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Azerbaijan arrests Nagorno-Karabakh resident for ‘illegal border crossing’ 

2 August 2023
The Azerbaijani checkpoint at the entrance to the Lachin Corridor. Photo: Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan has arrested a 55-year-old resident of Nagorno-Karabakh near the Lachin Corridor checkpoint, accusing him of attempting to illegally cross into Armenia.

Rashid Begleryan was detained by Azerbaijani border guards on Tuesday.

Azerbaijani authorities have accused Begleryan of attempting to cross illegally from Azerbaijan into Armenia.

The authorities in Stepanakert stated that Beglaryan was under the influence of alcohol and lost his way near the village of Hin Shen, close to the Lachin checkpoint, accidentally crossing the line of contact into Azerbaijani government-controlled territory. 

According to Nagorno-Karabakh’s Mayor of Shushi (Shusha) in-exile, Beglaryan had lived in Shusha before Azerbaijan took control of the city in 2020, at which point he moved to the village of Khndzoristan in eastern Nagorno-Karabakh.

Beglaryan’s son told RFE/RL that he did not know why his father got to Hin Shen, and that they had not been living with him. 

Beglaryan is the second resident of Nagorno-Karabakh to be detained by Azerbaijan in less than a week. On 30 July, Vagif Khachatryan was arrested while trying to cross the Lachin checkpoint with the Red Cross to undergo heart surgery in Armenia. Azerbaijan accused him of war crimes committed during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War. 

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Representatives of the Red Cross met with Khachatryan following his arrest. 

On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights demanded that Azerbaijan provide information about his whereabouts and details about his health by 8 August, following an appeal from Armenia. 

Yerevan has called the arrest of Khachatryan a war crime. 

The blockade continues

News of the arrests came as food and medical shortages in blockade-struck Nagorno-Karabakh deepen.

The Armenian government has attempted to send 400 tonnes of humanitarian aid to the region via the Lachin corridor, however, Baku has so far refused to allow the convoy to pass. The lorries have stood near the Lachin checkpoint for the past week.

Azerbaijan has suggested that supplies instead be delivered through the Aghdam-Stepanakert road, a proposal rejected by Yerevan and Stepanakert. Officials and civil society groups have accused Azerbaijan of using the route as a way to keep the Lachin Corridor closed.

While the EU has backed the idea of using the Aghdam road for humanitarian purposes, it also stated that the road cannot be an ‘alternative’ to the Lachin Corridor, which is the only road connecting the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia. 

In an interview with Euronews on Tuesday, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev took a threatening tone, insisting the Armenians of Nagrono-Karabakh must integrate into Azerbaijan.

‘Armenians of Karabakh should understand that they will live a normal life as a part of the Azerbaijani society with security guarantees, their rights, including education, culture, religion, and municipal rights’, Aliyev said. ‘They will stop being hostages of manipulation.’

‘They should also understand that they will not continue to count us out. If they do, if they continue to act like we don’t exist, or if they live in a fictional country with a “president”, “ministers”, “parliamentarians”, the situation they are in today will not change in their favour’, he said.

 For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.

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