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Strike Reported in Disputed Soviet Enclave

Reuters

Another general strike has broken out in Stepanakert, capital of the disputed Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, officials said Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the Stepanakert City Council said in a telephone interview that the strike started Monday to protest the arrival at the Nagorno-Karabakh town of Shusha of Azerbaijanis from Soviet Armenia calling themselves refugees.

“According to a resolution adopted in Baku (the Azerbaijani capital), all refugees from Armenia must be accommodated in (other parts of) Azerbaijan. This is a direct violation of that resolution by people who are no more than self-styled refugees,” she said.

32 Killed in Rioting

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Hundreds of Azerbaijanis and Armenians have left each other’s republics since demands for the transfer of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia erupted into violence in February, when 32 people, most of them Armenians, died in riots in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait.

Shusha, the second largest town in the mountainous region, is one of the few places in the enclave that has a majority of Azerbaijanis.

The City Council spokeswoman said the current strike was also called to demand that an Armenian be named to replace the local chief prosecutor, whom she named as Vasilenko--a Ukrainian name.

She also said a further aim of the strike was to secure the transfer to prisons in Armenia or the Russian Federation of eight young Armenians arrested during recent unrest and held in Shusha “under appalling conditions.”

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Other demands included the dropping of charges against the head of a local printing plant, who had refused to print the July 19 edition of the Armenian-language newspaper Sovetakan Karabakh carrying the text of the Kremlin ruling.

A spokesman at the newspaper confirmed that the strike was going on but was not prepared to discuss the reasons. “No one knows how long it’s going to last,” he said.


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