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BAKU -- Azerbaijan's Central Election Commission has denounced as illegal the upcoming parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan's breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The commission said in a statement that the May 23 elections violate Azerbaijan's constitution and international law. It says holding elections and referendums on the territory of Azerbaijan is the exclusive prerogative of the country's Central Election Commission.

It further condemns as interference in Azerbaijan's domestic affairs the arrival of international observers in Stepanakert to monitor the voting.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has also condemned the upcoming elections.

Sergei Nasibian, the head of the Nagorno-Karabakh election commission, told the Caucasian Knot website on May 19 that Karabakh's leadership attaches no importance to the statements. He said they serve only to promote solidarity among the Armenian population of Karabakh.

Armenian and Azerbaijani forces fought a three-year war that ended in 1994 and left Armenian forces in control of virtually all of Nagorno-Karabakh and large parts of the surrounding territory.
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