Staunton, February 17 – Araik Arutyunyan, president of the unrecognized Artsakh Republic in Qarabagh, has introduced a bill in the republic’s parliament to declare Russian the second official language, after Armenian, there given that his regime is now being guarded by a force of Russian peacekeepers.
The measure specifies that government institutions will conduct their activities in Armenian but “in the case of need” will provide Russian language translations and that the Artsakh government will promote the publication of dual-language media, textbooks and other publications.
Rumors about such a plan circulated at the end of 2020. At that time, the Kremlin reacted positively, but the Russian authorities said that the issue of the use of Russian in Qarabagh would not become “a subject of negotiations” (echo.msk.ru/news/2791982-echo.html, stoletie.ru/lenta/karabah_planirujet_sdelat_russkij_jazyk_oficialnym_409.htm and kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/359907/).
Under Azerbaijani law, which governs all areas of the country including those portions the Artsakh regime still operates in and which Russian peacekeepers are guarding, such an action is entirely illegal and represents another effort by the Artsakh authorities not only to curry favor with Moscow but to give content to their own continued existence.
As such, it is certain to be viewed by Baku as an example of Armenian overreach following the November and January accords and, if Moscow allows it to go forward or even supports it, as a case of Russian mission creep that will threaten the current ceasefire between the two sides.