Separatist “statesmen” arrested by Azerbaijan in Garabagh
Time to answer for crimes
ANALYTICS 03 October 2023 - 16:44
After the successful counter-terrorism measures in the Garabagh region, the special services of Azerbaijan detained some of the “officials” of the collapsed separatist regime in the region.
Their attempts to flee after the defeat in a one-day blitzkrieg anti-terror campaign of the Azerbaijan Armed Forces ended in their arrest at the Armenia-Azerbaijan conditional border.
Ruben Vardanyan, an Armenian tycoon who fueled separatism financially and politically, was the first criminal junta member detained by the servicemen of Azerbaijan’s border service on September 27.
During the 44-day Armenia-Azerbaijan war in 2020, Yerevan-born Vardanyan was in the Garabagh region of Azerbaijan talking about his financial support to the separatist regime in the Azerbaijani territory. Later in September 2022, he moved illegally to Garabagh after renouncing his Russian citizenship
In Garabagh, he took the office of the self-designed “state minister” of the Armenian separatist entity from November 2022 to February 2023. He was at the forefront of the calls for the recognition of the so-called “Artsakh”, i.e. Garabagh, as an “independent state”, as well as calls for an armed resistance in Garabagh. Vardanyan also spared no efforts to derail a possible dialogue between the Armenian community of Garabagh and the government of Azerbaijan, promoting the separatists as “authorities” Baku should deal with.
The motives for Vardanyan’s arrest are based on charges of leading illegal activities for the creation of armed groups in Garabagh and their subsequent supply of arms, ammunition, explosives, heavy equipment and other necessities. He is also charged with channelling financial support to Garabagh separatists to sponsor their terrorist operations against Azerbaijan
Currently, Vardanyan is on a pre-trial detention in Baku and is expected to be held accountable under the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan.
Former deputy commander of the so-called “Nagorno-Karabakh Defence Army,” Armenian citizen David Manukyan was the next criminal detained in Lachin on September 27. He was accused of terrorist activities in Garabagh, according to the State Security Service of Azerbaijan. The charges against Manukyan include also creating illegal armed formations in the territory of Azerbaijan and illegal border crossings.
According to the indictment, despite the tripartite statement signed on November 10, 2020, between Azerbaijan, Russia, and Armenia, providing for the withdrawal of units of the Armenian armed forces from the territory of Azerbaijan, Manukyan, being a major general at the Armenian Armed Forces, continued to commit crimes in the Garabagh region of Azerbaijan. Manukyan, proclaimed by the separatists as the so-called “first deputy commander of the Nagorno-Karabakh defence army,” participated in organizing and leading the activities of illegal armed groups on the territory of Azerbaijan, supplying them with weapons, ammunition, explosives, and devices.
According to the State Security Service, Manukyan also participated in organizing terrorist attacks, accompanied by explosions, fires or other actions, with the aim of disrupting public security in Azerbaijan, creating panic among the population, and influencing decision-making by international organizations.
Following his arrest, Manukyan was put on a pre-detention trial to further investigate his criminal activities.
Lieutenant-General Levon Mnatskanyan could not escape the Azerbaijani jurisdiction, as well. On September 29, he was arrested at the Lachin border checkpoint. Mnatsakanyan, a participant in the First Karabakh War in 1991-1994, served in different posts in the “armed forces of Nagorno-Karabakh”, including as commander of the artillery brigade, from 1992 to 2005. In 2006, he was put on the international wanted list by the Azerbaijani government.
In 2015, he took the post of “Defence Minister of Nagorno-Karabakh”, meaning to lead the separatist troops in the territory of Azerbaijan.
"I am saying with all confidence that the Armed Forces of Artsakh [the Armenian word for Karabakh], as always, will fully use their right to defence and deliver a targeted and incommensurate response to the enemy's offensive actions. At the same time, we advise the Azeri side to refrain from further military escapades, which can have unpredictable consequences," Mnatsakanyan said in an interview with the Russian Interfax news agency in 2017.
In 2018, Mnatsakanyan stepped down as the “defence minister” to serve as “director of the State Service for Emergency Situations” of the separatist regime. A year later, Mnatsakanyan’s next stop in the separatist government office was the “head of the Artsakh police” until 2020.
During his tenure in different high-profile separatist roles, Mnatsakanyan was at the forefront of provocations and territorial integrity violations against Azerbaijan. He has a proven track of record of atrocities against the Azerbaijani population of Karabakh in the early 1990s.
Azerbaijan's Prosecutor General's Office said that he was charged with massive torture activities against Azerbaijanis. Mnatsakanyan is also currently on a pre-detention trial. He will be charged under the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan after a relevant investigation into his crimes.
David Babayan, an “adviser” to the self-designed “president of Nagorno-Karabakh” since January 2023 and the separatist regime’s “foreign minister” from January 2021 to November 2022, was arrested on September 29.
During the four-day war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in April 2016, Babayan accused Azerbaijan of launching an offensive. Babayan repeatedly stated that collapsed “Arstakh republic” in Garabagh should have been treated equally with the Republic of Azerbaijan as an independent state. He claimed that Karabakh has never been part of Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory as a “millennia-old” historical Armenian region.
"Artsakh's [Nagorno-Karabakh's] opinion remains unchanged: we will never be a part of Azerbaijan. There are two options here. Either we will stand till the end, till the last drop of our blood and die or we all - the entire people - will leave here. There is no other option, we will not be a part of Azerbaijan," Babayan said in an interview with Armenpress in 2021.
According to the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan, a criminal case has been launched against Babayan since October 2020 under the charges of planning, preparing, starting, and waging an aggressive war against Azerbaijan.
Ararat Melkumyan was the next separatist detained by the Azerbaijani special services on October 3, according to the Armenian media. Major-General Malkumyan served as the “Secretary of the Security Council of Artsakh” since January 7, 2023. On January 16, 2023, he was relieved of duties to take up a new post – the “Director of the National Security Service” of the separatist government.
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