Armenian pogroms in 1990
Since 1988-1989s the Azerbaijani mass media and especially the television was flooded with anti-Armenian propaganda, which paved a way for the massacre of the Armenian population in the capital city of Azerbaijan. The “People’s front” of Azerbaijan where the radical branch was dominating was openly provoking to expel the Armenians of the city and take up their apartments. In 1989 the Armenian population of Baku was afraid to go out as the Armenian citizens were attacked, bitten and robbed in the public transport as well as in the streets. Many Armenians were killed in Baku in 1989. The robbery of Armenian houses and expulsion of the settlers became frequent. Many Armenians in Baku were discharged from the office groundless because of their national belonging.
The massacres and violence in Baku in January, 1990 were prepared earlier. The work was organized through several directions. Particularly large-scale anti-Armenian propaganda was carried on in mass media organized and coordinated by the Azerbaijani intelligentsia. Making speeches on television and on the radio many representatives of the intelligentsia emphasized the fact that the Armenians occupied the most important posts and the best houses of the city. The next important stage of the mechanism of implementation of the massacres was the systematization of the service of the co-ownership, militia and ambulance. The officers of the co-ownership specified and cleared the number of the Armenians registered in the city with the help of the list of the ration-cards. The map of the city was created divided into regions and blocks where the sectors habited by the Armenians were pointed out. The lists of the houses belonging to Armenians and of the addresses of their apartments were made beforehand. The law enforcement bodies also supported the slaughterers ensuring that they would be unpunished. The ambulancemen made fake medical certificates according to which the deaths of the Armenians were caused by circulatory injury and not by the violence.
On January 13, 1990 the massacres of Armenians in Baku became extended. On the first day of the massacres the city was full of demonstrators. Particularly, 70-100 thousand of people gathered in Lenin square and they requested the change of the power and requital towards the Armenians. All this happened with the awareness and connivance of the authorities of USSR and Azerbaijan. After the demonstration of January 13 the crowd divided into groups and led by the activists of the APF started to “clean out” the city of the Armenians. The refugees stated that there was a clear scheme of implementation of all the violence. A group of the slaughterers with preliminary prepared addresses broke into the houses of Armenians and started the biting and violence. There are many testimonies of atrocities and killings carried out with exceptional cruelty. The Armenians were thrown out of the windows, killed with iron poles and knives, the women were raped, many Armenians were just burnt alive. Then the members of the APF visited the Armenian houses with “officially drawn up” documents. The slaughterers offered the owners of the apartment to leave for the port immediately and save their lives. According to eyewitness testimonies as soon as the Armenians left new owners appeared with the official orders of their houses. Armenians were allowed taking only the things they could carry with themselves. The property, documents of the apartments, valuable belongings, even the savings-account books were confiscated.
During the tragic events of 1990 in Baku hundreds of Baku Armenians were bitten and got physical injuries in the streets, at workplace, in houses and public transport. The majority of the exiled were of old age, most of who couldn’t stand the cruel biting, humiliation and psychic shock and died on the way or in the hospitals after reaching the destination. The refugees that reached the Krasnovodsk Gulf of Turkmen SSR with ferryboats were transferred to Yerevan by plains. Most of them were of old age bitten and bandaged. The wave of the violence and massacres of Armenians reached also the Russian population of Baku, particularly the soldiers’ families. They suffered losses and had many injured.
On 13-20 of January, 1990 Baku was completely in the hands of the slaughterers who resorted to horrible violence before very eyes of the militia and internal troops. The authorities didn’t interfere in these events though there were enough armed forces and internal troops of USSR MIA in the city to establish order. In that tensed situation it was necessary to impose curfew and to put in order the city with the help of the internal troops, but the central authorities lingered. The killings and robbery continued until January 20 when the soviet troops marched into the city to “restore” the order. To save the soviet rule in Baku Gorbachev declared state of emergency. The decree was implemented by A. Lebed, the Commander of Airborne Forces of USSR. The entrance of troops met resistance which caused losses of about 150 Azerbaijani soldiers and citizens.
The exact number of the victims of the Armenian massacres in Baku is not cleared up yet. According to series of researchers it is more than 400. The investigation of the events in Baku becomes complicated also because of the fact that the refugees are spread all over the territory of former USSR and it is difficult to interview all of them. Baku was completely depopulated of Armenians. The only exceptions are the ones in intermarriages. There number is not more than several hundred.
In fact the scenario of the Sumgait events of February 1988 repeated in Baku: crowded demonstrations, propaganda of hatred, using the Azerbaijanis migrated from Armenia, choosing and targeting the houses beforehand, inaction of law enforcement bodies, and mass violence against the old, women and children. Nevertheless, the scales of events in Baku were incomparably larger.
European and American media referred to the massacres in Baku. On January 18 a group of senators sent a collective letter to M. Gorbachev expressing their concern according to the Armenian massacres in Baku.
On March 29, 1990 the closed session of the Supreme Council of USSR referred to Baku massacres. The delegation of Azerbaijan requested to form a commission, to investigate the entrance of troops to Baku and their operations. As a response to the request the authorities of USSR – D. Yazov, Minister of Defense, V. Bakatin, Minister of Internal Affairs, V. Kryuchkov, chairman of the KGB – told those present the details of the massacres, introducing such fragments of the massacres that were never highlighted in mass media. Because of the process of the collapse of the USSR the further investigation of the massacre of Armenian population of Baku wasn’t brought to end.
The massacres of the Armenians in Baku in January, 1990 were condemned by European Parliament and the US Congress. The results of those horrible events are 100.000s of refugees and hundreds of killed and tortured. The events in Baku have no juridical assessment and the damages aren’t repaid.