Today, reports got out of an Armenian conscript defecting to the Azeri side on the southern segment of the line-of-contact. According to reports, the individual involved is 19-year-old Arayik Ghazarian, who left his military outpost at around 12.00 hours and proceeded to cross the highly-militarised neutral zone towards Azeri military trenches.
Azeri defence officials stated that the incident happened near the abandoned town of Fuzuli, and that after an initial interrogation, the reason for the serviceman’s defection were beatings from his fellow servicemen.
A photo of conscript Ghazarayan taken by the Azeri side
From the Armenian side, Defence officials in Stepanakert, as well as the spokesperson for Armenia’s Defence ministry commented on the incident; both provided an identical statement that Ghazarian abandoned his military outpost due to, as of yet, unclear circumstances, and that an investigation is currently underway.
The last time such an incident happened as in March of 2015, when Armenian conscript Andranik Grigoryan defected to the Azeri side alleging beatings from fellow soldiers.
___________________________UPDATE 13 August 2019___________________________
Defence authorities in Nagorno Karabakh refute claims from Azeri side that the defected soldier was subjected to beatings, stating that the incident is being used for propaganda purposes.
In a briefing given by Armenia’s Defence minister, Davit Tonoyan, it is mentioned that Ghazarian possibly got lost, and that contact is currently being established through the International Committee of the Red Cross. Unconfirmed reports state that Ghazarian is from the town of Yeghegnis, in southern Armenia.
Stay tuned for further updates on the case.