The prime minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, has said that the blocking of sections of road by Azerbaijani servicemen on the disputed border by Armenia’s Syunik province has not cut the province off from the rest of Armenia, but that it does constitute a breach in an agreement between Armenia and the Russian border guards.
The National Security Service (NSS) of Armenia reports that yesterday (25 August) at 23:00, the Azerbaijani side closed the Karmrakar-Shurnukh section of the Kapan-Goris interstate road near the village of Davit Bek. A statement on the facebook of Armenia’s human rights ombudsman, Arman Tatoyan, last night at 01:14 said that “50 or more Azerbaijani servicemen” had closed the road and refused to open it. In a second statement published today (26 August) at 12:07, Tatoyan said that whilst restrictions remained on the Karmrakar-Shurnukh section, a second section of the road, between Goris and Vorotan, had also been closed by the Azerbaijani side.
Whilst the Azerbaijani side are yet to comment on the closed roads, yesterday the Azerbaijani State Border services reported that its border guard, Ruslan Shiraliyev, was attacked and stabbed with a bayonet in a hand-to-hand fight with Armenian soldiers at around 15:45 on the Gorus-Gafan (Goris-Kapan) interstate. The statement says that Shiraliyev was taken to hospital and that full responsibility for the incident lies with the Armenian side. A statement by the Armenian Ministry of Defence has called this accusation “an absolute falsification” and says that no such incident took place.
Responding to the allegation today in parliament, according to Armenpress, Pashinyan said that the alleged incident was cited by the Azerbaijani side in the closing of the road but he denied that it had taken place. “If the Azerbaijani side has substantiations corroborating that something like that happened, we urge them to convey that information so we can investigate it and understand what happened,” he added.
Armenpress also reports that Pashinyan acknowledged that the part of the Kapan-Goris road which has been blocked by the Azerbaijani side was, by Soviet-era maps, outside the borders of Soviet Armenia. Panarmenian reports Pashinyan as saying, however, that the closure of the road is a breach of an agreement between Armenia and the Russian military contingent, according to which Russian border guards are responsible for securing the road in question. He is reported to have assured that the Syunik province has not been cut off from the rest of Armenia and that there is an alternative ground road that is now being repaired.