Speaking with Heroes: An Exclusive Interview with Artsakh Servicemen


The Armenian Weekly’s Ani Avetyan Speaks to NKR Servicemen Who Captured an Azerbaijani Solider Last Week

Senior Lieutenant Hovhannes Arakelyan has been the talk of the town in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh/NKR) lately.

Senior Lieutenant Hovhannes Arakelyan (Photo: Ani Avetyan/The Armenian Weekly)

He was responsible for capturing Azerbaijani serviceman Elnur Huseynzade during a failed Azerbaijani attack on Feb. 1. Huseynzade and other Azerbaijani servicemen attempted to infiltrate the NKR border by takin advantage of the heavy fog, but failed largely due to the alert and well-organized Armenian Armed Forces.

During the failed Azerbaijani infiltration attempt, about 800 meters separated the Azeri and Armenian forces. “They [Azerbaijani forces] had come across one side of the valley. The Armenian servicemen defending the posts that night were alert and able to detect and hold back the diversion attempt. Preventative measures were taken and the commander was informed,” explains Arakelyan.

The Azerbaijani soldier, now captured, had reached near the Armenian trenches at the time of the attack. The Armenian soldiers spotted two others as well. “In similar cases, we must always remain alert and unemotional. We noticed them at the trenches. One soldier was already wounded and the others were retreating and leaving him behind,” recalls the Senior Lieutenant.

Soon after, the Armenian servicemen presented the captured soldier to an NKR Army officer. “He was scared, because he probably couldn’t imagine what was going to happen to him. However, as respectable human beings, we behaved courteously and treated him accordingly,” says Arakelyan.

According to Arakelyan, protecting frontline positions with similar preparedness—without panic with proper analysis—should always be the case. “It is our number one responsibility not to let enemy forces penetrate our borders. We must always be prepared to address the problems we face and to stay strong against enemy provocations,” he says.

The first to reach the position during the infiltration attempt was crew commander, Major Sasun Stepanyan. He arrived at the most intense time. Both sides began to exchange fire. “The Armenian forces acted appropriately and the enemy was convinced that it would not be able to penetrate our military position,” says Stepanyan.

Azerbaijani authorities were quick to comment on Huseynzade’s capture. On Feb. 2, the news of Huseynzade’s capture was rejected by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry. They claimed that he was discharged from the military. In a statement cited by Azerbaijani news outlets, Huseynzade had served in the military but was discharged, because he violated military discipline by failing to report for duty.

“The fact that the Azerbaijani soldier was a saboteur and a member of a special military detachment was clear. His military uniform was telling—his documentation, paperwork, and assigned military base that was discovered after we examined him was very telling.  He was a saboteur that was part of a special military detachment,” explained Stepanyan.

The diversion attempt was clearly meant to scare the residents of Talish who were beginning to resettle after last April’s Four-Day War. According to Major Zaven Khachatryan, the commander of the military base at the direction of the Talish border, their plan failed because of his brave troops.

“The option to stand back or retreat has never been taught to my soldiers. It’s simply not an option,” says Major Khachatryan. “Let this be a lesson to Azerbaijan. They shouldn’t attempt to instill fear and disturb the peace through their provocative actions. There is extensive work being done in the village and some families have already resettled,” Khachatryan explains.

According to another Major, Sasun Stepanyan, the village of Talish is being “reborn.” “Much work is being carried out and the population is returning to their village, their homeland. Therefore, we are responsible to ensure the safety of their village and their return,” explains Major Stepanyan.

With every failed Azerbaijani attempt, the confidence of the Senior and Junior Lieutenants increases. Participating in military action helps soldiers prepare for the possibility of new attacks.

What happened on Feb. 1 was clearly a diversion attempt, which proved the preparedness of NKR soldiers—something that was questioned last April. And with the capture of the enemy’s soldier, the world has further proof that it is Azerbaijan who constantly violates the ceasefire—not the other way around.


Note: Senior Lieutenant Hovhannes Arakelyan’s brother is also a serviceman, who is currently serving in Artsakh.



Ani Avetyan

Ani Avetyan

Ani Avetyan is a student at Yerevan State University’s History Department. She is a reporter for Armenia TV’s “The Hour” (Zhame) program and contributes to the Armenian Weekly from Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (NKR/Artsakh) and Yerevan.


  1. Its abundantly clear that the real reason Karabakh has been free and independent for 25 years is not because Azerbaijan ‘can recapture whenever it wants’, or the ‘Russian military basses’. No its because of Armenia’s dedicated and well trained army who are the only guarantee of Armenia’s and Karabakhs security. These are REAL HEROES sacrificing themselves on the front lines to defend our homeland. We all owe them great gratitude.

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