Gross violations of human rights, expatriation and forced displacement of 150,000 Armenians of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) as a result of illegal use of force, political decisions, and activities of Russian troops


Since September 19, 2023, the Armenian human rights media organization “Reporters for Human Rights” has been collecting, documenting and chronicling the stories of people who were forced to leave their homes in Karabakh and Azerbaijani-occupied border villages of Armenia.

The organization publishes analyses, interviews, as well as reports from border settlements on its website. These publications show the general history of the occupation of Karabakh by Azerbaijani troops, the displacement of peaceful civilians, the annexation of a part of Armenia’s territories, and the use of illegal force in resolving disputes. They demonstrate that the reason for gross violation of human rights, expatriation and deprivation of homeland are the political decisions of the parties to the conflict.

The proof of the illegality of those events is the fact that, after Baku’s “military victories” and Pashinyan’s recognition of “Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan”, Aliev and Pashinyan talk about the need to enshrine “political decisions” and “new realities” in the constitutions of Armenia and Azerbaijan. This proves that the “new realities” and “political decisions” contradict the existing laws and therefore are illegal.

The report is an attempt to substantiate these claims, based on the stories of Artsakh residents who have experienced indescribable hardships and deprivations, as well as official reports and experts’ opinions.

It includes the following periods and issues:

  1. War of 2020, occupation of a part of Artsakh, Trilateral Statement of November 9, 2000, the entry of Russian troops;
  2. The 10-month blockade of Artsakh by Azerbaijan, which ended with starvation and complete lack of food. Drained people were ready to leave their homes in order to feed their children, transport the sick, and find medicine;
  3. September 19th Azerbaijani attack on the civilian population, aggression;
  4. The destructive role of Russia as a “guarantor of security”, the arrival of residents of the villages jointly occupied by the Russians on September 19, 2023 at the Russian base of the Stepanakert airport, lack of assistance, etc.;
  5. History of border villages, which were the first to fall under fire in 2023;
  6. Seizure of almost all villages of Artsakh, displacement of people from villages to Stepanakert (people left their homes in a couple of hours, fled through the forests, reached Stepanakert, lived there for a week on the streets, without food and shelter, leaving relatives and unburied corpses in their native villages);
  7. Explosion of a fuel warehouse in Stepanakert, prisoners of war;
  8. Decree on dissolution of the Republic of Artsakh and disarming the army (although those in positions fought to the end);
  9. Exodus: The difficult journey, death of 70 people, birth of children, Russia’s announcement that the peacekeepers have ensured a “peaceful departure”, the arrest of the military-political leadership of Karabakh;
  10. Loss of thousand-year-old Armenian heritage of Artsakh;
  11. Summary: Resolutions, opinions, proposals.

Baku and Moscow claim that the expatriation of Armenians from Artsakh was “voluntary”, no one forced Armenians to leave, on the contrary, they were encouraged to stay and integrate. According to them, no occupation or forced displacement took place.

Although the Armenian government talks about ethnic cleansing, it has not initiated political and legal procedures to accuse Azerbaijan of ethnic cleansing and forced displacement of the native population of Nagorno-Karabakh.

However, the facts attest that the deportation of Armenians from Artsakh took place as a result of consistent genocidal actions. The fundamental international principle of non-use of force was violated. And based on that, political and legal actions must be taken to eliminate the consequences of illegal use of force, genocide and deportation.

  1. In 2020 war, occupation of the most parts of Karabakh, deportation of Hadrut and Shushi residents

 On September 27, 2020, the 44-Day War that started by Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh led to the loss of a part of the territories of Karabakh and the deportation of more than 22 thousand Armenians from the territories where there was a thousands-years-old native Armenian presence. An attempt was made to resolve controversial political issues through war, contrary to the international principle of non-use of force or the threat of force.

The question of ownership of Karabakh is considered debatable and, since 1992, has been the subject of the mandate of the OSCE Minsk Group and international negotiation processes.

As a result of the occupation of a part of Karabakh, according to the unratified Trilateral Statement of the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, Russian peacekeeping troops entered the territory of Karabakh on November 10, 2020. After that, the region was completely closed not only to the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and legitimate international organizations such as the UN, UNESCO, UNICEF, but also to foreign diplomats and experts, including those from Armenia. The Russian troops decided who to let or not to enter Karabakh.

Azerbaijan, under the guise of Russian troops, carried out arbitrary actions against the Armenian property, cultural and other values and national property that remained in the occupied territories. The population of these areas was forcibly displaced. The stories of the brutal murder of the elderly people who decided to stay in Hadrut speak expressively of forced depopulation.

  • Artsvik Barashyan is from Mets Tagher village of Hadrut region of Artsakh. During the 2020 war, he sent his wife and three children to Armenia, but he stayed and participated in self-defense battles. When the 44-Day War ended and the villages of Hadrut region, including Mets Tagher, passed to the enemy, Artsvik joined his family. Then he went bak to Artsakh. Artsvik was supposed to be given a house in Artsakh as a person who became homeless following the 2020 war. The house being built in Ivanyan was already ready, but neither he nor any other Artsakh residents were able to live there. Atsvik was going to go back to his family, but Azerbaijan blocked the road in December 2022.


  1. Blockade

 On December 12, 2022, with the support of the Russian troops (under whose control, according to the Trilateral Statement of November 9, 2020, was the only road connecting Armenia with Karabakh, the Lachin Corridor), Azerbaijan completely closed the road.

For the whole 10 months of the blockade, not a single cargo has entered Karabakh [the only neighboring country of Nagorno Karabakh, except Azerbaijan, was Armenia through the blocked Lachin Corridor]: no food, no. medications, no daily consumption goods. In March 2023, Azerbaijan installed an illegal checkpoint in the Lachin Corridor, completely stopping entry and exit to and from Karabakh. The arrest of Karabakh residents who tried to leave Karabakh for medical treatment or other urgent needs accompanied by the Red Cross or Russian peacekeepers completed the ring of blockade around Karabakh. And the disconnection of gas and electricity in the cold season testifies about an understanding between Baku and Moscow to “peacefully” remove the Armenian population from the region. Armenia’s passive behavior only encouraged these actions.

In the summer of 2023, famine began in Karabakh. There was an acute shortage of fuel, hygiene items, medicine, baby food. People refused the food sent from Azerbaijan with the support of the Russians, demanding to open the connecting corridor with Armenia.

The request of the people of Artsakh to the Russian troops to open a corridor to evacuate the wounded, children and women remained unanswered.

  1. The Aggression of September 19, 2023

 On September 19, 2023, Azerbaijani troops carried out an aggression in the territory of Karabakh and deported the residents of the regions whose security, according to the November 9 statement, should have been ensured by the Russian troops. As a result, in one day, almost the entire population of the Karabakh regions, not having time to take anything with them, appeared in Stepanakert and asked for help from the Russian peacekeepers.

Due to the aggression, more than 200 Armenian soldiers were killed, around 250 were injured, dozens of people went missing, and civilians, including children, were murdered.

  • According to the data published by the RA Investigative Committee, as a result of the large-scale military operations unleashed by Azerbaijan on September 19 against Artsakh, 14 people were tortured and 64 died while emigrating from Nagorno Karabakh to Armenia. 223 servicemen of the Artsakh Armed Forces were killed, around 25 of them were civilians. There were 5 minors among the victims. As a result of military operations, nine civilians were killed, three of them children. 244 servicemen and 80 civilians, including 10 minors, received physical injuries of varying degrees. Eight of the 16 arrested persons are members of the former and current political leadership of the Artsakh Republic detained in Baku prisons on trumped-up charges. More than one hundred thousand forcibly displaced Armenians were recognized as victims. There are 20 missing people, 5 of whom are civilians. About two dozen cases of disrespect to the corpses were recorded.


  • As a result of the military operations in Artsakh on September 19, Hranush Israyelyan’s family lost four men: a son, two sons-in-law and her husband’s brother. They are Artak Israyelyan, Andrey Israyelyan, Valery Gasparyan, and Gennady Grigoryan. Three of them, including a wounded serviceman, were killed by Azerbaijanis on their way to emigration, while they were moving from Sarushen to Stepanakert.



  1. Russia’s destructive role as a “security guarantor”


Before signing a “peace treaty” with Aliyev, Nikol Pashinyan’s government is trying to prepare the ground for Russia to be cleared of responsibility for the events that took place in Artsakh in 2020-2023.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced: “Groups of Russian troops continue to be the main guarantor of maintaining peace in Syria and Karabakh.” Peace in Karabakh is peace without Armenians, as Shoigu thinks. “The Russian side has repeatedly stated that it considers Karabakh to be part of Azerbaijan; in particular, the President of the Russian Federation made such a statement in November and December 2020. I learned about these statements from the press. In my opinion, they contradicted the Trilateral Statement of November 9,” said Nikol Pashinyan. “If the opposition is against recognizing Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan, it means it is against Putin,” Pashinyan hinted. “Russia, having a number of security obligations towards Armenia, could not fulfill its obligations, simply could not,” he said.

In fact, the ruling Civil Contract party believes that Russia is willing but unable to fulfill its obligations. And, in Baku, they say that the guarantor of the future peace treaty can be either Turkey or Russia.

  • Gevorg Arustamyan from Artsakh says in a conversation with “The presence of Russian peacekeepers was like the Operation Ring of the 90s[1], just a slightly civilian version of it. They checked the trunks of the cars, they got what they wanted, they disarmed the army. On September 19, I saw the armored personnel carrier of the Russian peacekeepers four and a half hours after the enemy attack: it was going up to Shushi, then came down after an hour. They did not intervene to stop the war. When the Turks had already approached Stepanakert, there was panic in the city: everyone on our street shouted to each other that we were going to Ivanyan, where the Russians will ensure our safety. The Russians needed to take people to the airport area, to film them, to show the world that they are a savior, a peacekeeper. A few political forces in Armenia would also like to see that the Russian is saving the people of Artsakh. When talking to the people of Artsakh, the peacekeeper soldiers, from privates to commanders said that they would ensure our safety, protect us, they will not let Azerbaijan attack us. They stopped me once, told me the same; I asked if I were looking that naive, and they did not continue. They were good people as persons; I was a taxi driver; I drove them to Ivanyan. But they did not do their job as peacekeepers,” said the interlocutor of

According to some information, the Russians transported 14 million units of weapons and ammunition seized from the Artsakh Defense Army to Russia for using on the Ukrainian front.


  1. A story of the border villages that were the first to come under fire in 2023


September 28 – October 5 are considered the days of deportation of Armenians from Artsakh, but the actual occupation and deportation took place on September 19, 2023. That day, as a result of a large-scale attack, dozens of Artsakh villages were depopulated and came under direct fire.

  • Azerbaijanis killed three civilians of Sarushen village. The incident took place after the September 19 war, on the road from Sarushen to Stepanakert. Mkhitar Gasparyan, a resident of the village, reported this information in a conversation with am. “The murdered people were my neighbors, I knew them,” said the 64-year-old man, detailing that one of the murdered men was one of the elderly residents of the village, who was on his way of deportation. “One of the killed men was wounded, the other was a relative of the wounded, he was taking him to the hospital on his car, and the third was an elderly man who wanted to take his big car to Stepanakert so that it would be possible to transport many people to Armenia,” said Mkhitar Gasparyan. Mkhitar Gasparyan himself was in danger of being killed on the same road. He was a participant in the combat operations of September 19. He was not a soldier, but participated in Sarushen’s self-defense. “When the enemy attacked, all the villagers entered the fight. The war started like that. We gave a lot of victims; 10 people died,” he said, noting that he was wounded in the leg. The village head of Sarushen tried to transport Mkhitar along with two other injured people to Stepanakert hospital on his car. “We left the village on the way to Khachmachi (village in Askeran region of NK). The Azerbaijanis blocked the road, we came under fire. They shot a lot. It looked as if hail was falling on the car. The village head was wounded in the back. We overturned the car and went to Sarushen,” he said, emphasizing that the Azerbaijanis had positioned themselves on that road in order to kill the Artsakh citizens. Mkhitar Gasparyan participated in the defense of his homeland in the same position where Armen Arustamyan died bravely. has published about Armen’s feat here.

The fire on their position stopped for some time, after which Armen noticed: ‘The Turks entered the trench’. They were 40 meters away from us. We started shooting, but we were also retreating back, because there were only two of us. We were shooting and, at the same time, we were going back together. We went about 25 meters and I saw that Armen fell.” As we have informed, Mkhitar Gasparyan was also wounded at that time. “They didn’t shoot at the village much: they shot at the positions to kill, destroy the soldiers and take the villagers captive.” After these incidents, when Mkhitar could not reach Stepanakert and returned to Sarushen with the village head, he met a woman on a road who was hiding in the forest. After the start of the war, the people of Sarushen fled to the forests to save themselves. After returning to Sarushen, Mkhitar was taken to the hospital by an ambulance, and after a few days’ stay, he went to Armenia.

  • The residents of Sarushen village, about 400 people, miraculously got out of the Azerbaijani siege and were saved. In a conversation with, Alisa Arustamyan says that the attack on the positions started at 11:00 a.m. The positions were 200-300 meters away from the village. “They gave Trivoga, the children were sent home from school,” remembers Mrs. Alisa. “After a while they started shooting, they immediately attacked the village. My son called and said, ‘Enter the basements, the situation is bad.’ Mrs. Alisa’s son, Armen Arustamyan, called 10 minutes after reaching the positions from home. This was the last phone call between the mother and the son. They sounded the alarm, the children were sent home from school,” remembers Mrs. Alisa. “After a while they started shooting and immediately attacked the village.

“After a while, the head of the village sent someone from the position to get us out of the village and send to the forest.” Mrs. Alisa describes how people left their houses: one in home clothes, the other without documents… Sarushen people took the road to the forest. The residents reached the forest with much difficulty since they were under fire. “I don’t know how, but we reached the forest. It was already dark. With our children in our hands, we were waiting to be told what to do. I hoped that I would return home again. They came and said that they have already entered the village; we should go.” After waiting for five hours and seeing that the danger is getting closer, the residents took the road to Msmna village on the advice of the village head. Msmna is located in Martuni region.

“At night, we set off on foot to go to Msmna. We walked five or six kilometers and arrived at 3 a.m. In the morning, the village head brought cars; we came to Stepanakert. I didn’t go to our house anymore: we left empty-handed, we didn’t even take our documents.”

Peacefull residents who were forcibly displaced witnessed even more atrocities on the way. Azerbaijani soldiers shot the wounded who were being taken to the hospital from Sarushen positions. “The Turks cut off the path of the wounded and started killing and torturing them with automatic weapons. Three were injured. People saw in the morgue that the halves of the heads were missing, my son also saw them.” According to her, the wounded were 33, 40, 70 years old. “If we had come out a little later, they would have entered and killed us too. We crossed through the shooting.”

  • “The last farewell and burial of Vitali Abaghyan from the village of Chartar in Martuni region of NK took place in the same way as the burial of other boys who died in Chartar in those days: at night, silently, so that the enemy would not notice the gatherings and hit them with UAVs. “We didn’t even bring my husband home: we brought him at night and buried at once. They didn’t let us bring them during the day; they were afraid that they [the Azerbaijanis] would shoot,” said his wife, Lilit.
  • “It was the afternoon of the 19th of September, everyone was doing whatever they usually do, cool and carefree, in their gardens, with their own feelings, and suddenly … a thunderbolt thundered over my heads,” Alvard Avagyan, who was forcibly displaced from Artsakh, tells with tears in her eyes.

After the bombardment of the village, the residents took the children down to the basement of the village head’s house. “We took the young children to that basement; not only our village, the whole Martuni region was there, with little ones, crying.” It was the afternoon of the 19th of September, everyone was doing whatever they usually were doing, cool and carefree, in their gardens, with their own feelings, and suddenly … a thunderbolt thundered over my heads,” Alvard Avagyan, who was forcibly displaced from Artsakh, tells with tears in her eyes.

After the bombardment of the village, the residents took the children down to the basement of the village head’s house. “We took all young children to that basement; not only the children of our village, the whole Martuni region was there, with little ones crying.”

The family lived in one of the most dangerous border villages of Artsakh, in the village of Nngi, Martuni region. After being displaced, after traveling for three days with her elderly parents and her brother’s family, they settled in the village of Ranchpar, Ararat region, Armenia. To describe the terrible situation and feelings of the three-day journey, Alvard painfully remembers the words of her elderly father: “Leave me on the road, you go” …

After the enemy attack, on the night of October 19, they decided to evacuate the residents from the village. The villagers did not agree: they had soldiers on the border. Although they were bombing and there was no connection, but they were sitting on the roads waiting for a car, for someone to come and tell them some news about them.

“The boys of our village came and took the remaining young men to defend the village. We learned that they [Azeris] were entering the village with about fifty people who have already broken through. They [our guys] were smart enough not to shoot. If they shot, they [the Azeris] would destroy the entire village.”

On October 21, Russian peacekeepers went to the village with the enemy and Samvel Shahramanyan [the new, last President of NK] with the order to disarm. Surviving the terrible days, Alvard remembers: she did not sleep all night. With fear in her heart, she was looking out the window. In the darkness, in the lightless village there was only the enemy with weapon in hands.

“The little ones were crying, saying that the Turks are going to kill us. When the village is disarmed and the Turk [means Azeris] is in the village, how can you be safe?

We still didn’t want to leave the village; we waited until the 25th of the month. After that, our village head said: what are you waiting for, people, do you want to stay or go? Who can stay? Even if you stay, you will commit suicide. For the sake of the children, everyone left the village. We left everything: our graves, childhood memories, lived days. We came out of the village and didn’t know where we were going, why we were going, how we were going to live… we came out, we left the blood of our boys there.”

Fortunately, there were no casualties in the village from the fight, instead “we were living corpses”, says Alvard. After being displaced, already in Armenia, four people from their village did not survive: some of them died of a heart attack and one died after being in a coma for a month.


  1. Capture of almost all villages of Artsakh, displacement of people from villages to Stepanakert (people left their homes in 1-2 hours, fled through the forests, reached Stepanakert, lived there for a week on the streets, without food and shelter, leaving relatives and unburied corpses in their native villages)


On September 19-20, Azerbaijanis, together with Russian peacekeepers, blocked almost all the roads leading from the Artsakh regions to Stepanakert, preventing aid from reaching the residents of the occupied villages.

According to eyewitnesses, whenever Azerbaijanis were seen near a village, orders were given to the head of the community to evacuate people. No one says exactly who gave the order. In one case, they say it was the Russians, in the other, the leadership of Artsakh.


  • Anahit Ghazaryan from Getavan village of Martakert region of NK tells the story of her giving birth on the way of her migration from Artsakh. “Our village was right on the front line. My husband was in service: he is a traffic policeman. He was at work in the morning. When everything started, we went to our neighbor’s house. We went there and stayed until 4:00 p.m., when our village head announced that the enemy was approaching and we should leave the village and go to a safe place. I took whatever I could grasp of my child’s (2-year-old Marinka’s) clothes and we left. Shots were heard,” says the woman and remembers that she went to the village hospital with her daughter and her husband’s mother.


“I was in the hospital as a pregnant woman, and there were several sick children. Then I was taken out of the village in an ambulance along with two wounded people. The village was displaced; only men and those in service remained there. They stayed only until the night. When they were told that that was it, that they were going to hand over the village, they also left.”

In Stepanakert, the pregnant woman first hid in the basement of a residential building with her daughter and her husband’s mother. The residents of the building gave them food and blankets, and, in the morning, they went to the airport, the main base of Russian peacekeepers.

“There was a messy situation, cold, nobody knew what to do. There was no information from anybody. There, my husband came and reached us. We stayed in different places for several days, but then we left in the personal car of the head doctor of our village. At night my labor pains started. At that time, an ambulance passed by us, but I didn’t want them to stop for me: I thought it was transporting wounded people. Our doctor asked the Russian peacekeepers on the way and they opened the road and started escorting us. We reached Mets Shen, then Hakari bridge. The Azerbaijanis stopped the car. When they saw that I was pregnant, they let me go. At that moment, the ambulance that passed a few hours ago was coming back. They picked me up, took me to the hospital and the baby was born immediately.”

Fortunately, the baby was born healthy, but it was weighing 2.5 kg and was 48 cm tall. Anahit says that before and after her, different women gave birth, all of their children were small. According to her, the reason was not only the lack of food and everything necessary during the last weeks of the blockade, but also the growing tension and fear of uncertainty among everyone, especially pregnant women.

After September 19, 187 children (93 boys, 94 girls) were born in the families of Artsakh citizens forcibly displaced from Artsakh and moved to the RA capital. 48 of them (22 boys, 26 girls) were born in December.

  • 60-year-old Lyudmila Margaryan lived alone in Karmir Shuka village when the September 19 large-scale attack attack began, although she wanted to believe that nothing had happened. “They started shooting at one o’clock. It’s a bit soft to call it shooting: fire was pouring out from all sides. Everyone in the village was crying and running here and there. I went out and heard people saying that a war had started, the Turks had entered the villages. We all gathered in the basement of the school. The shots did not stop all night. In the morning, they said we were leaving the village,” says Mrs. Lyudmila and describes how the path to becoming an refugee began: “I will put it a little rudely: I will say that they loaded the cars as they load the sheep into the cars, that’s how they put us into the cars. You can’t imagine what was happening. Somehow, we got out of the village. Half on foot, half by car, we reached the village of Tsvategh (Martuni region, NK). We stayed at the school for four days. There was a blockade: there was no food, people wanted to help, but what would they give?” Then Mrs. Lyudmila tells how she returned to Karmir Shuka on foot again.


“We stayed for five days, then they told us to come to our homes. I came to our house on foot from Tsvategh and stayed in our house that day. In the morning the neighbor said, ‘You have five minutes: the Turks have entered the village.’ It was a five-minute distance for the Turks to reach our house. We went and stayed that night in Chartar. In the morning, we set off to Gishi to get gas and get out. It was raining, cold on that day. The same conditions were on the road road from Stepanakert to Goris. We stayed at the Gishi intersection for 24 hours, then we got the news that the gasoline warehouse exploded and everyone panicked and got worried. The people set off on foot. Somehow, we reached Stepanakert: I came to my little daughter,” she said.

  • “I am already the head of the house: I have to go to work to be able to take care of the family,” says Gor, who was forcibly displaced from Artsakh. The 16-year-old boy has no time to think about education after being transferred from the city of Chartar, NK to Sevan, Armenia. The worries about his mother with health problems and his minor brother fall on his shoulders. There is a cruelty in the memories of those forcibly displaced from this city: everyone witnessed the night funerals and Gor and his family have been also participants to one of them. They had to bury his 42-year-old father at night so that the enemy would not notice the human gatherings and shoot. “I was at school on September 19. I left at 12:30 to come home. I was already reaching home when I heard voices: there were young schoolchildren, girls, I took them to the shelter. I went home. Daddy was already taking his clothes to go out. My heart felt something. I said: papa, don’t go. But he went. He told us to go to the shelter,” the son remembers the last meeting with his father, contract soldier Vitaly Abaghyan. “Two days after we buried daddy, they said that everyone should leave Karabakh. I went and got fuel, came back and said: ‘I have to take father’s car as a souvenir.’ The car had problems. I sent off my mother, my brother, our folks by a car. They were telling me to leave father’s car and go with them.


  • Kornidzor is the last village of Armenia. From there, the depopulated city Berdzor of Artsakh can be seen easily. Olya Margaryan almost always looks in that direction: the road leading to Artsakh can be seen from her balcony. The 52-year-old woman hopes that one day she will return to her home on that road. When there is an opportunity to go to Artsakh and live safely, she will go to Khachen village of Artsakh again and continue to sell candles in St. Stephen’s Church, as she has done for the past 17 years. September 19, 2023 changed everything. The village of Khachen, like other settlements, appeared under Azerbaijani fire. There were no shots in the direction of the village, but the sounds terrified the residents. “My son was serving in Askeran. When the shooting started, they phoned and called him. There was no gasoline, how would he go, get there? He said, the fight has started, I have to go. He went out, but he could not find a car, so he came back. All the women and children of the village left, went to Stepanakert. Everyone left the way they could, even on tractors. But the men stayed. They were given machine guns to protect the village. My husband and son stayed to enter the village, at least to protect it. We came to Stepanakert. We stayed for a week, but there were explosions in Stepanakert too. We went to the airport; they [the Russians] didn’t do anything there. The Russians said, ‘Why have you come here?’ We went back home. Then they said that everyone should leave. My son and my husband came from the village, we came to Armenia,” says the woman.


  1. Explosion in Stepanakert gasoline warehouse. Prisoners of war


In one of the fuel depots of Stepanakert, where residents had to go to get fuel to drive and save their families, a terrible explosion took place under suspicious circumstances on September 25.

Gennady Grigoryan married right after the end of the 44-Day War, after returning from the front line. Three years later, he appears on the front line again, remains under siege for days, miraculously survives and dies on September 25, together with his younger brother, during the gas station explosion. Gennady’s widow, 24-year-old Anahit Grigoryan, lives in Oshakan village of Armenia now, with their 2-year-old son. The displaced young woman from the Sarushen village of Askeran (NK) recalls how on September 19, when the women and children of the village hid in the nearby forests as a result of the Azerbaijani military operations, Gennady accompanied them with several other men.

“They took us to Msmna village of Martuni region of NK. We stayed there for a few hours, but we realized that it is dangerous there too: they took us to Stepanakert… All this was organized by our village head, who was already injured at that time, was in a very serious condition, but organized everything. If he didn’t do that, we would have met the Azerbaijanis in those forests and I don’t know what would have happened with us,” the woman says.

According to Anahit, the women were moved from there to the basements of Stepanakert. The men stayed in Msmna, then went to Nngi. “The men in Nngi, including my husband, were surrounded for several days until the Russian peacekeepers took out the survivors. The peacekeepers went there with high officials of the Azerbaijani side, as well as our high officials. My husband told me later about it. He said that the Russian peacekeepers said that they should disarm, that the army no longer exists, the army has been destroyed, so they should hand over their weapons if they want to be taken to a safe place. And they were transferred to Stepanakert.”

The explosion was the last straw, which convinced people that neither the state, nor the military, nor the medical systems are working anymore in Artsakh and there will be no help from anywhere.

 Even the belongings of many of the victims of the explosion were not found: the burial was based on genetic examination results. The families had doubts: was the explosion a result of negligence or was it a terrorist act and brutal murder? Are the rumors that a number of missing persons have actually been captured true?

 The problem of prisoners of war was not resolved with the release of 32 Armenian captives at the end of last year, and Armenian prisoners of war continue to be held in Azerbaijani prisons. It has been officially announced that there are 23 of them, 17 of whom are captured as a result of the 2023 aggression: citizens, servicemen, and 8 Artsakh highest ranking officials. At the same time, human rights activists warn that there are factual data regarding the forced disappearance of 32 people after the 44-Day War in 2020, about which Azerbaijan is silent.

“Besides the issue of POWs, we have the issue of forced disappearances and missing persons, which is unresolved. The fate of hundreds of Armenians has not yet been properly investigated and the families’ right to know the truth has not been realized. It causes suffering to those people and creates additional uncertainty,” said Siranuysh Sahakyan, President of the Center for International and Comparative Law, to She has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights regarding the issue of numerous Armenian prisoners of war.

  • 36-year-old Davit Alahverdyan, who was an adviser to the Minister of Agriculture and a lecturer at the Agrarian University of Artsakh, is now in prison in Baku. The Azerbaijani authorities accuse him of “terrorism, creation of an illegal armed group, acquiring and possessing illegal weapons and ammunition.” Almost the same charges have been brought against the former high-ranking officials of Artsakh who are in the Azerbaijani prison. He is one of the officially confirmed 23 prisoners kept in Azerbaijan. Davit was from the village of Sznek, but he lived with his small family on a lease in Stepanakert. After the 44-Day War of 2020, when most of the country was occupied, each village created a militia group from its own residents, who once a month defended the nearby positions of the village for 7-10 days, and supported conscripts in their service. On September 19, the armed attack of the Azerbaijanis on the rural areas of Artsakh coincided with Davit’s duty. “On September 19, at 11 o’clock in the morning, there was an alarm that the Turks have come very close, that they are in the forests, in the valleys, so be careful. The attack happened 1-2 hours after that. Our boys were ordered to get down from their positions and immediately enter the village. The ditches of the village were right next to our house. All the boys guarding the positions came to the village without any problems, without any losses,” Davit’s father, 64-year-old Nelson Alahverdyan, told


Persons from Artsakhk captured in 2020-2023 are accused in Azerbaijan of participating in war crimes and terrorism. Despite the agreement, Azerbaijan is holding captives as hostages to bargain in the trade of resolving political issues.

  • Reservist Gagik Voskanyan was also among the returned prisoners of war in December, who only participated in training sessions in Jermuk, Armenia positions. The Ministry of Defense of Armenia announced that the reservist was not oriented in the area and got lost, but later Azerbaijan presented the same reservist as “a member of the Armenian subversive intelligence group that tried to penetrate into the Azerbaijani territory” and sentenced him to 18 years in prison in a trial lasting several months. Azerbaijan accused the Yerevan serviceman of illegally crossing the border and carrying out terrorism, although Gagik Voskanyan did not accept the accusation.


“I am a peasant, not a terrorist:” Armenians before the Azerbaijani court

Vagif Khachatryan, 68, from Artsakh, who was arrested by the Azerbaijanis at the Azerbaijani checkpoint on the Hakari bridge, in the presence of his daughter, when he was moving to Armenia to solve his health problems, did not accept the charges until the end. The Azerbaijani law enforcement system accused Vagif Khachatryan of “genocide”. In particular, it was stated in the accusation that “in 1991, during an armed attack on the village of Meshali, 25 Azerbaijanis were killed, 14 people were injured in various degrees, and 358 Azerbaijanis were deported from their places of legal residence.” Then it was stated: “A decision was made to involve Vagif Khachatryan as an accused under articles 103 (genocide) and 107 (displacement or forced resettlement of the population) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan.”

Vagif Khachatryan was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the verdict made after months of trial. The Artsakh resident appealed the verdict to the Court of Appeal, but the sentence remained unchanged. Nevertheless, until the end, Vagif Khachatryan insisted that he was not guilty and that he was not present during the mentioned events. “I am an innocent person, I did not participate there, I was not there. I am not a terrorist; I am a peasant. I was arrested not as a terrorist; I was arrested as a resident of Badara: I was from the village of Badara.”

Vagif Khachatryan’s daughter, Veronika Khachatryan, insists that her father is not guilty, the accusation has nothing to do with him and her father did not participate in the events of Meshali village at all. “My father is not guilty. We can say it as many times as necessary: he is not guilty. Undoubtedly, he is an innocent person,” Veronika Khachatryan tells

Siranuysh Sahakyan says that it is a formality that the case of Vagif Khachatryan has reached the Court of Appeal, because in this way Azerbaijan is trying to show that domestic courts apply the internationally required mechanisms in the protection of human rights.

“In international structures, we repeatedly raise the fact that there are serious problems with legal aid in that country. We call these processes imitative. The outcomes of court cases are predetermined from the beginning and they are predetermined by the president’s staff,” Sahakyan emphasizes.

A few days after the arrest of Vagif Khachatryan, on August 1, 62-year-old Rashid Beglaryan, who appeared in Aghavno village as a result of getting lost in the area, was arrested by the Azerbaijanis. The Azerbaijani side accused the elderly Artsakh citizen of participating in the so-called “Khojalu pogroms” and Beglaryan himself allegedly admitted this during the interrogation. According to the State Border Guard Service of Azerbaijan, Rashid Beglaryan, while testifying, showed in detail the places on the spot where criminal actions were allegedly committed against the civilian population. Beglaryan was displaced from the city of Shushi as a result of the 2020 war. Before his arrest, he was in Hin Shen village of Shushi region.

71-year-old Madat Babayan, a resident of the Getavan village of Artsakh, appeared in Baku during the events of September 2023, when the Azerbaijani armed forces attacked Artsakh. After the panic in the village on the day of the Azerbaijani attack, Babayan, who was left alone and without a telephone, was considered missing until a phone call came from Baku. He called and informed the family that he was in Baku, in captivity. The family received the call on October 9. Babayan is also represented by the Azerbaijani law enforcement officers as a terrorist and accused of “participating in the events of Khojalu, committing atrocities”.

A political concession in exchange for release of officials and other prisoners

Except ordinary Artsakh citizens, the military and political leadership of Artsakh, high-ranking officials, including former Artsakh presidents Arkady Ghukasyan, Bako Sahakyan, Arayik Harutyunyan, National Assembly Speaker Davit Ishkhanyan, generals Levon Mnatsakanyan and Davit Manukyan, former Minister of State Ruben Vardanyan, former Foreign Minister Davit Babayan also are in captivity.

Baku accuses Ruben Vardanyan under various articles, including for “financing terrorism”; Davit Manukyan — for committing a terrorist act in Karabakh; Levon Mnatsakanyan, the commander of the Artsakh Defense Army in 2015-2018 — for “joining an illegal group and for capturing and torturing a group of Azerbaijanis in the village of Alkhanli in 2002.

Three former presidents of Artsakh and the Speaker of the National Assembly have been charged with particularly serious occusations: terrorism under 7 articles of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan. Specifically, they are accused of “engaging in the formation and activities of illegal armed groups”, “arming these groups, supplying military equipment, including explosives, military hardware, ammunition”, “financing terrorism” and other charges related to terrorist activities.

Siranuysh Sahakyan says that the legal process regarding the protection of the rights of high-ranking officials of Artsakh is being carried out in the European Court of Human Rights within the framework of the 4th complaint of Armenia against Azerbaijan.

“It will take years before legal processes lead to making binding decisions. They are a serious counterbalance and are combined with political processes,” Sahakyan notes.

The lawyer is well aware of Azerbaijan’s way of working: the staged trials will continue, especially since the presidential elections of Azerbaijan are ahead. “Without these trials and their political benefits, Azerbaijan will not release the officials for the time being,” predicts Sahakyan.

The Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan announced on January 26 that the trial of the former presidents of Artsakh will take place in Azerbaijan. “Separatists will be sentenced in Azerbaijani courts,” said Kemran Aliyev.

Before the trial, Azeri news channels regularly publish photos of Artsakh officials from the prison cell, and Azerbaijanis mock and make fun on them on social networks.

 According to political analyst Andrias Ghukasyan, the return of Armenian prisoners held in Azerbaijan is not a priority for the current authorities. “They consider that if the Russian Federation decided to hand over these people to Azerbaijan, then they have no responsibility or interest in that matter,” Andrias Ghukasyan told, stressing that most of the captives are Pashinyan’s political opponents, therefore he has no interest in returning them.


  1. Decree on disbanding the Republic and disarming the army


On September 27, under the power pressure of Russia and Azerbaijan, under the threat of genocide of the civilian population, the leadership of Karabakh signed a document on the dissolution of state structures, the disarmament of the army, and the commitment of Baku and Moscow to allow civilians of Nagorno Karabakh to leave through the Lachin Corridor. The emigration of Armenians began. In just one week, more than 100,000 people, the entire population of Karabakh, left their homeland.

The fact that the Russian troops remained in Karabakh after this, and Baku did not demand their withdrawal, speaks of joint crime.

According to the decree of NK President Samvel Shahramanyan, the Republic of Artsakh is considered dissolved from January 1, 2024. However, Shahramanyan, who, unlike the rest of Artsakh’s leadership, moved to Armenia, hinted that his decree is meaningless. To date, the Parliament of Artsakh, the Ombudsman and a number of other institutions also operate on a public basis.

The President of the Republic of Artsakh, Samvel Shahramanyan, met with the heads of state bodies who continue to hold office on a public basis on December 22. During the meeting, the problems of the people of Artsakh after the forced displacement were discussed and recommendations were made for their solution.

Presenting the completed and ongoing works, President Shahramanyan emphasized the need to continue them in 2024, instructed the mayor of Stepanakert and the heads of district administrations to continue inventorying the problems of forcibly displaced citizens and regularly submit them to the government.

Referring to the recently widely discussed presidential decree of September 26, Samvel Shahramanyan emphasized that no document exists in the legal field of the Republic of Artsakh that envisages the dissolution of state institutions.

“The decree of Samvel Shahramanyan on the dissolution of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh came into force since January 1, 2024,” Russian state media wrote on the night of December 31. The haste of such a record suggests that important plans are connected with this decree in Moscow.

The fact that Samvel Shahramanyan’s decree was written in Russian, using the terminology characteristic of Russian military diplomacy, evidences that the document is an important milestone written in the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense of the Russian Federation. After signing the decree, Moscow, through Putin’s Press Secretary, stated that “there is no immediate direct reason” for Armenians to leave Nagorno-Karabakh and “it will hardly be possible to talk about who is to blame.” “However, people express their desire to leave the territory of Karabakh. Some of them, perhaps, express a desire to do it forever, some temporarily,” added Peskov. Since no one is guilty and no one condemned Azerbaijan for the deportation of 120 thousand people, not even Armenia, it means that the Artsakh citizens are guilty themselves, and theye should not expect legal or political support from anyone.

At the same time, no party has declared that the Trilateral Statement of November 9, 2020 has lost its force due to the aggression against Artsakh and the deportation of the indigenous majority.

The Armenian government did not react in any way to the entry into force of Shahramanyan’s decree and did not clarify what will happen to the Trilteral Statement of November 9, 2020. In pro-government Armenian channels, fierce propaganda continues “about the inadmissibility of the existence of Artsakh state and other bodies in Armenia” under the pretext that this may undermine Armenia’s security. In his New Year’s address, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan confirmed this thesis, apologized to the people of Karabakh, but at the same time said that he did everything based on the sovereign interests of the Republic of Armenia.

 In fact, it is said that the natives of Artsakh lost everything: their homeland, rights, home, property, for the sake of the preservation of Armenia, which does not recognize them as citizens. After all, even their RA passports were not recognized as legal.

After Shahramanyan’s decree of September 28 and the complete relocation of Armenians from Artsakh, a legal vacuum was created, which the RA government is trying to cover with financial support and humanitarian programs.

In a conversation with, political analyst Andrias Ghukasyan noted that

“The blockade is an action aimed at oppressing the people and imposing a political ultimatum. There was an attack on Artsakh on September 19; hundreds of people were killed: that is a fact. Both the blockade and the attack, and the behavior of the Russian peacekeepers, all those actions were aimed at dissolving the Republic of Artsakh, removing the people.”

“Perhaps, the leadership of the Russian Federation hoped that in such conditions a certain number [of people] would remain, but not a single person remained. They all left. They were building a prison in Aghdam. If that was not a threat, what was it? In 2020, we saw the footage of a young man and an old woman being shot in Hadrut. Who hasn’t seen it?” said the political analyst.

The authorities of Armenia have left unanswered the statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, asserting that no ethnic cleansing took place in Artsakh and Armenians left it on their own free will.

“Lavrov’s reaction is cynicism, but let’s look at the issue from Russia’s point of view. Can they record that ethnic cleansing took place? No, because they have a legislative act in their country that gives the army a mandate to ensure the safety of people in Artsakh.” he said.

“Pashinyan does not support the legitimate demands of the people of Artsakh, does not recognize the legitimate authorities of Artsakh, the government in exile. Why does he not recognize them? By doing so, he helps Turkey, Azerbaijan and Russia. A crime took place, and the victim is told to say that there was no crime,” said Andrias Ghukasyan.


  1. Exodus and the attitude of Armenia’s leadership


The ordeal of Karabakh citizens continued in Armenia, where the government did not recognize their Armenian passports, identity and biography documents. In Armenia, there were created also obstacles to employment of Artsakh residents. By the decision of the Armenian government, the activities of the Karabakh authorities are prohibited and any attempts of self-organization are suppressed. The compulsion of people to change their documents and citizenship, the refusal of the Armenian government to provide legal and political protection to the people of Karabakh, and the banning of any attempt at self-organization are reminding continuation of social terror.

In just one week, from September 24 to October 2, 2023, about 100 thousand Artsakh residents moved from Nagorno Karabakh to the Republic of Armenia. A situation was created, in which there is no Artsakh, but there are people of Artsakh with their various social, psychological and household problems.

According to the data provided by the Migration and Citizenship Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of RA, there are more than 108,000 forcibly displaced Artsakh residents in the Republic of Armenia. The service reports that the numbers are being adjusted, the data in the registration databases are being revised and cleaned.

The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures presented the following figures in response to’s inquiry. 4 thousand 313 displaced Artsakh residents settled in Aragatsotn region [all reagions here are Armenia’s regions], most of them, 3 thousand 136, Ashtarak city. 14 thousand 653 people have settled in Ararat, about half of them – 7 thousand 250 people – in Masis. There are 9 thousand 405 people in Armavir, most of them live in Vagharshapat. 4,019 forcibly displaced people took shelter in Gegharkunik, 1,719 of them in Sevan. 6 thousand 290 people are in Lori region, half of them live in Vanadzor. Most of the displaced people settled in the Kotayk region, in the cities of Hrazdan and Abovyan, in total 22 thousand 480 people. Shirak region’s numbers are more modest: 4 thousand 111, half of them in Gyumri. 3 thousand 740 people live in Syunik region; the leader is Goris with 1341 displaced people. 1,566 people live in Vayots Dzor, 2,963 in Tavush, of which 1,272 live in Dilijan. In sum, according to Ministry’s data, 73 thousand 540 people currently live in the regions of Armenia, excluding the capital Yerevan, 49 thousand 598 of them were accommodated with the support of the state. Out of 108,000 registered in RA, 34,460 people live in Yerevan or have emigrated.


  • The Grigoryan family left Stepanakert on September 28, 9 days after the Azerbaijani invasion of Artsakh. “The Turk was already at the gates of Stepanakert, the shots were clearly heard, the moment was critical. We left Stepanakert on the 28th of the month. We were staying with the hope that something might change. But then I realized that no, nothing will change,” Karen Grigoryan, who was forcibly displaced as a result of the Azerbaijani attack, says in an interview with The Grigoryans, forcibly displaced from Stepanakert to Armenia with two families, left behind their small business, shop and familiar environment. They live here in Pokr Vedi village of Ararat region of Armenia, in the house of a relative, which they will have to vacate soon. “When the gas explosion occurred and the doctors could not come, we realized that it was over: it was time for us to leave too. It was very difficult to close the house with your own hands and leave. In the end, mom cleaned, washed the house, we closed the door and left,” Karen recalls. He says they have the keys to the house: they give hope of return. 39-year-old Karen Grigoryan lost his father in the first Artsakh war, then he took part in all military operations in Artsakh, is a military pensioner, has a 3rddegree disability. He says that he managed to take all the medals and documents proving his participation in military operations with him.


  • Rafik Martirosyan, who arrived in Armenia from Artsakh after famine, war and psychological problems, is still tormented by the fact that he does not have any information about his brother. The 66-year-old man told that he has not heard from his brother Rashid Martirosyan, who has health problems, for more than two months. “I cannot find my brother and his sick child, and his wife is dead. Before leaving, I went to his place; he was not at home. The door was open, he had left the house, I don’t know where he is. I don’t know if he is in Artsakh or not: he doesn’t have a phone,” said Rafik Martirosyan. Rashid Martirosyan visited his brother Rafik’s house for the last time on September 20. However, due to the war situation in Artsakh, the brothers did not manage to meet each other after that.

The leadership of Armenia – the Prime Minister, the President, the Speaker of the Parliament – say one after the other that the state bodies of Artsakh should not continue their work in Armenia, because there is a legitimate government in Armenia. And the rights of the people of Artsakh are allegedly fully protected by the government of Armenia.

However, the approaches of the Armenian leadership regarding the political and legal status of the people of Artsakh not only do not differ from Baku’s position, but also “exceed” it in many ways. The leadership of Armenia officially applies to international courts with claims, which are confirming Baku’s jurisdiction not only over the territories of Artsakh, but also over the people of Artsakh.

The UN International Court of Justice adopted an interim decision on such a claim on November 17, and within 8 weeks after that, Azerbaijan must submit a report on the implementation of the interim measures of Armenia’s claim. Let’s remind that the court obliged Baku to ensure the return of the Artsakh citizens who left their homeland after September 19 to their homes “safely, unhindered and quickly”. Additionally, the court ordered Azerbaijan to “protect” all personal and/or private property registration documents and “give due consideration to such documents and records in its administrative and legislative practice.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan immediately welcomed the decision of the court. What measures will Baku take to comply with the court’s decision?

“Apartments, cultural monuments in Karabakh are guarded by special forces. The houses are sealed, no one enters,” said Farid Shafiev, Chairman of the Board of the Baku Center for the Analysis of International Relations.

“I think, as the government of Azerbaijan has already announced, everyone who wants to return will be given time. In other words, those who want to return for good will return, or, if someone wants to come and take his/her things, then most likely will be given such an opportunity. Namely, Azerbaijan will comply with the court’s decision, the Foreign Ministry has already issued a statement on this issue,” he said.

In other words, at some point, the Berdzor [Lachin] corridor may be opened, so that the people of Artsakh either return and accept Azerbaijani citizenship, or take their belongings, leaving their houses, lands, and property at the discretion of Baku.

“Property” imperceptibly turns into “personal belongings”, and the citizens of Artsakh returning with refrigerators will have to sign a document on the Hakari bridge that they no longer have a claim to ownership of Baku.

Thus, the real estate, land, communications, industrial assets, which are the personal or collective property of the people of Artsakh, will remain with Azerbaijan. Right now, even Baku does not touch them.

If the people of Artsakh do not return and re-register their property within a “reasonable time”, Baku can nationalize it (as Turkey did in 1923, after the Armenian Genocide), or even transfer it to others. It is unlikely that the RA authorities will appeal.


  1. Loss of historical-cultural and national-religious heritage

Within the framework of the program of public discussions on the urgent problems of those forcibly displaced from Artsakh, the Stepanakert Press Club has organized a discussion in January 2024, which was dedicated to the historical and cultural heritage of Artsakh, the existing dangers and what needs to be done.

As a result of the military aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan against the Republic of Artsakh in 2020 and then in 2023, the territory of Artsakh was emptied from Armenians for the first time in history of millennia, and a huge cultural heritage remained under the control of the enemy, which is in danger of being destroyed and forcibly expropriated.

Lernik Hovhannisyan, the former Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Artsakh, along with the dangers facing the material cultural heritage, presented the challenges threatening the non-cultural heritage and drew the attention of the attendees to the issue of the Artsakh dialect with its sub-dialects, customs, etc. that are in danger of being forgotten.

For Sergey Shahverdyan, Chairman of the NGO “Public Council for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage of Artsakh”, it is surprising that little attention is paid to movable cultural values, while at least 30 collections of museum and art pieces remain in Artsakh, not counting the private archives.

The attendees also referred to the remaining library fund in Artsakh and human memory, as a social culture, which, being cut off from its natural environment, is also endangered.

The representative of the relevant field of the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Armenia was not present at the discussion, while the preservation and protection of the Artsakh part of the Armenian historical and cultural heritage should become a pan-Armenian issue, to ensure success on international platforms to curb the anti-Armenian policy of Azerbaijan and save the cultural heritage.

The RA Ministry of Foreign Affairs announces that it has long since applied to UNESCO to send a fact-finding group to Artsakh, and the organization has shown interest. However, the visit has not taken place to date, even though many pictures and news about the policy of desecration, privatization and demolition of the Armenian heritage in Artsakh are being circulating.

  1. Summary, decisions, international resolutions and proposals

The aforementioned and other facts testify that the forced deportation of Armenians from Artsakh took place as a result of consistent genocidal actions and illegitimate political decisions. The fundamental international principle of non-use of force was violated. And fundamental human rights have been violated as a result of illegal political decisions and actions: aggression, entry of Russian troops, isolation of Karabakh from the international legal space and legal international bodies, the November Statement signed by the RA Prime Minister, but not ratified, the oral statement of recognizing Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan, etc.

Based on all this, the further steps should have clear directions:

  1. The principle of non-use of force or of a threat of force must become dominant and indisputable in the democratic world. In this context, the forceful “settlement” of the Karabakh conflict, the suppression of the right to self-determination by military force cannot be recognized as legitimate and cannot become the basis of the future regional order. Even if the Azerbaijani side claims that the emigration of the Karabakh people was “voluntary” and there was no violence, the real stories and facts show the opposite: there were a blockade, famine, aggression, occupation, deportation and depatriation. Brutal force was used against a fundamental principle of international law, which means that such a “settlement” cannot be recognized internationally as legitimate.
  2. Russia’s role in the events that took place in Karabakh in 1988-1991 and 2020-2023 has not been sufficiently covered and summarized, political and expert assessments have not been given to the fact that the events in the region have been taking place for many decades under conditions of colonial dependence on Russia. Russia obstructs the attempts of international organizations and foreign states to improve relations in the region. The most striking example is the deployment of Russian troops to Karabakh after the 2020 war, although Russia is only one of the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. Moreover, for 3 years after the 2020 war, Russia has not allowed any international organization, including the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group [the international body created in the beginning of 1900s to deal with the NK problem], to enter Karabakh. He vetoed UN Security Council resolutions and torpedoed the work of UNESCO and other organizations. By and large, it became the main precondition for the complete occupation of Karabakh and the migration of 150 thousand Armenians.

It is essential to give an assessment of what happened and record that Russia has a key role. This is very important, because the Russian factor is not mentioned in international offers, documents, contracts, and it creates a false pattern. Without pointing out the role of Russia, returning the region from Russia’s “zone of influence” to the territory of “international law”, peace in the region will always be fraught with disruptions.

In the past few months, despite the obstacles of Baku, Moscow and the RA government, several resolutions have been adopted and initiatives have been created to protect the rights of the people of Artsakh.

The European Parliament, the legislative body of the EU, has adopted a resolution in January 2023 condemning the closure of the Lachin Corridor by the so-called “eco-activists”, as a result of which tens of thousands of people in Artsakh were under siege. In the resolution published on the official website of the European Parliament, the European deputies propose new approaches to stabilize the humanitarian situation in Artsakh and ensure security in the region.

Thus, at the beginning of the resolution, the European Parliament declares that Artsakh is actually under siege and there is a risk of a humanitarian disaster there, stating that the only road connecting Nagorno Karabakh to Armenia and the outside world, the Lachin Corridor, has been blocked since December 12, 2022 by the self-proclaimed Azerbaijani environmentalists and this has disrupted access to basic goods and services, including food, fuel and medicine, for the 120,000 Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The European Parliament stated that the blockade has led to a severe humanitarian crisis, significantly affecting the most vulnerable population and making the transport of critically ill patients almost impossible, resulting in one death.

In the resolution, the European Parliament also acknowledges that the humanitarian crisis has worsened due to the disruption of natural gas supply to Nagorno-Karabakh, as a result of which houses, hospitals and schools were left without heating. In addition, the European Parliament recognized that by maintaining the blockade of the Lachin Corridor, Azerbaijan violates its international obligations, which it undertook by the Trilateral Ceasefire Statement of November 9, 2020, under which Azerbaijan must guarantee the security of persons, vehicles and cargo moving along the corridor in both directions. Moreover, European parliamentarians claim that obstacles to the use of the Lachin Corridor slow down the peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan and undermine international confidence.

The European Parliament, in a resolution adopted on October 5, condemned Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing in Artsakh and called for sanctions against the Azerbaijani government.

The resolution also emphasized the demand for international guarantees for the realization of the right of Armenians to return to Artsakh. Moreover, the European Parliament called for the suspension of the “Memorandum of Understanding between the European Union and Azerbaijan on strategic partnership in the field of energy”.

The resolution of the European Parliament, which was adopted by a ratio of 491 votes, 9 against and 36 abstentions, was adopted as a result of the renewed attacks of Azerbaijan on Artsakh in September 2023 and the forced displacement of the people of Artsakh from their homeland. The plenary session of the European Parliament also condemned Azerbaijan’s military crimes and crimes against humanity, called on the international community to take measures to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its actions. The resolution calls for immediate withdrawal of the Azerbaijani forces from Artsakh and the deployment of international peacekeeping forces in the region, as well as the protection of the property of the Armenian people who were forcibly displaced. Azerbaijan is required to release and declare a broad amnesty for all Artsakh residents arrested since September 19, 2023, including former Artsakh officials and generally for all those arrested before that date.

The resolution emphasizes the importance of providing international guarantees to ensure the right of return of Artsakh residents. The members of the European Parliament call on the international community to support the Armenian people in their efforts to restore their lives and communities.

The French Senate adopted a resolution aimed at “condemning Azerbaijan’s military aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh and preventing further attempts of aggression against the Republic of Armenia and violation of territorial integrity” with 336 votes in favor and one against.


“The French Senate strongly condemns the military attack carried out by Azerbaijan with the support of its allies on September 19 and 20, 2023 in Nagorno-Karabakh, which led to the exodus of almost the entire Armenian population living there.

The Senate reminds that respecting the right of peoples to self-determination, which extends to the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh, is the only possible way to a stable peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and that the states are obliged to respect and protect this right. Therefore, the international community is obliged to request Azerbaijan to make all efforts to ensure the right of the Armenian population to return to Nagorno-Karabakh under conditions that ensure their safety and well-being,” the resolution reads.

  • In cooperation with the main political forces of Artsakh, a committee was formed for the purpose of the collective repatriation of the people of Artsakh and protection of their other fundamental rights. This was informed by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the RA Vardan Oskanyan, who will coordinate the work of the Committee.


“The main task of the committee will be the protection and pursuit of the collective repatriation of the people of Artsakh and the right to live safely, securely and decently in their homeland with international guarantees,” Oskanyan said. “Only a balanced solution to the problem, which includes the restoration of the rights of the people of Artsakh, can bring lasting and stable peace,” Oskanyan stated.

  • In December 2023, on the occasion of December 10, the Independence Referendum of the Republic of Artsakh, the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia and International Human Rights days, more than 120 parties, non-governmental organizations, media and community leaders of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) signed an appeal addressed to the international community. The addressees of the message are: the UN Secretary General, the UN Security Council, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries, the Council of Europe (the Secretary General, the PACE President, the President of the Council of Ministers), the President of the Council of the European Union, the President of the European Parliament, the Secretary General of the CIS, the Secretary General of the CSTO, the Secretary General of the NATO.


The updated list of signatories can be found here:

“A free people cannot renounce its sovereign rights and submit to the rule of an alien state, especially one ruled for many years by an authoritarian, corrupt and racist regime, intoxicated by its impunity.

Our collective decision to leave our Homeland – the Republic of Artsakh (the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic), our homes, our Armenian churches, leaving behind the relics of Saint John the Baptist (Surb Hovhannes Mkrtich) and the graves of our ancestors, which we have protected for centuries, is the proof to the whole world that freedom is the highest value for the people of Artsakh. We have made this forced decision amidst ongoing genocidal actions and looming serious existential threats”, the message says.

“A free people cannot renounce its sovereign rights and submit to the rule of an alien state, especially one ruled for many years by an authoritarian, corrupt and racist regime, intoxicated by its impunity.

Our collective decision to leave our Homeland – the Republic of Artsakh (the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic), our homes, our Armenian churches, leaving behind the relics of Saint John the Baptist (Surb Hovhannes Mkrtich) and the graves of our ancestors, which we have protected for centuries, is the proof to the whole world that freedom is the highest value for the people of Artsakh. We have made this forced decision amidst ongoing genocidal actions and looming serious existential threats”, the message says.

We were facing political deals that denied our sovereign right to live in our own Motherland, which was gained at the cost of many people’s lives, for the sake of preserving our national dignity and identity, at the cost of enormous losses during the centuries-old struggle of several generations. And this struggle is not over. We are confident that we will return our Motherland with the power of truth and justice, the document says.

“In 1992, all CSCE/OSCE member states recognized the right of elected representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh to participate in the OSCE international conference mandated to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

“… the international community recorded the fact that there were disagreements over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, recognizing the disputed nature of this territory. Armenia and Azerbaijan then became participating countries of the CSCE/OSCE on the condition that they recognized the existence of disagreements over the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh and agreed that the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh would be determined at a peace conference under the auspices of the CSCE/OSCE. Both states have assumed an international obligation to resolve the issue exclusively by peaceful means.”

“The whole civilized world faces a choice today: either to restore the international order in Nagorno-Karabakh, based on respect for the right to self-determination and other rights and freedoms of peoples and human rights, or to agree that blockade, armed aggression, genocide and occupation are legitimate ways to resolve conflicts.

Today, leaders of many states speak about the need for the return of Armenians to Nagorno-Karabakh. However, we believe that for the peaceful, safe and dignified return and life of our people in their homeland the following indisputable conditions are required:

First, we rule out the return of citizens of the Republic of Artsakh to the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani armed forces, police and administration must be completely withdrawn from the territory of the Republic of Artsakh, including the Shahumyan region, where too Azerbaijan bears full responsibility for the ethnic cleansing in 1992.

Second, multinational international UN peacekeeping forces should be deployed along the entire border of the Republic of Artsakh, and a demilitarized zone should be created.

Third, the internationally recognized Lachine Corridor should be completely transferred to UN control and management.

Fourth, the territory of the Republic of Artsakh should be handed over to the UN control to ensure the conditions for the return of all refugees, formation of democratic and legal institutions and the restoration of the economy. All refugees must have equal status, equal rights and be subject to the common rules of the transitional period until a referendum is held to confirm the final political status of Nagorno-Karabakh, the result of which will be legally recognized by all states.

Fifth, the possibility of criminal prosecution by Azerbaijan of citizens of the Republic of Artsakh on any charges for the entire period of the conflict should be completely excluded. All arrested and already convicted Armenians in Azerbaijan must be released immediately. We are ready to recognize the competence of an international tribunal to investigate every war crime for which our citizens are accused, provided that in a similar way this tribunal will also address all war crimes committed by citizens of Azerbaijan and its mercenaries.”

  • In a conversation with, the former State Minister of Artsakh, Artak Beglaryan, says that “the main actor is the RA government, which should constantly raise the issue of the return of Artsakh citizens and discuss its conditions with clear instruments and in contacts with Azerbaijan, in international processes. If there is political will and consistent professional work on the part of the RA authorities, under geopolitical conditions, it will be possible to return the people of Artsakh to their homeland.”

Artak Beglaryan believes that guarantees can ensure the UN mission without the presence of the Azerbaijani government. The former official of Artsakh does not see enough action from the RA authorities towards the return.

“This is the approach of the authorities; they lowered the right of return to the individual level: each person should decide for himself whether the conditions offered by Azerbaijan are acceptable for him or her or not. But we emigrated from there as a people, we were targeted as a people and were harassed and persecuted for the protection of collective rights of our people, for self-determination,” said Artak Beglaryan.

“The community’s collective identity and the resulting long-term struggle to return to Artsakh must be preserved. But the RA government’s approach is to dissolve the people of Artsakh in RA, which will very quickly close the rights of self-determination and return. The RA authorities under the leadership of Nikol Pashinyan should not desist from taking responsibility for the negotiations on the rights of the people of Artsakh.”

“They do not want the state bodies of Artsakh to act. There is a tendency that they do not want to negotiate with Azerbaijan for the rights of the people of Artsakh. In that case, the question arises: who should protect the rights of our people, who should raise these issues on relevant international platforms, if the RA authorities do not do it and do not allow the Artsakh authorities to exist?” said Artak Beglaryan. According to him, we must accept the fact that there is a government in exile.

The former State Minister of Artsakh considers the negotiations between the authorities of Armenia and Artsakh to be important, which, however, is not taking place. There is no information about the meeting between Nikol Pashinyan and Samvel Shahramyan.

[1] May 1991 military operation conducted by the Soviet Army and OMON units of Azerbaijan SSR in Karabakh and Armenia, during which Armenians living in about 40 villages were forcibly uprooted. Border villages in the Armenian SSR were also raided. See

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