YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Samvel Shahramanyan, the exiled president of Nagorno-Karabakh, appeared to backtrack on his decision to dissolve the unrecognized republic as he was confronted by angry Karabakh refugees in Yerevan on Friday, October 20.
More than a hundred of them gathered outside Karabakh’s permanent representation to Armenia in the morning to demand answers on Azerbaijan’s September 19-20 military offensive that allowed Baku to regain control over the region and caused the mass exodus of its ethnic Armenian population.
The mainly male protests also sought explanations for Shahramanyan’s September 28 decree which said that the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, set up in September 1991, will cease to exist on January 1.
“No document can dissolve the republic created by the people,” Shahramanyan told the angry crowd when he emerged from the building. “I am going to publicly explain this soon.”
Shahramanyan said he signed the decree to stop the hostilities and enable the Karabakh Armenians to safely flee their homeland.
“We saved the lives of our guys, we saved the lives of our civilian population which was in danger. Had the war been stopped an hour later, they would have entered the city [of Stepanakert] and slaughtered people,” the Karabakh leader added in his first public comments made since the Azerbaijani assault.