The president of the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno Karabakh, Samvel Shajramaniántoday decreed the dissolution of the separatist entity in the territory of Azerbaijan. “All state bodies and organizations dependent on them must be dissolved before January 1, 2024, and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (Artsakh) ceases to exist,” states the decree reported by Armenian media. The dissolution of Nagorno Karabakh, a republic recognized by no one, not even by Armenia, was one of the conditions imposed by Azerbaijan to stop the military operation which he launched on the 19th against the enclave and which concluded the next day with the capitulation of the Karabakhis.
Since then, thousands of Armenians who lived in this environment have been fleeing for fear of reprisals from the Azerbaijani authorities. In this sense, the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nicole Pashinyan, said this Thursday that in the coming days there will be no Armenians left in Nagorno Karabakh and reported that a “ethnic cleansing”. “The exodus of Armenians from Nagorno Karabakh continues as a result of the policy of ethnic cleansing carried out by Azerbaijan,” Pashinián said in a meeting with members of the Government, quoted by the official Armenian agency Armenpress. He added that “the analysis shows that in the coming days there will be no Armenians left in Nagorno-Karabakh.” “This is a direct action of ethnic cleansing that we have been warning the international community about for a long time,” the prime minister insisted.
Pashinian stressed that the statements of several “international actors” condemning the ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh are “important”, but if they are not followed by concrete steps they will only serve to “create moral statistics for history.” If relevant political and legal decisions are not adopted after the convictions, these “will become acts of consent of what is happening,” he added.
The international community has urged Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev to respect the rights and security of Armenians, and have expressed concern, but have avoided talking about “ethnic cleansing.” The prime minister stressed that today The primary task of the Executive is to receive the displaced Armenians from Nagorno Karabakh, provide them with care and satisfy their most urgent needs.
More than half of the population of Nagorno Karabakh has already left their homes since Sunday and has moved to Armenia after the Azeri military operation on the 19th, according to official data. “65,036 forcibly displaced people from Nagorno-Karabakh have arrived in Armenia,” Pashinián’s spokeswoman, Nazeli Baghdasarián, wrote on Facebook. In just 24 hours, the number of Armenians leaving Nagorno-Karabakh increased by more than 22,000.
According to the Armenian Executive, the majority of displaced people have housing in Armenia or relatives who host them. The rest are installed in hostels, hotels, reception centers and other buildings in the city of Goris, which is located near the border with Azerbaijan.
Former Nagorno-Karabakh prime minister arrested
For his part, the Armenian Rubén Vardanián, former prime minister of Nagorno Karabakh, He was detained this Wednesday by Azerbaijani security forces when he tried to leave the territory towards Armenia. The former leader faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison after being formally accused in Azerbaijan of financing terrorism, creating illegal armed groups and having illegally crossed the Azerbaijani border.
The billionaire was brought before the Azerbaijani Justice this Thursday as part of a criminal case being investigated by the Security Service “into numerous terrorist crimes committed by illegal Armenian armed groups in Karabakh,” this state agency reported in a statement. The Sabail District Court of Baku issued a pretrial detention for at least four months for Vardanián.
According to Azerbaijan, there are “reasonable suspicions” that Vardanián, who led the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh republic between November 2002 and February 2023, had committed these crimes since he “illegally” crossed the Azerbaijani border in September 2022 as an Armenian to reach to this territory.
Nagorno Karabakh is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory but populated until last Sunday by 120,000 Armenians, of which more than half have already fled to Armenia after the Azeri military operation on the 19th aimed at dissolving the self-proclaimed republic, which Yerevan does not officially recognize either.
Once in Karabakh, Vardanián, who renounced Russian citizenship to assume the position of Minister of State or head of Government of this territory, participated “in the creation and activities of armed formations not provided for by the legislation of Azerbaijan,” explains the State Security Service of that country. He also “participated in the supply of weapons and military equipment to illegal military formations that carried out attacks on institutions, organizations and individuals, resulting in deaths and other serious consequences,” the indictment states.