Azerbaijani protestors block Lachin, confront Russian peacekeepers.

Pashinyan Warns of ‘Genocide’ In Karabakh


By Anush Mkrtchian, Ruzanna Stepanian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused Azerbaijan of planning “genocide” in Nagorno-Karabakh and urged Russian peacekeepers to restore its sole transport link with Armenia again blocked on Monday.

Pashinyan spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone as a large group of Azerbaijanis blocked the road connecting Karabakh to Armenia to demand that government officials from Baku be allowed to inspect two gold mines in Karabakh.

The authorities in Stepanakert said the demands run counter to the terms of a Russian-brokered agreement that stopped the 2020 war and are just an excuse for intimidating Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population. Arayik Harutyunyan, the Karabakh president, charged that “ethnic cleansing” is the ultimate goal of this policy.

An Armenian government statement said that Putin and Pashinyan discussed ways of “resolving the situation in the Lachin corridor.”

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

“Prime Minister Pashinyan emphasized the importance of ensuring uninterrupted communication between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and consistent steps by the Russian peacekeeping mission in that direction,” read the statement.

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The Kremlin’s readout of the call made no mention of the road blockage. It said the two leaders paid “particular attention” to “ensuring security on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border” and restoring economic links in the region.

Putin also held a phone conversation with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

“Today we see consistent actions that are making fears that Azerbaijan is really organizing and preparing genocide in Nagorno-Karabakh more and more objectively,” Pashinyan told earlier in the day an international conference on genocide prevention held in Yerevan.

“And in this regard, I must emphasize the provocations that are taking place, in particular, in the Lachin corridor,” he said.

In Pashinyan’s words, the genocide could take the form of a “physical destruction” of the Karabakh Armenians or their forced exodus.

At the same time, he said: ”I believe that dialogue and cooperation, including between Baku and Stepanakert, is the most important tool for preventing genocide.”

Meanwhile, Armenian opposition lawmakers blamed Pashinyan’s government for what was the second road blockage in nine days. They said Yerevan failed to react adequately when the Karabakh-Armenia road was closed for several hours on December 3.

“If the Armenian authorities had been more active and appealed to the international community to exert pressure on Azerbaijan, there would not have been this repeat [of the road closure,]” said Artur Khachatrian of the opposition Hayastan alliance. ”I can assure you that this is not going to be the second and the last [recurrence.]”


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