Nagorno-Karabakh: Azerbaijan arrests former Karabakh leader

Azerbaijan has arrested a former leader of Nagorno-Karabakh as he tried to leave the enclave for Armenia, officials say.

Ruben Vardanyan, a businessman who headed the separatist government from November 2022 until February, was among thousands trying to leave.

Around 50,000 ethnic Armenians have now fled Nagorno-Karabakh, which was seized by Azerbaijan last week.

Mr Vardanyan’s wife appealed for support to ensure his safe release.

“Ruben has stood with the Arsakh people during the 10-month blockade and has suffered with them in their struggle for survival,” said Veronika Zonabend.

Azerbaijan’s border service said he had been taken to the capital, Baku, and handed over to other state agencies.

As they crossed the border on Tuesday, thousands of ethnic Armenians were subject to rigorous checks from Azerbaijani border control.

Azerbaijani authorities claimed to be looking for “war crimes” suspects, and one government source told Agence France Presse news agency that the country intended to apply an “amnesty to Armenian fighters who laid down their arms in Karabakh”.

“But those who committed war crimes during the Karabakh wars must be handed over to us,” they said.

Nagorno-Karabakh is recognised as part of Azerbaijan and had been controlled by ethnic Armenians for three decades.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here