YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenia and Azerbaijan exchanged on Monday, December 13, the first groups of prisoners under a Russian-brokered deal that stopped the war in Nagorno-Karabakh last month.
Armenian officials said a Russian plane carrying 44 Armenian prisoners landed at Yerevan’s Erebuni airport late in the evening. It was not immediately clear if the group included only soldiers or also Karabakh Armenian civilians that were held in Azerbaijani captivity.
“Additional information about the returned prisoners will be provided later on,” Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan said in a Facebook post that announced the start of the prisoner swap.
“The process of finding and repatriating our other compatriots who went missing or were possibly taken prisoner is continuing intensively,” he said.
An Azerbaijani government agency announced the start of the exchange earlier in the day. It did not say how many Azerbaijanis have been returned home.
According to news reports, the Armenian side freed two Azerbaijani men who were detained in 2014 after crossing into the Kelbajar district which was handed back to Azerbaijan late last month. The men subsequently received long prison sentences after being convicted by a Karabakh court of murdering an Armenian teenager.