Police in Armenia Detains Protesters Near Russian Military Base

08/01/2023

Police in Armenia Sunday detained 65 protesters near a Russian military base demanding Moscow intervene to dismantle what they say is a crippling blockade by Azerbaijan of an ethnic Armenian enclave, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.

It said around 200 protesters, gathered outside the base in the northern town of Gyumri, were demanding that Russian peacekeepers unblock the sole road – the Lachin Corridor — which links Armenia and the predominantly ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Since Dec. 12, people identifying themselves as environmental activists from Azerbaijan have partially blocked the road, letting only limited traffic through. Azerbaijan says their action does not amount to a full blockade, but ethnic Armenian officials in Nagorno-Karabakh officials say food, medicine and fuel are running desperately short as a result.

The corridor, which allows supplies from Armenia to reach the 120,000 ethnic Armenians who control the mountainous region, has been policed by Russian peacekeepers since 2020.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but its inhabitants are predominantly ethnic Armenian, and it broke away from Baku’s control in a war in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as the Soviet Union was disintegrating.

In 2020, Azerbaijan retook territory in and around the enclave after a second war that ended in a Russian-brokered cease-fire, and peacekeepers deployed along the Lachin corridor, which became the only route into and out of Nagorno-Karabakh.

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