New Mardakert Executive Chief Appointed

STEPANAKERT (RFE/RL)–A French citizen of Armenian origin has been appointed chief executive of the Mardakert district of Nagorno-Karabakh. Thirty-three-year-old Sevak Ardzruni was formally presented late last week by Nagorno-Karabakh President Arkady Ghoukassian to the administrative staff of the strategic province in the north of the disputed region.

The RFE/RL correspondent in Stepanakert reported that Ardzruni earlier applied for citizenship of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic–but it remains unclear whether it has been granted. Karabakh legislation allows dual citizenship.

The Martakert district (the largest in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) has seen some of the heaviest fighting in the four-year war with Azerbaijan. Most of the district was occupied by the Azeri army in the summer of 1992. A counteroffensive by ethnic Armenian forces at the beginning of 1993 reversed the situation dramatically–with only a handful of the district’s villages currently remaining under Azeri control.

Ghoukassian last week pledged to step up his government’s efforts to rebuild villages damaged during the hostilities.

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