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Moscow Azerbaijanis Slam Armenian Recruitment Drive in Karabakh Clashes

At least 95 troops and civilians have been killed in the latest fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Sedat Suna / EPA / TASS

The Azerbaijani diaspora in Moscow has condemned its Armenian counterparts for recruiting volunteers to join ongoing fighting between the ex-Soviet countries over disputed territory, the group's leader told the independent Dozhd television channel Monday. 

At least 95 troops and civilians have been killed since Sunday in the worst clashes between the South Caucasus foes over the ethnic Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh since 2016. The fighting threatens to embroil Russia, which has post-Soviet ties to both countries, and Turkey, a staunch ally of Azerbaijan.

The Union of Armenians in Russia said earlier Monday that it had compiled a list of 20,000 volunteers willing to join the fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Azerbaijani Community of Moscow countered that the list of Armenian volunteers violates Russia’s law against illegal armed groups. Violations of this law are punishable by up to two years in prison under Russia’s Criminal Code. 

The Azerbaijani diaspora's head Shamil Tagiyev told Dozhd that the group plans to file a criminal complaint with Russia’s Investigative Committee and Federal Security Service (FSB) in connection with Armenians in Russia leader Ara Abramyan’s words. 

The Armenian Embassy in Moscow has said “there’s currently no need” for the involvement of Russia-based Armenians in the conflict. Around 2.5 million Armenians are estimated to be living in Russia, roughly the population of Armenia itself.

Both the Armenian and Azerbaijani diasporas in Russia have called on their members to steer clear of unauthorized public demonstrations and avoid provocations from either side.

In July, similar spontaneous gatherings following an escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh led to mass violence, destruction of property and arrests.

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