The head of the self-declared separatist state in Nagorno-Karabakh said Thursday the entity will dissolve itself and cease to exist by the end of the year, as thousands more ethnic Armenians flee the region to Armenia.
The decree from separatist leader Samvel Shakhramanyan follows last week's operation by Azerbaijani forces to retake control of the area.
Armenian authorities said more than half of the 120,000 ethnic Armenians who were living in Nagorno-Karabakh had crossed into Armenia by Thursday morning.
The exodus that began Sunday and clogged the road to Armenia with cars came amid fears of reprisals, despite pledges from Azerbaijan to respect the rights of ethnic Armenians in the region.
Authorities in Azerbaijan on Thursday charged former Nagorno-Karabakh separatist leader Ruben Vardanyan with financing terrorism and illegal border crossing.
The charges came a day after Azerbaijan's State Border Service arrested Vardanyan and brought him to Baku.
Vardanyan made his fortune in Russia as the owner of a major investment bank. He moved to Nagorno-Karabakh in 2022 and served as the region's head of government until he stepped down earlier this year.
Nagorno-Karabakh is entirely within Azerbaijan but had been under ethnic Armenian control since 1994, until parts of it were reclaimed by Azerbaijan during a war in 2020.
Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press and Reuters.