Azerbaijan’s Prosecutor General office on Wednesday said that it has filed charges against an Armenian soldier who mistakenly crossed into Azerbaijan and was captured.
Armenia’s Defense Minister said the five separate criminal charges against Gurgen Alaverdyan were “absurd.”
The Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan said in a Facebook post that the ongoing legal process [in Azerbaijan] was nothing but “low quality theatrics,” adding that official Yerevan is in constant contact with relevant international bodies to secure Alaverdyan’s return to Armenia.
Official Baku alleges that Alaverdyan was captured when attempting what they called a “commando” operation within Azerbaijan, a claim vehemently denied by Armenia, which says the soldier got lost due to weather conditions.
Since Alaverdyan’s capture videos have surfaced on social media showing the Armenian soldier surrounded by Azerbaijani troop who are berating him with anti-Armenian slurs.
On Wednesday, a five-minute video circulated in Azerbaijani media showing Alaverdyan sitting in front of an Azerbaijani flag and “confessing” to the claim of a sabotage operation that went wrong. Furthermore, Alaverdyan is shown saying that he wants to stay in Azerbaijan because “the Armed Forces of Armenia have no chances to defeat the Azerbaijani army.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday that its representatives in Baku are trying to visit Alaverdyan.
“Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross are now engaged in a dialogue on this issue with relevant authorities in Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Zara Amatuni, the spokeswoman for the ICRC office in Yerevan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Artsakh Defense Ministry on Wednesday dismissed Azerbaijani reports claiming its troops had targeted civilian settlements in Azerbaijan.
“Staying true to its policy of spreading lies, Azerbaijan official propaganda machine issued a statement today claiming that the servicemen of the [Artsakh] Defense Army opened fire from machine guns and sniper rifles on the village of Ghapanli in the Terter region,” the Artsakh Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The Ministry called the statement “another misinformation of the Azerbaijan,” noting that the civilian population and institutions have never been and are not a target for the Artsakh Defense Army.”
The Artsakh Defense Ministry said that its elite troops continue to adhere to the ceasefire, but are ready to take necessary actions if necessary.