According to the local power grid operator, Artsakhenergo, an Azerbaijani-controlled section of the high-voltage transmission line stretching from Armenia was knocked down almost one month after government-backed Azerbaijani protesters blocked the sole road connecting Karabakh to Armenia.
“Azerbaijani is not only not letting us bring in food and medication but also preventing our specialists from visiting the site of the accident to restore electricity supplies,” Ruben Vardanyan, the Karabakh premier, said at an emergency meeting with other officials.
The authorities in Stepanakert suspect that the disruption, which resulted in power shortages in Karabakh, was an act of sabotage.
“Both the line and all other necessary equipment were refreshed recently,” Artsakhenergo’s deputy director, Tigran Gabrielian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “This is why we believe that should not have happened by accident.”
The Azerbaijani side has still not commented on the accident which forced Karabakh to rely only on electricity generated by local powers and resort to rolling blackouts.
The two-hour power cuts are especially challenging for residents of Stepanakert and other Karabakh towns who use electricity to heat their homes.
“We wrap ourselves in blankets and lie in bed for two hours, artificially warming ourselves,” said Irena Harutiunian, one such resident. “We have no other option because we don’t use gas heaters.”
“We expected such a thing,” said the 60-year-old woman. “Why didn’t our authorities take necessary steps [in advance?]”
The blackouts compounded growing shortages of food and other essential products that were imported to Karabakh from or through Armenia. Earlier this week, the authorities decided to ration some of these items to ensure their even distribution to the population.
Vardanyan again charged on Wednesday that the Azerbaijani blockade is aimed at forcing the Karabakh Armenians to leave their homeland.
“But we keep fighting for our right to live in our land,” he said. “It is very encouraging that our people agree with this approach.”