The Stepanakert-Sarushen road, guarded by Armenian soldiers.
The Stepanakert-Sarushen road, guarded by Armenian soldiers. © Vaghinak Ghazaryan
Larisa Harapetyan, 43, who works at the village post office, with her husband Artik, 49, a forest ranger who volunteered with the army during the war. This is the only spot in Sarushen where mobile phone connection is available.
Larisa Harapetyan, 43, who works at the village post office, with her husband Artik, 49, a forest ranger who volunteered with the army during the war. This is the only spot in Sarushen where mobile phone connection is available. © Vaghinak Ghazaryan
Benjamin, 14, the eldest of Artik and Larisa’s three sons.
Benjamin, 14, the eldest of Artik and Larisa’s three sons. © Vaghinak Ghazaryan
Pictures of Artik's family. His brother never returned from the first Karabakh war, while his mother died shortly before the most recent conflict.
Pictures of Artik's family. His brother never returned from the first Karabakh war, while his mother died shortly before the most recent conflict. © Vaghinak Ghazaryan
Larisa fled the city of Sumgayit in Azerbaijan, amid violence shortly before the first Karabakh war.
Larisa fled the city of Sumgayit in Azerbaijan, amid violence shortly before the first Karabakh war. © Vaghinak Ghazaryan
The family loves to spend time on the balcony, especially in summer.
The family loves to spend time on the balcony, especially in summer. © Vaghinak Ghazaryan
The village of Khramort in the Askeran region, with the new frontier visible.
The village of Khramort in the Askeran region, with the new frontier visible. © Vaghinak Ghazaryan
Galust, a 69-year-old tractor driver, watches television in his front room.
Galust, a 69-year-old tractor driver, watches television in his front room. © Vaghinak Ghazaryan
Two of Galust and Lily’s grandsons, 11-year-old Galust and Narek, eight.
Two of Galust and Lily’s grandsons, 11-year-old Galust and Narek, eight. © Vaghinak Ghazaryan
Khramort is one of the northern villages in the Askeran region. The ruined houses in the upper part of the village were burnt during the first Karabakh war, when the village was occupied by Azeris.
Khramort is one of the northern villages in the Askeran region. The ruined houses in the upper part of the village were burnt during the first Karabakh war, when the village was occupied by Azeris. © Vaghinak Ghazaryan
Galust with his youngest grandson Narek.
Galust with his youngest grandson Narek. © Vaghinak Ghazaryan
A scene from Khramort.
A scene from Khramort. © Vaghinak Ghazaryan
Galust with his sons Kajik and Gagik-a 42-year-old cattle breeder - and grandchildren.
Galust with his sons Kajik and Gagik-a 42-year-old cattle breeder - and grandchildren. © Vaghinak Ghazaryan
A piece of metal torn from a car. This is the new border sign, reading Do Not Pass.
A piece of metal torn from a car. This is the new border sign, reading Do Not Pass. © Vaghinak Ghazaryan
Armenian soldiers guard the outskirts of the village of Khramort.
Armenian soldiers guard the outskirts of the village of Khramort. © Vaghinak Ghazaryan

Karabakh: New Boundaries, New Realities

Many villages have become border settlements, with no buffer zone.

Following the most recent Karabakh war, Armenia returned seven regions occupied during the conflict of the 1990s to Azerbaijani control.

The entire Hadrut area and several villages from the Shushi, Martuni and Martakert regions were also transferred to Azerbaijan. 

This meant that many Armenian villages in Karabakh, as well as in Armenia itself, immediately became border settlements with no buffer zone.

One such location, Sarushen - which means mountain village in Armenian - is only accessible via a road with two checkpoints staffed by Russian peacekeepers. Their presence is part of the ceasefire deal agreed on November 10. The new border is only 200 metres away.

Elsewhere, in the village of Khramort in the Askeran region, about 40 per cent of its orchards and arable lands were transferred to Azerbaijan. This has deprived locals of a significant portion of their livelihoods.

With the border now so close, some villagers have accidentally strayed into Azerbiajani territory and been taken captive, their release only secured with the help of the Red Cross. There have been reports of abuses in detention so bad that returnees have been hospitalised in Yerevan.

Yet despite the uncertainty, and the distrust many feel towards their neighbours in Azerbiajan, most locals have no interest in leaving their birthplace.

This publication was prepared under the "Giving Voice, Driving Change - from the Borderland to the Steppes Project" implemented with the financial support of the Foreign Ministry of Norway.

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