Moscow [Russia], September 28: Azerbaijan has arrested the former head of government of Nagorno-Karabakh, Ruben Vardanyan, at the border with Armenia, according to official reports.
Vardanyan, officially the state minister of the unrecognised republic of Artsakh, was taken to the capital Baku, where the authorities will decide on the further course of action, Azerbaijan's border guards announced on Wednesday, according to the state news agency Azertac.
Azerbaijan had previously expressed reservations about Vardanyan, calling him an obstacle to peace. Moreover, his relations with Armenia's Prime Minister NikolPashinyan - over the role of Russian peacekeepers - were also strained.
Azerbaijan took control of the long-disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh last week after brief fighting. It lies within Azerbaijani territory but has an Armenian population.
Tens of thousands of Armenians from the region have since fled. The border guard's charge sheet accuses Vardanyan of illegal entry into Azerbaijan. It is unknown whether there are other charges against the 55-year-old.
Vardanyan's wife, VeronikaZonabend, confirmed the arrest. Her husband was detained by Azerbaijani authorities while trying to leave Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenia, she wrote on her husband's Telegram channel on Wednesday.
Vardanyan, who became a billionaire businessman in Russia, moved to Nagorno-Karabakh last autumn and held the post of head of government there between November 2022 and February 2023.
More than 42,000 people have fled the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus, according to official figures, after Azerbaijan took control of the region in a rapid military operation.
Some 42,500 people have now arrived in Armenia, NazeliBaghdasaryan, the press secretary for Armenian Prime Minister NikolPashinyan, told a press conference on Wednesday.
Many ethnic Armenians are fleeing, abandoning their homes and boarding cars and trucks that have clogged the snaking mountain road that leads to Armenia. A reception camp has been set up in the village of Kornidzor, Baghdasaryan said. The Armenian government has promised to provide shelter for all refugees, she said.
Kornidzor is located in Armenia near the Lachin Corridor, which connects the Armenian heartland with the region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Nagorno-Karabakh lies on Azerbaijani territory but has so far been inhabited by an Armenian majority. The Azerbaijani offensive and subsequent surrender of the local government led to a mass exodus of the region's Armenian inhabitants.
Nagorno-Karabakh is recognised internationally as part of Azerbaijan, but the 120,000 ethnic Armenians living there dominate the region.
Baku and Yerevan have been vying for control over the region for decades and have fought two wars.
Source: Qatar Tribune