CHAPTER 20 NATIONAL REVIVAL. THE COLLAPSE OF THE USSR THE EMERGENCE OF THE FIFTEEN INDEPENDENT REPUBLICS

In fact the time of negotiations had not come yet. The Soviet military-industrial complex could not allow the war to be stopped. The Soviet military strategists knew very well that Azerbaijan was backed by Turkey and the Muslim world and Armenia was supported by an influential diaspora. The Azerbaijani diplomats explained what took place in Karabakh not as a national-liberation movement but as an aggression of Armenia, violation of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. Aware of a Moscow – backed Azerbaijan the Armenian diplomats were trying to gain time, looking forward to the collapse of Gorbachov’s apparatus and Boris Yeltsin’s and the democrats’ victory. The fact that L. Ter-Petrossian was ready to negotiate with Azerbaijan was a surprise to many people. Some others considered that the Armenian chairman was just taking diplomatic steps, concealing his point of view and not representing the Armenian mentality of the time.

In the first months of 1991 the political polarization of Left (the democrats) and Right (the conservatives) left Gorbachov isolated. It’s measures to deal with the crisis in the USSR led to even more open attacks on him by the opposition. On February 19, 1991 B. Yeltsin went on central TV and called for Gorbachov’s resignation. The newspaper “Pravda” attacked him for personal ambition. While affirming that he was for political pluralism and democracy, Gorbachov complained that the opposition had moved beyond legality and had engaged in a struggle for power, which was leading to confrontation. After listening to Yeltsin’s speech on television, everybody in the USSR became sure that there was no hope for the USSR. The Empire was dying.

On February 20, 1991 the Armenians of Karabakh celebrated the third anniversary of the movement for self-determination. More than 60 thousand people took part in the rally in the Victory square in Stepanakert. An appeal was made to the Armenian people and to the chairman of the Armenian Supreme Soviet L. Ter-Petrossian; “Dear chairman, brothers and sisters, the situation is serious but we are resolute in our decision to unite with the motherland. We call you to support us to end in the struggle of life and death”. Another draft resolution was adopted addressed to M. Gorbachov, G. Yanaev, A. Lukianov, L. Ter-Petrossian, to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet and to the TASS news-agency;

“Three years have passed since the fateful day in the life of Mountainous Karabakh. On February 20, 1988 the session of deputies of the regional Soviet, expressing the will of the majority of the population of the Nagorny Karabakh Autonomous Region adopted a resolution calling on the soviets of Azerbaijan and Armenia to make every effort to reach a positive decision concerning the transfer of the region from the USSR of Azerbaijan to the SSR of Armenia. This event became the zenith of the movement which expressed the will of people who had been trying hard for seventy years to unite the historical Karabakh (Artsakh) region with Armenia, which had forcibly, against the will of the population, been attached to Azerbaijan SSR in 1921. But once again our expectations didn’t come true. The position of the Azerbaijani authorities is opposing the policy and principles of perestroika, which turned our movement to an inter-ethnic conflict. In contraty to the constitutional demand of the majority of the population of the region, the Azerbaijani government with the permission of the Central organs, showered us with unlawful and monsterous methods vidating the most basic human rights and freedoms. After the mass pogroms and killings of our compatriots all over Azerbaijan, they deprived the region of its state, party and social structures of power.

Defending themselves with anti-constitutional laws and rights, they, in cooperation with the USSR interior troops, set up a new campaign against the region aiming at driving out of all the Armenians from Karabakh, Blockade and black-mail, murder and massacre, theft and falsification, violation of human and national dignity – this is the full list of the measures and methods used against the population of the Nagorny Karabakh Autonomous Region.The atrocities and unhumane actions, with the silent consent of the fourteen union republics and the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, are in process up to the present day. The policy of Azerbaijan conducted in the region during the last three years, confirmed the impossibility of living under the Azerbaijani jurisdiction. As to the threats and ultimatums of Azerbaijani leaders to the union structures and parliament, they prove once again the intention of the leaders of Azerbaijan to reach their own solution of the Karabakh problem in any way. Undoubtedly that way means increase of violence, new blockades, setting up new obstacles between Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh, new violations and deprivations of constitutional rights of the Armenian community of the region.

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