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Armenia detains ‘lost’ Azerbaijani soldier

The village of Tegh in Armenia’s Syunik region. Image via Civilnet.

Armenia has detained one Azerbaijani soldier who crossed its borders, amidst unconfirmed media reports of an additional serviceman fleeing capture.

Armenia captured the soldier, identified by Azerbaijan as Ruslan Panahov, after he walked into Tegh, an Armenian village in the Syunik region, on Wednesday.

Yerevan and Baku have yet to confirm local reports of an additional unidentified Azerbaijani soldier avoiding capture.

On Thursday, Armenia’s Investigative Committee stated it was investigating Panahov under charges of attempted sabotage, attempted murder in a manner dangerous to the lives of others, attempted murder motivated by national and religious hatred, intolerance, and enmity, illegally carrying and transporting firearms and ammunition, smuggling firearms and ammunition, and illegally crossing the border.

CivilNet reported that Panahov was captured and sent to Goris, while another evaded capture

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence stated that Panahov had lost his way and entered Armenia due to ‘unfavourable weather’ while moving between Azerbaijani positions in the Lachin region.

‘To find our military serviceman, the search measures that were started immediately are being continued’, stated the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry. 


Argam Hovsepyan, a member of Tegh’s local council, told RFE/RL on Wednesday that two Azerbaijani soldiers were ‘caught near the village at 06:00 – 07:00. One ran away, and one was caught.’

Hovsepyan stated that there had been ‘unrest’ in a nearby Azerbaijani military position overnight, speculating that the two soldiers might have ‘escaped’ an internal dispute before ending up in Armenia.

Later that day, Armenia’s National Security Service confirmed that they had ‘neutralised’ one Azerbaijani soldier who had crossed the border early in the morning.

‘The serviceman was armed with an AKM-type assault rifle and one magazine. [Armenia’s Ministry of Defence’s] servicemen neutralised him’, they stated, adding that they had launched a criminal case against the captured soldier.

On the same day, Andranik Kocharyan, an MP from the ruling Civil Contract party and chair of the National Defence and Security Affairs Committee, told media that Panahov’s fate ultimately depends on the articles he is charged with.

‘From the proposed articles, it will become clear for what purpose he crossed our border. I think that since he had a weapon, we can infer a lot’, he said. ‘It could be sabotage, he could have been lost, he could have been drunk, he could have come under our authority as a result of a situation in their military units’.

‘In the previous case, which was controversial, there was a case of murder, but we saw that a legal solution was found with the exchange of prisoners,’ said Kocharyan, referring to the capture of two Azerbaijani soldiers in Armenia, one of whom was later charged with murder, in April 2023.

The two soldiers were exchanged for 32 Armenians in December 2023.

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