Pashinian spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone as a large group of Azerbaijanis blocked the road connecting Karabakh to Armenia to demand that government officials from Baku be allowed to inspect two gold mines in Karabakh.
The authorities in Stepanakert said the demands run counter to the terms of a Russian-brokered agreement that stopped the 2020 war and are just an excuse for intimidating Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population. Arayik Harutiunian, the Karabakh president, charged that “ethnic cleansing” is the ultimate goal of this policy.
An Armenian government statement said that Putin and Pashinian discussed ways of “resolving the situation in the Lachin corridor.”
“Prime Minister Pashinian emphasized the importance of ensuring uninterrupted communication between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and consistent steps by the Russian peacekeeping mission in that direction,” read the statement.
The Kremlin’s readout of the call made no mention of the road blockage. It said the two leaders paid “particular attention” to “ensuring security on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border” and restoring economic links in the region.
Putin also held a phone conversation with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
“Today we see consistent actions that are making fears that Azerbaijan is really organizing and preparing genocide in Nagorno-Karabakh more and more objective,” Pashinian told earlier in the day an international conference on genocide prevention held in Yerevan.
“And in this regard, I must emphasize the provocations that are taking place, in particular, in the Lachin corridor,” he said.
In Pashinian’s words, the genocide could take the form of a “physical destruction” of the Karabakh Armenians or their forced exodus.
At the same time, he said: “I believe that dialogue and cooperation, including between Baku and Stepanakert, is the most important tool for preventing genocide.”
Meanwhile, Armenian opposition lawmakers blamed Pashinian’s government for what was the second road blockage in nine days. They said Yerevan failed to react adequately when the Karabakh-Armenia road was closed for several hours on December 3.
“If the Armenian authorities had been more active and appealed to the international community to exert pressure on Azerbaijan, there would not have been this repeat [of the road closure,]” said Artur Khachatrian of the opposition Hayastan alliance. “I can assure you that this is not going be the second and the last [recurrence.]”