The Azerbaijani authorities said on Tuesday that they intend to arrest and prosecute soon Arayik Harutyunyan, the Nagorno-Karabakh president.
“Harutyunyan, who presents himself as the leader of a self-proclaimed regime, will be brought to justice by operational divisions and special services and intelligence agencies as quickly as possible,” a senior prosecutor, Nemat Avazov, told reporters in Baku.
He said that Harutyunyan is wanted for his role in Armenian missile strikes on Azerbaijan’s second largest city of Gyanja carried out during the 2020 war over Karabakh.
The strikes, which reportedly left over two dozen civilians dead, followed relentless Azerbaijani shelling of Karabakh’s capital Stepanakert and other towns. The deadly shelling continued until Russia-brokered ceasefire stopped the six-week war in November 2020.
Karabakh’s foreign minister, Davit Babayan, condemned the Azerbaijani official’s statement.
“This is part of Azerbaijan’s terrorist policy,” Babayan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service from Stepanakert. “This could be expected. There is nothing new here.”
“With such actions, Azerbaijan is trying to spread fear [in Karabakh,]” he said. “They may also try to somehow harm Artsakh (Karabakh) officials or attack them.”
The Azerbaijani authorities already issued international arrest warrants for Harutyunyan, Babayan and other Karabakh Armenian leaders shortly after the 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.
Harutyunyan has repeatedly visited Russia since then. Babayan expressed confidence that Moscow, which deployed 2,000 peacekeeping troops to Karabakh right after the war, will not help Baku apprehend him.