Azerbaijan is continuing its policy of apprehending Artsakh leaders and on Friday arrested two Artsakh military leaders, remanding both to so-called “pre-trial” detention.
The former First Deputy Commander of the Artsakh Defense Army Major General Davit Manukyan was arrested and remanded.
According to a statement released by the Azerbaijani State Security Service, Manukyan “is charged with terrorism, illegal possession and transportation of weapons and ammunition, forming armed groups and illegal border crossing.”
Former commander of the Artsakh Defense Army Lieutenant general Levon Mnatsakanyan has been arrested by Azerbaijani authorities at the illegal checkpoint in Lachin Corridor, according to the Russian state news agency TASS, which cited an unnamed source close to the general.
These latest arrests follow the detention of Artsakh’s former state minister Ruben Vardanyan, who similarly was apprehended on Wednesday on the Lachin Corridor and was sentenced to a four-month pre-trial prison term.
Veteran Artsakh leader and an adviser to Artsakh president, David Babayan posted an ominous message on social media on Thursday, saying that he was traveling to Shushi to turn himself into Azerbaijani authorities.
“You all know that I am included in the black list of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani side demanded my arrival in Baku for an appropriate investigation. I decided to head from Stepanakert to Shushi today,” Babayan, who served as Artsakh’s Foreign Minister, said in a social media post Thursday.
“This decision will naturally cause great pain, anxiety and stress, primarily to my loved ones, but I am sure they will understand,” he added.
“My failure to appear, or worse, my escape, will cause serious harm to our long-suffering nation, to many people, and I, as an honest, hard working person, a patriot and Christian, cannot allow this,” explained Babayan.
Since his post, Babayan’s whereabouts are unknown.
Babayan’s colleague and former Artsakh state minister Artak Beglaryan told Azatutyun.am that he attempted to make telephone contact with the former foreign minister, but was unable to reach him. “I assume he has been arrested,” Beglaryan added.
Reuters reported, citing an unnamed diplomatic source, that Azerbaijan has drawn up a list some 200 prominent Artsakh leaders who will be subject to arrest and prosecution.
The Artsakh authorities attempted to convince Azerbaijan to allow Artsakh current and former leaders to leave.
An Artsakh official, who did not want be identified, told Azatutyun.a that Artsakh President Samvel Shahramanyan is personally negotiating with the Azerbaijani side on the issue. He said Shahramanyan’s three predecessors — Arayik Harutyunyan, Bako Sahakian and Arkady Ghukasian — as well as Artsakh’s foreign minister, Davit Babayan, are among those who risk being arrested if they flee to Armenia through the Lachin corridor.
It is not clear whether the issue was on the agenda of a second meeting of Azerbaijani and Karabakh representatives held in the Azerbaijani town of Yevlakh later on Friday.