By Emil Danielyan
The Armenian Defense Ministry on Friday confirmed the capture earlier this month of an Azerbaijani soldier, contradicting its earlier denial of the incident reported by the Azerbaijani military.
The Russian Regnum news agency quoted the ministry spokesman, Seyran Shahsuvarian, as saying that a 23-year-old warrant officer of the Azerbaijani army, Ramil Khudaverdiev, was indeed taken prisoner in an unspecified section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani line of contact. He did not reveal any circumstances of the incident, saying only Khudaverdiev is now kept in a detention center in Yerevan and his health condition is “satisfactory.”
News of the serviceman’s captivity was first reported this week by Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry which said he disappeared from his unit on August 3. Shahsuvarian initially dismissed it as “another piece of Azerbaijani propaganda.”
Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) appear to have already visited Khudaverdiev. “We confirm that the Armenia side has already informed the Red Cross that it is holding the Azerbaijani serviceman as a captive,” a spokeswoman for the ICRC’s Baku office was quoted as saying by the Baku daily “Ekho.” “Representatives of the ICRC office in Yerevan visited Ramil Khudaverdiev on April 15. They arranged an exchange of letters between the prisoner and his parents in Azerbaijan.”
The paper also reported that an Azerbaijani state body dealing with prisoners of war and hostages welcomed “the step taken by the Armenian side” and said it is trying to secure the soldier’s release. Incidentally, Khudaverdiev was reported to have been born in Armenia before moving to Azerbaijan with his parents in 1984.