By Karine Ghazaryan
On October 18, Armenia’s outspoken human rights ombudsman Arman Tatoyan announced that Azerbaijani forces were fortifying their presence in a small bit of Gegharkunik province where they reportedly have been stationed for several months.
“They continue building new roads, increasing the number of servicemen and armaments at the posts,” Tatoyan wrote on his Facebook page. “Active engineering work is being carried out to reinforce their positions.”
The announcement prompted an unusual rebuttal from Armenia’s ministry of defense, which issued a statement calling Tatoyan’s claims “obviously exaggerated” and “detached from reality.” Tatoyan shot back in another Facebook post, accusing the MoD of feeding into an Azerbaijani disinformation campaign by impugning his claims.
The confrontation represented a new spark in a long-running tension between the government and the office of the ombudsman, who has taken a highly visible role calling public attention to the fragile security situation along the Azerbaijani border following last year’s war.
Tatoyan was appointed to the post of ombudsman in 2016, two years before the “Velvet Revolution” that brought the current government, led by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, to power.