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Vahagn “Stares Down” Azerbaijanis Who Bordered Bus Carrying Children Home to Artsakh

Seventeen-year-old Vahagn was one of the sixteen children returning to Artsakh yesterday via the Lachin Corridor when their cars were stopped and boarded by Azerbaijani “eco-activists” who started filming the frightened kids.

The Azerbaijanis, some fifteen in number, disobeyed the Russian peacekeepers escorting the two vehicles of children who has travelled to Armenia in December to watch the Junior Eurovision competition. 

The Azerbaijanis released a video of the children, some hiding their faces in fear. One was Vahagn, who wants to start playing the trumpet again. 

Vahagn says they were staying in Goris when they got the news of the possibility of returning to Artsakh. The kids hurriedly prepared and boarded two minivans.

Vahagn says the Azerbaijanis who entered their car introduced themselves as journalists, started filming, and then offered juice, but the children refused.

The Azerbaijanis tried to get into the other car but the children, with whom there were also Russian peacekeepers, resisted and did not let them film.

"As soon as the door opened, the boys came forward and prevented them from filming. There were not many of us, and the Russian peacekeepers in that car also pushed them out before they could film," says Vahagn. One of the girls in the car fainted.  

Vahagn says that although he felt a slightly anxious anxiety inside, it was not because of the video recording of the Azerbaijanis, but because they did not obey the Russian peacekeepers' request to get down and stop filming.

"Since I was one of the people sitting in front, I wondered if the Azerbaijani might do something. Sure, I was a bit anxious. Some covered their faces, not wanting to be filmed.  I was looking directly at him. If I had covered my face, he might have done something. I wouldn't have seen anything. I wouldn't have been able to do anything,” says Vahagn, noting he was waiting for the Azerbaijanis to provoke him.

Now back with his family in Stepanakert, Vahagn remains upbeat despite the periodic electricity and natural gas cuts.

"Now that I am in my native land, it is very good. There is an overall nervousness about this situation, but since I came here, I have already calmed down. All the children knew that the situation here is not so good, but they all wanted to come to their land, to their parents," says Vahagn.

(Vahagn’s parents are from the Hadrut village of Metz Tagher, now under Azerbaijani control. He says he spent many wonderful summers in the mountains there.)

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