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Ethnic Armenians and Azerbaijanis Clash Abroad: Calls to Stop Skirmishes

Parallel to the military escalation on the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan that broke on July 12, 2020, battlegrounds opened in the Armenian and Azerbaijani Diasporas. Protests to support one country and counter-protests were held and eventually ended up with clashes and skirmishes in many cities all over the world, including in London, Los Angeles, New York, Brussels, the Hague, Warsaw, Chisinau, Moscow. In addition to public clashes, media reports of planned attacks on individuals and properties belonging to one or the other ethnic group’s representatives. Group attacks, clashes, fights and lynching against the other ethnic group were presented as acts of solidarity from the Diaspora to their nation-states.

There are dozens of injured individuals, including people that were hospitalized in a critical condition. Many have been arrested. 

Calls have been addressed to Diasporan communities from representatives of both ethnic groups to stop the “export of violence in the diaspora.” 

The situation was especially tense in Moscow on the night of July 24. Russia’s Police reported of at least 25 arrested individuals, while the Russian media reports of around 50 arrested individuals. 

Davit Tonoyan, representative of the Union of Armenians of Russia informs that at least 5 assaults took place on ethnic Armenians and their properties. These mostly took place in the Southern districts of Moscow, with cases reported in the larger Moscow region. An ethnic Armenian man was stabbed, whose life is not under a threat, according to Tonoyan. 

There are many videos in the Internet documenting attacks on cars with Armenian plates in Moscow, including beating of people in them. In one of the videos, an elderly man is attacked and beaten and forced to answer the question of who Karabakh belongs to.

The Russian media also reports of attacks of ethnic Armenians on Azerbaijanis, including a young Azerbaijani man beaten by a gang, and assault on a water-melon seller, skirmishes in “1001 Nights” restaurant.

Clashes apparently continued on July 25 as well. A group of Azerbaijanis attacked “Armyanskiy Dom” restaurant in Salarevo district of Moscow with wooden and metal batons. Earlier, a group of ethnic Armenians had destroyed an Azerbaijani restaurant on Bratislava street. There are many more counts of clashes of Armenian and Azerbaijani communities in various parts of Moscow and Russia.

Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement asking communities across the globe “not to give in to Azeri provocations” and not to engage in violent acts.

Armenia’s Ambassador to Russia, Vardan Toghanyan has, on his turn, issued a video address to the Armenians living in Russia with a call to be more “peace-loving” and not to buy in the “organized geopolitical provocations which aim to incite inter-ethnic clashes and present us as a people inciting hostility.”

Ambassador Toghanyan had earlier called for refraining from participating in assemblies and protests. The embassy had been receiving many suggestions for organizing protests in support of the Armenian state. “I share the concern and emotions of each one of you, however such calls will not resolve the issues our country is facing now. I request each one of you not to participate in any initiative, action and protest…  Please stop disseminating such calls, photos and videos in social media that will only work towards escalating the tension,” said Toghanyan in an address to Armenians living in Russia.