CHAPTER 17 THE GORBACHOV REFORMS AND THE REVOLT OF KARABAKH

In 1930s Stalin solemnly declared that the ethnic problem was non-existent in the state, and that a new soviet culture was founded. After this declaration, the friendship of nations came forward. Gorbachov’s preferred solution for the “national question” was a return to Lenin’s nationality policy, a genuine federalism to replace the Stalinist emasculation of the federation. He spoke of restoring the violated rights of Soviet nationalities, at the same time consistently rejecting demands for redrawing the administrative boundries in the USSR. The Karabakh movement and the Sumgait events were the first blows to his policy of restructuring.

The Sumgait events took place on February 28-29 (the days of Sumgait massacre).

“With Sumgait, the possibility of a peaceful transfer of Karabakh to Armenia became remote. As attitudes on both sides hardened, a mediated settlement satisfactory to both parties bacame extremely unlikely”, writes R.S. Suny.

Though condemning the riots of Sumgait, the Azerbaijani intellectuals maintained that Karabakh was historically a part of their homeland. The Sumgait villuins were even justified by a Baku scholar, academician Zia Buniatov in his article published in the newspaper “Elm”;- “Why Sumgait” (comment on the current situation). Starting from history, setting out “exclusive” historic claims to the region and rejecting Armenian right to statehood, he reaches the XX century and stressing the massacres of Armenians as if conducted by the Dashnak Party, repeated the pan-Turkic “truth” of barbarian Armenians, massacring the “peaceful Turkish population”. Mentioning the sign of the village Maragha “150 years” and the fact that the oldest tombstones in the village graveyard are as old as 160 years, he draws the conclusion of “In this case how can Karabakh be Armenian”, forgetting the numerous ancient monuments in all the villages of Karabakh. Arriving in Sumgait he declared, “a couple of hours earlier the representatives of Armenian TV had secretly entered the city, awaiting the events”.

Of course he was dissatisfied of the fact that the military had taken pictures in the city on March 1 and 2. The only Armenian reporter, who had been in the city was B. Karapetian, who went there in mid-March and met with the leaders of the city (Bairamova), public prosecutors and the victims of vandalism. Z. Buniatov wrote that the first Armenian citizen was killed by a Grigorian, an Armenian. The author knew very well that it was not true. This patriot considered a moral duty to defend those who planned and carried out the campaign. Generally all his works breathe of hatred towards Armenia and Armenians and his strive of falsifying the history and “Albanizing” the Tatars is evident. The Armenian scholars wrote their answers to the above mentioned article24 which was followed by another such article by professor of Dubna research centre, physicist V. Petrovski,25 who warned to be cautious of “diversion”. Probably the work of the author wasn’t worth the attention paid to it, but being the founder and spiritual leader of the Baku school, he deserved to be bared for his manipulation and speculation to persuade the other Azerbaijani scholars give up falsification and throw away the rubbish of Buniatov’s made theories, as its humiliating to lay false claims to the typical Armenian medieval architecture, inscriptions, cross-stones.

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