STEPANAKERT (Noyan Tapan) – Responding to recent reports of the National Security Minister of Azerbaijan–Namig Abassov’s accusations of Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh republic’s holding of more than 800 Azeri POW’s–Chairman of the State Committee for POW’s–Hostages and MIA’s Alexander Aghassarian said that such rumors aim to discredit Armenia and Karabakh on the eve of another regular round of negotiations on the conflict. Aghassarian says that the absence of Azeri POW’s in Karabakh were many times confirmed by representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross who have free access to Karabakh prisons.
At the same time Aghassarian reported that a committee led by him possesses undeniable information on the presence of tens of Armenian hostages in Azerbaijan. These reports has also been confirmed by the Red Cross Committee. It is reported that a total of 18 persons–most of whom are women–teenagers and elderly individuals are being kept hostage in Gobustan–despite the February 1994 agreement reached through OSCE mediations to release hostages. 19 more hostages are reported to be in Shoubani–at a military base where special detachmen’s of the National Security Ministry of Azerbaijan are stationed.
Aghassarian said of Abassov’s statemen’s–"It is pure propaganda–however–it may have dangerous aftermath as it is fraught with escalation of ethnic hatred which is inadmissible in conditions of the almost three-year cease-fire."