Sobchak Made Several Factual Errors In The Program Dedicated To Artsakh

Ophelia Simonyan

Journalist, fact-checker

On September 22, journalist Ksenia Sobchak discussed the events in Artsakh on her show “Caution, Sobchak” While her analysis was mainly based on objective facts, we have highlighted some factual errors in the report.

Not Armenian troops, but Artsakh Armed Forces

Sobchak notes that although Yerevan denied the presence of its troops in Karabakh, they nevertheless announced the withdrawal of the remaining Armenian soldiers from Karabakh.

“The media in Azerbaijan has explicitly stated that peace can only be achieved if a white flag is raised in Stepanakert and Armenia completely withdraws its troops from Karabakh. However, according to Yerevan’s version, there are no Armenian soldiers present in the region at all,” says Sobchak and continues.

“During a Security Council meeting on Wednesday afternoon, the President of Nagorno-Karabakh, Samvel Shahramanian, announced a complete capitulation. They will remove the remaining Armenian troops from Karabakh, who were still present there.”

On September 20, following the large-scale attack by Azerbaijani forces, Artsakh authorities announced that they had accepted a proposal made by Russian peacekeepers to cease fire. It was emphasized that the enemy had managed to breach the combat positions of the Defense Army.

The statement did not mention the armed forces of Armenia. Instead, it focused solely on the Armed Forces of Artsakh and the Defense Army, which have always been openly acknowledged by both Armenia and Artsakh. It was also officially stated that conscription would continue in Nagorno-Karabakh. Although the soldiers of the Defence Army held Armenian passports (Artsakh citizens have RA citizenship), they were not affiliated with the Armenian armed forces. The armed forces of Armenia were accused of remaining in Nagorno-Karabakh by the Azerbaijani side, as stated in their September 20 statement, which Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan found bewildering.

On July 19, 2022, Armen Grigoryan, the Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia, announced the withdrawal of the RA Armed Forces from Artsakh. He clarified that Armenia is completely withdrawing its troops from Nagorno-Karabakh, and the process is expected to conclude by September. He emphasized that contract soldiers are not drafted into the Defense Army from Armenia. Nagorno Karabakh organizes the recruitment of contract soldiers on site.

Both the head of the RA government and the RA Defense Ministry have repeatedly denied having Armenian soldiers in Nagorno-Karabakh.

On September 22, the Ministry of Defense of Russia released a statement regarding the people of Artsakh laying down their arms. The statement referred to them as “armed formations of Karabakh,” the same terminology Baku used. Recently, Hikmet Hajiyev, an advisor to the President of Azerbaijan, referred to the military personnel who surrendered their weapons in Artsakh as “military personnel of Armenian origin.”

There is no evidence that the Armed Forces of Armenia had representation in Artsakh. Instead, Artsakh had a Defense Army responsible for border defense.

Pashinyan’s words out of context

Sobchak also reflected on some of Nikol Pashinyan’s statements about Russia.

“Pashinyan claims that Russia is gradually withdrawing from the South Caucasus region; the quote reads, “One day we will wake up and see that Russia is not here,” the journalist said.

It’s important to note that Pashinyan’s statement, “One day we will wake up and see that Russia is not here,” was drawn out of context. In reality, it was not a claim but a hypothesis that cannot be excluded. Pashinyan simply highlighted that Armenia has previously experienced situations where the Russian Federation suddenly withdrew from the South Caucasus region, whether in a day, month, or year.

“… There are events that can lead one to think that the same scenario may happen again, and one day we might wake up to find that Russia has left.”

Ruben Vardanyan did not move to Artsakh a few years ago

During the program, Sobchak reached out to Ruben Vardanyan, former Minister of State of Artsakh, who is currently in besieged Artsakh. Sobchak describes Vardanyan as someone who moved to Karabakh several years ago.

“A few years ago, the successful Russian businessman went to Karabakh where he took an Armenian passport, renounced his Russian citizenship, as if burning all bridges, and became the head of the government.”

Ruben Vardanyan relocated to Artsakh in 2020, not a few years ago. About a year ago, on September 1, 2022, he announced his decision to renounce Russian citizenship and move to Artsakh.


Ofelya Simonyan

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