Authorities in Azerbaijan have arrested another resident of Armenia who crossed the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in unclear circumstances.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry announced the arrest of Sargis Ananian, a resident of the Armenian border town of Noyemberian, on Monday evening, almost one week after his disappearance. A ministry statement claimed that Ananian deliberately entered Azerbaijan because of poor living conditions at home. It said the 53-year-old man also has a long history of ill-health.
Hovik Abovian, the governor of Armenia’s northern Tavush province encompassing Noyemberian, suggested on Tuesday that Ananian wandered into Azerbaijani territory by accident. He said that the Noyemberian resident never had serious health problems or complained of his socioeconomic situation to local authorities.
“He recently returned from Russia,” Abovian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “His two sons live in Yerevan. He had come to Noyemberian from Yerevan a few days before his disappearance.”
Meanwhile, the Yerevan office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the Geneva-based group has already asked the Azerbaijani authorities to allow its representatives in Baku to visit Ananian.
Ananian is the fourth resident of Tavush to have been detained in Azerbaijan so far this year. Two of them were branded Armenian “saboteurs” by the authorities in Baku and died shortly afterwards.
Karen Petrosian, a 33-year-old resident of Chinari village, was pronounced dead on August 8 the day after being detained in an Azerbaijani village across the border. The Azerbaijani military claimed that he died of “acute heart failure.” The Armenian government and many in Chinari believe, however, that Petrosian was murdered or beaten to death.
The United States and France have expressed serious concern at Petrosian’s suspicious death and called on Baku to conduct an objective investigation.
A 77-year-old resident of another Tavush village, Verin Karmiraghbyur, died in May three months after being detained on the Azerbaijani side of the frontier in similar circumstances. Doctors in Yerevan said the man, Mamikon Khojoyan, suffered serious injuries during his month-long captivity.