By Karine Kalantarian
An Armenian soldier deserted his military unit near the border with Azerbaijan last week and apparently ended up in Azerbaijani captivity, the Defense Ministry in Yerevan said on Thursday.
The Arminfo news agency reported earlier this week that an Armenian serviceman was taken prisoner in the westernmost section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontier.
Colonel Seyran Shahsuvarian, the Defense Ministry spokesman, told RFE/RL that the missing soldier served in a military base located in the same area. He declined to give any other details. It is unclear if the Armenian authorities have already contacted their Azerbaijani counterparts in connection with the incident.
The two militaries, which remain technically at war, signed an internationally mediated agreement in Tbilisi on March 18 which was meant to facilitate prisoner exchanges.
The Azerbaijani side released four Armenian prisoners as recently in January. Three of them were captured near Nagorno-Karabakh last November and are now prosecuted for willingly “coming into contact with the enemy.” The fourth soldier, who served in northeastern Armenia, was charged with desertion.
Shortly afterward three Azerbaijani soldiers were taken prisoner after crossing into Armenian-controlled territory in the northeast of Karabakh under still uncertain circumstances. They have since been kept in custody in Karabakh.