CHAPTER 21 DEPORTATION

“I think that we lost the chance of settling the Karabakh problem still in 1988. At that time they used to say there could be no other way. But we have the example of Tatarstan now. Karabakh could be placed under the Centre’s direct rule with a status of Autonomous Region or Autonomous Republic”.

In Karabakh A. Ishchuk was in charge of a non-existent office, i.e. there existed no mass-media on the territory of the region. As a result of a strict censorship the enclave’s only Armenian newspaper had been closed down. The only functioning structure was the radio-station, which broadcast only the reports sent from Baku. A. Ishchuk considered this situation an “informational blockade”, set up and carried out by the Azerbaijani authorities together with the commandant of the emergency state. He also said;

“To my mind the situation in Karabakh is extremely explosive, the course of events is unpredictable on the fierce struggle between the two main forces – the Azerbaijani Popular Front and the official structures. The Popular Front, condemning the authorities for being unable to solve the Karabakh problem, is trying to instigate new clashes in the region. They have a special mission of dragging the Special Militia Units (OMON) into the conflict”.

Ending his interview A. Ishchuk predicted that the withdrawal of the USSR interior troops and the abolishment of the Emergency State would result in the further escalation of the conflict and would lead to new bloodsheds and wars, which might spread all over the country. After this speech on the TV A. Ishchuk was arrested. What happened to him later, remained unknown.

Meanwhile the Second Secretary of Azerbaijan’s Communist Party, the KGB officer and the head of Karabakh Bureau Viktor Polianichko was declaring in the Session of Azerbaijani Supreme Soviet;

“The year of 1991 is proclaimed a year of Karabakh. This year is going to be the last hard period for Azerbaijan. The soil of Karabakh is ours, we must occupy it for our generations. The airport is already seized. but it’s vital to increase the number of the Special Military Units…”

Soon the armed units of the Popular Front managed to instigate clashes between the USSR and the Armenian interior troops in the Noiemberian region of Armenia. As a result some Armenian militiamen were killed. The Human Rights Committee of the Supreme Council of the Russian Federation, investigated the case and concluded that the 23rd division of the USSR Interior Ministry, under the command of Colonel Budeikin was guilty for the illegal actions, which took place in Voskepar (Noiemberian). The presidential decree of 25 July 1990 wasn’t valid in that territory. The military unit of the Armenian Interior Ministry couldn’t be considered as an illegal armed formation, as it was functioning on its own territory (Armenian SSR) and any attempt to disarm that unit, would be considered as unlawful. Seven Armenian militiamen were injured, three of them soon died as they lay helpless for six hours. The Human Rights Committee resolved to bring a charge against the command of the 23rd division of the USSR Ministry of Interior.4

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