Circumstances surrounding how Artsakh soldier Arayik Ghazaryan, who abandoned his post and wound up on Azerbaijani territory, are being investigated, with the International Committee of the Red Cross actively involved in the process. Armenia’s Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan told reporters that he believed that Ghazaryan, who has been detained by Azerbaijani officials, had gotten “lost.”
Both Tonoyan and the Artsakh Defense Ministry dismissed Azerbaijani media and official reports, which alleged that Ghazaryan deserted his post to flee “inhumane treatment” by fellow officers and superiors calling it disinformation disseminated by the “Azerbaijani propaganda machine.”
Tonoyan urged the Azerbaijani military to put an end to the disinformation campaign.
At around noon on Monday, Ghazaryan abandoned his position in the military post in Vardana (formerly Fizouli) and was confirmed to have crossed the line of contact into Azerbaijan, according an official confirmation from Baku.
“The Azerbaijani propaganda machine is distributing on social media platforms photos of Private Arayik Ghazaryan, conscripted serviceman who appeared on the Azerbaijani side on August 12 in circumstances yet to be determined. It is mentioned that the serviceman has left his service location due to non-statutory relations, and the minor scratches and scars on Private Ghazaryan’s body are falsely presented to be evidence of violence against him,” said the Artsakh Defense Ministry in a statement on Tuesday.
Azerbaijan, through its propaganda machine, is notorious for distorting the truth attributing its own atrocities to the other side. The Artsakh Defense Ministry added that the false claims by official Baku are aimed at solely to undermine and tarnish the image of the Armenian soldier.
The ICRC announced Tuesday that its representatives are engaged in confidential dialogue with representatives of the respective authorities regarding Ghazaryan.
“Within the framework of its mandate the International Committee of the Red Cross makes visits to observe the conditions of incarcerated persons, as well as to assist in establishing communication with the family,” the ICRC Yerevan office said in a statement.
Armenia’s Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) Arman Tatoyan said on Tuesday that he spoke to the ICRC Armenia Director Claire Meytraud about guaranteeing the Ghazaryan’s rights.