STEPANAKERT. – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has voiced a highest degree of humane approach to the matter of captives in armed conflict zones.
Davit Babayan, Deputy Head of Presidential Staff and Head of the General Information Department of Presidential Staff of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic/NKR), stated the aforesaid. He noted this when commenting, at the request of Armenian News-NEWS.am, on Lavrov’s statement—in which he noted, in particular, that Moscow stands for “all for all” prisoner exchange, including in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh).
“(…) the statement should be viewed in two aspects,” Babayan stressed. “First and foremost, the Russian minister voiced an absolutely humane approach: all captives and hostages should be returned and freed; of course, one can and must agree with this.
“But the issue also has the other side: what they attempt to attribute to Minister Lavrov. I don’t think that, when speaking about captives, Mr. Lavrov meant murderers and terrorists.
“For years, Stepanakert has practically spoken in favor of releasing innocent people who accidentally crossed the border and ended up in the territory of the adversary. That’s about people who haven’t committed crimes, moreover, severe crimes.
“We have repeatedly stated that, at one time, there were large numbers of Armenian captives in Azerbaijan. [But] the Azerbaijani side has categorically denied these facts. They were ‘registering’ Armenians as Azerbaijanis, giving them other names, using them as slaves, taking their organs. [And] since the names of these people were changed, international organizations were unable to oversee their fate.
“[But] the issue is completely different in the case of criminals, whose guilt is proven by a public trial—with the participation of international observers, journalists, and human rights advocates. Criminals who were sentenced by three court instances, not by a field court. I’m completely convinced that the representative of the Russian authorities, high-ranking diplomat Mr. Lavrov didn’t mean the criminals whose hands are drenched in the blood of an underage child.”
At the same time, Babayan recalled that, as the track-record shows, if persons who have committed murder and terrorist acts are returned to their homeland, they will instantly be named heroes there.
“That is, the result will be several times worse in terms of creating a climate of trust,” Davit Babayan added. “A huge dosage of poison will be injected to the Azerbaijani public.”