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Armenian President Appeals To Putin


Belarus - Presidents Armen Sarkissian (L) of Armenia and Vladimir Putin of Russia attend the opening ceremony of the European Games in Minsk, June 20, 2019.

President Armen Sarkissian asked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday to help free Armenian soldiers and civilians remaining in Azerbaijani captivity after the recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

A ceasefire agreement brokered by Putin on November 9 calls for the exchange of all Armenian and Azerbaijani prisoners of war (POWs) and civilian captives. The process has still not begun and it remains unclear clear when the warring sides will start implementing this provision.

Armenia’s human rights ombudsman, Arman Tatoyan, accused Baku last week of “artificially dragging out” the release of POWs as well as the search for the bodies of Armenian soldiers killed in action.

The Armenian presidential press office said Sarkissian has sent a letter to Putin saying that many in Armenia are very concerned about the fate of the POWs and civilian captives and that Putin can help to speed up their release.

Sarkissian sent the letter during what his office described as a private visit to Moscow. The largely ceremonial head of state met over the weekend with leaders of the Armenian community in Russia to discuss the aftermath of the war.

The Armenian military has not yet publicized the number of its soldiers who were taken prisoner during the war. The number of Azerbaijani POWs also remains unknown.

Yerevan-based human rights lawyers have identified about 50 Armenian POWs and detainees in lawsuits asking the European Court of Human Rights to order Baku to provide information about their health and prison conditions.

Hundreds of other Armenian and Karabakh soldiers remain unaccounted for. Relatives of some of these servicemen met in Stepanakert on Monday with Ara Harutiunian, the Karabakh president, and General Rustam Muradov, the commander of Russian peacekeeping forces deployed to Karabakh in line with the truce accord.

“Every effort is now made at the highest state level to establish the whereabouts of all our missing compatriots as soon as possible,” Harutiunian said at the meeting. In his words, more than 600 corpses have already been recovered from former Karabakh battlefields.

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