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ISW: Russia challenges Yerevan's sovereignty by detaining Russian citizen in Armenia

by Kateryna Hodunova April 10, 2024 2:04 PM 2 min read
A general view from the city center on Feb. 3, 2022, in Yerevan, Armenia. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Ali Balikci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Russian military authorities detained Russian citizen Anatoly Shchetin in Armenia for allegedly avoiding the military draft, the Institute for the Study of War's (ISW) report said, citing the international human rights organization Helsinki Citizens' Assembly in Vanadzor, on April 9.

The detention may have been part of an effort to "assert military and political power over Armenia and to challenge Armenia's sovereignty" amid a continued deterioration of the states' relations, the report read.

Traditionally aligned with Russia in its regional conflict against Azerbaijan, Armenia has experienced heightened tensions with Russia after the country's "peacekeepers" did not prevent Azerbaijan's September 2023 offensive into Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also said on March 12 that Armenia would leave the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) if the military alliance fails to address Armenia's collective security concerns.

Helsinki Citizens' Assembly's statement said that "once again" Russia violated the Armenian law, kidnapping a person and imprisoning them illegally.

Russian citizen Shchetin is being kept at the Russian 102nd Military Base in the Armenian city of Gyumri, according to the ISW's report.

Helsinki Citizens' Assembly called on the Armenian Interior Ministry and Prosecutor General's office to free the Russian citizen and to prevent his transfer to Russia, as well as to bring those who illegally detained him to justice.

This is the second case of a Russian citizen's detention in Armenia since December 2023, when Russian military police arrested Dmitri Setrakov for alleged desertion. Setrakov was then forcibly transferred to Russia from the military base in Gyumri. His current location is unknown.

Pashinyan reacted to Setrakov's arrest in February, announcing that Armenian authorities would investigate the incident. The Armenian prime minister also said that Yerevan "cannot tolerate illegal actions on its territory."

Lavrov accuses Armenia of trying to ‘break off’ relations with Russia
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused Armenia of “distorting history” in an attempt to “break off” relations with Moscow, he said in an interview on March 28. Armenia has further sought to distance itself from Russia - repeatedly accusing Moscow of being an unreliable partner.
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