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Azerbaijani, Armenian Ambassadors Call On Compatriots In Russia To Keep Calm

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Police arrest participants of clashes between Azerbaijanis and Armenians in Moscow on July 24.

The ambassadors of Armenia and Azerbaijan have called on their countrymen to avoid "provocations" and confrontations amid reports that ethnic Armenians and Azerbaijanis have clashed in Moscow and some other Russian cities in recent days amid an escalation of tensions between the two South Caucasus countries.

Vardan Toghanian and Polad Bulbuloglu issued separate statements calling on Armenians and Azerbaijanis residing in Russia not to violate laws of the Russian Federation.

The call came after Moscow police said more than 30 foreign nationals were arrested for taking part in huge fights and riots in the Russian capital and surrounding region on July 23-24.

According to police officials, the majority of the arrested foreigners were charged with hooliganism, while some faced robbery charges as well.

"In addition, in accordance with migration laws, many of the detained individuals will be barred from entering the territory of the Russian Federation for a period of five years," the officials said.

Police did not specify which countries the detained people were from and what exactly caused the fights, but media reports said that several mass brawls between ethnic Azerbaijanis and Armenians took place in Moscow and other towns and cities near the Russian capital last week.

Police in Russia's second-largest city, St, Peterburg, said on July 25 that they prevented a large fight between Azerbaijanis and Armenians in an area near the city.

The reports came as the situation on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border has escalated since July 12. Both sides have reported casualties among military personnel.

Since July 17, both sides have characterized the situation as relatively calm, though both have also accused each other of shelling in the border area and near the contact line in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Armenia said on July 27 that one of its soldiers was killed overnight by sniper fire near the border, while Azerbaijan accused Armenia of using machine guns and sniper rifles along the border over the previous 24 hours.

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The two countries have been in conflict since 1988, when the mostly Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region announced its secession from Azerbaijan.

In the course of the 1992-94 armed conflict, Azerbaijan lost control over Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts.

Since 1992, negotiations on a peaceful settlement of the conflict conducted by the OSCE Minsk Group, which is chaired by the United States, France, and Russia, have brought no progress in solution of the ongoing conflict.

In a phone call on July 27, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, expressed "readiness...to coordinate efforts for stabilization in the region," the Kremlin said.

A statement said that Putin "underlined the importance of not allowing any actions that promote an escalation in tensions."

Both leaders said they backed "resolving the conflict situation exclusively in a peaceful way, through talks."

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry announced that the country and its close ally Turkey will hold joint military exercises in early August.

The drills would take place on Azerbaijani soil and involve "army personnel of both countries, armored vehicles, artillery and mortars, as well as military aircraft and air defense," the ministry said.

With reporting by Interfax, TASS, and AFP
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