Armenia’s police on Tuesday detained more than a dozen members of a war veteran group demanding that authorities take steps to open the Berdzor (Lachin) corridor blockaded by Azerbaijan to provide humanitarian supplies to Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).
Members of the group called Crusaders staged a protest in front of the central government offices in Yerevan in the afternoon, setting a 6 pm deadline for the authorities to act. Otherwise, they threatened to take matters into their own hands.
When the protesters blocked traffic in Tigran Mets Avenue, which is adjacent to Yerevan’s central Republic Square, the police detained several protesters, while the health condition of two others deteriorated.
Later, the Interior Ministry told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that as many as 14 people were detained for failing to comply with police orders, but said they would be released soon.
After the police action, Sargis Poghosian, a member of the Crusaders group, said that they planned to head to Kornidzor in Armenia’s southern Syunik province, which borders on the Lachin corridor where an Azerbaijani checkpoint blocking free passage of people and goods to and from Nagorno-Karabakh is located.
The Armenian government sent about two dozen trucks with humanitarian aid to Nagorno-Karabakh in late July, but the convoy carrying nearly 400 tons of supplies still remains stranded in Kornidzor waiting for approval from Azerbaijan to access the region.
Citing the terms of the Moscow-brokered 2020 ceasefire agreement that places Russian peacekeepers in control of the Lachin corridor, Armenia considers the Azerbaijani roadblock to be illegal, but officials in Yerevan have rejected any scenarios of using force to unblock access to Nagorno-Karabakh.
Baku suggests that Karabakh Armenians use another road passing via the Azeri-controlled town of Agdam for the supply of food and other essentials, but authorities in Stepanakert reject this possibility, calling for the restoration of free and safe traffic along the Lachin corridor.
As the effective blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh continues, severe shortages of foodstuffs, medicines and other basic necessities have been reported in the region. Nagorno-Karabakh’s health authorities on Tuesday reported an increase in the death rate and disease incidence related to lack of medicines and malnutrition during the past seven months.