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Two months in captivity: chronicle of Ruben Vardanyan’s detention

Two months ago — on September 27 — the Azerbaijani security services detained social entrepreneur and philanthropist Ruben Vardanyan on the border of Artsakh and Armenia. During his 60 days of captivity, his future became the subject of diplomatic negotiations, and his imprisonment triggered support rallies not only in Armenia but also in other countries.

Well-known politicians, scientists, journalists, businessmen, and athletes have already spoken out in defense of Vardanyan. Thus, Vera Foundation founder, Nyuta Federmesser, called the philanthropist her personal national hero.

Graduates of the Skolkovo School of Management also expressed their support for the social entrepreneur, who stood at the foundation of this institution. The former students referred to Vardanyan as a mentor and a “wise elder.”

Vardanyan’s four children asked for help in freeing their father. They emphasized that he had never participated in military operations but, on the contrary, tried to promote peace and protect human rights through the Aurora humanitarian foundation.

The Court of Appeal in Baku rejected the petition of Vardanyan’s lawyer against his detention. Yet, the philanthropist’s organizations have continued their activities since his arrest.

Thus, Aurora co-founder Noubar Afeyan donated $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 south of Armenia with the Vardanyan Foundation’s support. The philanthropist’s eldest son, David, attended the opening ceremony.

The Future Armenian development foundation has issued a communique on recent events. The founders stated that they would continue the declared mission of jointly shaping a bright future for the entire Armenian nation.

David Vardanyan also gave an in-depth interview after his father’s arrest. According to him, Vardanyan had been aware of the risks when he made the decision to move to Artsakh.

The Assembly of Armenians stated that Azerbaijan had illegally abducted Vardanyan. The organization condemned this action, calling the accusations against the public figure “absurd.”

Vahan Zanoyan, an Armenian businessman, writer, and poet, has said that he sees no just reasons for the arrest of Vardanyan and other Artsakh residents. In his opinion, these people were legitimately elected officials when Azerbaijan was still negotiating the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Commissioner for Human Rights in Azerbaijan, Sabina Aliyeva, expressed that she regularly visited the arrested representatives of Artsakh, and according to her all the detainees are treated humanely.

According to Zara Amatuni, head of the communication programs of the ICRC delegation in Azerbaijan, a request for the transfer of prisoners to a third party can be filed only if “certain problems” with their detention conditions are identified. At the same time, Vardanyan’s family has already received information about his status via the ECHR.

American Congressman Adam Schiff also called for the immediate release of the Artsakh Armenians, including Vardanyan.

Armenian officials also issue public reports concerning their work on the political prisoners’ release. Nikol Pashinyan, the Armenian Prime Minister, offers an “all for all” prisoner exchange, and the Foreign Ministry insists that it is taking all possible measures to return the prisoners as soon as possible

Amid these statements, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, promised that on December 10, International Human Rights Day, she would grant honorary citizenship of the French capital to the representatives of the Artsakh Armenians.