With the mediation of the Russian military, 44 people were transferred to the Armenian side and 12 people to the Azerbaijani side.
Baku and Yerevan carried out an exchange of prisoners of war on the principle of “all for all”. On Monday, December 14, the commander of the Russian peacekeeping group in Nagorno-Karabakh, Lieutenant General Rustam Muradov, said this at a briefing.
According to him, the procedure was carried out in accordance with “the trilateral statement of the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia dated November 9, 2020”.
“As a result, 12 people were delivered to Baku and transferred to representatives of the Azerbaijani competent authorities under my personal control by a Russian Aerospace Forces aircraft. The Azerbaijani side returned 44 people who arrived with me at the Erebuni airfield,” the Interfax news agency quoted Muradov as saying.
Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia Tigran Avinyan confirmed on Facebook that “44 of our compatriots have been returned to Armenia through the mediation of Russian peacekeepers.” “Those prisoners are returning whose capture was confirmed by Azerbaijan and the Red Cross,” Avinyan wrote. According to him, the process of identifying and returning the rest of the prisoners continues.
The Azerbaijani State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Citizens confirmed the beginning of the exchange as well. “The return of prisoners and hostages began on December 14 this year,” the commission said in a statement. In particular, it specified that Azerbaijani citizens Shahbaz Guliyev and Dilgam Asgarov, detained in July 2014 in Karabakh, were delivered “to Baku by plane.” After being quarantined due to the coronavirus pandemic, they will be able to return to their families.
According to the Ombudsman of Karabakh Artak Beglaryan, at the beginning of December, the Azerbaijani side was holding about 60 Armenian prisoners of war and about 40 civilians. According to the State Commission of Azerbaijan, Armenia held 871 Azerbaijani citizens as of December 1. Of these, 604 are military personnel and 267 civilians.
Aggravation of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh
In the summer of 2020, the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region between Azerbaijan, on the one hand, and Armenia and the army of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh republic, on the other, escalated. On September 27, large-scale hostilities began in the region, which continued until early November. On November 9, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, as well as the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia Ilham Aliyev and Vladimir Putin signed a statement on a complete ceasefire and all hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh from November 10.
According to this document, the divisions of Azerbaijan and Armenia remain in their positions. Baku gained control over three regions in the region – Aghdam in the east and Kelbajar and Lachin in the west. Russian peacekeepers were deployed along the contact line in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the corridor connecting Karabakh with Armenia. Transport communication in the region is controlled by the border service of the FSB of Russia.
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