The Armenian aggression against the Azerbaijani land and people and forcible deportation of the Azeri population of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and other districts of Azerbaijan was carried out with assistance of a network of highly organized Armenian organizations. Precisely these organizations, which proliferated in Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Area in the mid-1980s like mushrooms after the rain, made it possible to carry out hundreds of terrorist acts against the civilian population of Azerbaijan.
Even a cursory analysis makes it clear that these were essentially terrorist organizations, founded and sponsored by ethnic Armenian communities abroad not without awareness of the USSR leadership.
Representatives of the Armenian intelligentsia and politicians cite many examples proving that precisely Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his entourage initiated the onset of separatism. In their words, separatism always smoldered among Armenians, but on pains of government repression no one dared to challenge the Soviet system; however, when Mikhail Gorbachev and his team came to power, things changed. Many Armenian advisors appeared in the ruling team. All types of nationalistically inclined Armenians were in favor of the Soviet Communist Party leadership. This let the party leaders in Armenia and Azerbaijani SSR's Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Area (NKAA) off the leash.
With assistance from the party leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijani SSR's NKAA, a secret Armenian organization -- Committee for Revolutionary Government of Nagorno-Karabakh (KRUNK) -- was created in Stepanakert (Xankandi) in 1987; some Armenian sources call it Krunk, which also means a crane in Armenian. While the Soviet regime was strong, Krunk was out of the question. There are many facts which prove that the Armenian party leadership initiated creation of a number of these types of terrorist organizations. Zahid Abbasov, then staffer of the Area Executive Committee of the NKAA, recollects: "Before 1987, we lived as good neighbors. We were close friends with Robert Kocharyan (now former Armenian president) and Arkadiy Gukasyan (now former leader of the Karabakh Armenians), we dined together, invited one another to our homes. But in 1987, the illegal informal organization Krunk was created, whose name was described to the Soviet general public as the Armenian word for a crane, a bird which symbolizes sorrow and parting in the Armenian culture. But there was another, truer version of the name -- it was an acronym for the Komitet Revolyutsionnogo Upravleniya Nagornym Karabakhom (KRUNK) -- the Committee for Revolutionary Governance of Nagorno-Karabakh."
Yet another testimony remains, that of Tamerlan Naqiyev, former director of the Azerkitab book sales company: "The company (Azerkitab) had two book stores in Stepanakert, both directors were females. One of them had a hostile attitude toward Azeris, the other had a friendly attitude. They used to come to Baku quarterly to report. So, in the late 1987 the second director asked me to meet with her. We had a conversation. She told me that people from Armenia started to appear, they campaigned, recruited Krunk members, collected money. They declared those people who disagreed with them traitors, persecuted them, and insulted them. There was no help from the official authorities, the party organizations of the NKAA were on their side, and people were intimidated. There will be trouble, we sense this" Tamerlan Naqiyev wrote down the conversation with that woman in the form of a report to the Azerbaijani Communist Party Central Committee, but no reaction followed.
And yet another testimony by the former Azerbaijani Supreme Council people's deputy from Salyan District, KGB Lieutenant Colonel Aydin Abdullayev: "Throughout 1987, the Stepanakert section of the KGB informed Baku about the activity of the Yerevan emissaries and operations of Krunk, including those of the leaders of the ethnic Armenian districts of the NKAA. The Republican KGB reported to the USSR KGB and, of course, to the Azerbaijani leadership. The USSR KGB reported, as was the standard procedure, to the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party. There were no instructions to the KGB in Baku except one: 'Do not interfere!' The Azerbaijani Communist Party Central Committee's inquiries also received a uniform reply from the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee: 'Do not take any measures!'"
Effectively, the leaders of the USSR, KGB and other important all-union organizations knew very well that Armenian terrorist organizations of the Krunk type were being created, but did nothing to nip in the bud the separatist trends in the NKAA.
October 1987 -- this is the time when the international Armenian terrorist organization Dashnaktsutyun Armenian Revolutionary Federation created the so-called Karabakh Committee in Yerevan, Armenia, which was instructed to carry out large-scale armed operations in Azerbaijani region Karabakh's mountainous areas to drive out ethnic Azeris from that area by using force and employing methods and techniques of mass terror. From the moment of its creation, the Karabakh Committee started to cooperate with radical organizations in the Near East to enlist among its ranks ethnic Armenians with experience of carrying out terrorist operations.
The Union of Armenians terrorist organization, which maintained close ties with the paramilitary subunits of Dashnaktsutyun, was created in Moscow in 1998. It goal was supplying false documents and counterfeit money to members of the Armenian terrorist organization ASALA to ensure their unimpeded movement on the territory of the USSR. The Union of Armenians took an active part in supplying weapons and recruiting mercenaries to carry out terrorist acts in the mountainous part of the Karabakh region in the Azerbaijani Republic.
On 20 February 1988, at the Writers' Palace in Yerevan the action plan of the Armenian terrorist organization Karabakh was made public, which the press, in conformity with the political situation of the period, presented as all but the model of the struggle for "democracy and human rights." In the mean time, members of the KRUNK organization started to perpetrated crimes and carry out terrorist acts in Nagorno-Karabakh to achieve secession from the Azerbaijani SSR. The activities of these bandits were negatively perceived by local ethnic Armenian residents who even made attempts to expel the uninvited guests. But there were quite a few foreign mercenaries from the Near East among the bandits, who used the tactic of intimidation, killing and terror and forced the local ethnic Armenian population to take part in their bloody activities.
Russian writer Yuriy Pompeyev notes in his book "Bloody whirlpool of Karabakh" that in Stepanakert (Xankandi) itself, activists of the Karabakh organization created their subsidiary called "Krunk." "Retired lieutenant colonels and associate professors of the Pedagogical University were formulating the following action plan for themselves: Firs we shall terminate our membership in the Communist Party and then we shall start a guerrilla war. Against whom? -- Yu. Pompeyev asked. "We are ready to die. If we are not allowed to secede, we shall stop at nothing," bearded men from Krunk shouted in the face of Izvestiya newspaper correspondent A. Kazikhanov.
Some time later, precisely the activists from the Armenian terrorist organization Krunk provoked Armenian pogroms in the town of Sumqayit. For a week before the pogroms, Krunk members collected money from Sumqayit's ethnic Armenian residents, advising them to withdraw their funds from the bank deposits and recommending the wealthier business people to leave the town altogether. As it emerged later, mostly those ethnic Armenians who refused to pay "tribute" to the emissaries from Krunk were killed during the Sumqayit events. It also has to be noted that disorders in Sumqayit were headed by the town's resident, repeat offender Eduard Grigoryan, who had personally killed and raped several ethnic Armenians.
In his book "Bloody whirlpool of Karabakh," Russian writer Yuriy Pompeyev quotes quite noteworthy statement by Fedor Shelov-Kovedyayev, who was once an election agent for Galina Starovoytova, a politician who in Armenia is considered a "national hero" to this day. Already in the capacity of the first deputy foreign minister of Russia, F. Kovedyayev admitted onboard an Il-68 aircraft flying from Brussels to Moscow: "The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is a well-planned action which was prepared in advance and which the Communist leaders of Armenia were instructed to carry out." He said that the "leaders of the Karabakh movement exaggerated the principle of self-determination of nations, pushing it to the extreme limit past which separatism begins."
The first leader of the NKAA separatists was Albert Seyranyan, director of an electrical engineering plant, who raised the issue of "miatsum" (incorporation of the NKAA into Armenia) as early as in the late 1970s. "After his death in 1987, marble quarry director Arkadiy Manucharov became the Krunk leader. Krunk collected money," -- Alamsax Rahimov, a refugee who was exiled from Stepanakert by force in 1988, said.
A. Rahimov, recollects: "Azeris in Stepanakert lived in their community, on the streets of Parallelnaya, Lesnaya and Melik-Pasayev. Already in 1987, our Armenian neighbors started to openly speak about their secession from Azerbaijan and incorporation into Armenia, and that is when they will start living freely, prosperously and happily. On 12 February 1988, the first rally was organized, which was anything but large. On 13 February, the rally was already huge. I too started to attend those rallies, out of curiosity. Sometimes I would meet my colleagues from the plant, so we would talk there. Their attitude was not quite benevolent, but tolerant -- this was thanks to good working relations. After analyzing the situation, I realized that the entire process was controlled from a single center. Every district and every large village of the NKAA, every plant and every organization of Stepanakert had their allocated area on the square during the rallies. I saw with my own eyes that those Armenians who refused to attend the rally were called 'Turkish spies.'"
On 1 March 1988 in Stepanakert, head of Krunk Arkadiy Manucharov, who was the director of the Stepanakert combine of construction materials, organized "militia detachments" which presumably patrolled the streets of the city. These "volunteer detachments" were headed by Razmik Petrosyan, director of the Shaumyan Stadium in Stepanakert (eventually he became the first chief of staff of the Karabakh separatists' volunteer detachments). Let us note that the "Ideological section" of the Krunk committee was headed by Robert Kocharyan, secretary of the party committee at the Stepanakert silk weaving plant (he is the former Armenian president now).
The official goals of the Krunk committee were studying the history of the region, its ties with Armenia, restoration of ancient monuments. In the reality, the committee started to play the role of an organizer of mass protests. Thomas de Waal wrote in his book, "Black Garden": "Krunk became the first organization in the Gorbachev-era Soviet Union which started to use strikes as a political weapon." A series of extended many-months-long strikes started in the NKAA, which eventually escalated into events aiming to drive out ethnic Azeri population of the region.
On 21 March 1988, a meeting of the Politburo of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee was held in Moscow, where, among other things the issue of preventive measures against the snowballing nationalist democratic movement in Armenia, and first and foremost, operations of the Karabakh Committee and Krunk, was discussed. The central newspaper Pravda published a lengthy article entitled "Emotions and reason," in which the events which were taking part in Armenia and Azerbaijan were presented as a "result of underhand scheming by irresponsible extremists who inflame passions and push people toward upsetting public order."
However, the subsequent events proved that the Soviet leadership's words about the rising nationalist and terrorist Armenian organizations were dramatically different from the deeds. In September 1988, in the article "Artsakh: Wounds and hopes," Zoriy Balayan described his first meeting with M.S. Gorbachev:
"Already in 1988, immediately after the beginning of the Karabakh movement, Soviet Communist Party Central Committee General Secretary M.S. Gorbachev asked Silva Kaputikyan and me: 'Did you think about the future of 207,000 ethnic Armenians in Baku?' I replied by asking him: 'And why exactly is there a need to think about the future of 207,000 ethnic Armenians in Baku? We are a state, after all..."
The interesting dialogue between M. Gorbachev and the ideological leaders of the Armenian nationalism shows that both sides realized perfectly well the horrifying consequences which kindling an ethnic conflict would have for the peoples of the region. First and foremost, it is striking how calm of the Armenian petitioners who were preparing for a "planned bloodshed" among their own people were. In the period, one of the Krunk leaders A. Manucharov openly declared: "We will force you to shoot at us!" M. Gorbachev, the Party Central Committee Politburo and Soviet secret service knew very well about these sentiments. The events which unfolded after that showed that Gorbachev's histrionic concern during his meeting with Armenian nationalists was nothing but probing the position of the ideologues of nationalism to find out whether or not those kaputikyans and balayans would lead the "civilized and God-chosen" Armenians into a bloody whirlpool of a conflict with "barbarous Turks and Tatars of a buffer republic which was artificially created by Stalin." It became clear that they would and that they would stop at nothing because only blood can cause mass anger and revenge, while the blame would be on Azerbaijan no matter what the outcome because it would be held accountable and punishable for not providing safety to its citizens regardless of their ethnic origin.
"I have met with Zoriy Balayan," former commandant of the NKAA and second-in-command in the USSR Interior Ministry's Internal Troops in NKAO, retired Major General Genrikh Malyushkin reminisced. "He (Z. Balayan) is one of the main contributors to kindling of ethnic hatred in Nagorno-Karabakh. In his works, Balayan wrote that Armenians were ethnically exceptional. He was full of hatred for the Azeris. But Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev also played quite an unseemly role here. He should have arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh immediately and prevent the fratricidal war between Armenians and Azeris. But he had not done so. Gorbachev shirked his duties of the head of state in every way possible," G. Malyushkin said.
Statements by M. Gorbachev's advisor, Academician Abel Aganbegyan, and other Armenian activists of his kind that one of the causes of the escalating conflict was the disparity in the living standards between the Karabakh Armenians and the rest of the Azerbaijani citizens were false. Already in the early 1988, some of the party and political leaders of the Soviet Union had every reason to question whether the leaders of the "Karabakh movement" were really concerned about the future of the ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.
In particular, on 15 March 1988, in other words, already after the Sumqayit events, the first deputy chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers Bureau for social development, Vladimir Lakhtin, told the Soviet newspaper Izvestiya that "in terms of availability of housing, for example, the NKAA is ahead of the rest of Azerbaijan by 40%" and that "there are other indicators too, which are better in that area than in both republics of the union (i.e. Armenia and Azerbaijan)." In the opinion of V. Lakhtin, there were no social or economic causes for changing the borders.
Against the backdrop of inaction of the USSR authorities, the Azerbaijani SSR leaders decided to confront the leaders of the Armenian nationalists in the NKAA. They collected a body of evidence proving that those people, with support of the local authorities, using methods of administrative pressure and threats, forced the local ethnic Armenian population to speak out against their Azerbaijani neighbors and the leadership of the Azerbaijani SSR.
On 23 March 1988 many-days-long strikes started in Stepanakert and paralyzed the economy in the NKAA, where Armenian nationalists started to call for an open revolt against the republic's authorities. Next day, on 24 March 1988, the Azerbaijani SSR Supreme Council Presidium passed a resolution which, in particular, disbanded the Krunk organization and its governing bodies, banned unsanctioned rallies and so forth.
The resolution on disbanding of Krunk was adopted, but the organization continued its operations because without support from the USSR leadership, the Azerbaijani law enforcement bodies could not check its operations by using force. On 8 May, because of the ban on the activities of the Krunk committee, the decision was made to reestablish the Board of Directors which governed the nationalist movement of the Karabakh Armenians until late 1991, when the elections to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Supreme Council were held. In the spring 1988, the AzSSR Government declared Krunk a "front for the corrupt clans," and the head of the organization, Arkadiy Manucharov, was arrested by the USSR Prosecutor's Office on charges of embezzlement on a large scale.
Ilyas Ismayilov, who in those years was the General Prosecutor of the Azerbaijani SSR, reminisced that in 1988, AzSSR Prosecutor's Office initiated criminal proceedings against Manucharov. "The criminal case was investigated by Prosecutor's Office investigator Bogomolov, a very competent and decent person. He fully proved Manucharov's implication in a number of crimes. Investigation indicted 14 more people under that case, and all of them, including Manucharov himself, were put in a pretrial detention center in Susa (city of Susa in the NKAA). In Xankandi, they even attempted to steal the materials of the case, but Bogomolov managed to keep all the documents safe. Armenians complained, and the Manucharov case was transferred from the AzSSR Prosecutor's Office to the Soviet one. There too investigation was conducted properly," I. Ismayilov said.
The chief investigator of the Manucharov case, Vladimir Bogomolov, recollected: "Different acts of provocations were organized against the investigators, including myself, who were involved in investigation of the embezzlement cases. Mass protest actions were organized against us, including attacks on the building of the AzSSR Prosecutor's Office branch in the NKAA."
"We have managed to prove decisively Manucharov's involvement in a number of crimes. We arrested 14 more people under that case, and all of them, including Manucharov, were kept at the Susa prison," Bogomolov noted, adding that later the "USSR party organizations gave me a strong recommendation not to show up on the territory of the NKAA. The 'recommendations' were made by those members of the Party Central Committee who were not interested in continuing of the investigation. Some time later, with connivance of the Central Committee functionaries, in order to settle scores with me personally and destroy the materials of investigation, an attack of a many-thousands crowd was organized on the building of the NKAA Prosecutor's Office. And suddenly the order was received from the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee Politburo to give to the crowd the materials of the criminal case which we had compiled."
In Bogomolov's opinion, the arrested leaders of Krunk misappropriated huge amounts: "It was hundreds of thousands of the Soviet rubles at a time when one US dollar cost only 60 kopeks. It was an astronomic sum for the period. Those funds were used to support separatism in the area."
Former AzSSR General Prosecutor I. Ismayilov recollects that once USSR Prosecutor General Aleksandr Sukharev said that he wanted to come to Baku where his deputy Aleksandr Katusev was already visiting. He stayed at the Sovetskaya Hotel. At the meeting where USSR General Prosecutor's Office investigator Konstantin Maydanyuk, to whom the A. Manucharov case was transferred, was also present, Sukharev inquired if it was possible to change the sentence and release Manucharov. But the investigator raised objection that all the charges of misappropriation of state property and other crimes were proved. Then Sukharev proposed to convoy all 14 persons who were arrested under the case to Russia. But the investigator turned down this proposal too by saying that it would make it impossible to finish the investigation.
At that moment, Sukharev answered an incoming phone on the secure government communications line. It emerged that the caller was USSR Communist Party Central Committee Politburo member Aleksandr Yakovlev, who inquired insistently why the arrested had not been released yet. It is interesting that Sukharev replied that it was impossible to stop the investigation because the crimes of Manucharov and other individuals -- corruption and misappropriation of state funds -- were decisively proved. Yakovlev shouted something in the phone for a long time.
Next morning, an unprecedented event happened in the Soviet legal system. A military helicopter landed in the courtyard of the Susa prison and took Arkadiy Manucharov to Moscow. Manucharov was kept at the Lefortovo prison in Moscow for some period, and later the USSR Supreme Council deputies and firebrand nationalists, Zoriy Balayan, Galina Starovoytova and others, got involved. In the end, Manucharov was released 1.5 years later, when the pretrial detention limit expired, although the investigation was still under way, and sent back to Armenia, where he was elected Armenian Supreme Council deputy.
"However, despite the unprecedented pressure from the Armenian lobby in the 'Perestroika-era' Soviet Communist Party Central Committee Politburo, the Manucharov case could not be suspended right away. The USSR Supreme Court passed the case to the Belarusian Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case and sent it to the Brest Area Court. The Brest Area Court sent the case back for further investigation, and some time later the investigation was terminated because of the dissolution of the USSR. This should give you an idea what sort of influential forces were at work against Azerbaijan. Manucharov was the leader and the sponsor of separatists. Of course, they operated in conjunction with Armenian organizations abroad and of course, with the Soviet Communist Party in which about 50 Armenians occupied high positions," former Azerbaijani General Prosecutor I. Ismayilov said.
Let us note that the Azerbaijani General Prosecutor's Office initiated criminal proceedings against Krunk leader Arkadiy Manucharov on the basis of suits from citizens, conducted a search at his residence and found a huge amount of jewelry, immured in a niche in one of the walls. Many criminal activities were discovered in his transactions when he worked as the director of a quarry. However, Communist Party Central Committee general secretary's wife, Raisa Gorbacheva, interfered in this matter. Manucharov was taken from the Susa prison by the USSR Interior Ministry's Internal Troops, and they had to resort to violence against the residents of the city. So, after direct interference and support of Gorbachev's entourage, thief and criminal A. Manucharov went on to lead the "national liberation movement."
Here is what the Soviet magazine Vlast wrote in the article entitled "Arkadiy Manucharov is free!":
"Arkadiy Manucharov, 60, director of the Stepanakert combine of construction materials, one of the founders of the Krunk committee. On 27 August 1989, while in prison, he was elected deputy of the Armenian Supreme Council, and in the nationwide elections in Armenia on 20 May 1990, he was again elected to Parliament. Arkadiy Manucharov was arrested on 28 November 1988 in Yerevan on charges of accepting bribes... Protests and appeals against his imprisonment were heard from Western statesmen. Andrey Sakharov and many of his colleagues -- people's deputies of the USSR -- were very concerned about Manucharov's destiny... One year and a half after the day of his arrest, the last remaining legal grounds for keeping him in prison expired. The USSR Supreme Court decided to change his pretrial restriction from detention to recognizance not to leave the city." (Vlast magazine, Issue No 21 (21) dated 4 June 1990).
"Every time fragile peace was established between the two peoples -- both inside the NKAA and in the adjacent Azerbaijani districts, 'dark forces' would immediately' set into motion. The impression was that someone controlled this process from outside," -- the former NKAA commandant, deputy commander of the USSR Interior Ministry Internal Troops in NKAO retired Major General Genrikh Malyushkin reminisced.
"As if on someone's orders, emissaries would appear in Stepanakert (Xankandi) and on the entire territory of the NKAA, who would spread leaflets of the nationalist nature and provoke the local ethnic Armenians into anti-Azeri actions... We soon established that they arrived from Armenia. During the investigation, we even found out that an underground radio station operated in Stepanakert, which misinformed the listeners about the situation in the NKAA. I can tell you that far from everyone wanted secession from Azerbaijan. But Armenians who took steps toward reconciliation were mercilessly stonewalled, or sometimes even terrorized. This happened, for example, with Grigoryan, who was delegated by the NKAA public to meet with Azeri government officials. During the meeting, an agreement was reached that there was a need to find a way out of the situation that had taken shape. Upon his return to the NKAA, Grigoryan was assassinated. After the assassination, all the agreements that had been achieved earlier were immediately declared null and void," G. Malyushkin noted.
It becomes clear that Armenian nationalists and organizations like Krunk were preparing for a long time and thorough for kindling the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and relied on external forces in this. One of the organizers of the separatism movement, Igor Muradyan, discussed this with British journalists Thomas de Waal.
I. Muradyan said that in the summer 1986, "Karabakh residents with help of Dashnaks" received the first shipment of light fire weapons from abroad. Eventually, weapons supply became regular, and "for some reason, there was a lot of Czech-made weapons." These weapons were forwarded mainly to Nagorno-Karabakh. "All the organizations in Karabakh were armed. All the local members of the Communist Youth Leagues had personal weapons." This surprising admission testifies that at least one Armenian activist was certain that the dispute between the two republics could escalate into an armed conflict (Thomas de Waal, BBC, http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/russian/in_depth/newsid_4640000/4640183.stm)
I. Muradyan's narrative on how he planned and organized the modern Karabakh movement shows how painstakingly the campaign, which enlisted tacit support of the high-level party officials and successfully mobilized huge masses of people, was designed. However, his narrative also exposed the frightening blank spot in realization by him -- and not only by him, but also by many other Armenians -- of what the developments of the period meant. "Explaining his view of the situation, Muradyan utterly ignored Azerbaijan's position and the possible reaction of the 40,000 ethnic Azeris living in Nagorno-Karabakh," -- Thomas de Waal said.
"But how about the Azeris? Is it possible that there has not been even an attempt to hold consultations with them or get their views? No sooner did I ask the question than Muradyan's gaze became heavy: "Do you want to know the truth?" -- he asked. "I will tell you the truth. We were not interested in the destiny of those people... Their destinies did not interest us back then, and it does not interest us now." (Tom de Waal, http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/russian/in_depth/newsid_4640000/4640183.stm).
Leaders of Krunk and other nationalist organizations took an active part in transformation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict which was provoked with their participation into an all-out bloody war between the two peoples. And the Armenian organizations started to send to the region from abroad mercenaries in large numbers and a lot of weapons.
The Journal du Dimanche newspaper, which is published in Paris, wrote on 24 January 1990: "In the last few days, airplanes have been arriving from Lebanon to Yerevan, carrying heavy armaments, mortars and assault rifles. These aircraft were unloaded by night under control of the Armenian customs officers. Having no support whatsoever outside the republic, they are ardent supporters of the Armenian extremists. For a few years now, there has not been a single ethnic Russian staffer at the airport customs office. The shipment of weapons probably started in September. From the moment of outbreak of the civil war in Nagorno-Karabakh, groups of armed people and scary looking, excited young men, who seem to be willing to stop at nothing have been frequent sights in Yerevan and in the villages between the capital and the Azerbaijani border. These groups are usually headed by ethnic Armenians from Beirut and Damascus."
The French paper noted that "hundreds of Lebanese Armenians with good knowledge of urban warfare tactics arrived without visas. Some of them stay in Yerevan, and the majority went to travel around the border districts of Gorus (Armenia) and Xanlar (Azerbaijan). Just like in neighboring republics, the Karabakh committee controlled these groups, planning to use them against Azerbaijan. Only the committee can get you a helicopter for a lift to the east of the country. The Karabakh committee has become a truly militarized committee."
In other words, essentially professional terrorists with extensive experience of war and subversive terrorist activities were sent en masse to Armenia, and thence to the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the NKAA. Soon enough, professional Armenian terrorists Vazgen Sisliyan, Martiros Zhamgochyan and finally, Monte Melkonyan, all released from European prisons, also arrived to take the most active part in combat operations and extermination of the Azeri civilian population in the NKAO.
The official report which was signed by Armenian Interior Minister L. Galsyan on 11 July 1990 shows that by then, there were already great many unofficial armed groups, including the "Armenian national army," "Independent army of the Republican Party," "National Union movement," "David of Sasun," "Avengers," "Hay Dat" ("Armenian judge" in Armenian) and other mobile armed groups.
The total numerical strength of these gangs was at least 10,000 men, and every detachment had its own uniform, communications equipment and transport, there were headquarters in Yerevan, and to coordinate their operations, the "military council" was created whose members were leaders of the Armenian SSR.
Coordinated from Yerevan and by ethnic Armenian diaspora abroad, these gangs carried out hundreds of terrorist acts in the air, road and rail transport systems, blew up schools and residential buildings, offices and other facilities, killing hundreds of Azeri civilians. The main goal was to provoke the Azerbaijani side into retaliatory action and thereby justify the aggression against the Azerbaijani state. On 20 November 1991, in a terrorist act which was carried out by Armenian terrorists, a heat-seeking rocket downed a government helicopter Mi-8 near the village of Qarakand in the Xocavand (Martuni) District. Back then, 22 people were killed, the helicopter crew and passengers -- prominent Azerbaijani governmental and political figures and observers from Russia and Kazakhstan who were flying to the NKAA to meet with the leaders of the Karabakh Armenians to achieve peaceful resolution of the escalating Karabakh conflict.
According to reports which were received by Azerbaijani Air Force Colonel Mammad Qadirov, the downing of the Azerbaijani Government's helicopter on 20 November 1991 was the first major terrorist act in the NKAA to be carried out by the group of international terrorist Avo Monte Melkonyan. To destroy the Azerbaijani Government's helicopter, the Armenian mercenaries underwent extensive tactical training and employed missiles with heat-seeking homing devices, which had never been used before in the region. The Armenian terrorists and their instigators had thereby left no chance of a peaceful resolution of the conflict which from that moment transformed into an open military confrontation between the two sides.
As early as in September 1990, people's deputies of the USSR from the Azerbaijani SSR addressed the session of the USSR Supreme Council and Soviet leadership, requesting them to punish the leaders of the Armenian SSR who were guilty of violent expulsion of the Azeri population and kindling of the ethnic conflict. The address read, in particular:
"Nationalist bosses in Armenia can be proud of their achievement: After the expulsion of Azeris, that republic has become the only republic of the USSR with the mono-ethnic population. The coveted slogan, "Armenia for Armenians," has been put into practice.
The USSR Supreme Council must give a political and legal assessment to the criminal actions against the Azeri population of Armenia. This is particularly important in light of the fact that the impunity with which the outrages that are under way in Armenia are perpetrated encourages destructive forces in other regions of the country.
We demand that the USSR Supreme Council take effective measures to restore justice and provide guarantees of the return of the Azeri refugees to their homes in Armenia where they lived for centuries... We demand that a competent investigative commission of the USSR Supreme Council be created to investigate the facts of Armenia's aggression against the Azerbaijani SSR and genocide of the Azerbaijani people..." (The address of the people's deputies of the USSR from the Azerbaijani SSR to the session of the USSR Supreme Council, the Bakinskiy Rabochiy newspaper, 23 September 1990).
There were many other appeals to M. Gorbachev and Soviet leaders from party officials, public figures and people of arts of Azerbaijan, in which they demanded that all the required measures should be taken to check the aggressive war that was declared on the Azerbaijani people by the international Armenian terrorism and its foreign supporters.
Effectively, the Armenian organizations Krunk, Karabakh and others became the main instigators of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, and they carried out hundreds of terrorist acts in Azerbaijan, including terrorist acts in Baku's metro system, to make the conflict between the two peoples an irreversible process. The blame that lies in all these processes on the soviet leaders, and first and foremost Mikhail Gorbachev and his entourage, is just as great because they knew very well what the consequences of overtures toward and support for the Armenian terrorism, sponsored by foreign Armenian communities and external political forces, would be.