Skip to main content

30 days in captivity: a chronicle of Ruben Vardanyan’s detention

A month ago, on September 27, Azerbaijani forces detained a well-known philanthropist and social entrepreneur Ruben Vardanyan on the border of Artsakh and Armenia. The philanthropist has been in custody in Baku for 30 days. Here is an overview of what has happened during this time.

In an open letter, representatives of the global humanitarian and human rights community called on the Azerbaijani government to immediately release philanthropist and co-founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, Ruben Vardanyan. Prominent athletes, scientists, politicians, businessmen, and journalists spoke out in defense of the public figure.

Public figure and Vera Foundation founder Nyuta Federmesser wrote that Ruben Vardanyan is her personal national hero. “I am with him and those whose rights he had been defending so courageously during these long months,” Federmesser stated. “As someone who refused to abandon his people in a disastrous situation, both children and adults, Ruben Vardanyan must not suffer the same fate as the great educator Janusz Korczak, who entered a gas chamber with his children from the Dom Sierot orphanage. We must do everything possible so that Ruben Vardanyan can return to his relatives, to his family,” said Alexander Asmolov, Doctor of Psychological Sciences, politician and publicist.

Ruben Vardanyan’s detention triggered a public outcry in Russia. Well-known Russian political scientists discussed the social entrepreneur’s arrest. Graduates of the Skolkovo School of Management — which Vardanyan took part in founding — collectively spoke out in his defense as well. Former students call the entrepreneur a wise elder and mentor.

Detained, Ruben Vardanyan, spoke with his wife on the phone and referred to his condition as “normal.” He also asked his wife to take care of those suffering due to the situation in Artsakh.

Rallies in support of the philanthropist took place around the world: in Yerevan, Argentina, and Luxembourg.

Ruben Vardanyan’s four children asked for help in freeing their father. They stressed that he had never participated in military operations. On the contrary, Vardanyan and his partners founded the Aurora Humanitarian Foundation, which aims to promote peace and protect human rights around the world.

Vardanyan’s lawyer asked to cancel the restrictions in the form of detention for her client, but the Baku Court of Appeal rejected the complaint.

Aurora Foundation co-founder Noubar Vardanyan announced his intention to donate $2 million to support more than 100 thousand residents of Artsakh who were forced to leave their homes.

A community center was opened in the village of Halidzor in the south of Armenia with the support of the Ruben Vardanyan Foundation. Ruben Vardanyan’s eldest son David took part in the event instead of his father.

The Wings of Tatev aerial tramway, which was built with Ruben Vardanyan’s personal participation, was nominated for the prestigious international tourism prize World Travel Awards 2023. The project entered the Guinness Book of Records as the longest reversible cable car in the world.

Vardanyan’s eldest son David gave the first major interview after his father’s arrest. Vardanyan Jr. emphasized that his father always acted as a man of his word — he was aware of all the risks when he made a decision to move to Artsakh.