabakh Defence Army,” David Manukyan; “commander” of the separatist troops, Levon Mnatsakanyan; former “foreign minister” of the separatists, David Babayan; and, “secretary” of the so-called “Security Council,” Ararat Melkumyan.

Arayik Harutunyan, the so-called former “president” of the illegal separatist regime in the Karabakh region and his “predecessors” Bako Sahakyan and Arkady Gukasyan, the so-called “parliamentary speaker” of the separatists in the Karabakh region, David Ishkhanyan, were also detained.

The detentions followed the successful anti-terror measures conducted by the Azerbaijan Armed Forces last month. The one-day local counter-terrorist operation from September 19-20 was aimed at disabling Armenian army forces and military infrastructure in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. The operation followed the intensifying Armenian attacks on Azerbaijani positions and the recent deadly mine incidents, resulting in the deaths of Azerbaijani police officers and road construction workers. Also, two servicemen of the Azerbaijani army stationed in the Aghdam district were wounded by Armenian armed formations illegally deployed in the Azerbaijani territories temporarily monitored by the Russian peacekeeping contingent.

The anti-terror operation disabled almost the entire military infrastructure of the separatist regime. On September 20, they agreed to full disarmament and withdrawal. On September 28, the so-called leadership of the Armenian separatists in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan announced self-dissolution.

The Azerbaijan Ministry of Health reported that during the anti-terror operations, 192 servicemen and one civilian were martyred, while 511 servicemen and one civilian were injured. Among the martyred servicemen, 180 belonged to the Ministry of Defence, 12 to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Eleven more servicemen who died during the anti-terrorist measures in the Karabakh region have been identified after forensic genetic examinations.