Till the year of 1905 no reports of Armeno-Tatar mass clashes have been made. As a result of the continuous slaughter of western Armenians, during the first Russian Revolution, riots broke out between Muslims and Armenians, which led to pogroms. In Karabakh the clashes occured between the two ethnic groups also in the course of Armenian resisting Azerbaijani-Turkish attempts at a pogrom. The growing national tention beneath the surface exploded and came out.

The Sultan Abdul Hamid’s promised reforms were followed in October-December 1895 a series of massacres throughout Turkish Armenia, where up to 300.000 Armenians perished. Later massacres were organized in the streets of Turkish capital. The mutual rivalries and mistrust, and the sums invested in the economy of Ottoman Empire, prevented any effective action being taken from the side of the European powers. Besides the Turkish nationalist ideology of pan-Turkism or pan-Turanism, which had taken shape, had its grave and far-reaching implications for Armenians not of only Turkish Armenia, but of the whole Transcaucasian region. The doctrine had its powerful adepts not only in Turkish ruling circles, but in the Transcaucasian Tatars.

During 1880s, the favour shown to the Armenians by Russians began to evaporate. Among the reasons for this was the dismissal of the liberal Chief Minister lorris-Melikov after the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881. In 1884 senior grades of Armenian schools were closed, in 1897 the Governor-General of the Caucasus, Prince Golitsyn closed the schools altogether.

This officious functionary also reduced the number of Armenians in the civil service. Then, by his decree of June 1903, the Tsarist authorities nationalized all Armenian Church property. As a result of the resistance of clergy, the Russian police occupied the seat of the Catholicos, the head of the Armenian Church in Echmiadzin. The new Russian policy of seeking to avoid conflict with the Ottoman Empire naturally favoured the Tatars of Transcaucasia as opposed to the Armenians. The anti-Armenian policy of Prince Golitsyn, especially after he decreed the confiscation of the property of the Armenian Church, provoked an uprising on the side of Armenians, at Shushi in particular. After the massacres in Ottoman Empire and the Russifying policy of Golitsin, the Armenians became conscious of the need to organize self-defence. Although Golitsyn was relieved of his office in January 1905, the seeds of the conflict were sown and the year of the first Russian revolution saw “the Armeno-Tatar war”, which lasted a year and a half, Karabakh being one of its most bloody scenes of fighting.

The pan-Turkic leaders attentively watched the movement of 2,5 million Tatars in Transcaucasia, constantly assuring them that they belonged to Central Asian Turkic race, and persuading that it was more important than the religious connection to the Persian Shir’ Muslim faith. The Tatars called themselves “Muslim” considering it a nationality. Armenia broke the continuity of the Turkic world, and this is one of the reasons why the Turks from time to time pursue policies intended to lead to suppression and physical elimination of the Christian Armenians inhabiting the region. This policy was given new impetus by the development of the pan-Turkic ideology both in the Ottoman Empire and among the Tatars. On this way to establish links with their former territory they needed a passage, that passage included Karabakh and this fact explains the intensive attacks on the Armenian mountain stronghold. The Armenian general strive of achieving statehood and independence antogonized them still more. Despite the fact that Armenians and Tatars had long lived together in the same regions, their relations were bound to be problematic. In the Transcaucasional regional capital of Tiflis the population was preponderantly Armenian. The other large town, Baku, lying on the shore of the Caspian, owed its development to its oil, which attracted the important Armenian business managers, who taking on a highly visible role in the development of Transcaucasian industry, pioneered the Baku oil. The migrant Muslim villagers of Baku, whom members of educated society often considered to be an unenlighted, benighted people, developed resentment against skilled workers and employers, who were mostly Armenians. The Tatar population began to call for “jhad”, ready for the application of the pan-Turkish theories, clearly summed up by the Turkish leaders.

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