Azerbaijani Influencer Briefly Arrested then Released in Russia Based on War Crime Charges from Armenia

What’s Happening

Azeri influencer Kamil Zeynalli was briefly detained for a few hours at the Moscow airport on February 21st by Russian police who were acting upon an arrest warrant issued by Armenia for Zeynalli that dates back to May.

Publicly, Armenia stated that Zeynalli is wanted on murder charges, which occurred during the 2020 44-Day war in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh, the war is also known as the second Nagorno-Karabakh war), without offering much detail.

Zeynalli’s lawyer, however, confirmed to Azeri TV that Zeynalli was wanted on charges of “aggression, war crimes and being a mercenary”. However, he too, did not particularly offer any concrete details on the exact crimes.

It is largely believed that Zeynalli is being charged with war crimes in connection to the execution of two Artsakh Defence Forces servicemen during the 44-Day war. During the war, a video emerged which portrayed several Azerbaijani speaking soldiers shooting and killing two Artsakh soldiers, who were bound and draped in Artsakh’s flag.

Azerbaijan has claimed the video is fake.

Some media have instead claimed that Zeynalli was one of a group of Azeri soldiers who beheaded two elderly civilians, which was again caught on video.

Neither of these claims that Zeynalli was involved with these particular crimes are officially confirmed at the moment. It is worth noting that the story which accuses Zeynalli of being involved in the execution of the Artsakh servicemen is the one which is being more widely reported.

Zeynalli’s Release

Several hours later, after negotiations between Russia and the Azeri embassy in Moscow, Zeynalli was released and allowed to go on a plane back to Baku, the Azeri capital. Azerbaijan’s embassy pledged to “deal” with the case, and as things currently stand, Zeynalli is due back in Russia on February 22nd in order to face extradition hearings in a Russian court.

Zeynalli faces a potential extradition to Armenia, if he indeed attends his court session in Russia.

Who is Kamil Zeynalli

Kamil Zeynalli is a rather popular Azeri influencer. The profile he runs on instagram has 1.8 million followers, and is a fitness coach and a blogger. Zeynalli formerly served in the Azeri military, including during the 2020 44-Day war. For this service, he has received military medals from the government.

Zeynalli was arrested as he was about to board a plane to Baku at Moscow’s Domodedovo international airport.

Following his detention, he released a video on instagram speaking about some of the charges against him, and his potential extradition, which may be viewed here.

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.


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