Caucasus (bbabo.net), - Azerbaijani activists and members of environmental non-governmental organizations are currently holding a protest action near the Karabakh city of Shusha (Armenian Shushi), on a section of the road controlled by Russian peacekeepers, demanding an end to "ecological terror" in the Karabakh economic region,” the Azerbaijani media reported today, December 12.
The protesters demand that the commander of the Russian peacekeeping contingent (PMC), Major General Andrei Volkov, come to them. Participants of the action set up tents at the place of its holding - the Lachin corridor, which connects Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh.
On December 3, a group of civilians, who introduced themselves as employees of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan, together with representatives of the Republic's NGOs in the field of environmental protection, blocked the only land connection between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh with a human chain for several hours. The protesters claimed about "illegal exploitation of Azerbaijani natural resources by Armenians." The latter are allegedly exported to Armenia “without paying customs duties,” which is why Azerbaijani officials and public activists opposed the “looting” of mineral resources in the Karabakh region. Later, an agreement was reached that, in order to prevent the importation of prohibited items into the zone of responsibility of the RMK, Russian peacekeepers considered the possibility of installing an X-ray scanner at a checkpoint in the Lachin corridor to inspect incoming vehicles. Cargo control will be planned by RCC specialists.
As a result of discussions held with the command of the RCC, from December 10, specialists from the Ministries of Economy, Ecology and Natural Resources, the State Property Service under the Ministry of Economy of Azerbaijan and AzerGold CJSC were to monitor the "illegal exploitation" of mineral deposits in the zone of deployment of Russian peacekeeping forces and associated environmental consequences. On the basis of an appeal previously sent to the RCC command, the Azerbaijani side planned to visit the Drombon and Kashen deposits of the Martakert region of Nagorno-Karabakh for visual observation. The command of the peacekeeping forces allowed a one-time visit to the above fields. Taking into account that the proposed program was not coordinated with the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh and the organization operating the mines, employees of the mining company and residents of nearby settlements of the unrecognized republic spontaneously blocked the entry of the above group into the territory of the mines on the spot, authorities in Stepanakert reported last Saturday.
The next day, December 11, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan handed over a note to the Russian side in connection with the activities of peacekeepers in the region. In it, the Russian side was called upon to provide Azerbaijani specialists with unhindered access to the deposits and pointed out "the inadmissibility of obstructing this trip or setting any conditions." Baku insists on the need for Russian peacekeepers to strictly observe the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
As noted on the pages of bbabo.net, Azerbaijan demonstrates dissatisfaction with the presence of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh. Reproaches against the command of the RCC and the Ministry of Defense of Russia are becoming more defiant, this leads to increased tension in the region and the risk of the situation sliding into a new escalation.