CHAPTER 17 THE GORBACHOV REFORMS AND THE REVOLT OF KARABAKH

Meanwhile, two leading figures in the Armenian democratic movement, the poetess Silva Kaputikian and publicist Zori Balayan, were in Moscow and obtained an interview with Mikhail Gorbachov on 26 February. Gorbachov was accompanied by Central Committee Secretary Alexander Yakovlev. Gorbachov gave his word to “make a renaissance” in Karabakh. His words meant that the Armenian delegates were asked to go to Yerevan and damp things down. Next day, 27 February they were back in Yerevan, where Silva Kaputikian went to tape an interview for the local television station and Zori Balayan went to address a meeting. About half a million people in Theatre Square were waiting for him to tell them about the results of the meeting. Zori Balayan told them that the Central Committee of the USSR was charged with wrestling with that most painful problem and suggested it was better to go back to work and call the strike off. Igor Muradian told the people that there would be another meeting a month later, on March 26. Meanwhile the deputy Procurator General of the USSR Katusev announced on the television that as a result of nationalistic clashes in Karabakh, two Azerbaijanis had been killed. The tension grew in Azerbaijan.

Discussing the results of Zori Balayan’s and Silva Kaputikians visits to Moscow, one of the leaders of the movement; Vazgen Manukian said; “To my mind the meeting of Silva and Zori with Gorbachov was not organized well. They mentioned the problem of pan-Turkism, which is threatening for Russia, Armenia serving as a forepost for it… When nothing in the world can compare with the Soviet might, Armenia is a trifle problem for it. They should have represented the problem from the political aspect. They should have stressed the demonstration of half a million people. The attachment of Karabakh to Armenia was dangerous as it could give birth to several similar demands and the refusal in its turn would result in the creation of several like movements. In case Gorbachov tried to crush the movement. West would deprive him of its support and the future of perestroika would be fateful. In my opinion such an approach should be more effective. But as intellectuals Silva and Zori chose the national issue as a base, not the political one, which I consider not right. I understand Zori. He probably thought that having one million army of supporters, he couldn’t be refused further negotiations, concerning the problem. He hoped to reach a solution of such a serious problem that way. But in all cases it is a grave mistake to consider an individuality responsible for such a powerful movement. The power of such an individual could be easily abolished or he might not be strong enough to resist the attracts of power… A mass movement of such might either must be opposed to or given in. Igor and Zori dispersed the people. The people were disappointed…”20

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