CHAPTER 17 THE GORBACHOV REFORMS AND THE REVOLT OF KARABAKH

In the evening once half an hour the Azerbaijani television informed the report of the news agency “Azerinform”, where the events of Karabakh were qualified as the result of “extremis activity”. This declarations aroused Armenian indignation, as the movement was in fact national and their demand – constitutional. The Baku authorities again backed by Kremlin, were inclined to the forcible solution of the problem. The Karabakh movement was able to defend itself in no way as the whole region was guarded by the Azerbaijani internal structures. The population and the movement placed their hopes in the USSR internal forces as it was the only means to defend them, publicize the problem and make the international community to react.

In Yerevan the first “Karabakh Committee” was set up, under the direction of some 15 members. After Gorbachov’s asking for a month to settle the Karabakh problem, it was decided to stop demonstrations in Yerevan. Meantime Kevorkov was dismissed from his post of Secretary of the Communist Party of Karabakh.

Meetings in Yerevan attracted up to 120.000 people without a single incident of hoolganism. There were no troops in the city. There were strikes. In Stepanakert too tools were downed. The only disruption was that many workplaces were closed. High party officials arrived in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Karabakh. On February 22 the secretary of the Central Committee G. Rasumovski and the First depute chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council P. Demichev arrived in Stepanakert, to introduce the resolution of the Central Committee on Karabakh issue adopted on February 21 to the population.

In the neighbouring district centre of Aghdam, a meeting was held on 21 February to discuss the Resolution of the Karabakh Regional Soviet to unify with Armenia. Having discussed it, the audience dispersed. Next day, in the morning several hundred young Azerbaijanis from Aghdam set off for Askeran “to watch the demonstrations” there. On the way to Azerbaijanis died in mysterial circumstances, but following word of their deaths, 20.000 people gathered and set off for Stepanakert, threatening “to teach a good lesson” to the demonstrators of Lenin Square. Destroying and burning down the premises of the Khanabad farm, and beating accidental Armenian passers-by on the way, they reached Aghdam. They were stopped by a group of Armenians (200 men), who were already taking positions to prevent the mob from advancing. But being heavily stoned by a mob, they retreated. At that moment a gun fired. One of the Aghdam residents was killed. Before this event another Aghdam young man was killed by a major of militia. The retreating mob moved towards the close lying Armenian villages, the resident of which took positions to defend their homes. A truck-driver of Khanabad drove the machine on the crowd, frightening and scattering them. The attack on the village Nakhichevanik was a failure too.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18