Armenian trucks idle in Upper Lars. Russia’s response to the CSTO boycott?

Nov 28 2023
  • JAMnews
  • Yerevan

Upper Lars

On the only land road connecting Armenia with Russia, 964 Armenian trucks are idle at the Upper Lars checkpoint. According to the official version, the road is closed due to unfavorable weather conditions. However, Armenian drivers report from the spot that other reasons have been announced. They were presented with claims concerning documents, sanitary issues.

In this regard, Armenia is now actively discussing whether there is no political context in the road closure related to the aggravation of Armenian-Russian relations.

  • “There are no Armenians left in NK, though Russians have taken to defending them”. Opinion about reasons
  • Pashinyan answers Armenian citizens’ questions for eight hours: main points
  • “We are not satisfied with many things” – Armenian Foreign Minister on relations with Russia

On November 23, Minsk hosted the regular summit of the Collective Security Council of the CSTO military bloc operating under the auspices of the Russian Federation. The Armenian Prime Minister did not participate in the meeting. He expressed hope that his CSTO partners would be sympathetic to his decision. Recently, both Pashinyan and other Armenian officials have boycotted meetings within the CSTO and with CIS partners. At the same time, they claim that “there is no intention to change the foreign policy vector.” However, at the beginning of the year official Yerevan announced that it would not host CSTO military exercises, then refused the quota of deputy secretary-general in the bloc, recalled its ambassador and did not appoint a new one.

Justifying these decisions, the Prime Minister and his team recall that in 2021 and 2022, during the advance of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces deep into Armenia’s sovereign territory, the country sought military assistance from the CSTO and Russia. However, it did not receive any assistance. Moreover, the CSTO announced that the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan is not delimited, which makes it impossible to understand whether there is an invasion into the territory of an ally of the bloc. According to Nikol Pashinyan, the statement that there is no border between Armenia and Azerbaijan means that there is no CSTO zone of responsibility: “And if there is no zone of responsibility, there is no organization itself.

The Russian Emergencies Ministry issued a call to use detours and avoid traveling in the direction of the Upper Lars checkpoint. It was reported that it was impossible to ensure “safe movement of vehicles”. On November 26, the traffic was restricted due to weather conditions, and from the next day the road was completely blocked.

However, Armenian vehicles could not heed the appeals of the Ministry of Emergency Situations and abandon this direction, as there is no other land route from Armenia to Russia.

In early October, 60 Armenian cars loaded with cognac stood at the same checkpoint for two weeks. At that time, the Russian side announced stricter customs control. All trucks had to wait at the checkpoint until the answers to the samples sent for laboratory testing were received.

Eventually, they were allowed to enter Russia. But the long wait increased transportation costs. By the way, about 95% of the cognac produced in Armenia is exported to Russia.

MP from the Hayastan opposition faction Artur Khachatryan believes that no matter how much Pashinyan denies the fact of strained relations with Russia, this fact is obvious. In this regard, he declares the situation in Upper Lars as “another manifestation” of the tension that has arisen in relations with Russia.

According to the deputy, this is how Moscow reacts to Armenia’s boycott of the CSTO summit:

“Russia is speaking with certain messages. Let’s recognize that it was not an accident. In response to Armenia’s policy, they are pursuing a certain counter-policy”.

Alen Simonyan, Speaker of the Armenian Parliament, told reporters that according to the information he has, “there was simply a change in the bodies carrying out service at the checkpoint”. He does not notice the overt political innuendo.

Simonyan does not think it is necessary to rush to conclusions, but does not rule out the factor of political context, as relations are “a bit tense.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Araik Harutyunyan, referring to the incident at the Russian checkpoint, said:

“Now it is extremely important that Armenians both in Armenia and those living abroad buy exclusively Armenian goods. […] Such support for business is vital for strengthening independence and sovereignty. And the closure of some checkpoint near Lars will not affect us, if Armenian business finds new markets”.

Expert circles criticized this statement, considering it as a manifestation of “lack of state thinking”. In particular, political scientist Suren Surenyants wrote on his Facebook page that the government’s task should be to immediately solve the problems that arose at the Lars checkpoint, not to make speeches with patriotic texts.

“It would be more useful if the Armenian government would consistently promote the improvement of the quality and production standards of Armenian goods so that their exports are not limited exclusively to the Russian market,” the political scientist emphasized.

Armenian Deputy Minister of Sport meets with new WBC world cruiserweight champion Noel Mikaelian


YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 27, ARMENPRESS. Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport Karen Giloyan has met with boxer Noel Mikaelian, the new WBC world cruiserweight champion.

Mikaelian, 33, who has a record of 27 wins and 2 losses, won the vacant WBC cruiserweight title after defeating Ilunga Makabu in Miami.

Mikaelian defeated Makabu (Democratic Republic of the Congo) by way of knock-out in the third round.

“We were negotiating for quite some time around organizing a WBC world championship fight. My last fight was for the WBC Silver belt, which I won. The fight for the WBC championship was very important, and my opponent, the representative of the Congo, was a very strong athlete. He held the championship title for three years. As a result I knocked him out in the third round. I am very proud to represent Armenia,” Mikaelian said.

Giloyan congratulated Mikaelian on the win and wished him good luck in the future.

“Thank you for always keeping our country’s honor high and for your efforts,” Giloyan told the champion.

“You have an army of fans here in Armenia who follow your fights and get inspired by your victories.”

Noel Mikaelian thanked for the reception and expressed readiness to support the development of professional boxing in Armenia.

“I want to support the development of professional boxing in Armenia with everything I can. I am also participating in charity initiatives and I am very happy to be able to contribute to the development of my country,” the boxer added.

Giloyan said that Armenia must regularly become the location of major sports events. He said that Armenia hosted 6 European and World championships in amateur boxing, weightlifting and sambo in the last two years. He didn’t rule out that Armenia could also host professional boxing events.

Azerbaijan arrests two journalists investigating political corruption

Al-Jazeera, Qatar
Nov 21 2023

The arrests of the director and editor in chief of Abzas Media come after a series of reports looking into officials’ wealth.

Two journalists have been arrested in Azerbaijan, according to their lawyers, after their media outlet recently published a series of reports looking into the wealth of high-ranking government officials and the family of President Ilham Aliyev.

Sevinj Vagifgyzy, the editor in chief of privately owned Abzas Media, was arrested and her home was searched on Tuesday, her lawyer and Abzas Media said.

A day earlier, police also arrested Ulvi Hasanli, the director of the same media outlet, on charges of “smuggling foreign currency”.

Hasanli pleaded not guilty to the charges, for which he could face 12 years in prison, his lawyer Zibeyda Sadygova said.

Abzas Media reported that Hasanli faced “inhumane treatment” while in custody, including being punched and kicked by officers who asked him about his corruption investigations.

Meanwhile, police also raided the media outlet’s office in Baku and kicked out journalists attempting to document the search from outside, footage from Abvas Media shows.

Abzas Media is one of the few independent media outlets left in Azerbaijan following a near decade-long campaign against independent media and press rights groups, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Natalia Nozadze, a South Caucasus researcher with rights group Amnesty International, said Hasanli’s arrest “fits into a pattern of critics being arrested by the authorities to stifle their dissent”.

She said Hasanli “has bravely exposed allegations of high-level corruption in Azerbaijan and covered critical issues of public interest” and that he has in the past “faced repeated harassment from the government”.

Signs of dissent are often met with a tough government response in Azerbaijan, an energy-rich nation long ruled by the Aliyev dynasty.

In July, Azerbaijan arrested high-profile political economist and civil activist Gubad Ibadoghlu on charges of various financial crimes, which he has denied.

He has said his prosecution was retaliation for exposing high-level corruption in Azerbaijan.

Amnesty International has said Ibadoghlu has significant health issues, and his life is in danger “due to unsafe prison conditions and denial of adequate healthcare”.

The government of Aliyev, who has ruled the country with an iron fist since 2003 after succeeding from his father Heydar, has long faced international criticism over the country’s poor democratic record.


AW: Displaced students from Artsakh are adapting to life in Armenian universities

Anna Hayriyan, fourth from the left, with her new classmates

“When the lecturer introduced us to our new classmates, I realized that I would quickly get used to this new environment,” said 37-year-old Svetlana Abrahamyan, a student forcibly displaced from Artsakh attending university in Armenia.

Among the 100,000 Armenians displaced from Artsakh after Azerbaijan’s September 19 military operation, 4,600 are students. Many of them have enrolled in new universities in Armenia and are gradually adapting to their new life. Yet professors and students of Artsakh State University have not forgotten the university they were forced to abandon and are demanding its restoration.

According to official data from the Armenian government, of the 4,600 students from Artsakh who can continue their studies in Armenia, 2,100 are in higher education and 2,500 in secondary vocational education. 1,600 have enrolled in state universities in Armenia, according to Public Television of Armenia. 1,086 students from Artsakh are studying at Yerevan State University, 888 of them in the same departments as their universities in Artsakh.

There were two state and two private universities in Artsakh: Artsakh State University, Shushi Technological University, Mesrop Mashtots University and “Grigor Narekatsi” University.

The September 19 attack came in the wake of Azerbaijan’s recent military assaults aimed at regaining full control over Artsakh. The military operation was preceded by a nearly 10-month-long blockade imposed by Azerbaijan on the Berdzor (Lachin) Corridor, a vital route through which Armenians received essential supplies, including medicine and fuel. Consequently, Artsakh Armenians faced severe shortages of essential supplies such as food, medicine, water and electricity. Locals described Azerbaijan’s actions as a “slow-motion genocide,” using starvation as a tactic to compel them to leave the region once the road reopened.

When the attack started, Abrahamyan’s family of seven took shelter in basements until the shooting stopped. However, when the firing resumed, they had to flee their home. As they ran away, her three-year-old cousin screamed in her brother’s arms, “Help, save us.” They didn’t know how to silence the child, worried the cries would reveal their whereabouts to Azerbaijani forces. 

Abrahamyan and her family reached Armenia with great difficulty. They completed the journey from Stepanakert, Artsakh to Yerevan, Armenia, which usually takes half a day, in three days. Since they ran out of food and supplies during the siege, they only took water with them for the long journey.

Abrahamyan is the only student in her home. She studied sociology at Mesrop Mashtots University in Artsakh while working. In Armenia, her family has found a house in the Gegharkunik province, while she completes her master’s at Yerevan State University in the capital city.

Svetlana Abrahamyan

“It is difficult to get to the capital, Yerevan, every day. The new professors understand us well. I am not the only student from Nagorno-Karabakh in our course,” Abrahamyan said, adding that many of her classmates from Artsakh are staying in different provinces across Armenia. “Distance is a problem. That’s why there are classes that we do online,” she said.

This year, Anna Hayriyan will not graduate from Artsakh State University as she had planned, but from Yerevan State University. “After Artsakh State University, I chose Yerevan State University. Their names, roles and meanings are very similar to each other, so I made my choice easily,” Hayriyan said.

“At Artsakh State University, our course consisted of seven future journalists. At Yerevan State University, seven of us are together again,” she added.

21-year-old Hayriyan was in the fourth year of her journalism program when the attack started. She served as a news function for all her relatives, leaving the basement where she and her family were sheltering to find out the news on the Internet and report back. 

She drove to Armenia with relatives on September 25, followed by her mother and grandmother on September 26. “We suffered a lot to reach the Hakari bridge,” Hayriyan said, referring to the crossing point between Artsakh and Armenia. “In 18 hours, our car had traveled only 2 kilometers.” Her cousin, Andranik Hakobyan, died at the age of 25 in the disastrous explosion at a fuel warehouse on September 25. 

Anna Hayriyan and Andranik Hakobyan

Students note that there are many differences between the programs at their old and new universities, including the credits and the subjects taught. Yet the professors endeavor to make the learning process easy for students from Artsakh. For instance, Hayriyan said that students from Artsakh only had to answer a few questions on an exam, rather than the total eight. Lecturers also offer supplementary reading materials and provide useful links. 

Nobody in Hayriyan’s family has found a job in Armenia. Her mother is receiving a pension from the government for serving in the military in Artsakh, and her grandmother is receiving an old age pension. Hayriyan still hasn’t received a scholarship promised by the government to students from Artsakh.

Government support and scholarships

The Armenian government has established a scholarship to cover tuition fees for students from Artsakh. Under the arrangements, students will be awarded a stipend that will be transferred to their educational institution to cover tuition for the 2023-2024 school year. The scholarships range from 400-700 thousand AMD, or about $1,000-1,750 USD. 

“In memory of those boys, their bravery, and the hope of restoring Artsakh, we must not allow the university to be dissolved. We have to do everything to ensure justice, and the mother university should be reopened soon.”

“The maximum amount of the scholarship is such that we are sure that we will be able to compensate the students almost completely for their tuition fees. They may not need an additional increase, because realistic scholarship amounts have been chosen,” Zhanna Andreasyan, Minister of Education, Science, Culture, and Sports of Armenia, said during a cabinet meeting on October 10.

Yura Margaryan is using his scholarship to study at the National Polytechnic University of Armenia. The 22-year-old excelled in his studies in the Information Technologies department at Artsakh State University. 

“Although the Armenian government has covered our tuition fees, some of my friends studying in departments with higher fees are still awaiting compensation. Additionally, I received an honorary pension [while studying in Artsakh], a benefit that is unfortunately no longer available,” Margaryan said.

Margaryan was the student council vice president at Artsakh State University. He expressed his disapproval of the university’s dissolution. He highlighted the heroic service of Artsakh State University students in the four Artsakh wars, from the 1990s to today. “In memory of those boys, their bravery, and the hope of restoring Artsakh, we must not allow the university to be dissolved. We have to do everything to ensure justice, and the mother university should be reopened soon,” he said.

Yura Margaryan

“Artsakh State University is a symbol”

After the depopulation of Artsakh, students and professors have raised concerns about the restoration of state institutions, with a particular focus on Artsakh State University. Students and teaching staff have voiced a public demand to preserve the university.

During the November 8 session of the Standing Committee on Financial, Credit and Budgetary Issues of the Armenian National Assembly, the chairman of the committee, Gevorg Papoyan, announced that expenses for the maintenance of Artsakh’s state institutions were not included in the 2024 budget draft, meaning the institutions would be dissolved.

Lecturers and students from Artsakh, along with several businessmen from Armenia, have demanded the reopening of Artsakh State University in Armenia. Various public and political figures have also expressed their willingness to teach at the university for free upon its reopening.

“Artsakh State University should not be considered solely as an educational institution. It is a symbol. The intelligentsia forcibly displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh, along with the students, should unite around it. The dissolution of the student body and a part of the teaching staff in Armenian universities erodes a national value that is the result of decades of consistent and hard work.”

“Artsakh State University should not be considered solely as an educational institution. It is a symbol. The intelligentsia forcibly displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh, along with the students, should unite around it. The dissolution of the student body and a part of the teaching staff in Armenian universities erodes a national value that is the result of decades of consistent and hard work,” Khachatur Stepanyan, a doctor and professor of Historical Sciences at Khachatur Abovian State Pedagogical University, wrote on his Facebook page.

Suren Parsyan, lecturer at the Armenia State University of Economics, has organized lectures for his former students from Artsakh. Parsyan, a Candidate of Economics and Associate Professor, served as an invited lecturer at the Faculty of Economics of Artsakh State University, where he began his teaching tenure in 2022. 

Parsyan provided data indicating that 3,000 students from Artsakh have enrolled at the Armenian State University of Economics, with a teaching staff of 400. Some professors from Artsakh State University have joined its faculty.

Parsyan said that initially, the best option for students and professors was to integrate into universities in Armenia, in order to preserve the right to education and work. “In the future, Artsakh State University will be able to continue its activities as a private university by presenting a program for re-operation. I do not consider the chapter of Artsakh State University to be closed in history,” he said.

Students say that Artsakh State University is not inferior to any university in Armenia in terms of its activities and quality of education. They are confident that one day, Artsakh State University will continue to function in Armenia, and they will resume their education there.

Artsakh State University

Anna Harutyunyan is a freelance journalist from Yerevan. She is currently studying at the Department of Journalism at the Armenian State Pedagogical University. Anna has successfully completed the one-year educational program at "Hetq Media Factory."

Armenpress: Antisemitism and intolerance on national or religious grounds have no place in Armenia – Foreign Ministry


YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 18, ARMENPRESS. The Armenian Foreign Ministry has condemned the vandalism targeting a synagogue in Yerevan.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ani Badalyan, in response to a media query, said that antisemitism and intolerance on national or religious grounds have no place in Armenia.

“As we have already stressed before, the Republic of Armenia considers any attack on any religious institution and in particular any manifestation of vandalism, any disrespectful action towards the synagogue in Yerevan impermissible. Such cases of intolerance or its incitement are unacceptable, and criminal proceedings have already been initiated by the competent authorities of the Republic of Armenia. We categorically reject any manipulation of the incident, subject, be it for political, propaganda or other intentions. Anti-Semitism and intolerance on national or religious grounds have no place in Armenia,” Badalyan said in a statement.

Prime Minister receives the delegation led by the President of the OSCE PA


YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 17, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan received the delegation led by the President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Pia Kauma.

The Prime Minister emphasized the fact that the OSCE PA session will be held in Yerevan for the first time and expressed hope that effective discussions and active dialogue will take place within the framework of the session, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a readout.

Pia Kauma thanked for organizing and hosting the OSCE PA session at a high level, adding that the processes taking place in the South Caucasus and the international arena will be discussed.

The sides referred to the humanitarian problems of more than 100,000 forcibly displaced persons from Nagorno-Karabakh as a result of Azerbaijan's ethnic cleansing policy, as well as to the steps taken by the Armenian government to overcome them. The support of the international community in solving the existing problems was emphasized.

The interlocutors discussed issues related to the process of normalization of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations. The importance of continuing the peace process based on the principles agreed upon in the trilateral meetings held in Brussels on May 14 and July 15, 2023 was emphasized.

Nikol Pashinyan and Pia Kauma exchanged views on regional peace and stability, as well as other issues of mutual interest.

Testimonies from frontline workers and community members caring for vulnerable refugees in Armenia

Nov 15 2023

While media attention may have diminished, the health needs of more than 100 000 refugees who entered Armenia from Karabakh have not.

WHO, through its Country Office in Armenia and Regional Office for Europe, has been meeting with refugees to assess their health needs. WHO has also met frontline workers operating 24/7 to care for them. Heroes from the community have been tireless in ensuring refugees have access to health care, while some refugees have joined WHO in helping address the health needs of the most vulnerable.

These are some of their testimonies.


With winter approaching, and the possibility of harsh weather conditions towards the end of 2023 and at the beginning of 2024, access to winter-specific assistance is particularly challenging for vulnerable groups.

Armenpress: Armenia hosts World Sambo Championships 2023


YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 10, ARMENPRESS. More than 500 athletes from 70 countries will compete at the World Sambo Championships 2023 in Yerevan, Armenia on November 10-12.

The opening ceremony will take place at 16:30 in the Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concert Complex on Friday.

Athletes will compete for medals in eight weight categories.

The number of visiting delegation members is over 2500.

Asbarez: In Ultimatum to Yerevan, Baku Demands 8 Villages from Armenia

A military post along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border

Azerbaijan Schedules Military Parade in Stepanakert Tomorrow

Azerbaijan demanded what it called eight “occupied” villages from Armenia, issuing an ultimatum to Yerevan and accusing the government there of hindering the peace process. At the same time Baku announced that Azerbaijani forces will conduct military drill is occupied Stepanakert on Wednesday.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry accused Armenia of “once again hindering peace agreement negotiations, continuing military-political provocations, as well as threats from landmines.”

“Armenia has chosen the path of continuing to threaten the peace process, lives of our citizens, restoration and reconstruction work carried out in the region,” the foreign ministry said.

“At the same time, despite its obligations, not only Armenia has not withdrawn its armed forces, which remain the main threat to peace and security in the region, it continues to support them financially, and has not refrained from the illegal transfer of weapons, military equipment, landmines to the territories of Azerbaijan,” Baku said, according to the APA news agency.

“Armenia also is refusing to hand over eight Azerbaijani villages, which are still under occupation,” the Azerbaijani foreign ministry said.

The issue of the so-called eight villages was raised earlier this summer by Baku, but garnered more attention when President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan complained to the President of the Council of Europe Charles Michel in a telephone conversation after failing to attend a meeting in Spain organized the by the EU leader.

While official Baku has not specified which eight villages it is referencing, Aliyev’s website has listed them as seven villages in Armenia’s Tavush Province and one village in the Ararat Province, that borders Nakhichevan.

Last month, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan touched on Baku’s claims about the eight villages in Armenia, by reminding Azerbaijan that the Armenian region of Artsvashen, once part of Armenia’s Gegharkunik Province, continued to remain occupied by Azerbaijan since the 1990s.

Presumably, Azerbaijani forces are launching their incessant attacks on villages and positions in Gegharkunik from Arstvashen.

Azerbaijan continued to provoke the situation by announcing that its armed forces will hold a military “victory” parade in Stepanakert on Wednesday to coincide with the November 9 national holiday, which marks the end of the brutal 2020 war in Artsakh, APA reported.

A similar parade is scheduled to be held in Baku.

There are serious concerns about Azerbaijan’s ongoing ambitions, territorial claims against Armenia– Foreign Minister

 19:29, 3 November 2023

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 3, ARMENPRESS. There are serious concerns that today Azerbaijan still has ambitions and territorial claims against Armenia.

Armenia's Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan stated at a joint press conference Friday in Yerevan with Annalena Baerbock, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany.

The minister recalled that over the past three years, Azerbaijan has invaded the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia several times.

 “Unfortunately, even today there are serious concerns that neighboring countries, in particular Azerbaijan, still have territorial claims against Armenia. There are also certain reservations regarding the sovereignty of Armenia, especially when it comes, for example, to regional infrastructures. So these fears still exist today,” Mirzoyan said.

He mentioned that work is underway to resolve border problems with Azerbaijan, but there is no clear solution yet.

“The settlement process is underway, sometimes it seems that we are close to a solution, and sometimes we see that new obstacles arise,” Mirzoyan said.