Radio Liberty’s Armenian Service reports, citing local population, that for more than a month now, active construction for a Russian military base has been underway in the territory of the former airport near the village of Aygepar in Berd District of Tavush Province. During Soviet times, there was a runway for Yak-40 airplanes there.
The village of Aygepar is one kilometer away from the Azerbaijani village of Alibeyli. This was the area of the heavy fighting that preceded the 44-day war. It was in this section of the state border that the Armenian armed forces committed provocations against Azerbaijan, which went down in history as the “July clashes” or “July events”. The National Hero of Azerbaijan Polad Hashimov was killed, among others, during those clashes.
According to Azatutyun, the signing of Protocol #2 on introducing amendments to the protocol “On the home stations of the Russian military base in the territory of Armenia” was among the government’s unreported issues on June 17.
The rationale posted on the government’s website says that due to the change of addresses of the home stations of the Russian military base in Armenia, it became necessary to make changes in the land plots and property to be transferred to the Russian side, as well as in the documents forming the legal framework. The rationale was given by Defense Minister Suren Papikyan.
“The signing of the protocol is prompted by the need to provide conditions for the activities of military groups of the Russian military base as a result of changes in their composition,” the rationale says.
What is being built in Berd for the Russian military? According to the locals, there are Russians among those in charge of the construction. What time frame, number of military personnel and what mission are we talking about? The Armenian Defense Ministry gives no answers to any of these questions.
According to Deputy Head of the Berd Community Samvel Hovsepyan, the territory of the airport did not belong to the community, and their job was just to give a construction permit to the developer.
“The territory must have belonged to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, but it has been airport territory since long ago, it is not community-owned,” Hovsepyan said.
The locals, however, are only happy to hear the rumors about Russian military coming to the region. Vache Kalantaryan, a resident of Aygepar, recalls the years of military confrontation with Azerbaijan, saying that the people in the region “pin their hopes” on the establishment of a military base here.