By Ruben Meloyan
The Armenian military said on Thursday that it has repatriated an Azerbaijani man who crossed into Armenia almost six months ago.
The Defense Ministry said Arzu Eyubov, 33, was turned over to Azerbaijani authorities with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
A ministry statement shed no light on circumstances in which Eyubov entered Armenia’s northern Tavush region, located hundreds of kilometers from his village in northern Azerbaijan, on February 18. According to Armenian military officials, he suffered from mental and other health problems and spent much of his captivity in hospital.
The handover occurred ten days after Azerbaijan repatriated four Armenian men who crossed into its Nakhichevan exclave last April in equally mysterious circumstances. The men stood by the official theory that they accidentally strayed into Azerbaijani territory after visiting their friend serving in an Armenian army unit stationed across the border.
According to the Arminfo news agency, Armen Kaprielian, head of an Armenian government commission dealing with prisoners of war and missing civilians, said the authorities in Yerevan are now trying to secure the release of an Armenian soldier who was taken prisoner last month. Azerbaijani media have quoted the soldier, Paruyr Simonian, as saying that he voluntarily crossed the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontline to escape hazing at the hands of fellow army conscripts. Simonian is said to have asked the Azerbaijani authorities to deport him to a third country.
The Armenian Defense Ministry has declined to comment on the statements attributed to the soldier. “Our main task at the moment is to ensure Paruyr Simonian’s quick return to the homeland,” said Kaprielian.