Armenian president and commander of Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh discussed soonest return of POWs from Azerbaijan

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YEREVAN, January 24. /ARKA/. Armenian President Armen Sarkissian received today the commander of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh, Lieutenant General Rustam Muradov, Sarkissian’s press office said. The military attaché at the Russian Embassy in Armenia, Colonel Andrey Grischuk and the special representative of Artsakh President Boris Avagyan were also in attendance.

Muradov was said to have briefed the Armenian President on the progress in fulfilling the tasks assigned to the peacekeepers, stressing the warm attitude that the population of Nagorno-Karabakh shows towards the Russian military.

Sarkissian, in turn, highly appreciated the mission of the Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh and wished them success in their service.

The interlocutors discussed issues related to the return of Armenian prisoners of war and civilians held by the Azerbaijani side, the discovery of the missing and their transfer to the Armenian side. Sarkissian stressed that any obstacles to search operations from the Azerbaijani side are unacceptable.

During the discussion, they also discussed the processes of demarcation and delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Sarkissian stressed the importance of protecting the borders of Armenia and especially ensuring the security of border communities.

So far, 64 Armenians, both civilians and soldiers, and 16 Azerbaijanis have been repatriated from both countries as part of exchanges between the two sides.

Armenia and Azerbaijan earlier agreed to “all for all” swap of POWs. However, more than two months after the fighting stopped, Azerbaijan still holds unknown dozens of Armenian prisoners of war.

The Armenian authorities decline demands to disclose the exact number of Armenian prisoners held in Azerbaijan on the grounds that it is a state secret.

However, according to various sources, there are more than 140 names on the Armenian exchange list. The European Court of Human Rights said it has received requests concerning 228 Armenians held in Azerbaijani captivity.

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