Azeri page of Karabakh conflict18.01.2013 | 20:12
Riots on the ethnic ground in Baku, known today as the Armenian massacres, took place from 13 to 20 January, 1990. According to various sources, from 48 to 90 people have become the victims of atrocities, although some Armenian sources give other figure - up to 300 dead. Pogroms led to the entry of Soviet troops into the capital of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic in the night from 19 to 20 January, and the suppression of political opposition - the People's Front of Azerbaijan, responsible for the destabilization. As a result of the punitive operations by Soviet troops more than a hundred civilians, mostly Azerbaijanis, were killed. The events of that day made history as Black January.
Spontaneity of Armenian pogroms in Baku was immediately questioned. In particular, the speaker of the human rights organization Human Rights Watch Robert Kushner noted that "the massacres were not fully (or perhaps completely) spontaneous, since the rioters had the lists of Armenians and their addresses". The 13th World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov, a native of Baku, the son of a Jew and the Karabakh Armenian women, said: "When thugs deliberately pass from area to area and from apartment to apartment, this means that they have been given lists, that someone is leading them". Later, the famous chess player clarified: "The KGB stood behind the massacres of Armenians in Baku. KGB set one people against other. We must not yield to these provocations in any way".
Russian writer Igor Volgin expressed confidence that the government had lost control over the situation long before the riots and the subsequent entry of troops in the capital of Azerbaijan. "If after the massacre in Sumgait there would have been immediately taken public, decisive actions and ruthless measures, we would not now have chronic interethnic terror. Karabakh, Ferghana, New Uzen, Baku, Osh - the following is you. Thugs feel their impunity, since speaking of the "objective reasons", we virtually recognize their right to a bloody boldness", Volgin said in an interview to the Komsomolskaya Pravda in July 1990.
"Open Letter to the world community", published on July 27, 1990, also stated that "the active persecution of Armenians" in Azerbaijan has begun two years before the events in Baku. "The massacre of Armenians in Sumgait in February 1988 was followed by pogroms in Kirovabad and Baku in November 1988. They continued in Baku and elsewhere in Azerbaijan until January 1990. The fact that the massacres were committed repeatedly and in similar ways, gives us reason to believe that these tragic events were not spontaneous and involuntary. Moreover, we have to believe that the crimes committed against the Armenian minority have turned into consistent practice, if not the official policy of the Soviet Azerbaijan". The letter was signed by 133 people: well-known scholars and public figures from the College International de Philosophie, including such philosophers Jacques Derrida and Paul Ricoeur.
Contrary to this view, the Ministry of National Security of Azerbaijan states that Black January was a result of the Armenian provocation. "On the night of the 19th to the 20th of January 1990, having accused Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis in pre-planned Armenian massacres, performed by the provocateurs, Russian-Armenian troops, brought into Baku, carried out bloody terror over the defenseless population", emphasized the organization's website.
In turn, the Foreign Ministry of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic declares that the Armenian massacres are "one of the most convincing arguments for the impossibility of existence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (Artsakh) within Azerbaijan". "The atrocities against the Armenians, regularly organized by the Azerbaijani authorities during the whole XX century, emphasize once again the rightness of the Artsakh people struggling for freedom and protection of their ancestral rights", said in the commentary of department, dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the tragic events in Baku.
However, the consequences of the Armenian massacres and the Black January are well known. Russia has lost its influence in the region, and now seems to never recover the lost ground. Nagorno-Karabakh has become a stumbling block in the relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This is the result of political mistakes of the leadership of the once united country. For the past 23 years little has changed. But this does not mean that attempts to establish a dialogue are useless. The absence of war is a major victory yet.