Ruben Vardanyan, a Russian billionaire of Armenian origin who has "landed" from Moscow in Karabakh, said he sees himself as a negotiator for Karabakh Armenians.
"I have repeatedly emphasized that I renounced Russian citizenship in order to avoid accusations of pursuing other interests in "Artsakh" than those of the people of "Artsakh". I believe I am fully compliant with Mr Aliyev's criterion for a negotiator: 'living in Karabakh and wanting to live there,'" said Ruben Vardanyan.
It is true that Karabakh Armenians are citizens of Azerbaijan. But if they belong to the number of settlers illegally settled in Azerbaijani lands during the occupation, they are in no way covered by the law on Azerbaijani citizenship. The citizenship of the Armenians of the Karabakh Armenian community will be restored as prescribed by law by right of birth and permanent residence on the territory of Azerbaijan, including the former occupation.
Of course, like all Azerbaijani citizens, Karabakh Armenians have the full right to address their requests and wishes to the Azerbaijani authorities and may also form initiative groups, citizens' associations, etc., in accordance with Azerbaijani law. They can also set up initiative groups, citizens' associations, etc., in accordance with Azerbaijani law, including by nominating 'authorised individuals' for dialogue with the authorities. All this is possible within the laws of Azerbaijan and, again, only within the laws of Azerbaijan will all issues regarding the integration of citizens of Armenian nationality into Azerbaijani society be resolved, without any "advice" from the outside.
However, such "negotiators" on behalf of Azerbaijani citizens of Armenian nationality should at least be citizens of Azerbaijan themselves. Is Mr. Ruben Vardanyan such a citizen? He is not!
He only says that he "lives in Karabakh and wants to live there. But does Ruben Vardanyan have the right to Azerbaijani citizenship as a native of Azerbaijani Karabakh? No, he does not. He himself was not born in Karabakh or elsewhere in what is now internationally recognised Azerbaijani territory, nor did his parents live here or, judging by his biography, live in Azerbaijan. He was born in Irevan (Yerevan). It was not until this year that he arrived in Khankendi, Azerbaijan, unauthorisedly and illegally.
Ruben Vardanyan has so far clearly abused the fact that this territory of Azerbaijan is under the control of Russian peacekeepers. He has become a self-appointed 'state minister' in an illegal separatist organisation called 'Artsakh'. Therefore, unlike most residents of Khankendi of Armenian ethnicity, he has no rights to Azerbaijani citizenship.
In theory, he could theoretically ask President Ilham Aliyev to grant him Azerbaijani citizenship. But the question arises: for what "merits" should he be given such an honour?
Ruben Vardanyan has only one hypothetical possibility of claiming Azerbaijani citizenship and being a 'negotiator' on behalf of Karabakh Armenians. He was born in the historic Azerbaijani city of Irevan (now the Armenian capital Yerevan). If Ruben Vardanyan were to officially declare that he would recognize his hometown of Iravan (Yerevan) as Azerbaijani land and, because he was born in these historical lands of Azerbaijan, apply for Azerbaijani citizenship, the President of Azerbaijan might grant such a request. But will Ruben Vardanian make such a claim? It is doubtful.