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Moscow calls on Baku to release all Armenian prisoners without any conditions — Lavrov

It would be an important humanitarian step, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed

MOSCOW, August 31. /TASS/. Russia calls on the Azerbaijani side to release all Armenian prisoners without any conditions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday after talks with his Armenian counterpart, Ararat Mirzoyan.

"We are sending this signal [concerning an all-for-all swap] to the Azerbaijani colleagues. We call on them to release everyone without any conditions," he said, adding that this move would be a "landmark measure for trust, which is now lacking."

"And, naturally, it would be an important humanitarian step," he noted. "That is why we will continue to hold on to these positions, however, the final position does not depend on us."

He stressed that Moscow has been sticking to this position in bilateral contacts with Baku, including at the top level. "We support any measures of trust, not only this one, but also a reciprocal measure when Armenia shared the mine location map," Lavrov said. "We think that such a reciprocal step can be made today, not necessarily linking one step to another but simply in the spirit of good will. A step toward the partner, the neighbor, with whom you will continue to live on the same soil and breathe the same air. We will do our best to promote it."

Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27, 2020, with intense battles raging in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. On November 9, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a joint statement on a complete ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Provision eight of the document envisages an exchange of prisoners in the all-for-all format. Armenia demands Azerbaijan released all Armenian nationals it holds. However, Azerbaijan claims that all Armenians who were taken prisoner during the hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone last autumn have been released and it continues to keep only "terrorists and saboteurs".