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Nagorno-Karabakh Soldier Had Sought Transfer

The parents of a soldier who crossed into government-held territory from Azerbaijan's breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region say their son had asked for a transfer to another unit.

Andranik Grigorian's mother, Nelli, told RFE/RL on March 24 that her son seemed very unhappy when he last visited his home and told her that he had requested a transfer because he was having trouble with members of his unit.

Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry said on March 23 that a contract soldier with the separatist forces defected. The separatist military in Nagorno-Karabakh said a day earlier that a soldier had left his post and crossed into Azerbaijani-controlled territory.

A video released by Azerbaijani authorities that day showed a uniformed man who identified himself as Grigorian and said he decided defect because he was beaten by fellow-soldiers.

Grigorian's father, Ararat, told RFE/RL he believes that the video was staged.

Armenian-backed separatists seized the mainly Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan during a war in the early 1990s that killed some 30,000 people. Diplomatic efforts to settle the conflict have brought little progress.