During the whole day of the referendum, December 10, Stepanakert was being shelled from Khojali, Malibeili, Janhassan, Krkzhan and Kiossalar. The bombing was set in motion and Stepanakert set to a new way of life – life in basements and the cellars in appealing conditions. The strategic points of Shusha and Khojali made it possible for the Azerbaijani forces to pound Stepanakert and other Armenian villages with shells and grenades. Armenian forces shelled the points from which Azerbaijanis launched attacks. The Armenian forces succeeded in capturing Kerkijan (December 1991), Malybeili and Gushchular (February 1992) and Khojali (February 1992).

The group of forty independent observers from Commonwealth of Independent States and other countries arrived in Stepanakert to watch the referendum, they were shocked by the deterioration in the situation and the constant bombardment of Stepanakert by Alazan rockets from the hill-top fortress town Shusha.

They addressed a letter to B. Yeltsin;

“The army units under Gorbachev aided Azerbaijan for three years. It was they who realized the deportation of Armenians from Getashen and other villages.”

The observers applied to Yeltsin as the head of that Russia which concluded the 1813 Giulistan Treaty, which placed Russia under the obligation of supporting Karabakh.

The observers expressed their viewpoint mentioning;

“We think that Russia should confirm the Giulistan Treaty to fulfil its obligations and guarantee peace for the people of Karabakh.”

They also stressed that it was the moral duty of the Soviet Army to return the twenty-four seized villages to the Armenians before withdrawal.10

The observers witnessed the victory of independence in Karabakh, the 108 thousand 505 Armenians voted in favour and only 21 against. The total number of population was 207 thousand 678, from which 166 thousand 66 were Armenians, 38 thousand 737 Azerbaijanis and 2875 Russians.11

The Azerbaijani units launched attacks on the Armenian villages Nakhichevanik and Khramort. Thirty-three houses in Khramort were burnt down and nine elderly people left behind were killed. Four houses and a farm-house were burnt in Nakhichevanik. Soon the Armenian self-defence forces drove them out from the above two villages.

On January 6, 1992 at 11 o’clock the newly elected 44 deputies to the Supreme Soviet of Karabakh arrived in Stepanakert. About eighty observers and reporters from all parts of the world were present there. Due to absence of means of transport, the deputies from Shahumian, Martakert and Hadrut regions couldn’t take part in the session. The session declared the region independent and elected the first president of Karabakh. It was the leader of Karabakh movement in Hadrut region, 33 years old candidate of scientist, Arthur Mkrtchian. He represented the Dashnak wing in the Parliament.

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