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Russia Refuses Support for Detained Oligarch Ruben Vardanyan

By Vusala Abbasova September 28, 2023

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Ruben Vardanyan, who previously held the "position" of the so-called "state minister" of the illegal separatist regime in the Karabakh (Garabagh) region of Azerbaijan, was detained at the Lachin border checkpoint while trying to escape from Azerbaijan's territory to Armenia. / State Border Service of the Azerbaijan Republic

Moscow made it clear that it has no intentions to extend a helping hand to Ruben Vardanyan, a Russian billionaire of Armenian origin who was detained by Azerbaijani authorities.

Alexander Bashkin, a Member of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building, clarified that Vardanyan's renunciation of Russian citizenship has rendered any support from Russia impossible.

“It was a voluntary choice to renounce citizenship; accordingly, all the legal consequences of this step are a consequence of his choice,” Report.az quoted Bashkin as saying on Wednesday. “Due to this fact, he cannot now receive assistance from the Russian Federation and will not receive it.”

Ruben Vardanyan, who previously held the "position" of the so-called "state minister" of the illegal separatist regime in the Karabakh (Garabagh) region of Azerbaijan, was detained at the Lachin border checkpoint while trying to escape from Azerbaijan's territory to Armenia. The Rapid Response Force of the State Border Service took him to the capital, Baku, and handed him over to other state agencies, where further decisions regarding his case would be made.

Armenian-descent Russian oligarch Ruben Vardanyan surprisingly “renounced” his Russian citizenship in September 2022, on the second anniversary of the 44-day Armenia-Azerbaijan war. Vardanyan had advocated for a spurious “status” to be granted to the Armenian residents in Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region, urging for the recognition of the illegal separatist regime as an “independent country” and positioning himself as a leading representative for these individuals.

Vardanyan’s detention followed the successful anti-terror measures conducted by the Azerbaijan Armed Forces last week. The one-day local counter-terrorist operation from September 19-20 was aimed at disabling Armenian army forces and military infrastructure in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. The operation followed the intensifying Armenian attacks on Azerbaijani positions and the recent deadly mine incidents, resulting in the deaths of Azerbaijani police officers and road construction workers. Also, two servicemen of the Azerbaijani army stationed in the Aghdam district were wounded by Armenian armed formations illegally deployed in the Azerbaijani territories temporarily monitored by the Russian peacekeeping contingent.

The Azerbaijan Ministry of Health reported that during the anti-terror operations, 192 servicemen and one civilian were martyred, while 511 servicemen and one civilian were injured. Among the martyred servicemen, 180 belonged to the Ministry of Defence, 12 to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The identities of 11 individuals are pending forensic genetic examinations.

Baku pledged to protect the rights of Armenians residing in the Karabakh region and reintegrate them into Azerbaijani society in accordance with the Constitution and laws of Azerbaijan.

Speaking to Deutsche Welle, Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov emphasised Azerbaijan's commitment to dialogue on the reintegration of Armenian residents living in the Karabakh region.

“Azerbaijan is not forcing anyone to leave Karabakh,” Hikmet Hajiyev, an Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan, Head of Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration, said. He stated that it was a “personal and individual decision” of the residents who relocated from the Karabakh region to Armenia.

“Azerbaijan provides safe corridors for representatives of the peaceful population who, on the basis of individual choice and freely decide to leave for the Republic of Armenia due to circumstances. Again, this is a free choice. Azerbaijan ensures their freedom of movement. At the same time, safe and organised communications with the local Armenians who decided to leave for the Republic of Armenia are carried out – it is their personal individual decision,” he said.