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In Nagorno-Karabakh, Daily Life At The Heart Of A Frozen Conflict

Nearly 20 years have passed since a May 1994 cease-fire put an end to the Nagorno-Karabakh war, in which Armenian forces seized control of the ethnic Armenian-majority region within Azerbaijani territory. In the two decades that have passed, the conflict has remained unresolved, refugees from the region have been unable to return home, and Nagorno-Karabakh's 1991 declaration of independence is unrecognized abroad. But inside the disputed territory, residents are carrying on with ordinary life in the midst of the so-called frozen conflict. (Photos by RFE/RL's Margot Buff)

Men sit in a park in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh.
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Men sit in a park in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh.

A car passes by the parliament of Nagorno-Karabakh. The region declared independence in 1991, a status that is not recognized outside its borders.
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A car passes by the parliament of Nagorno-Karabakh. The region declared independence in 1991, a status that is not recognized outside its borders.

A military officer rides a bus in Stepanakert. The region is under the joint control of Armenian forces and the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Forces, but few servicemen are seen in the regional capital.
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A military officer rides a bus in Stepanakert. The region is under the joint control of Armenian forces and the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Forces, but few servicemen are seen in the regional capital.

A building in Stepanakert damaged by fighting. Civilian areas of the city endured heavy shelling in 1991-1992.
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A building in Stepanakert damaged by fighting. Civilian areas of the city endured heavy shelling in 1991-1992.

A public art installation enlivens a walkway in central Stepanakert.
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A public art installation enlivens a walkway in central Stepanakert.

A Soviet-era Volga car in an alley in Stepanakert
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A Soviet-era Volga car in an alley in Stepanakert

A painting in a souvenir shop in Stepanakert shows a grandmother holding a gun.
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A painting in a souvenir shop in Stepanakert shows a grandmother holding a gun.

Kids pose by a monument titled "We Are Our Mountains," informally known as "Grandma and Grandpa." The 1967 sculpture is recognized as a symbol of Nagorno-Karabakh.
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Kids pose by a monument titled "We Are Our Mountains," informally known as "Grandma and Grandpa." The 1967 sculpture is recognized as a symbol of Nagorno-Karabakh.

North of Stepanakert, a sign marks an area that has been cleared of land mines by a U.K.-based organization.
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North of Stepanakert, a sign marks an area that has been cleared of land mines by a U.K.-based organization.

A horseman rides near the remains of the town of Agdam. During the war, some 40,000 Azerbaijanis were driven out of the town, which was reduced to rubble by Armenian forces.
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A horseman rides near the remains of the town of Agdam. During the war, some 40,000 Azerbaijanis were driven out of the town, which was reduced to rubble by Armenian forces.

Trees grow amid destroyed buildings in the ghost town of Agdam, which lies just outside Nagorno-Karabakh in a separate strip of territory controlled by Armenian forces since 1993.
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Trees grow amid destroyed buildings in the ghost town of Agdam, which lies just outside Nagorno-Karabakh in a separate strip of territory controlled by Armenian forces since 1993.

An old Azeri cemetery near the ghost town of Agdam
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An old Azeri cemetery near the ghost town of Agdam

Children play in front of Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, completely reconstructed after the war, in the town of Shusha. Known as Shushi to its Armenian residents, the town was inhabited mainly by Azerbaijanis until the end of the war.
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Children play in front of Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, completely reconstructed after the war, in the town of Shusha. Known as Shushi to its Armenian residents, the town was inhabited mainly by Azerbaijanis until the end of the war.

A damaged sculpture from the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral now stands in front of a museum.
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A damaged sculpture from the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral now stands in front of a museum.

A late 19th-century mosque has fallen into disuse in Shusha, formerly a Muslim-majority town.
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A late 19th-century mosque has fallen into disuse in Shusha, formerly a Muslim-majority town.

Asmik Saryan, a doctor, serves breakfast in the guesthouse that she runs with her husband, Saro, for a slowly growing number of tourists in Shusha.
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Asmik Saryan, a doctor, serves breakfast in the guesthouse that she runs with her husband, Saro, for a slowly growing number of tourists in Shusha.

Children play in the town of Shusha.
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Children play in the town of Shusha.

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