Ambassador of Russia to Armenia Sergey Kopyrkin discussed with Edmond Marukyan, the leader of the opposition party “Enlightened Armenia”, the theme of the return of Armenians from Azerbaijani captivity. Today in Yerevan this issue is the most acute and may cost Pashinyan armchairs of the Armenian prime minister.
And, on the contrary, those political forces that achieve the release, according to various estimates, from 60 to 70 Armenian soldiers, will receive great political dividends.
The situation is aggravated by the fact that Ilham Aliyev During a recent big press conference, he called the Armenians held in Azerbaijani prisons – criminals who were charged with sabotage and murder after the end of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Ilham Heydar oglu said: “After the end of hostilities in the last 10 days of November, a detachment of more than 60 people was sent from Armenia, from the Shirak region, from the city of Gyumri and adjacent districts … It turned out that this was a sabotage group that carried out attacks like on our servicemen and civilians. As a result of their sabotage and terrorist acts, four of our servicemen and one civilian were killed. “
In mid-December, with the mediation of Russia and the International Committee of the Red Cross, Azerbaijan and Armenia have already exchanged prisoners of war according to the formula “all for all”. 44 prisoners of war and civilians returned to Armenia, and 12 returned to Azerbaijan, including Guliev and Askerovarrested by the Armenians back in 2014 and convicted by the NKAR court on charges of murder.
The prisoners returning home on board the Russian Aerospace Forces aircraft were then personally accompanied by the general Rustam Muradov, commander of the Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh. Therefore, when on April 8, the Prime Minister’s spokesman Mane Gevorkyan reported that Rustam Usmanovich is taking several allegedly liberated Armenians with him to Yerevan this time, and a large crowd of relatives has gathered at the Erebuni airport. Of course, there were also many journalists, as they hoped to capture happy tears and long-awaited hugs, and thereby raise Pashinyan’s shaky rating.
But only Muradov got off the plane. The greeters were furious and did not know who to blame. It was even reported a fight with the police. Then the crowd drove to the building of the Ministry of Defense and joined the protests of the parents of the missing military, who by that time had already blocked all the exits of the military department for 11 hours. The situation escalated so much that the employees of the Armenian Ministry of Defense were rescued from angry relatives by helicopter evacuation.
In behind-the-scenes conversations, Armenian officials turned the arrows to our general, but people believed Muradov, who put all the dots on the “i”. To the question of the correspondent of “Hraparak” newspaper why the Armenian officials announced the return of the prisoners, but the prisoners were never returned, Rustam Usmanovich replied: “This is a false provocation. Ask them. They mislead the population. It was an ordinary simple visit. “
Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia Tigran Avinyan made statements that Pashinyan did not officially announce the release and return of the prisoners. Say, rumors spread after the meeting of the Prosecutors General of Armenia and Russia Artur Davtyan and Igor Krasnova about the prisoners.
But Simonyan, the vice-speaker of the Armenian parliament, actually confessed to the provocation that Muradov said about, and which it would be more correct to call Pashinyan’s set-up. So, according to the legislator, “there were no agreements, we just hoped, like every day, that the flight would bring good news … I think we should apologize to our fellow citizens … for such misinformation.”
There is a small but characteristic nuance here: Simonyan told the Russophobic Armenian service of Radio Liberty about this (Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE / CE), included by the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation in the register of foreign media agents), which in every possible way supports Yerevan “Soros”. Moreover, there was no talk of an apology to our general.
But who of the “soros”, by and large, is worried about the fate of the Armenian prisoners, despite the oohs and oohs. As the American portal Eurasianet writes: “As the early parliamentary elections approach – they are now scheduled for June 20 – this (the prisoner problem) is also becoming domestic political football, and voters are likely to judge the work of the current government to some extent by its the ability to ensure the return of prisoners. “
What is interesting: Russian pro-government newspapers and TV channels, including the RT channel, which is oriented towards external broadcasting, for some reason did not react harshly to the provocation of the Yerevan “soros”. After all, the Pashinyan message to the relatives of the Armenians is sewn with white thread. Say, if the Kremlin really wanted, then Aliyev returned all the Artsakh prisoners at the same moment. After all, the largest Azerbaijani diaspora lives in the Russian capital, and this prevents Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov from properly squeezing some of the wealthy and influential Azerbaijani Muscovites.
We also add that Yerevan assures that Baku is holding about 200 prisoners and is obliged to return them in accordance with the eighth paragraph of the trilateral ceasefire agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh, which was signed on November 9, 2020. Pashinyan puts pressure on the fact that Putin is a guarantor, which means that the return of prisoners is part of his direct responsibilities. However, we repeat, Aliyev announced only 60 saboteurs arrested after the end of hostilities. His logic is based on the fact that the release of these people can provoke new sorties.
Taking into account the modern international practice of returning prisoners, Baku, of course, wants to “sell” Armenian prisoners to Yerevan at a higher price.
And here the interests of the United States emerge. “An unnamed but high-ranking official of the White House, according to The Washington Post, has already demanded that Baku release the prisoners as a gesture of“ goodwill ”. Obviously, pressure on Aliyev will be exerted closer to June 20, on the eve of the early parliamentary elections in Armenia, in order to achieve the re-election of the “Soros”.
In turn, Azerbaijan, according to the representative of the interests of Armenian prisoners in the ECHR Siranush Sahakyan, puts forward three conditions: a) withdrawal of units of the armed forces of Armenia from the territory of Karabakh; b) the cession of new territories, including the village of Tigranashen (Kyarki); c) transfer of control over the Red Bazar road leading to Shushi.
However, the main thing is different. “I guess what Aliyev will ask Pashinyan in exchange for the prisoners. I think that this is a corridor through Meghri (which Azerbaijan can use to connect with its exclave-Nakhichevan) … They (Azerbaijanis) need a road to Turkey, ”said director of the Caucasus Institute, political scientist Alexander Iskandaryan…
In Armenia itself, the majority of experts believe that “without aircraft carriers off the coast of Absheron”, Aliyev will not give up the captives. But America does not want to aggravate relations with Turkey, which supports Baku. Yes, and geography is on Aliyev’s side, which means that the United States has few real mechanisms of military pressure on Azerbaijan, except for the problematic Georgian corridor.
As far as Russia is concerned, Moscow is unlikely to put pressure on Baku, while in Yerevan there are “sorosets” in power, capable of any nasty things in relation to the Russian Federation. The provocation around the story of the prisoners, whom Muradov was supposedly obliged to bring, is a convincing confirmation of this.
And finally: the media platform JAMnews, well-informed in Caucasian affairs, writes that the return of the prisoners was still planned, but failed at the last minute. As the journalist suggests Hamid Hamidov“In Moscow, Pashinyan agreed with a certain proposal of Putin, which the latter told Aliyev about. In response, we (Azerbaijanis) were ready to return the saboteurs. Returning to Yerevan, Pashinyan, most likely, changed his mind and refused the word given to Putin. Baku found out about this in time and sent Muradov alone to Yerevan. “