Is a recent video of two detained Armenians executed in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region authentic? According to Azerbaijan, the phone calls distributed via social media are unreal, in contrast to Armenia. The Council of Europe is investigating the possible war crime, the BBC reports.
In a video that has been distributed via the Telegram app, among other things, you can see how two Armenians surrender to Azerbaijani troops. In a second video, the imprisoned duo appears to resurface. The newly captured warriors sit with their hands behind their backs on a wall.
The video features the phrase “aim at their heads,” after which shots from automatic weapons ring out and the two drop. The research collective Bellingcat has watched the execution video but does not post the ‘horrifying’ images online.
The men shot bear the Armenian flag and the flag of the Republic of Artsakh, the newer name of the unrecognized republic proclaimed by Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh in 1991. The Armenian government has identified them as Benik Hakobyan (73) and Yuri Adamyan (25).
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry has investigated the videos and labels the images as fake. The men shot would fall too neatly, it says. The execution footage surfaced from October 15 on Azerbaijani accounts on Telegram but has since been erased.
The BBC and Bellingcat come to a different conclusion separately. Using online satellite images, they were able to find out exactly that the images were taken in the village of Hadrut and probably date from the early afternoon of October 14.
The Azerbaijani offensive against this southern site began on October 9 and ended with the capture six days later. The Armenians are addressed in Russian, while the makers speak Azerbaijani to each other. The firearms and helmets that show up in the videos have also been seen in footage of Azerbaijani troops.
The execution video would hardly show any blood. The BBC presented this to a former British intelligence officer and military expert, Rob Lee, from King’s College London. “Hollywood skews what gunshot wounds look like,” said Lee. His opinion is shared by the intelligence officer who wishes to remain anonymous: “This is a real execution, these are real bullets. This has not been staged. ”
The Council of Europe has obtained the execution video and has launched an investigation. The summary execution of prisoners of war is a violation of the Geneva Convention.
The two ex-Soviet republics have been fighting for decades over the mountainous area, which is home to some 145,000 people. Nagorno-Karabakh is controlled by Armenia but belongs to Azerbaijan. The conflict flared up again at the end of last month.
The battle has since claimed the lives of nearly 5,000 people. Muslim Azerbaijan is supported by Turkey, while Orthodox Christian Armenia has Russia as its ally. This does not alter the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin also maintains close ties with the Azeris and consented to arms transfers.