From where to where: tragicomic end of separatist millionaire
The local anti-terrorist measures that have been ongoing in Azerbaijan for a long time have finally yielded the greatest results. On September 27, Armenian-born Russian oligarch Ruben Vardanyan was detained in Azerbaijan when he tried illegally and covertly to cross the Lachin Border Checkpoint.
It is worth noting that he was born in an ordinary Soviet family in Armenia and after school, he went to Moscow for higher education. In Moscow, he made his fortune and became one the richest men not only in Armenia but also in CIS countries. Many believe that he became a billionaire through some criminal affairs, especially since his name is linked with money laundering. Besides, he was one of the patrons who illegally invested in the formerly occupied territories of Azerbaijan and was a supporter of the separatist gang in Khankendi.
When the Ukrainian War broke out, the Western countries started to impose sanctions on the Russian oligarchs. To evade the sanctions, Ruben Vardanyan denounced Russian citizenship and illegally came to Garabagh. Soon, he became the “minister of state” in the so-called “republic.” Many believed that he was parachuted into the position because Moscow plans to replace Pashinyan with him. It should be mentioned that he was an ardent separatist and after his arrival, separatism in Azerbaijan's Garabagh gained further motivation.
But the fate of the criminal millionaire brought him to Baku in handcuffs...
Former diplomat, professor Farid Shafiyev told Azernews that the separatist Vardanyan is guilty of several very serious felonies - breaches of Azerbaijan's criminal code, actions against Azerbaijan's constitutional order and against Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, participation in illegal armed groups, and several other crimes.
“I think a more detailed, more legal analysis will be given by the Prosecutor General Office and other relevant authorities. However, it is important that justice is delivered. People should know that criminals and warlords, who are guilty of destroying Azerbaijanis' lives, jeopardizing security, and threatening national security will be punished. That is an important point,” he said.
Farid Shafiyev pointed out that the detention of Ruben indeed serves as a lesson to other warlords and criminals. I think Azerbaijan will be chasing and persecuting other war criminals. As for amnesty, he mentioned that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev spoke about the amnesty in May and that was the offer prior to the Anti-terrorist activities.
“During and after the Anti-terrorist Activities, the Head of the Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmet Hajiyev also said that those who surrender will be given amnesty. I think amnesty will be given to the persons who surrender; to those who express remorse and a sort of excuse for openly taking arms and acting against Azerbaijan's sovereignty and integrity. We have never heard such kind of behavior from Ruben Vardanyan up until the latest moment. If I am not mistaken, even yesterday he gave an interview on the France 24 news channel and spoke against Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. Thus, I think that he will be brought to the trial,” he added.
To recall, Armenia invaded Garabagh and seven adjacent districts in the First Garabagh War in the 1990s. During the First Garabagh War Armenian armed groups committed massacres in different residential areas such as Khojaly, Meshali, etc., and expelled 750,000 people from their hometowns. The war stopped in 1994 and from that time Azerbaijan conducted negotiations to resolve the war peacefully. However, due to the Armenian maximalist approaches the negotiations reached a deadlock. To top it all off, the Armenian side attacked Azerbaijan in September 2020 and Azerbaijan was obliged to conduct the counter-offensive military operations that called the Second Garabagh War or the 44-day War.
The Second Garabagh War lasted 44 days and finished with the Russian-brokered November 10 declaration. Azerbaijan liberated most of its invaded territories, except Khankendi and a few districts. According to the provisions of the Declaration, the Armenians in Khankendi should have handed over their weapons, the reintegration process between Azerbaijan and Armenian residents in Garabagh should have started and Azerbaijani IDPs should have returned to their hometowns. However, after several months the Armenian side commenced to violate the provisions and commit provocations and sabotage against Azerbaijan. It is worth noting that the arrival of Ruben Vardan at Khankendi played a big role in this process. As a result, Azerbaijan once again was obliged to start anti-terrorist activities on September 19, 2023. The anti-terror activities lasted less than a day and the Armenian armed groups accepted Azerbaijan's condition to hand over their weapons.
Qabil Ashirov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @g_Ashirov
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