Authorities in Azerbaijan sent an elderly resident of an Armenian border village back to Armenia on Thursday four days after she accidentally crossed the heavily militarized border between the two countries.
The 77-year-old Lusik Abovian was detained in Azerbaijan’s western Gazakh district on Sunday shortly after her family in Koti, a village in Armenia’s northern Tavush province, reported her disappearance. Koti is located just a few kilometers from the Azerbaijani border.
Abovian’s repatriation was arranged by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). “Today’s handover took place on the road between the Azerbaijani town of Gazakh and the Armenian town of Ijevan, at the international border,” the ICRC said in a statement. “The ICRC facilitated this repatriation in conjunction with the Azerbaijani and Armenian authorities.”
“The individual in question had previously confirmed to ICRC staff that she was returning of her own free will. ICRC representatives were also in contact with her family prior to the operation,” added the statement.
According to Armen Kaperielian, the head of an Armenian government commission on prisoners of war, civilian captives and missing persons, Abovian was taken to a hospital in Ijevan for a medical examination immediately after the handover. Abovian will return home if doctors there confirm that she is in good health.
“Her condition is normal,” Kaprielian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) from Ijevan. “She can move on her own. Her mental condition is also satisfactory. She is a vigorous woman.”
At least three other civilian residents of Tavush strayed into Azerbaijan and were captured there last year. Two of them were branded Armenian “saboteurs” by the authorities in Baku and died shortly afterwards.