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Azerbaijani blogger detained and released in Moscow for ‘war crimes’ 

Kamil Zeynalli. Photo: Apa.az

An Azerbaijani fitness blogger has been detained and then released in Moscow after Armenia placed him on an international wanted list on charges of murder. 

Kamil Zeynalli was detained at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport on Wednesday. His lawyer stated that Zeynalli was released after the Russian state had shown ‘humanism’. 

Armenia’s Interior Ministry confirmed to local media that an ‘interstate arrest warrant’ had been issued for Zeynalli, with Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Russia later claiming that this was on a wanted list for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a Russia-led regional intergovernmental organisation. 

Before his release, Zeynalli shared a video on Instagram in which he appealed to the Azerbaijani government for support.  

‘They tell me that either we will hand you over to Armenia or they will come and take you away from us’, said Zeynalli. ‘They said they will take me to court tomorrow.’

He added that Russian police claimed he had been wanted since May 2023, but that he had travelled to Russia three times since then and not been detained. 

While Armenian officials only confirmed that Zeynalli had been charged with murder, Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Russia stated that Armenia had called for Zeynalli’s arrest within the CIS on five criminal charges. 

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Azerbaijani media claimed that Zeynalli was charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, and recruiting mercenaries, amongst other charges. 

The ambassador added that the embassy was waiting for ‘the court’s decision’, which would assess the validity of Armenia’s request. 

Armenian media wrote that the blogger had killed an elderly Nagorno-Karabakh Armenian during the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020, after which he shared footage of the killing on social networks. 

Zeynalli’s lawyer, Alakbar Garayev, on Thursday told journalists that the arrest warrant related to Zeynalli’s visit on 29 September 2020 to territory in Nagorno-Karabakh that Azerbaijan had gained control of. 

Garayev claimed that Zeynalli entered houses in the region, took video footage, and shared it on social media. He also added that Zeynalli never entered or committed any crimes in Armenia, implying that Armenia’s case was consequently invalid. 

Armenia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Mher Grigoryan, on Thursday told reporters that he was sure that there would be further action regarding the case. 

Regarding the question of whether a note of protest would be issued to Russia, Grigoryan stated that he was not ready to ‘jump ahead’, but that action would be taken when there was an official response from Russia. 

Armenia’s Prosecutor’s Office announced on the same day that it had sent documents regarding Zeynalli’s detention and handover to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office. 

According to Qafqazinfo, Zeynalli was detained by Azerbaijani law enforcement officers on multiple occasions in 2020: first for petty hooliganism, later for violating quarantine, and in October for distributing video of the movement of Azerbaijani military equipment. 

Infocom added that Zeynalli was in 2020 accused both of beheading an Armenian man in Hadrut, and of committing acts of violence against Armenians in Moscow. Armenian officials and other media outlets have not corroborated the claim. 

Zeynalli returned to Baku on Thursday. 

Read in Georgian on On.ge.