CHAPTER 23 THE PROCLAMATION OF THE NAGORNO- KARABAGH REPUBLIC AS A GUARANTY FOR SELF-DEFENCE

In late 1991 already thirty parties functioned in Azerbaijan. The most fierce struggle for power was in progress between the Popular Front and the Communist Party. The Popular Front newspaper “Svoboda” analysed Mutalibov’s situation like this;

“…after August 21, Ayaz Mutalibov found himself in an extremely hard situation. If formerly the leader of Azerbaijan relied on the Soviet Army and some political circles to aid him in the Karabakh conflict, now, after the well-known August events, it became clear to him that the army on which their hopes rested, wouldn’t fight in Karabakh on our side. During Yeltsin’s visit it became evident that Gorbachev had demanded that the leaders of Azerbaijan should come to an agreement with Karabakh or else Gorbachev threatened to withdraw the troops from the conflict zone. The same point of views have been expressed in Dubovi Roshcha by Shaposhnikov and Barannikov. Political analysts stress the inportance of another factor influencing the position of the Azerbaijani president, it is the recent defeats of the Azerbaijani OMON in the Front. Mutalibov was conscious of the whole dramatism of the events taking place in Gioranboy, when previously captured five villages were returned to the Armenians thus threatening the further advance of Azerbaijan. The enemy is well-armed and mobile. The defeat of OMON deprived of Soviet help was more than real.”2

When the correspondent of the newspaper “Magapolis Express” A. Pralnikov asked the Chairman of the Regional Soviet of Shahumian district (officially dissolved on a decision of Azerbaijani Supreme Soviet) and the commander of self-defence forces Shahen Meghrian how they had obtained the military technics, the latter answered briefly; “It’s not stolen.”3

A. Pralnicov’s report’s first lines told; “The positions near the village Mansashen are held by children. These are pupils of 7-10 forms. Their commander is the school history teacher V. Malkhassian. It’s October. There are no lessons at school. The school building was shelled from the Azerbaijani village Shefek.”4

On September 27 the Azerbaijani popular Front expressed its disapproval of the Zheleznavodsk communique in a mass rally in Baku. Isa Gambarov told that four members of Popular Front had met with Mutalibov to express their negative attitude to the adopted document. Another member of Popular Front, Ghurban Mamedov, told about his tortures, the bribery and unlawfulness in an Azerbaijani prison, where he had passed one and a half year for his political beliefs. Iskander Gamidov called the people to gather in front of the building of the Supreme Soviet, demanding a new session. The chairman of the Popular Front A. Elchibei mentioned the Zheleznavodsk communique as opposing the interest of the Azerbaijani nation. During the October 2 rally near the Supreme Soviet building, the question of Azerbaijani defeat near Gioranboy was discussed and appeals were made to form a National Army to defend the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The Popular Front demanded new elections to the parliament.

The fierce internal struggle between parties had already penetrated into Karabakh from Armenia. It became especially noticeable in the course of elections of deputies to the Supreme Soviet of Karabakh. The struggle was fierce between the All-National Armenian Movement and the Dashnak Party. Finally the Dashnaks won a majority. This political split effected negatively on the formation of the armed forces and on the self-defence of the region on the whole. There was another obstacle, originated from the split. For example the soldiers of the Shahumian self-defence units refused to fight in the Hadrut front, considering it politically “not theirs”. The penetrating of political ideas into the army was a serious threat for the self-defence of the region.

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