BAKU, Azerbaijan, January 5. On the twenty-fifth day of the peaceful protest of the representatives of Azerbaijani non-governmental organizations on the Lachin-Khankendi road against the inadmissibility of Azerbaijani specialists to the territory, to monitor the illegal exploitation of deposits in the area of stationing the peacekeepers, Ruben Vardanyan, fugitive Russian billionaire of Armenian origin, who illegally seized the power in Karabakh has made a statement on the need to open the airport in the city of Khankendi, calling it "the only solution to live in normal conditions during the winter months".
Today, Vardanyan blamed Azerbaijan for allegedly "blocking" the Lachin-Khankendi road, the only road through which food, medicine and fuel have been delivered to the Armenians in Karabakh, preventing the vehicles to pass through. However, all the humanitarian cargo safely moves from Karabakh to Armenia and back.
The protesters have been saying from the day the rally started that they are ready to provide the conditions for unhindered pass of vehicles of Russian peacekeepers, or peaceful Armenians living in Khankendi. For example, only today, over 20 vehicles have passed along the road.
Before Vardanyan’s speech on the need to open Khankendi airport, the Armenians launched a wide, apparently pre-paid, media campaign. For instance, tweets with #ArtsakhBlockade, #ArtsakhAirlift hashtags under the publications requiring "urgent UN air delivery of humanitarian supplies to more than 120,000 Armenians in Karabakh" have been trending recently. Celebrities of Armenian descent like Serj Tankian and Kim Kardashian also joined this campaign.
About 10 years ago, Armenians have already planned to open the airport, despite warnings by the government of Azerbaijan, thus, absolutely violating the international law. Armenians have started the construction of the main airport building in 2008, but the opening scheduled for May 9, 2011 was delayed.
Back then, the State Civil Aviation Administration of Azerbaijan stated that the construction of an airport in the occupied territories and the organization of flights from other countries to Khankendi without the permission of Baku are illegal. Baku warned the occupiers that all legal measures, including physical elimination, would be taken against any aircraft flying to Khankendi without Baku’s permission.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the European Civil Aviation Conference (ICAC) have also supported the position of Azerbaijan on this issue.
Then, in 2020, the State Civil Aviation Agency of Azerbaijan appealed to the ICAO to include six airports in Azerbaijan in the list of geographical coordinates, Khankendi airport was included to the list as well.
This is not the first time Vardanyan says that Khankendi airport is the best solution for resolving the "humanitarian crisis". He managed to hold out for 25 days before spilling the beans.
Apparently, Khankendi airport is not of critical importance for ensuring the humanitarian needs of Armenians in Karabakh. Food is already arriving there unhindered, which was provided by the Azerbaijani side from the first days of the protest. Moreover, the same applies to the seriously ill persons. There were at least several cases (December 20, 24 and 25) when seriously ill patients, including a one-year-old child, were taken from the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers to Armenia.
Therefore, Vardanyan is hiding behind the backs of Armenians of Karabakh. He needs the airport for his personal gain and illegal business. However, the position of Azerbaijan, as well as the international community, on this issue has not changed. Without the consent of Baku, no flight will be carried out either from or towards Khankendi.
The only flight that the Azerbaijani side will approve will take Vardanyan from Khankendi to Baku, where he is obviously going to stand trial.