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

The Soviet mass media constantly alleged of Armenian arming villages and outposts for guerrilas and military equipment, as making allusions to the Azerbaijani side to arm itself too. This tactics of the Centre dictated the leaders of the country to create new forms and means to prolong the solution of the Karabakh problem.

After placing Nagorny Karabakh under Moscow’s direct rule in January 1989, neither the clashes between the residents and government authorities (mainly USSR Interior Ministry troops) nor the clashes between Azerbaijanis and Armenians stopped. On November 28, 1989 Moscow ceased its direct rule over the region and returned control to Azerbaijani authorities. During the course of above events the level of violence increased steadily in Karabakh and the surrounding districts. The Azerbaijani authorities did all they could to make life impossible for the population of Karabakh, with the apparent aim of driving them out and repopulating the territory with Azerbaijanis. The Second Secretary of the Azerbaijani Communist Party, KGB officer who reportedly supervised the distruction of villages in Afghanistan Viktor Polianichko seriously formulated a plan for deporting all Armenians from Karabakh. The Centre continued to conduct a policy of “equalization”. Its “Appeal to the population of Armenia and Azerbaijan” had the following wording;

“The tragic events of Baku and other places of Azerbaijan, as well as of some regions of Armenia pierced the hearts of the Soviet people”.1

Direct words to condemn the Baku pogroms were avoided. “The Economist”, January 1990;

“It was in Azerbaijan that the Soviet Union tested Military force – the ultimate guarantor of its power – to the limit. On January 15 President Mikhail Gorbachov sent 20.000 troops into the republic’s capital, Baku, to crush an attempt to seize power by the Azerbaijani Popular Front. In the carnage of “Black January” at least 150 people were killed. When the troops moved in, the Azerbaijani Popular Front vowed to continue fighting underground”.2

The decision to return Karabakh to Azerbaijani rule marked the beginning of a coordinated effort by the KGB and Azerbaijan’s Communist Leadership to destroy the Armenian community. The members of Nagorny Karabakh National Council were arrested on January 19, 1990. Ten days later a fourmen delegation of Azerbaijani officials headed by Viktor Polianichko arrived in the enclave accompanied by military vehicles to establish their authority. On the day of Polianichko’s arrival in Karabakh, strict cencorship was imposed and the enclave’s only Armenian daily was closed down. Within a week, dozens of Armenian leaders were behind the bars on Polianichko’s orders. He himself travelled all over Stepanakert in his armed carrier calling the population for submission. The Armenian TV station Continued to be blacked out and communication with the outside world was limited to short wave radio. There was no press access to the region.

The only information broadcast from the region was; “The situation is nornmalized. The military command control over the region”.

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