The Region in Brief


Agshin Bebirov, an Azerbaijani soldier who crossed the border into Armenia, has been sentenced to 11.5 years in prison. Bebirov was detained on April 10 in Ashotavan, Syunik and charged with illegally crossing and transporting weapons across the state border. Another Azerbaijani soldier who crossed the border with Bebirov, Huseyn Akhundov, was charged with murdering an Armenian security guard in Kapan, Syunik. Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the two soldiers “went missing due to limited visibility due to bad weather conditions.” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said the soldiers fled from the army due to “pressure and humiliation from other comrades.” 


Artsakh authorities are warning that the water supply in the Sarsang reservoir is rapidly depleting. The sole high-voltage power line providing Artsakh’s electricity supply from Armenia has been damaged since January, which Artsakh authorities blame on Azerbaijani intervention, as the line runs through territory controlled by Azerbaijan. For the past four months, Artsakh has relied solely on its six hydroelectric power plants, including the Sarsang reservoir, which represents 70-percent of their total capacity. Prior to the blockade, these power plants provided just 30-percent of the region’s power. Georgi Hayriyan, head of the Artsakh Water Committee, has warned that if the power line from Armenia is not restored soon, Artsakh will not have enough electricity in the summer months, while “winter is out of the question.”


President Ilham Aliyev has pardoned 801 people to mark the anniversary of the birth of his father and the former president Heydar Aliyev. Most of those pardoned had their prison sentences reduced or terminated. Only two of those pardoned are political prisoners. Opposition groups estimate that over 100 political prisoners, including journalists, human rights defenders and political activists, are incarcerated in Azerbaijan. Ari Karimli, chair of the opposition Popular Front Party, called the pardons a “demonstration of the regime’s loyalty to a policy of repression.”This incomplete amnesty decree also revealed that the approach of some international circles, who claimed that they would promote progressive reforms by applauding Ilham Aliyev, was wrong,” Karimli said.


Russia has lifted decades-long visa restrictions for Georgians to enter the country. Russian President Vladimir Putin also signed a decree ending a three-year ban on air travel with Georgia. Public opinion in Georgia has been critical of the government’s warming relations with Russia. President Salome Zurabishvili called the lifting of visa restrictions “another Russian provocation.” “Resuming direct flights and lifting visa ban with Georgia is unacceptable as long as Russia continues its aggression on Ukraine and occupies our territory,” Zurabishvili said. The EU has also warned Georgia not to bypass Western sanctions on Russian air travel. 

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is the assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly. She reports on international women's rights, South Caucasus politics, and diasporic identity. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Democracy in Exile, and Girls on Key Press. She holds master's degrees in journalism and Near Eastern studies from New York University.

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