The young man was apprehended in Ashotavan, a village in Syunik province bordering Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave. According to the Armenian military, he claimed to have crossed into Armenia together with another Azerbaijani serviceman.
The two Azerbaijanis were reportedly first spotted in Bnunis, another village located a few kilometers from Ashotavan.
“The Azerbaijani soldier simply fled their positions together with a fellow serviceman because of being subjected to hazing and humiliation by other soldiers,” Pashinian told the Armenian parliament.
Ashotavan’s mayor, Armen Beglarian, managed to talk to the soldier before the latter was handed over to Armenian security forces. Beglarian said the 19-year-old told him that he and his companion fled to Armenia because of hazing.
The other fugitive soldier’s whereabouts remain unknown. The Armenian military and security services say they are still searching for him.
Pashinian speculated that he may have gone back to Nakhichevan. “According to our information, shortly after crossing the border the second soldier, who is still being searched for, said that he has changed his mind and wants to go back,” he said without elaborating.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported on Monday that two of its soldiers serving in Nakhichevan have done missing in heavy fog. It has still not identified them.
Meydan TV, an independent Azerbaijani media outlet, identified the missing conscripts as Akshin Bebirov and Huseyn Akhundov. It quoted one of their relatives as saying that they went missing on April 5.
Armenia’s National Security Service, which is holding the Azerbaijani soldier in detention, has not released his identity so far.
The two Syunik villages are located about 20 kilometers from the nearest Azerbaijani army positions. This fact has left many in Armenia wondering how they managed to walk deep into Armenian territory undetected.
“Of course, this circumstance must be investigated and appropriated conclusions must be drawn with regard to ensuring border security,” said Pashinian.