The residents of Aghavno will be forced to evacuate by August 25

05 Aug 2022

Bowing to strong pressure from Azerbaijan, authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh have ordered ethnic Armenian residents of the Lachin corridor connecting the territory to Armenia to leave their homes before the end of this month.

The five-kilometer-wide corridor became Karabakh’s sole overland link to Armenia following the 2020 war. Armenian forces pulled out of the rest of the wider Lachin district under the terms of the Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the six-week hostilities.

The truce accord calls for the construction of a new Armenia-Karabakh highway that will bypass the town of Lachin and two Armenian-populated villages located within the current corridor protected by Russian peacekeeping troops.

Karabakh’s leadership revealed on Tuesday that Azerbaijan has demanded through the peacekeepers the quick closure of the existing corridor and suggested that the Armenian side use a bypass road which has yet to be constructed. Armenia’s government dismissed the demands as “not legitimate” before two Karabakh Armenian soldiers were killed and 19 others wounded on Wednesday in heavy fighting with Azerbaijani forces.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian argued on Thursday that the truce accord requires Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia to work out before 2024 a joint “plan” for the construction of a new Armenia-Karabakh road. No such plan has been drawn up yet, he said.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said, however, that the three sides did agree on the “route” of the new corridor early this year and accused Yerevan of dragging out work on its Armenian sections.

Later on Thursday, the few remaining residents of the town of Lachin said local officials told them to evacuate the town for good. A senior official from Stepanakert, Hayk Khanumian, communicated the same order to some 200 people living in the nearby village of Aghavno at a meeting on Friday.

“He said that the Azerbaijanis will come and the Russians will leave [the current corridor] on August 25,” Mariam Hakobian, an Aghavno resident

“The people [of Aghavno] look like they are hypnotized,” she said. “We don’t know what to do.”

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