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Situation with Azerbaijani Hostages at an Impasse: Human Rights Activist

The situation with the citizens of Azerbaijan arrested as saboteurs in the territory of Armenia and Karabakh is at an impasse, said Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives Chair Georgi Vanyan, in conversation with the Azerbaijani news portal Aktual.az [AZ].

"The information arena of Armenia and the unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, including statements by officials, is a zone of action by Putin's agents. There is no policy and no interests. The situation with the hostages is at a deadlock. In this case, I see no opportunities for human rights protection at the civil level nor any possibility of an objective investigation. 

"I apologize to the family and friends of Dilham Askerov and Shahbaz Guliyev for such a drastic and unreassuring statement. I hope all is not lost, and the pressure exerted by Azerbaijan's president will play a role in the fate of the hostages," he said.  

Azerbaijan's State Committee for the Affairs of Refugees and IDPs announced that meeting with the arrested and returning to Azerbaijan the body of their dead compatriot is under the personal supervision of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. The committee already held several meetings with representatives of the Red Cross and expressed its concern over the lack of any information about the fate of those arrested, urging international agencies to intensify their work in this direction.

Baku insists that Shahbaz Guliyev and Dilham Askerov (pictured), as well as the killed Hasan Hasanov, have nothing to do with the country's armed forces. The Armenian side, however, refuses to give the detainees POW status.

The Prosecutor's Office in Karabakh accuses them of espionage, illegally crossing the Nagorno-Karabakh border, illegal possession of arms and ammunition, kidnapping, use of weapons, murder motivated by ethnic hatred accompanied by kidnapping, and attempted murder of two individuals motivated by ethnic hatred.

According to Armenian and Karabakh authorities, Askerov and Guliyev kidnapped and killed 17-year-old Smbat Tsakanyan in the territory of Karvachar (Kelbajar). In addition, they are accused of killing 42-year-old Major Sargis Abrahamyan and injuring 37-year-old Karine Davtyan.