Officials said a Russian plane carrying four Armenian prisoners and the dead body of another captive landed at Yerevan’s Erebuni airport in the evening. The commander of Russian peacekeeping forces deployed in Karabakh, General Rustam Muradov, told reporters there that two Azerbaijanis were freed and flown to Baku earlier in the day.
According to human rights lawyer Siranush Sahakian, two of the freed Armenians are soldiers while the two others civilians.
Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian said they are already examined by doctors and will receive “necessary medical and psychological aid” in hospital.
“The process of exchange of prisoners will continue,” Avinian wrote on Facebook.
The November 10 truce agreement calls for the exchange of all prisoners of war (POWs) and civilians held by the conflicting sides. The first such exchange occurred on December 14, with Azerbaijan releasing 30 Armenian prisoners of war (POWs) and 14 civilian captives, most of them residents of Karabakh.
The latest swap raised to 54 the total number of Armenian and Karabakh Armenian prisoners freed so far. Dozens of others remain in Azerbaijani captivity. Their precise number is still not known.
Armenian officials and lawyers say that Azerbaijan has admitted holding fewer Armenian POWs than were captured by it during the six-week war. Sahakian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that there is “irrefutable evidence” of about 40 POWs not acknowledged by Baku.
A Karabakh official said last week that 40 civilian residents of Karabakh remain unaccounted for. He said he hopes that most of these missing persons are held captive in Azerbaijan or are hiding in areas seized by the Azerbaijani army during the war.
Baku has so far confirmed the deaths of two Karabakh Armenians held in Azerbaijani captivity.