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Tensions High Along Armenia-Azerbaijan Border After Days Of Skirmishes

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Tensions High Along Armenia-Azerbaijan Border After Days Of Skirmishes

Despite a lull in fighting overnight, tensions remain high on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan after days of skirmishes and a threat from Baku that it is capable of targeting nuclear power stations.
Armenia's Defense Ministry said on July 17 that the situation along the northeastern part of the border was "relatively calm" through the night, and that Armenian Armed Forces were "firmly in control of the situation along the entire border."
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry says that tensions boiled over after the Armenian military attempted an artillery attack on Azerbaijan’s positions along the border on July 12. According to the ministry, 11 military servicemen have been killed.
The Armenian Defense Ministry, in turn, has blamed a breakthrough attempt by the Azerbaijani army on the border. According to Armenia, four of its troops have been killed and ten suffered wounds.

Nuclear Warning
Despite the relative calm over the past 24 hours, Azerbaijan on July 16 issued a statement that reflected the potential for the conflict's escalation, warning it could strike Armenia's nuclear power plant if Armenian forces launched an attack on a strategic water reservoir in Azerbaijan.

Lives Upended: The Deadly Armenian-Azerbaijani Cross-Border Conflict In Images
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Lives Upended: The Deadly Armenian-Azerbaijani Cross-Border Conflict In Images

Tensions remain high along the northern border between Armenia and Azerbaijan after days of deadly skirmishes between the two former Soviet republics.

“The Armenian side must not forget that the state-of-the-art missile systems our army has are capable of launching a precision strike on the Metsamor nuclear power plant, and that would be a huge tragedy for Armenia,” Azerbaijani Defense Ministry spokesman Vagif Dargyakhly said in the statement.
Armenia's Soviet-built nuclear power plant is located close to the border with Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan.

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Armenian military spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan said Armenia had brought the Azerbaijani statement to the attention of its international partners and expects them to strongly condemn it.
He added that Armenian officials have never made threats to strike civilian facilities in Azerbaijan.
Armenia's Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, denounced the Azerbaijani threat as “genocidal.”
Earlier on July 16, the Armenian military claimed to have thwarted a pre-dawn Azerbaijani raid on one of its border posts in the northeastern Tavush district.
“After a fierce gun battle the enemy was repelled, suffering casualties,” Stepanian said, adding that Azerbaijani forces then began shelling two Armenian border villages with mortars and howitzers.
Stepanian also claimed that Armenian forces destroyed an Azerbaijani tank and struck “artillery and mortar positions that were shelling our settlements and positions.”
Stepanian also said that Armenian Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan talked to Andrzej Kasprzyk, the head of an OSCE mission monitoring the cease-fire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, briefing him on the latest escalation.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry on July 16 accused Armenian forces of attacking its frontline troops and shelling Azerbaijani villages in the Tovuz district bordering Tavush. It gave no details.

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The two neighbors fought a war in 1988-1994 over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts of Azerbaijan were seized by Armenian-backed separatists who declared independence amid a 1988-1994 conflict that killed at least 30,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands.
Since a fragile, Russian-brokered truce in 1994, the region has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces that Azerbaijan says include troops supplied by Armenia. The region's claim to independence has not been recognized by any country.
Since then, periodic skirmishes have taken place in the region.
Russia, the United States, and France are the co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which acts as a mediator in resolving the crisis. The group has been struggling for years to mediate a solution.
On July 15, the Minsk Group urged the parties to “make every effort to continue de-escalation.”
"The Co-Chairs welcomed the confirmation of the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan to hold substantive negotiations on crucial aspects of a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement as soon as possible and emphasized the importance of returning OSCE monitors to the region as soon as circumstances allow," said the statement issued late on July 15.

In a joint statement on July 17, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (Democrat-New Jersey), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Cory Booker (Democrat-New Jersey), urged "a stop to the fighting" along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and an "immediate resumption of peace talks."

The two senators also accused Azerbaijan of having chosen "a path of violence instead of the peaceful, negotiated process spearheaded by the OSCE Minsk Group," and called on the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump to "immediately halt" U.S. military assistance to the Azerbaijani government.

"Providing nearly $120 million in security assistance to a regime that flouts a peace process cochaired by the U.S. is absurd," according to Menendez and Booker.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Armenian and Azerbaijani services and AFP

Read Original Article here by RFERL

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‘Our Animals Are Dying’: Water Goes Bad In Azerbaijani Village

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Residents in the village of Banka in Azerbaijan say they lack basic water supplies for themselves and their animals after water in the Kura River dropped and became contaminated with salt water from the nearby Caspian Sea. Experts believe farming, a major hydroelectric plant upstream, and climate change could be to blame.Read Original Article here by RFERL

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Citizens of Baku to remain stuck at home? No info on future as last day of strict quarantine approaches

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As of August 3, citizens of Baku and 14 other cities and regions in Azerbaijan have spent six weeks living under a strict quarantine regime due to the coronavirus.

Since June 21, people have been allowed to go outside for three hours a day after receiving SMS permission from the authorities, and all stores are closed, excluding grocery stores and pharmacies.

Public transport is not running on Saturdays or Sundays.

The authorities’ most recent decision states that the quarantine will end at 6 am on August 5. However, no statement has been released about lifting the quarantine, and there is a growing fear that it may be extended.

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Within the past three weeks, there were several times when the quarantine was scheduled to be lifted, but was instead extended. But the authorities had issued a statement informing citizens ahead of time.

Azerbaijan continues to celebrate Eid al-Adha, and August 4 is the first working day after the holiday.

MP of the Milli Mejlis Musa Guliyev reported some positive news:

“The roads between cities and regions will reopen, the metro will start running again, and people will be able to leave the house without SMS permission. But at the same time, we musts not forget that the epidemic is still going on and we must adhere to safety measures.”

However, people on social networks have more to say about the pessimistic forecast of the chief infectious disease specialist Jalal Isaev.

He said that the authorities may extend the strict quarantine for several more weeks in order to bring the number of new cases a day down into the double digits.

Over the past 24 hours, 286 new cases have been reported in Azerbaijan, bringing the total since the beginning of the epidemic to 32,443 cases. Eight more people have died, bringing the total in Azerbaijan to 462. 27,113 people have recovered.

Baku, Tbilisi Avenue. Photo JAMnews

The post Citizens of Baku to remain stuck at home? No info on future as last day of strict quarantine approaches appeared first on English Jamnews.

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Azerbaijani Ombudsman denies death of political prisoner. New reports of torture in prisons. Updated

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12.00 / August 2

It remains unclear whether Azerbaijani political prisoner Fuad Qahramanli, a board member of the opposition Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan, is alive or has died in prison.

On the evening of August 1, information about his possible death from torture appeared on social media [more in the report below]. Then, former prosecutor Rufat Safarov denied this message on his Facebook page.

“The head of the department for the prevention of torture of the Azerbaijani Ombudsman’s Office, Rashid Rumzadeh, said that Fuad Qahramanli is alive,” Safarov wrote with reference to lawyer Bahruz Bayramov.

The lawyer was promised that on Monday, August 3, they would try to arrange a meeting with Qahramanli.

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Rufat Safarov, in the same post, critically noted that the ombudsman’s staff should have visited the prisoner after the alarming messages on social media and provided reliable information to his family and friends.

Instead, they postponed the issue for several days.

With the hope that Fuad Qahramanli is still alive, opposition blogger Bakhtiyar Hajiyev also writes:

I appealed to the Ombudsman about the state of Qahramanli. About half an hour later, I was informed that he was alive and that he was currently in the Kurdakhan detention center. It is reported that his condition and conditions of detention are good.

The issue is now under the personal control of Ombudswoman Sabina Aliyeva. I look forward to a solution to the issue of organizing meetings between prisoners and their families and lawyers.

There is very little information on the state of political prisoners in Azerbaijan’s prisons as a whole.

Blogger Nihad Huseyn wrote on his Twitter that opposition activist Seymur Akhmedov was able to send a letter from prison to his loved ones, in which he reported being tortured daily and beaten.

Akhmedov, like Qahramanli, was detained among 45 opposition activists for participating in a rally in Baku in support of the army on the night of July 15.

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Seymur Akhmedov writes that … a man in civilian clothes beat him for hours in the building of the Narimanov district police station,” blogger Nihad Huseyn said.

19.00 / August 1

Political prisoner Fuad Qahramanli may have died from torture in a Baku prison on August 1, local social media write. There is no official confirmation or evidence yet.

Fuad Qahramanli is one of more than 45 members of the opposition Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan who were detained after the July 15 rally in Baku in support of the army.

“Ilham Aliyev [President of Azerbaijan], if something happens to the people you have arrested, you are responsible for it,” his ex-wife Zumrud Yagmur wrote on her Facebook page.

While no official confirmation has been given, a number of messages to effect have been published, amongst others by well-known investigative journalist Khadija Ismail:

Various sources say that PFPA executive director Fuad Qahramanli was tortured. There is also information that he is dead. Lawyer Bahruz Bayramov was not allowed to see him from the moment of his arrest.

“Two other party members, Baba Suleiman and Seymur Akhmadov, were also severely tortured and threatened with rape. Baba reportedly agreed to sign false statements against party chairman Ali Karimli after being tortured.

“We try to check the reports. Lawyers are not allowed to see their clients, and there is no effective mechanism against torture in Azerbaijan.”

Azerbaijani bloggers have recently begun to conduct a daily report in two areas: statistics on coronavirus and the number of oppositionists detained by the authorities.

The 45 opposition activists who were recently arrested were initially charged with illegal protests during the rally in support of the army on the night of July 15.

However, the charges then escalated, and some of the detainees are now charged with ‘attempting to overthrow the government’.

The post Azerbaijani Ombudsman denies death of political prisoner. New reports of torture in prisons. Updated appeared first on English Jamnews.

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