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Azerbaijan holds Russian peacekeepers responsible for blocking Lachin road

Hikmat Hajiyev

The Lachin road has not been blocked by the Azerbaijani protesters, but by the Russian peacekeeping contingent, Hikmat Hajiyev, the Azerbaijani president’s foreign policy aide, told the December 13 meeting with the representatives of the diplomatic corps in Baku, Azernews reports.

Hikmat Hajiyev explained that the Azerbaijani eco-activists, NGO representatives, and young people on the scene are trying to prevent the illegal transportation of looted natural resources from Karabakh to Armenia and are not interfering with the movement of civilian vehicles. On the contrary, the pickets are ready to provide free access to vehicles of ethnic civilian Armenians moving along the road.

However, for the third day in a row, the Azerbaijani protesters have been demanding the commander of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in the region to live up to commitments enshrined in the November 10, 2020, tripartite deal and provide Azerbaijani experts with unhindered access to deposits under illegal exploitation of the Karabakh separatists in concert with the Russian peacekeepers’ command.

In remarks on the role of infamous Russian billionaire Ruben Vardanyan, who moved to the separatist region and was promoted to the post of the “state minister”, the presidential aide pledged that “the criminal businessman will not be allowed to plunder Azerbaijan’s natural resources and cause severe damage to the environment”.

Interestingly, Ruben Vardanyan was until recently a Russian businessman, who following the Kremlin war in Ukraine, renounced his Russian citizenship to dodge EU and US sanctions for money laundering activities and aiding Russia to avoid sanctions.

The Azerbaijani top presidential aide urged an end to the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Azerbaijani territory, adding that the exploitation of all natural resources should be carried out under the legislation of Azerbaijan.

Further, Hikmat Haciyev attributed the protests on the Shusha-Lachin road to the rightful dissatisfaction of the Azerbaijani public.

“Over the last two days, the picket by representatives of the Azerbaijani civil society and environmental activists on the Shusha-Lachin road is an indicator of the rightful dissatisfaction of the Azerbaijani public, and the position of the civil society should be respected,” Haciyev underscored.

The presidential aide also eschewed Armenia’s claims about the supposed closure of the Lachin road, the humanitarian disaster in the region, and ethnic cleansing.

In his opinion, it is vital to prevent Armenia from using the Lachin-Khankandi road for military purposes, transporting mines, and transporting illegally extracted natural resources of Azerbaijan to Armenia.

About Fidan Abdullayeva