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Two former Azerbaijani citizens who have received Russian citizenship complained at a press-conference in Derbent on 17 May that the Azerbaijani authorities are attempting to call them for military service.
Asim Ragimov and Almir Akhmedov were born in the village of Galajig in Azerbaijan’s Gusar District, where ethnic Lezgis live. Both became Russian citizens several years ago through a programme to assist in the voluntary resettlement of Russians living abroad. They were eligible as Lezgis are a major ethnic group in Daghestan. According to Russian law, it is necessary to renounce citizenship of other countries to obtain Russian citizenship.
Ragimov and Akhmedov both gave up their Azerbaijani passports, however they recently learned that they are now wanted in Azerbaijan.
‘In Azerbaijan, I was put on the wanted list since I did not serve in the Azerbaijani army. When I received Russian citizenship, I went through all the necessary procedures to renounce my Azerbaijani citizenship’, local news outlet Caucasian Knot quoted Ragimov.
Last year I learned that along with other people from the village of Galajig, I was declared a deserter in Azerbaijan and put on a wanted list’, Akhmedov said.
‘I have been unable to visit my parents in Azerbaijan since 2016. My parents presented all the documents proving that I am a citizen of another country to the military commissariat; but they didn’t accept the documents. My parents still receive summons from the commissariat’, he continued.
Milrad Fatulayev, editor-in-chief of local state-run news agency RIA Derbent, told OC Media that this is a new problem, which began only in 2016, so there are not yet many cases.
‘Three people have appealed to us for help. According to them, there are seven people from the village of Galajig in Gusar District with the same problem. But many of them don’t want to appeal, they are afraid that if they speak about it publicly it will harm them or their relatives in Azerbaijan’, Fatulayev says.
Young people often come from Azerbaijan to Russia in search of better living conditions. Many of them become Russian citizens but this does not stop Azerbaijan from calling them for military service. Fatulayev thinks there could be several reasons of this.
‘In my opinion, they will not be able to go through military service in Azerbaijan as they are already Russian citizens and some of them have already served in the Russian army’, Fatulayev told us, adding that serving twice is ‘nonsense’.
He says that there is no real reason to force them to serve in the Azerbaijani army.
‘Either this is some kind of corruption scheme, under which they have to pay off the authorities to get rid of this problem, or Azerbaijan wants to demonstrate to other young people that they shouldn’t give up their citizenship’, Fatulayev says.
RIA Derbent is assisting Ragimov and Akhmedov on an appeal to be sent to the Azerbaijani Embassy in Russia.
‘We want to get an overview of this situation: what is the problem and how are they going to solve it. We will decide what the next step will be after we receive a response from the embassy’, Fatulayev added.