Three international female journalists have been arrested in Nakhichevan after a local villager overheard them talking in Armenian, reports Realni Azerbaijan Russian-language online newspaper on May 5, 2007.


Map of Azerbaijan showing Kangarli rayon

Map of Azerbaijan showing Kangarli rayon

Courtesy of 

According to the accounts of villagers from Shakhtakhti (region of Kengerli), three journalists from a Russian TV visited Nakhichevan and convinced local villager Aleksper Asadov to guide them to the “Albanian church” of the village for a report on ancient historical monuments.


During videotaping the church, the journalists, according to Aleksper Asadov, started talking in Armenian.  Asadov informed the villagers who soon contacted the local police.  After the journalists were arrested having left the church, Asadov was instructed by the police to say that the journalists were not Armenian but Russian.


According to Realni Azerbaijan, whose editor was sentenced to 2 ½ years in jail last month after visiting Nagorno Karabakh (a disputed region de facto part of Armenia, de jure part of Azerbaijan) and challenging official’s Azerbaijan’s accusation that Armenian forces killed and mutilated several hundred Azeri civilians of Khojaly during the war of the 1990s, the news about the Armenian journalists has spread all over Nakhichevan. The identities of the three female journalists remain unknown.

Nakhichevan is an exclave of Azerbaijan between Armenia and Iran.  According to eyewitness reports, the rich Armenian culture there has been reduced to dust and the few survived Armenian monuments have been proclaimed “Albanian.” The recent act of vandalism against Armenian heritage was the complete destruction of the largest medieval Armenian cemetery on Earth in Southern Nakhichevan’s Djulfa district in December of 2005 that was videotaped and made available on the Internet. European Parliament members were barred by Azerbaijan from visiting the site where the cemetery (now converted to a military rifle range) existed.


The international community has recently accused Azerbaijan for persecuting journalists.  Two Azeri journalists were jailed for “insulting Islam” just last week.