Serzh Sargsyan

Azerbaijan Issues Arrest Warrants for Kocharyan, Sargsyan

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YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — The Azerbaijani authorities have issued international arrest warrants for Armenia’s former Presidents Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan.

An Azerbaijani military prosecutor said on Monday, February 21, that the two men born in Nagorno-Karabakh have been indicted for helping to launch in 1988 demonstrations for the Armenian-populated territory’s secession from Azerbaijan and unification with Armenia. He said they are also wanted for their role in the 1991 creation of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

Kocharyan and Sargsyan, who led Karabakh during its 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan, were quick to scoff at the accusations.

“The filing of accusations against Serzh Sargsyan by the Aliyev regime is in itself a caricature,” his office said in a statement.

It said that Sargsyan, who ruled Armenia from 2008-2018, will continue to use his “extensive connections and experience” to fight for the Karabakh Armenians’ “right to a free, independent and secure life.”

The statement also stressed that Sargsyan and Kocharyan, who now lead Armenia’s two main opposition groups, are also prosecuted by the “capitulator authorities” in Yerevan which it claimed are now effectively allied to “Azerbaijan’s ruling clan.”

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A spokesman for Kocharyan likewise linked the Azerbaijani arrest warrants with separate corruption charges leveled against both ex-presidents and strongly denied by them. Bagrat Mikoyan said they come amid Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s continued “flirtation” with Azerbaijani President [Ilham] Aliyev.

“The Armenian authorities, who are begging for peace from Azerbaijan at the cost of national dignity, are receiving help from their ‘educated and constructive’ friends,” he said tartly.

Baku has already issued international arrest warrants for Karabakh’s current leaders shortly after the 2020 war. Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General condemned the move at the time, saying that it has “taken measures” to prevent them from being placed on Interpol’s most wanted list. It did not immediately react to Baku’s latest move.

Robert Kocharyan

During his nearly two-decade rule Aliyev held numerous face-to-face meetings with Kocharyan and Sargsyan aimed at ending the Karabakh conflict. Over the past year he has repeatedly lambasted his former Armenian counterparts. The verbal attacks mostly followed their harsh criticism of Pashinyan and his handling of the disastrous war.

The arrest warrants came the day after Armenia’s current and former leader issued statements marking the 34 th anniversary of the start of the popular movement for Karabakh’s unification with Armenia.

“Artsakh will always be ours,” Kocharyan said for his part.

 

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