What does the future hold for Armenia after it lost the war with Azerbaijan?


Why did the military victory parade in Azerbaijan take place? Was it an act of visualisation of success? What did Azerbaijan want to show? The internal political situation in Armenia remains extremely acute. The opposition is trying to remove Pashinyan from power, whom they see as a symbol of defeat. Why is he still in the office? What was the point of the military parade? Was it a declaration for the future?

It was most likely an act of symbolism, and it was not incidental. From the very beginning it was announced that Azerbaijan was waging a patriotic war, a war for the liberation of its territory. There was symbolism in that. As much as twenty percent of the territory of Azerbaijan had been under the control of Armenia for 30 years. The people of Azerbaijan obviously see the outcome of this war as a victory, because they see it as restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. And indeed it is.

Correcting mistakes of the past

Thus, with this military parade Azerbaijan put an end to almost 30 years of the national tragedy that took place in the history of this country. Armenia’s victory in the early 1990s became possible, because there was no strong state power in Azerbaijan back then. The Popular Front of Azerbaijan came to power, which was guilty of failures at the front and territorial losses that Azerbaijan suffered.

The triumph of the victors

The parade became a historic milestone both for modern-day Azerbaijan and for the South Caucasus in general. Of course, Yerevan shares a completely different point of view on this topic. For Armenia and the Armenians, all this comes as a national tragedy, because no one there expected such an outcome. Many in Russia did not expect such an outcome either, because previous clashes did not end with anything serious. Yet, this time it goes about an act of real victory. Azerbaijan is living in a state of euphoria now! In this regard, the military parade put an end to 30 years of that violent conflict. Now we will see how the situation is going to develop in the future.


Of course, the state of affairs in Armenia is completely different, and the aftertaste is very bitter.  Pashinyan still remains in place, despite all the threats, a number of politicians have made quite harsh statements. Pashinyan makes harsh statements himself and calls on the nation to take different steps. Many people support him, although it would seem that after such a defeat he should resign.

Indeed, Pashinyan is a symbol of defeat. Moreover, Pashinyan signed a trilateral political agreement on Azerbaijan’s terms. The main factor that keeps Pashinyan in the office is the position of the Armenian military, who did not stand up against him.

Pashinyan says that it was Armenian generals, the chiefs of the Armenian Defense Ministry, who offered him to cease the hostilities by signing this agreement. Therefore, it is not only him, who is accountable for the situation on the front – he shares this responsibility with the military leadership of Armenia.

Armenian Defense Minister, however, Tonoyan, has already been dismissed. A new defense minister was appointed – he earlier served as a military adviser to Pashinyan during the hostilities. The loyalty of the army and the national security service ensures a certain political stability to Pashinyan.

Of course, Yerevan had to go through several days of chaos. The crowd seized the government building and Pashinyan’s residence, there were pogroms. During the days of bacchanalia and instability, Pashinyan was hiding in an underground bunker under the building of the Ministry of Defense. The Armenian military were were protecting Pashinyan.

Nevertheless, according to various estimates, 54-58 percent of the population of Armenia support Pashinyan, because the Armenian people expressed their claims to the former political administration. Pashinyan exposed a number of high-profile corruption cases. Therefore, the people of Armenia, despite the bitterness of defeat, support him, because they do not want corrupt figures to return to power in Armenia. In addition, Pashinyan enjoys the support of his party members – Pashinyan’s faction has a constitutional majority. In Armenia, one can change power only by vote in the parliament.

Putin kept Pashinyan in place

Pashinyan’s political stability, of course, appears to be an unexpected factor. Armenia no longer accepts multi-vectorism: Armenia either goes with Russia or falls in an abyss of national catastrophe. Putin publicly supported Pashinyan by saying that Pashinyan had to make a courageous, but a very tough decision to end the war by surrendering the territories that Armenia previously held. Putin thus made it clear that Russia would not insist on the immediate resignation of Pashinyan, which gave him a sense of solid ground underneath his feet.



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Azerbaijan Reveals Post-truce Deaths In Karabakh


Azerbaijan announced on Sunday that four of its troops had been killed in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region since a peace deal with Armenian separatists was agreed in early November.

The defence ministry said a group of Armenian fighters remained in the mountainous province — breaking the terms of the Russian-brokered truce — and had recently launched fatal attacks on Azerbaijan’s forces.

The ministry said three servicemen were killed in a separatist ambush on November 26 and another sustained fatal injuries during an attack near the village of Hadrut on Tuesday.

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other breaching the truce that ended six weeks of fighting between the longstanding foes for control of the breakaway region.

Armenia said on Sunday that six separatist fighters were injured in clashes with Azerbaijan troops after skirmishes broke out on Friday evening.

The Armenian defence ministry reported hours of fighting near Hadrut on Saturday, including with heavy artillery, claiming Azerbaijan had bolstered its military presence in the area.

“The Armenian side has six wounded,” the ministry said, describing the incident as an Azerbaijani “provocation”.

The defence ministry said the new fighting was discussed during a meeting in Moscow between Russian and Armenian defence ministers, while the foreign ministry said clashes continued into Sunday.





Six weeks of fighting between separatists backed by Armenia and Azerbaijan left more than 5,000 dead
 AFP / Karen MINASYAN

Azerbaijan said on Sunday it had been forced to respond to recent fatal attacks on its servicemen by conducting anti-terror operations.

The conflict that erupted in September between the separatists backed by Armenia and Azerbaijan over the mountainous region ended on November 10 with a Moscow-brokered peace deal that saw the Armenians cede swathes of territory.

More than 5,000 people including civilians were killed during the fighting between the ex-Soviet rivals, who fought a war in the 1990s over the mountainous region.

Russia has deployed nearly 2,000 peacekeeping troops to Nagorno-Karabakh as part of the peace deal.

The defence ministry in Moscow said later on Sunday that the ceasefire was being observed again after reporting for the first time a day earlier that it had been violated.

French and US heads of the Minsk Group, which led talks on the conflict for decades but failed to achieve a lasting agreement, met Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev in Baku on Saturday.

Aliyev described reports of new fighting as “troubling” and vowed to use an “iron fist” to “crush” Armenian forces completely if fighting erupts again.

Minsk Group envoys Stephane Visconti and Andrew Schofer were expected in Armenia’s capital Yerevan on Sunday.

On a visit to Baku this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed what he called his close ally’s “glorious victory” in the conflict.

The Turkish leader, who attended celebrations marking Azerbaijan’s success, has overtly supported Baku, helping to train and arm its military.





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Melbourne investment adviser Simon David Allen dies in Azerbaijan owing $16 million in tax


His death in the former Soviet outpost on the Caspian Sea leaves many unanswered questions amid allegations of fraud and a string of angry creditors, including former friends and employees of his funds management business.

Mr Allen founded APT Capital Management in Melbourne in 2009, with the company first registered to a nondescript townhouse in Murrumbeena.

At the time of his death, Simon David Allen was living in Baku, the capital of the former Soviet state of Azerbaijan.Credit:Reuters

By 2014, Mr Allen had leased premises at 101 Collins Street and established offices in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Mr Allen told clients his firm offered the best investment opportunities across the Asia Pacific region, but he also spent significant periods of time in the Cayman Islands and the Russian city of St Petersburg.

A former employee said he always travelled in business class and lived an extravagant lifestyle.

Mr Allen relocated to Hong Kong with his wife and young child in about 2016, according to corporate records. About the same time, the Australian Tax Office began to audit his business affairs.

In 2018, Singapore authorities froze the trading accounts of APT Capital Management as part of an anti-money-laundering investigation, according to several former staff who claim they were never paid by Mr Allen, or had to threaten legal action.

As his business collapsed, Mr Allen abruptly moved his family to Azerbaijan in 2019.

The outcome of the money-laundering investigation has never been revealed, with the Monetary Authority of Singapore declining to respond to questions from The Age.

“Neither APT Capital Management nor Mr Simon David Allen are regulated by MAS. We do not have further information on Mr Allen or his company,” a spokeswoman for the Monetary Authority of Singapore said.

A spokesman for the Hong Kong Monetary Authority also declined to comment, other than to say Mr Allen’s investment company also fell outside its regulatory jurisdiction.

However, a liquidator’s report into the collapse of another company owned by Mr Allen raises serious fraud allegations and also reveals he owed $16,001,520 to the Australian Tax Office.

The report by Pitcher Partners refers to documentation from the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation that accuses Mr Allen of using a gift importation business called Multivate Pty Ltd to facilitate a “sham operation” with its ultimate holding company APT Capital Management.

“The Deputy Commissioner of Taxation alleges the company knowingly lodged fraudulent business activity statements, whereby the company would claim input tax credits on expenses it had purportedly incurred,” the liquidator report from August 19 states.

An audit of the company between 2014 and 2017 also reveals that $5,848,525 was transferred to APT Capital Management, while his wife was paid an annual salary of $531,836 in 2017.

A search of Mr Allen’s assets in Australia uncovered a Westpac account that was overdrawn by $22, while a former secretary in Melbourne was still owed $12,000 in unpaid wages.

The liquidator report identified eight potential breaches of the Corporations Act, which were reported to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in August 2019.

An ASIC spokeswoman declined to comment when contacted by The Age.

The ATO also declined to respond to questions about Mr Allen, citing its “obligations of confidentiality under the law”.

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Azerbaijan forces enter land ceded by Armenia under the Nagorno-Karabakh peace deal



Azerbaijan’s military says it has entered the Agdam district of the Nagorno-Karabakh region under a deal in which that territory was formally ceded by Armenia to Azerbaijan.

Armenia and Azerbaijan had fought a bloody, six-week flare-up over the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region, largely controlled for decades by Christian Armenian troops but considered by the United Nations as part of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan.

A peace deal reached last week between the warring sides and regional power Russia provided for Armenia to cede control over significant territory in the region, including the Agdam district.

That district had been largely populated by ethnic Azerbaijanis before it was seized by Armenian troops during a war between those former Soviet republics in the early 1990s.

In accordance with the trilateral agreement, “units of the Azerbaijan army entered the Agdam region on November 20”, Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said on Friday.

With at least 1,000 people reported killed, the fighting that began in late September was the deadliest between Azerbaijan and Armenia since the 1980s-90s war.



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Azerbaijan delays takeover, denounces fleeing Armenians


“Armenians are damaging the environment and civilian objects. Environmental damage, ecological terror must be prevented,” Hajiyev said.

Prior to a separatist war that ended in 1994, Kelbajar was populated almost exclusively by Azerbaijanis. But the territory then came under Armenian control and Armenians moved in. Azerbaijan deemed their presence illegal.

Cars and trucks stuck in a huge traffic jam climbing along the road from Kalbajar to a mountain pass leaving the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.Credit:AP

“The placement and settlement of the Armenian population in the occupied territory of the Kelbajar region was illegal … All illegal settlements there must be evicted,” Hajiyev said.

The imminent renewal of Azerbaijani control raised wide concerns about the fate of Armenian cultural and religious sites, particularly Dadivank, a noted Armenian Apostolic Church monastery that dates back to the ninth century.

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Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev assured Russian President Vladimir Putin, who negotiated the cease-fire and is sending about 2000 peacekeeping troops, that Christian churches would be protected.

“Christians of Azerbaijan will have access to these churches,” Aliyev’s office said in statement Sunday.

Azerbaijan is about 95 per cent Muslim and Armenia is overwhelmingly Christian. Azerbaijan accuses Armenians of desecrating Muslim sites during their decades of control of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding territories, including housing livestock in mosques.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry on Sunday denounced vandalisation of the Ghazanchetsots cathedral in the Azerbaijan-held city of Shusha as “outrageous.” The Armenian Apostolic Church earlier said vandals defaced walls of the church after Azerbaijani forces took the city.

Nagorno-Karabakh was an autonomous republic of Azerbaijan during the Soviet period. A movement to join with Armenia arose in the late Soviet years and after the Soviet Union collapsed, a war erupted in which an estimated 30,000 died and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced.

Sporadic clashes erupted after the war ended in 1994 and international mediators unsuccessfully sought for a resolution of the dispute. Full-scale fighting flared anew on September 27. Azerbaijan made significant advances and a week ago announced that it had seized the strategically critical city of Shusha. The cease-fire agreement came two days later.

A woman lights candles inside a church of the Dadivank, an Armenian Apostolic Church monastery dating to the 9th century, as ethnic Armenians leave the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.

A woman lights candles inside a church of the Dadivank, an Armenian Apostolic Church monastery dating to the 9th century, as ethnic Armenians leave the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.Credit:DMITRY LOVETSKY

Armenia says 1434 servicemen died in this year’s fighting, but civilian casualties are unclear. Azerbaijan hasn’t stated its losses.

The cease-fire agreement and cession of territories was a strong blow to Armenia and prompted protests against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.

On Saturday, Artur Vanetsyan, the leader of a small centre-right party who formerly headed the national security service, was arrested on suspicion of plotting to assassinate Pashinian. He was released from custody Sunday and it was unclear if the charges against him would stand.

The agreement also dismayed many Armenians who had hoped for Russian support in the conflict. Russia and Armenia are part of a defence alliance and Russia has a large military base in Armenia.

“Our nation has lost everything, our heritage, everything. We have nothing left. I can’t say anything. I’m only begging Russian people to help us, so that at least others can have a better life in our own land,” said Seda Gabrilyan, a weeping mourner at the Sunday burial of a Nagorno-Karabakh soldier in Stepanakert, the regional capital.

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Azerbaijan Extends Armenian Pullout Deadline From Disputed Area


Azerbaijan said Sunday it had agreed to extend a deadline for Armenia to withdraw from a disputed district as part of a peace accord that ended six weeks of fierce fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Residents of the Kalbajar district in Azerbaijan, which has been controlled by Armenian separatists since a 1990s post-Soviet war, began a mass exodus in the days leading up to the initial withdrawal deadline on Sunday.

But a foreign policy adviser to Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev said his country had extended the deadline over humanitarian considerations.

Hikmet Hajiyev said the withdrawal of “Armenian armed forces and of illegal Armenian settlers” was delayed until November 25 following an appeal from Armenia and mediation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Kalbajar’s settlement by Armenians was illegal. The people who were resettled there have no property rights,” Hajieyv told a news conference.

Kalbajar was almost exclusively populated by ethnic Azerbaijanis before they were expelled by Armenians in the 1990s war between the two countries over Nagorno-Karabakh, and a majority of the homes being abandoned previously belonged to Azerbaijanis.

AFP journalists saw fleeing residents pile furniture and kitchenware into vehicles before leaving for Armenia on the weekend.

Thick plumes of smoke rose over the valley near the village of Charektar after residents set their homes on fire, preferring to leave devastation in their wake and homes that would be uninhabitable by Azerbaijanis.

“We also moved our parents’ graves, the Azerbaijanis will take great pleasure in desecrating our graves. It’s unbearable, one Charektar resident said.

Russian peacekeeping force

A Russian peacekeeping contingent deployed this week to Nagorno-Karabakh set up checkpoints and positions in the region’s administrative center Stepanakert.

The deployment was part of the peace deal, which sees Armenia cede swathes of territory that Azerbaijan’s forces gained in the weeks of fighting.

Moscow’s peacekeeping mission, which the military said included soldiers that previously were stationed in Syria, comprises some 2,000 troops for a renewable five-year mission.

The defense ministry said Sunday that over two days it had escorted more than 700 people returning to Stepanakert, which was shelled heavily during the fighting.

The ex-Soviet rivals agreed to end hostilities earlier this week after efforts by Russia, France and the U.S. to get a ceasefire fell through during the nearly two months of clashes.

A key part of the peace deal includes Armenia’s return of Kalbajar, as well as the Aghdam district by November 20 and the Lachin district by December 1, which have been held by Armenians since the devastating 1990s war left 30,000 people dead.

Hajiyev said Sunday the timetable for the Armenian withdrawal of the remaining districts was unchanged.

Armenia has said 2,317 of its fighters were killed in clashes in which both sides accused the other of targeting civilian infrastructure.

Azerbaijan has not revealed its military casualties, but Putin said the number of deaths on both sides surpassed 4,000 and that tens of thousands of people had been forced to flee their homes.

Outrage over peace deal 

Before departing en masse, Armenians flocked to the Dadivank monastery nestled in a Kalbajar gorge for a final visit before it was ceded to Azerbaijan. AFP journalists witnessed a dozen women ask to be baptized at the religious site.

In a phone call with Aliyev on Saturday, Putin has urged Azerbaijan to protect “normal church life” at religious sites and monasteries in the ceded territory.

The peace accord with Azerbaijan has sparked a week of protests in Armenia, where demonstrations and opposition parties are calling for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to resign over the lost areas.

The former head of Armenia’s national security service Artur Vanetsyan and several other suspects were arrested on Saturday on charges of plotting to kill Pashinyan and seize power.

Lawyers of Vanetsyan, the head of the opposition center-right Homeland party, called his detention a “persecution” and denied the allegations.

Azerbaijan has pushed for Ankara’s involvement in the settlement and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this week his country would jointly supervise the ceasefire with Russia.

Turkey, a key ally of Azerbaijan, was widely accused by Western countries, Russia and Armenia of dispatching mercenaries from Syria to reinforce Azerbaijan’s army.

But Russia has ruled out Ankara’s direct involvement in the peacekeeping mission and instead insisted Turkey would monitor the mission from an observation center on Azerbaijan’s territory.



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After War Between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Peace Sees Winners and Losers Swap Places


A deal brokered by Russia ended the fighting for now over Nagorno-Karabakh, leaving Armenians to pack up and burn their houses as they retreat, while Azerbaijanis plan a return to long-lost lands.


KELBAJAR, Azerbaijan — The cars, trucks and vans jamming the mountain roads deep into the night on Saturday brimmed with all the possessions that the fleeing Armenians could rescue: upholstered furniture, livestock, glass doors.

As they left, many set their homes on fire, enveloping their exodus in acrid smoke and illuminating it in an orange glow. Near some of the burning houses stood older ruins: the remains of homes abandoned a quarter-century ago, when Azerbaijanis fled and Armenians moved into the region.

In the southern Caucasus Mountains at the border of Europe and Asia, this weekend was a turning point in a decades-long conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over isolated and mountainous lands that both sides believed rightfully were theirs. Back in the 1990s, it was the Azerbaijanis who were forced to leave. Now, it is the Armenians, a renewed tragedy for them and a triumph for their foes.

“How can I burn this?” said Ashot Khanesyan, a 53-year-old Armenian, referring to the home he had built and was about to desert in the town of Kelbajar. His neighbors had urged him to destroy the house, he said, but, “My conscience won’t let me.”

He was packing his chickens, tying up their feet with white string, but he said he would leave his potatoes behind.

The New York Times came to Armenian-controlled areas and to Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, to document this pivotal moment for both sides in the conflict. The war has drawn in some of the region’s biggest international powers, with Turkey backing Azerbaijan and Russia struggling to stop the fighting in a region it once ruled.

Russian peacekeeping troops, overseeing the handover, rumbled into the district of Kelbajar on Friday aboard armored personnel carriers. They set up one of their observation posts at Dadivank, a centuries-old monastery that Armenians, who are mainly Christian, fear the arriving Azerbaijanis, who are mainly Muslim, will deface.

“When an Armenian is born, they all know about Artsakh,” said Vergine Vartanyan, 24, in tears, using the Armenian term for Nagorno-Karabakh. Along with hundreds of other Armenians, she prayed at Dadivank for what could be the last time on Friday, to bid farewell.

The contrast with the scenes in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, could hardly be sharper. There, celebratory flags graced almost every surface, hanging from balconies, draped over car roofs and windows and wrapped around the shoulders of a teenager at the Martyrs’ Alley cemetery on a hillside overlooking the Caspian Sea.

Much of Azerbaijan exploded in joyous celebration in the streets on Tuesday after President Ilham Aliyev announced in the early hours of the morning that the war was over and that Armenian forces would withdraw from three districts adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh and return them to Azerbaijani control.

“We are so happy because we finally won, thank God,” said Ibrahim Ibrahimov, 18, a computer science student walking with two friends near the seafront in Baku. “Finally, the people of Karabakh can go home.”

Armenians and Azerbaijanis lived side by side when both countries were part of the Soviet Union, but century-old ethnic enmity reignited when communism collapsed. Nagorno-Karabakh, mainly ethnic Armenian, ended up as part of Azerbaijan. Armenia won a war over the territory in the early 1990s that killed some 20,000 people and displaced a million, mostly Azerbaijanis.

Azerbaijanis were expelled not only from Nagorno-Karabakh itself but also from seven surrounding districts, including Kelbajar, that had been mostly inhabited by Azerbaijanis. The entire region became the internationally unrecognized, ethnic Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Azerbaijan’s desire to return its citizens who had been displaced from their homes became a driving force in its politics.

A quarter-century of on-and-off talks failed to resolve the standoff, and on Sept. 27, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan launched an offensive to retake the territory by force. Advanced drones, funded by Azerbaijan’s oil and gas boom, pounded the Armenians in their trenches. At least 2,317 Armenian soldiers died; Azerbaijan has not released a death toll.

As Azerbaijan’s forces in early November approached the fortress city of Shusha — a place steeped in history and symbolism for both countries — Azerbaijanis barely slept, watching the state television channel for news.

“We were all crying,” said Teymur, 37, recalling the moment when Mr. Aliyev announced that Azerbaijan had taken Shusha. He said he had watched the announcement with his aunt in their one-room apartment, as neighbors poured in to congratulate. Many of them, like his family, are from Shusha. He asked that his surname not to be published to preserve the family’s privacy.

“It is the end of longing and living bad times,” he said. “When you are a displaced person, and when you are longing for that place and you cannot visit it, that place becomes more than just a stone or mountain, it becomes like a beloved person. You want to kiss it, and lie down on it and feel the energy from the earth.”

Nearly a million people were uprooted by the first war between the two in the 1990s and were resettled in towns and settlements across Azerbaijan. Many of the families still live in cramped apartments in and around Baku, and their happiness at the promise of return was tempered with grief.

“We are so happy, but many of our young died in that place,” Elnare Mamedova, 48, said of the recent fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. “All the bodies are coming back now.”

She opened a photograph on her phone of her neighbor’s son, a soldier in the hospital with a bullet wound to the head. “He’s been in a coma for 40 days,” she said. Another neighbor’s son was missing, she said. “We don’t know where he is, maybe he is captured.”

It was far from clear when displaced Azerbaijanis would be able to return. Mr. Aliyev has promised to rebuild infrastructure and to rid the region of land mines before allowing families to move back.

On Saturday, in the hectic hours before they thought Azerbaijan was set to take control of the Kelbajar district (the deadline to leave was extended for 10 days on Sunday), the departing Armenians appeared determined to make resettling the area as difficult as possible. They knocked down power lines and disassembled restaurants and gas stations. Men with chain saws fanned out across the roadside, stuffing freshly cut logs into vans and truck beds.

“Let them die from the cold,” said one man, who had arrived from Armenia, collecting the logs.

In a bank in Kelbajar on Friday, an employee was breaking down the interior walls with a large mallet, while workers carried everything that moved — windows, desks, doors — into a truck. At the police station, officers were having a farewell bottle of vodka, while a three-foot-tall white cone of burning documents smoldered in the back.

“These were always Armenian lands!” one police officer yelled when asked who had lived in Kelbajar before.

One of the few people staying in the Kelbajar District was Hovhannes Hovhannisyan, the abbott of the Dadivank monastery. When he arrived with the Armenian soldiers who took control of the area in 1993, they found that the graceful mountainside monastery had been converted to a cattle yard, he said.

Hundreds of Armenians crowded the monastery grounds on Friday for one last prayer; many brought their children to be baptized. Some of the monastery’s unique, carved-stone steles, known as khachkars, were set on wooden pallets, apparently to be removed. Suddenly, down below, the monastery guard’s home burst into flames.

“I told him not to touch it!” Abbott Hovhannisyan exclaimed, referring to the guard, who had apparently ignored his entreaty.

In Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, tensions ran high in recent days as protesters accused Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of treason for acceding to the peace deal. Mr. Pashinyan and defense officials said that Armenia, outmatched on the battlefield, had no choice — a statement that came as a shock to a country, and a global diaspora, that had united in patriotic support of the war effort.

“They said we were winning, we were winning, and then suddenly it turned out we weren’t winning,” said Karine Terteryan, 43, crying next to the opera house in central Yerevan after police officers in balaclavas detained scores of protesters. “This is treason.”

On the central Republic Square in Yerevan, a giant screen broadcast cellphone videos shot by Armenian soldiers. One threatened vengeance against Azerbaijanis.

“For every broken window, for every broken house, we will enter your homes,” the soldier said, his voice echoing across the square. “You won’t be able to sleep calmly.”

Nearly 2,000 Russian forces will patrol the line between Azerbaijani- and Armenian-controlled regions for at least five years, under the deal brokered by President Vladimir V. Putin last week. The deal reasserted Russian influence in the formerly Soviet southern Caucasus, and the Russians’ arrival was largely welcomed by those ethnic Armenians who said they planned to stay in the section of Nagorno-Karabakh that remains under Armenian control.

But even amid the heartbreak, some older Armenians recalled wistfully the days when they lived with Azerbaijanis as friends and neighbors — a still relatively recent past now impossible to imagine for younger generations. Igor Badalyan, 53, an Armenian who fled his hometown, Baku, a quarter-century ago, said it was politicians, not regular people, who were to blame for the conflict.

“The people fight each other like dogs baited against each other,” he said, visiting Dadivank on Friday with his wife and collecting stones and earth in farewell. “It is sad that it happened this way. We didn’t want it to be this way.”

Anton Troianovski reported from Kelbajar, and Carlotta Gall from Baku, Azerbaijan.



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Armenian politician arrested over alleged prime minister assassination plot following Azerbaijan peace deal



Armenia has prevented an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the seizure of power by a group of former officials, the National Security Service (NSS) says.

Mr Pashinyan had come under pressure with thousands of demonstrators protesting since Tuesday and demanding he resign over a ceasefire that secured territorial advances for Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh after six weeks of fighting.

The NSS said its former head Artur Vanetsyan, the former head of the Republican Party parliamentary faction Vahram Baghdasaryan and war volunteer Ashot Minasyan were under arrest.

“The suspects were planning to illegally usurp power by murdering the prime minister and there were already potential candidates being discussed to replace him,” the NSS said in a statement.

Mr Pashinyan’s lawyers Lusine Sahakyan and Ervand Varosyan called the detention a “persecution” and denied the allegations against their client – that he was preparing to seize power after the prime minister’s murder.

Mr Pashinyan has faced violent street protests and fierce criticism from Armenia’s political opposition since he signed a peace deal with Azerbaijan to end fighting over the disputed region of Nagorny Karabakh, which erupted in September.

Earlier this week he said he had no choice but to sign the agreement to prevent further territorial losses. He said he was taking personal responsibility for the setbacks, but rejected calls to step down.

Armenia faced heavy losses by technologically superior Azeri troops and Mr Pashinyan agreed to cede large parts of the mostly Christian and ethnically Armenian region to Muslim-majority Azerbaijan in order to bring an end to the hostilities.

The ceasefire halted military action in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but populated by ethnic Armenians.

Under the agreement, 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops are being deployed to the region.

Since the early 1990s, ethnic Armenians have held military control over all of Nagorno-Karabakh and substantial swathes of Azeri territory surrounding it. They have now lost much of the enclave itself as well as the surrounding territory. 



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Celebrations in Azerbaijan After Peace Deal With Armenia



People in Baku, Azerbaijan, honked their car horns and waved flags on the morning of November 10 after a peace deal was announced between Azerbaijan and Armenia, ending the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev tweeted that the “statement constitutes Armenia’s capitulation”, while there were angry scenes in Yerevan as protesters against the deal stormed the Armenian parliament. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Facebook the deal was “unbelievably painful for me and our people.” Russia, which helped broker the deal, agreed to deploy peacekeeping troops in Nagorno-Karabakh, according to reports. Credit: Sahila Aslanova via Storyful



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Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia sign Nagorno-Karabakh peace deal


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  • Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

image copyrightReuters

image captionIt comes after six weeks of fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists in the disputed region

Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia have signed an agreement to end military conflict over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called the deal “incredibly painful both for me and both for our people”.

It comes after six weeks of fighting between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenians.

The region is internationally recognised as Azerbaijani, but has been run by ethnic Armenians since 1994.

In that year, a truce was signed after fighting but not a peace deal.

A number of ceasefire agreements have been brokered since fighting broke out again in September, but all of them have failed.

The new ceasefire agreement prompted anger in Armenia, as protesters stormed the parliament, beating up the speaker and reportedly looting the prime minister’s office.

What has been agreed?

The peace deal took effect on Tuesday from 01:00 local time (21:00 GMT Monday).

Under the new deal, Azerbaijan will hold on to areas of Nagorno-Karabakh that it has taken during the conflict. Armenia has also agreed to withdraw from several other adjacent areas over the next few weeks.

  • What are Armenia and Azerbaijan fighting over?

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During a televised online address, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said that Russian peacekeepers would be deployed to patrol frontlines. Russia’s defence ministry confirmed that 1,960 personnel would be involved and reports said planes had left an airbase at Ulyanovsk on Tuesday carrying peacekeepers and armoured personnel carriers to Karabakh.

Turkey will also take part in the peacekeeping process, according to Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, who joined President Putin during the address.

media captionArmenians on the front line in Nagorno-Karabakh

President Putin said the agreement would include an exchange of war prisoners, with “all economical and transport contacts to be unblocked.”

What reaction has there been?

President Aliyev said the agreement was of “historic importance,” and amounted to a “capitulation” by Armenia.

image copyrightEPA
image captionArmenian separatist forces have steadily lost territory to Azerbaijan since fighting broke out

Armenia’s prime minister said that his decision was based on “deep analyses of the combat situation and in discussion with best experts of the field”.

“This is not a victory but there is not defeat until you consider yourself defeated,” Mr Pashinyan said.

image copyrightReuters
image captionIn protest at the deal, large crowds stormed the government headquarters in Yerevan

The Armenian leader in Nagorno-Karabakh, Arayik Harutyunyan, said a ceasefire was unavoidable after the loss of Karabakh’s second biggest town, Shusha (known as Shushi in Armenian).

Battles were already taking place on the outskirts of Karabakh’s main city, Stepanakert, and if the conflict had continued the whole of Karabakh would have been lost, he said on Facebook. “We would have far more losses,” he said.

In the Armenian capital Yerevan, a large crowd gathered to protest against the agreement, according to local media. They broke into parliament and government buildings, shouting “We will not give it up.”

Protesters ransacked the prime minister’s official residence and Mr Pashinyan said they “stole a computer, a clock, perfume, drivers licence and other items”.

What’s happened during the conflict?

The Armenians have steadily lost territory and significantly over the weekend Azerbaijani forces took over Shusha.

Azerbaijan has also admitted to mistakenly shooting down a Russian military helicopter over Armenia, killing two crew members and injuring a third.

image copyrightEPA
image captionBoth sides have accused each other of shelling civilian areas

It is unclear exactly how many have died. Both sides deny targeting civilians but accuse the other of doing so.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s authorities say nearly 1,200 of its defence forces have died in the fighting, and civilians have also been killed or injured.

Azerbaijan has not released its military casualty figures but has said more than 80 civilians have been killed in the fighting – including 21 in a missile strike on the town of Barda last month.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month that almost 5,000 people had been killed in the fighting.

What’s the geopolitical context in South Caucasus?

Russia has a military base in Armenia, and the two countries are members of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization.

The treaty envisages Russia’s military support if Armenia is attacked – but it does not include Nagorno-Karabakh or the other Azerbaijani regions around it seized by Armenian forces.

At the same time, Moscow also has strong ties to Azerbaijan, which is being openly backed by Turkey, a Nato member. Russia has been selling weapons to both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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