A few days ago, Marat Uyeldanov, an Armenian citizen of Russia, who was in prison in Azerbaijan for three years, was transferred to Russia. Though Baku charged him for drugs and sent him to prison, Uyeldanov and other public circles believe that the reason why he was prosecuted was his Armenian origin.
The famous blogger Lapshin who is a citizen of Russia and Israel wrote after Uyeldanov’s transfer from Azerbaijan that the Azerbaijani government intended to connect their cases and create a case of an Armenian “spy group” but Israel did everything possible to protect its citizen from a similar incident.
The Russian foreign ministry regularly stated that they are doing everything possible for Uyeldanov who constantly contacted the Russian authorities through his family to get him out of Azerbaijan. Moscow brought up the issue in the context of condemning Baku’s discrimination against Russian citizens of Armenian origin but at the same time it concluded that Azerbaijan’s attitude does not change.
Moscow actually confessed that it was powerless. At the same time, the probability is high that Azerbaijan kept Uyeldanov as a hostage to put pressure on Russia to push Armenia to “free” the two Azerbaijani saboteurs, especially that one of them, Askerov, a colonel of the special unit, is a citizen of Russia. It is known that several years ago they reached Karvachar for reconnaissance and killed two citizens of Artsakh. They have been sentenced for life in Artsakh.
Getting them back has become a “matter of honor” for Azerbaijan with ensuing expressions of “heroic cynicism”. As to the political or even political-military circumstances that are there or may be there due to which the imprisonment of the saboteurs worry Baku, it is already a different conversation.
Does Russia have concerns because one of Baku’s saboteur-murderers is a Russian citizen? At least the Russian foreign minister Lavrov has hinted several times that they are dealing with this. Recently Lavrov has announced that Moscow is for all for all exchange of prisoners.
The Armenian side has stated repetitively that the saboteurs are not prisoners but murderers who are serving their sentence. In their case, the point could be extradition, not exchange in which case both Moscow, given its citizen, and Baku must negotiate with official Stepanakert directly.
It is clear that they will not do it.
In this context, it is interesting that Azerbaijan “releases” Uyeldanov, a citizen of Russia of Armenian origin. Interestingly, Lapshin notes that Baku returned Uyeldanov after receiving the leader of the Talish people Fahraddin Aboszoda from Russia. In late February news came that Aboszoda had been kidnapped from a Russian prison. Later it became known that he was in Azerbaijan.
Lapshin writes that Uyeldanov was transferred to Russia in exchange with Aboszoda who is the leader of the Talish autonomy struggling against Baku.
Did this exchange take place, and Moscow, having lost hope to get Baku’s murderers from the Armenian side, decided to hand Aboszoda to return a Russian citizen? It is hard to tell whether in the case of Aboszoda there was a pure exchange or there were wider political reasons, including reasons relating to Iran. Nonetheless, it is interesting that Moscow also used this circumstance to resolve the issue Uyeldanov-Galstyan.
Does this mean that the Russian foreign minister Lavrov will give up on expectations from the Armenian side relating to the murderers?