It turns out that when Ruben Vardanyan went to Moscow for a few days to, in his own words as quoted by Armenian media, “facilitate the breaking of the blockade, “opinions about the true purpose of his trip were divided: some thought that the “state minister” would receive further instructions in Moscow, while others interpreted Vardanyan’s trip as a refusal to continue the “Karabakh mission” entrusted to him by the Kremlin.
It was clear from the very beginning that the sudden arrival of the billionaire oligarch in Karabakh and his passionate calls to “preserve Artsakh’s independence” was Moscow’s political project. It is no coincidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decree to strip Vardanyan of his citizenship was signed as Azerbaijani environmental activists began their protest on the Lachin-Khankendi road and Azerbaijani leadership officially demanded that Vardanyan leave the region. In other words, Moscow made it clear to Vardanyan that there was no turning back and that he had to stay in the region to complete his mission of initiating another wave of Armenian separatism in Khankendi and laying the groundwork for Russia’s permanent presence in the region.
According to haqqin.az sources in Moscow, during his stay in the Russian capital Vardanyan met with representatives of Russian intelligence and security agencies and visited the presidential administration in the Kremlin. The talks are described as “difficult”. It is common knowledge that not only official Baku opposes to Vardanyan’s further stay in Karabakh. Vardanyan made an enemy in Khankendi in the person of “president” Arayik Harutyunyan, and Karabakh Armenians openly dislike the ” Moscow guest”. It is not surprising that the billionaire is reluctant to continue his mission in such a distressing environment. Naturally, this does not suit Moscow, where Vardanyan was subjected to heavy pressure and even threatened with death. As a result, according to our sources, the oligarch agreed to continue his mission and was returned to Khankendi in a peacekeepers’ vehicle.
Another curious detail. Until now, it has been a common assumption that official Yerevan does not accept Vardanyan. For instance, various sources have repeatedly reported that tensions remain between him and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and that the Armenian Prime Minister even demanded that the billionaire leave Karabakh. However, this information has never been confirmed. Consequently, many observers think it looks like a pre-arranged “publicity game”, through which Pashinyan, by demonstrating open hostility toward Putin’s protégé, is trying to win increased support from his Western partners. At the same time, it is no secret that some groups in the West are interested in keeping the Kremlin envoy in Khankendi to ensure a “second wind” for the resurgent Armenian separatism.
Finally, there is another fact that shows that Moscow is actively interfering in the processes in the territory of Azerbaijan under the control of the Russian peacekeeping forces and is making new plans to destabilize the situation. The leader of the separatists, Arayik Harutyunyan, who also paid a brief visit to Moscow, immediately upon his return announced the decision to amend “the constitution of Artsakh”. The essence of the changes, which have already been introduced to the so-called “parliament”, is that if the “president of Artsakh” resigns in the event of martial law, the so-called “parliamentary” assembly of the separatists has the right to elect a new “president”.
However, this amendment to the “constitution” does not at all prove that Harutyunyan is about to resign. On the contrary, Moscow reportedly instructed him to continue in his position. The question is, then, why do they need this amendment? Since the current situation for the separatists precludes holding any new “elections” in Karabakh, it is logical to assume that this amendment, approved by the Kremlin, guarantees Arayik Harutyunyan the right to lead the separatist regime even after his “term of office” expires.
Be that as it may, recent events in Khankendi and Ruben Vardanyan’s forced return to Karabakh will obviously lead to further aggravation of the situation. The Azerbaijani environmental activists are determined to continue their protests until one of their key demands is met. That is, until Vardanyan leaves the region.
At the same time, Azerbaijan is closely monitoring the processes taking place in the territory under the control of the Russian peacekeeping forces, while adhering to its original position: any attempts to foment Armenian separatism must be firmly nipped in the bud.
Translated from haqqin.az