CHAPTER 24 THE FATE OF ISLAMIC ETHNIC MINORITIES IN AZERBAIJAN

One of the reasons of the Azerbaijani defeat lay in the existence of a great number of ethnic minorities in the country: Lezgi, Avar, Talish, Kurd, Tat whose representatives served in the Azerbaijani army. These ethnicities have their own ethnic problems to solve and were serving in the Azerbaijani army unwillingly. They had nothing against the Karabakh Armenians defending their own houses, villages and the land. These ethnicities were looking forward for uniting against the Baku authorities and liberating themselves from the Azerbaijani pressure. This fact was confirmed during the battle for Shushi when a group of Lezgi soldiers joined the Armenians and took part in the seizure of Shushi. The correspondant of the Russian TV E. Sakhinov interviewed them in a trench. They preferred to be unknown as were afraid that their relatives would be persecuted by the Azerbaijani authorities. They told how their ancient land had been carved up by the Baku authorities, how they were preparing to unite to fight against Baku. The next day the Central TV showed this interview, an Azerbaijani crowd gathered at the TV station Ostankino and as a sign of protest stoned the building. Probably these were those who had fled Azerbaijan and were being used as a “fifth power” by the Moscow based Azerbaijani nationalistic organizations. From this program the Lezgiz of Azerbaijan and Daghestan became aware of an active youth movement, trying to defend their national interests. The day of September 20, 1991 was a memorable day for the Lezgis. It was the day when in the south of Daghestan Soviet Socialist Republic, which is the most populous Lezgi region and a part of historical Motherland, in the cultural centre Kasumberd the Third Congress of the Lezgis opened. It was organized by the Lezgian “Sadval”(unity) society. As the Popular Front newspaper “Svoboda” wrote, the Congress adopted a “declaration on the Foundation of the Lezgian Republic”. The Congress made appeals to the governments of Azerbaijan and Daghestan. The physician Nariman Ramazanov from Derbent was elected Chairman of the Lezgi National Council. The newspaper added that “the Lezgiz and Azerbaijanis will be conscious enough not to allow the creation of a new hot bed of tension on our common territory”.1

Declaration about the Restoration of Statehood of Lezgi Nation

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