An excerpt from the report of Russian journalist Mikhail Zotov: This is the bell in Stepanakert, but it is silent because every day each resident of this town has to listen other sounds – the sounds of Grad missiles flying over the town. This is what it leaves after itself. 3 people were killed on the doorway, one miraculously stayed alive. The town is under siege, its people have been living in basements for a long time now, since that ill-fated February 16, when the first missiles flew into the homes of the first victims.
Report: This is exactly the notorious Grad, used against populated areas. That is a mass destruction weapon, forbidden by international conventions for use against populated areas, towns and villages. In 1975, the Soviet Army was using this weapon in Angola and stopped the advancement of the South-African Army. According to expert the estimates, 2-3 shots were enough to stop the South-African Army. Today, these missiles are used against the people of Stepanakert.
Report: Here you go; got right in the building, two of them, just have a look, what brutality…
Frames of killed, synchronous of witnesses and doctor: -Where was the shooting yesterday? Right here, on Kirov Avenue, there was firing from Grad and one shell hit here… two wrecks into the head…
-And how many altogether yesterday? 7 people, yeah?
-6-7 people, one family among them, two little kids, the father is badly wounded, and the mother wounded as well.
-Grad, after Grad shelling.
-So they died here, in the town?
-Less people are brought from the battlefield?
-80% die from the Grad attacks, 15-20 % on the battlefield.
-This means civilians?
-It is the civilians who suffer mainly. Here you go, his got three children killed.
Marik Gabrielyan, resident of Stepanakert: – My neighbor’s son, 27 years old, died in Krkzhan, we were still crying at the funeral at his house when someone came and said – hey, girl what are you doing here, all your relatives have been murdered, he said… and I ran away to the hospital. There are many memories that I do not even want to recollect…
Inessa Burkova, Russian writer, publicist: – Yes, very many of them died, there is a whole town of killed in Stepanakert.
Yuri Girchenko, Deputy Chief of Mobile Group of Detached Field Engineer Battalion deployed in Aghdam: Seven kilometers away from Aghdam, in a village called Ouzundara, a warehouse of artillery shells was located. This warehouse was captured by local dzhigits, as a result of attack they captured over 200,000 tons of shells, including over 200 carriages of missiles. It was those missiles that were used to shell Stepanakert.
Arkadiy Ter-Tadevosyan, Commandos, Nagorno-Karabakh Self-Defense Forces Commander in 1991-1992:- Aghdam warehouses had great reserves of ammunition, while transporting ammunition here by air and other means allowed Khojaly to serve as one of those powerful fire points, which shell Stepanakert day and night.
Ashot Khachatryan, Chief of State Security Agency of NKR in 1991-1992: They were shelling Stepanakert from Khojaly and similarly Stepanakert was shelled from Shushi. In Khojaly there were two systems of BM 21 Grad multiple rocket launchers, very many Alazan, Krystall systems.
Voice-over: From the beginning of February 1992 hundreds of Grad missiles are launched against blockaded Stepanakert daily.
Trailer from a film by Russian journalist Svetlana Kulchitskaya, 1992:That’s what I saw it in Stepanakert when arrived in Karabakh…
Those are the heights from where they were hitting Stepanakert with Grads… 3.400 meters to the city… The second high-rise height is within a same distance and it has Grad station as well… And they were bombarding the city which had only civilians there.
Levon Melik-Shahnazarian, Chairman of External Relations Committee of NKR Parliament in 1992-1995: Both the casualties toll and destructions in the town increased sharply. Somewhere by mid-February it already had a genocidal nature. They were firing from several points at a time, from Azerbaijani-populated areas around Stepanakert: Shushi, Janhasan, Khojaly.
Voice-over: With that Baku authorities were ignoring the fact that use of multiple rocket launchers to shell Stepanakert resulted in the mass destruction of civilians, historic and architectural monuments, and other publicly meaningful facilities, which is a violation of all the norms of international humanitarian laws.
Mario Rafaelli – first chairperson of CSCE/OSCE Minsk Group (Dmitriy Pisarenko’s report): In an exclusive interview with Vesti correspondent Mister Rafaelli noted that use of forbidden types of weapons against civilians in Stepanakert is nothing else but a crime.
Voice-over: Notwithstanding the calls from the international community, Azerbaijani side continued firing, and later on did not even attempt to hide that the actions were taken with the authorities of Azerbaijani Republic being aware and having approved them, as they considered them as continuation of policies of ethnic cleansing. In the beginning of August of 1993 Baku confessed this at the highest level.
Lala-Shovket Gajiyeva, State Secretary of Azerbaijan in 1992: For more than 100 days we were shelling Stepanakert, but the Armenians did not abandon their land; while you ran away not even having heard the shooting.
Burkova: They were shelling. That was 1992, and here we were, sitting in the basement: we even had a New Year’s tree, there in the basement, that’s how we did. And how many buildings were destroyed, how many people died. It’s terrible, but people were courageously keeping.
Voice-over: Along artillery shelling and direct threat to people’s lives the situation was deteriorated with a famine. 50,000 Stepanakert, giving asylum to 35,000 refugees deported from Baku, Sumgait, and other parts of Azerbaijan, due to external and internal blockade was not getting any supplies even from surrounding residential areas.
The town was without water and electricity. People left their apartments homes to seek refuge in basements and other facilities used as bomb-shelters.
Zhasmin Balayan, resident of Stepanakert: I was 12-13 years old then, I remember spending nights in basements; that was a very hard period, we did not have water, electricity. We would carry water in tanks and buckets from far away. I remember once we were playing in the garden and heard an explosion. We ran to the basement. Just later we learnt that a building collapsed and many people died.
Antik Nasibyan, resident of Stepanakert: Food, we bought some wheat, made kurkut with, there was no rice.
There was a bit of beans, we would make a soup, then we would go to get zhingjyal, some food, we would live on greens. There was a time we did not have bread in the house, we would just drink water, have it without bread, we survived somehow, did not die. We still are alive.
Frame: Queue for water
Old woman: We had a few springs, there would be a queue at night, so I’d go to get water at night so I do not get fired in the afternoon, they would fire at us both from Krkzhan and Shushi.
Levon Melik-Shahnazarian: In February-March 1992 the authorities would allocate in Stepanakert 400 grams of flour a month per person. This is what I want to stress: 400 grams of flour per person a month, and 200 grams of sugar.
Russian journalist Angelika Chechina writes in 1992: January 21-25 I was in Stepanakert. The city had no electricity and water. Water is obtained with such difficulty that it is almost shameful to drink tea. There are no products to trade for food stamps. There are cases of hunger edema in the city. Stepanakert reminds me of documentaries about Nazi-blockaded Leningrad.
Levon Melik-Shahnazarian: That was a time when it seemed that Azerbaijan simply pursued a goal of fully annihilating the entity population of Stepanakert, including women and children.
Voice-over: That all served one single purpose – make the life on Karabakh land intolerable for the indigenous people to leave their motherland, granting it to Azerbaijan. It seemed that Baku was about to reach its goal and Artsakh, pressed in the fire clamps, will fall. However, that did not happen.
Voice-over: The decision was made not to sit back, but to breach the blockade.
Voice-over: By that time there were several fire-points, used by Azerbaijan. Exhausted Karabakh did not have resources to destroy them all simultaneously. It was necessary to act in turns. And Khojaly, which became Azerbaijani’s fire-point, was the first in this line. Due to a number of reasons.
Ashot Khachatryan: Khojaly has a strategically important position in Karabakh, on the crossroads, and we were forced to suppress that firing point. First of all, that was where the only airport in Karabakh was located; we had to set up the communication, so we could move the wounded and elderly people out.
Voice-over: Yet in autumn 1991 the Stepanakert airport was practically unavailable. Under the cover of check-ups and supervision Azerbaijani OMON was subjecting ethnic Armenians to humiliation and violence, blocked their freedom of movement, while goods directed shipped for securing Republic’s viability, were blocked already at the approaches. Access by international observers was blocked as well. In the beginning of 1992 the airport was fully blocked.
Felix Beglaryan Commander of Self-Defence unit of village Vardadzor: They sent me once with the Russians to the airport, as a Russian, so I can see right on the spot what was going on there. Well, what happened there no normal person would ever be able to go there second time. What was happening to Armenian students who were supposed to go to Yerevan to take their exams?
Jaromír Štětina Czech Senate Member, human rights defender, representative of «People in Need» organization in 1991: I remember the superintendent of Stepanakert airport Gadjiev, who once deported me back from Stepanakert to Yerevan on a Yak-40 airplane. I think he was a murdereras he told me himself that at nights he goes out for man hunting. Such a hobby he had.
Voice-over: Human hunt was exercised among immediate inferiors of Gadjiev and bandit units, settled in Khojaly.
Dana Mazalova, Czech journalist: I came here when I was taken away by Hadjiev. When Polyanichko drove me out of there and we were in the airport with Andrey Kapustin and Mirik (Jaromír Štětina). I treated him to an Armenian cognac, and he seated us into a car instead of a helicopter, and the guys were sleeping on the back seat, it was raining. We were driving along that road and I was praying that Armenian would not want to kill him right at that moment when we were in his car. And he was like a drunk, he forgot who he was talking to and was telling me about the blood taste. I had my eyes turned square of impossibility of what I was hearing. I could not turn my head towards him so he would not see my eyes.
Arkady Ter-Tadevosyan, Commandos, Nagorno-Karabakh Self-Defense Forces Commander in 1991-1992: They sallied out, which means they would go out on a certain position and from there would attack the Armenians, shooting over this central road.
Witness: I came into Khojaly, there is a road right over there, then I saw them from the right to attack my car, they fell on my car like a hail, they had iron weapons, stones, you do not know what…
Victim (beaten in Khojaly two brothers): We went to the village of Khojaly, we had heard that us, Armenians are being massacred, I saw with my own eyes our car was demolished. I went on to see that had happened, the Turks fired at us, we wanted to fire back at them and this is how we got wounded.
Doctor: Multiple would of abdominal wall; most likely, there are penetrating wounds in the chest and the abdominal cavity. In this particular case the patient is in shock.
Voice-over: Such aggression towards ethnic Armenians was formed already at the initial stage of the conflict -in 1988.
-When did they shoot, yesterday or today?
- In Khojaly.
- So what were you doing in Khojaly?
- We were passing by car.
- From which village?
- From village Rev.
- Did they shoot from behind too?
- Where did it happen?
- Knowing it is such a minor kid, they just hit?
- How old is the kid?
- Eight years
Voice-over: Khojaly in 1992 was of a major military importance: located right in the middle of Shushi-Aghdam section, Khoajlu was a convenient foothold for clutching Askeran from one side and Stepanakert – from the other. That was the very reason why Baku authorities cared for Khojaly being refilled with stocks of weapons of war and respective personnel.
Ashot Khachatryan: OMON units were deployed in Khojaly, but in essence and by their type those were illegal units. Criminals were hastily set free from Azerbaijani prisons, of which those units were established, weapons were allocated to them, uniforms, and they were sent to Karabakh.
Voice-over: Baku’s strategy was based on simultaneous assault on Aghdam and Khojaly in the direction of Askeran, and after occupation of Askeran, with incessant shelling from Shushi and Janghasan, the final seizure of Stepanakert was to begin. The only way to neutralize this threat was capturing of Khojaly. Liberation of the village, turned into a fire-point, would terminate the issue of vulnerability of Askeran and Stepanakeret from the rear.
Running ahead, we can say that after nearly two months after Khojaly seizure, on 7 May 1992, units of Azerbaijan’s military attack Stepanakert massively, but fruitlessly. The failure of this operation was in the first place pre-conditioned by neutralizing of the key firing-points of Azerbaijanis in Khojaly.
Voice-over: To sum up.
- NKR is under permanent shelling by Azerbaijan.
- Karabakh’s capital Stepanakert experiences deadly fire from Aghdam, Khojaly, Shushi.
- The situation with food, medication and fuel is critical. Especially in Stepanakert: 80,000 people face the threat of famine.
-Azerbaijan has been deliberately concentrating arms, ammunition and human resources in Khojaly to crush Armenian resistance by simultaneous attacking from Shushi, Khojaly and Aghdam.
Levon Melik-Shahnazarian: Azerbaijan has been deliberately concentrating arms, ammunition and human resources in Khojaly to crush Armenian resistance by simultaneous attacking from Shushi, Khojaly and Aghdam.
Armine Adibekyan, the head of Xenophobia Prevention Initiative NGO: Baku was perfectly aware of the importance of Khojaly, as it was located right in the centre of Armenian-populated Artsakh, and next, it controlled the only asphalt road linking Stepanakert with other regional centers -Askeran, Martakert, Hadrout.
Voice-over: It was exactly due to its strategic importance that after 1988 Khojaly became the epicenter of demographic expansion by Azerbaijan.
In the 1930s, Khojaly was still inhabited by Armenians. Azerbaijanis start to settle in Khojaly in 1935, while already in 1969, as a consequence of targeted policy implemented by Baku, the last Armenian resident left the village.
Slavik Arushanyan, Deputy Head of Askeran city administration in 1992: Baku turned Khojaly into a regional center, proclaimed it to be so. It was promoted to a city, and several Baku-based universities opened up branches here, some factories opened up units, motor depot was established, a big special railway station. Cutting it short, everything was provided, typical of a city. At that, this was done with those sources provided by Soviet Union for Karabakh.
Levon Melik-Shahnazarian: If you remember, in March 1988, the Supreme Council of the USSR and the government of the USSR passed a decision to provide financial assistance to then Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region. A decision was taken to transfer amount of 400 million, 000,000 rubles in aid, then the decision was reviewed and the amount grew to 450 million, 000,000 rubles. By those times it naturally was a huge amount; still Nagorno-Karabkh never saw a single penny out of that money. All of those funds were targeted at strengthening of Azerbaijani-populated villages in Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenian side, Armenian villages, Armenian towns in Karabakh never got a penny. But of the Azerbaijani villages, which received assistance from that money, Azerbaijan naturally prioritized those very areas which had strategic importance both for Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh: in the first place those were Shushi and Khojaly.
Slavik Arushanyan: In general, Azerbaijan initially had an objective to gradually set the areas populated by the Armenians free of them. They had a specially designed plan and they were acting in strict accordance with it.
Heydar Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan in 1993-2003:“When I was the First Secretary I helped a lot at that time in development of Nagorno Karabakh. At that time I was attempting to change the demography there.
Nagorno-Karabakh was raising an issue of setting up an institute there, a high education establishment, but here everybody was against.I considered it, then decided to establish one. But on a condition that there are three sections there – Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian. So we opened it there. We directed Azerbaijanis from adjacent regions there instead of Baku. We set up a big shoe plant there. Stepanakert itself did not have work force, so we moved Azerbaijanis there from surrounding areas. With these and other measures I was trying to have more Azerbaijanis in Nagorno Karabakh, while the number of Armenians would go down. Those who used to work at that time in Nagorno Karabakh, know about this.”
Zerkalo newspaper, Baku 23.07.2002.
Voice-over: To implement Aliyev’s plan, the authorities of Soviet Azerbaijan from 1988 unleashed large-scale construction works in Khojaly. Along influx of funds into the infrastructure, Baku also undertook active settling of the village with Meskhetian Turks and Azerbaijanis.
Levon Melik-Shahnazarian: Illiterate people were drawn there, people with criminal past, they were given some privileges, houses, work, and so on. And naturally, armed units were both under the government and the People’s Front. There were inconsistency and disaccord between the opposition and leadership of the country.
Voice-over: They are needed here not just to change the demography of Artsakh, but also to apply pressure over neighboring Armenian-populated localities, to raid them, loot and rape Armenians passing through the territory of the village. At that time the key power of Azerbaijan on the demographic front became the Meskhetian Turks, who hardly escaped pogroms during the inter-ethnic clashes in Uzbekistan’s Fergana valley.
Voice-over: Simultaneously, depending on the flow of the events in the conditions of war, authorities in Baku considered the new re-settlers as a kind of live shield, which later was easily sacrificed.
Meskhetian Turks: - Why should I be in the conflict? I would rather leave from here. I wanted to leave – they didn’t allow…
- We arrived, fell into this trap, and then were not able to return.
- On July 16 I arrived in Khojaly.
- July 16 last year?
- Yes, July 16, 1991.
- Did they give you a house or settled into an apartment?
- They gave a small room in “Finnish” lodge.
- A huge construction was going on there, why didn’t they give you an apartment in new buildings?
- Just didn’t give then.
- But promised to?
- Yes! Yes!
- Why did they give you home in Khojaly? You are intelligent, you’re supposed to realize. Do you?
- Maybe there were many people, I think that’s why…
- And why there were many people there? To enlarge the town…
Tomas de Waal, a Carnegie Foundation expert, author of “Black Garden”: As you know, in the Soviet era Khojaly was a small locality, and later many people moved to it, and that was, apparently, deliberately conducted by Azerbaijan in order to increase Azeri population of NKAO.
Voice-over: Two years later, already in 1990, the Supreme Council of Azerbaijani SSR grants Khojaly status of a town, turning it into a regional centre. Therefore, Armenian-populated Askeran was deprived of that status. The next step was most likely announcing Khojaly as the capital of NKAO. In that situation nothing was left for Armenian other than try urgently block the program of forceful Azerbaijanization of Artsakh, implemented by Baku using the model once successfully used by Aliyev regime in the Armenian-populated Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic.
Voice-over: By February 1991, it became obvious that the further existence of Artsakh depended on Khojaly status.
- The decision to begin Khojaly operation was naturally taken by the leadership of NKR,in particular, by Presidium of Supreme Council of NKR. That was a really meticulously elaborated and beautifully implemented operation, managed by Arkady Ter-Tatevossyan – it was him who designed it.
Arkady Ter-Tadevosyan: Stepanakert was under permanent fire and was being destroyed quarter by quarter. It was hit ruthlessly from above, from the sides, from everywhere.
Having studied location of populated areas around Stepanakert on the map, it is easy to understand the expediency of capture of Khojaly and all the rest. If we managed to liberate Khojaly, then we would, in the first place, unblock Stepanakert-Askeran road.The road was easily controlled, and it would be possible to take and restore the airport, which would link Armenia and Karabakh,which is why it was so important to take Khojaly specifically. If we did not take consequently Khojaly and Krjan, respectively, we would not be able to later seize Shushi.
Voice-over: According to the final plan the units of self-defense forces of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic were supposed to enter Khojaly from four directions.
Arkady Ter-Tadevosyan: Right here we had a group of 600. We broke them into 4 groups. One of them was in Mekhtishen,the second – in Noragjugh. The third group was in Qjatuk. And the fourth group was located higher from Baludja, close to the airport. Each of them was instructed on their movement directions, where to concentrate, deploy and each of them had an assault task, with next and consequent task being mentioned. All of those tasks were pursuing the objective of ousting the enemy from Khojaly. This clearly shows that there is no full encircling of the locality; we have a semi-arc, so that ousting of the enemy was directed towards Aghdam.
Voice-over: The Eastern part of Khojaly was deliberately excluded from the operation with consideration of the plan to strafe in four directions. This section was given for the exit to the humanitarian corridor, designated for the rest of the civilians of Khojaly to be able to leave the operation area.
Voice-over: According to the plan the granted passage ran along the Karkar riverbed which was completely set free of the Armenian military. The passage began at the Eastern part of Khojaly to the river’s valley, then, through the valley itself, stretched down to Aghdam – the closest locality controlled by the Azeri military. On the one hand it was a shortcut connecting Khojaly and Aghdam, and on the other, considering peculiarities of the landscape, it was the only passable route free of mountains and woods. Besides, the Stepanakert-Aghdam highway and the railways, running along the riverside, served a perfect reference point.
Levon Melik-Shahnazarian: That was a reasonable passage, it was clear that Khojaly’s people who wanted to leave the town were supposed to move in that direction… It was the shortest path and the most flat – I mean, its relief, and the shortest way to then the biggest Azeri-populated town – Aghdam, now Akna. They were supposed to leave in that direction, which they actually did and were permitted an exit from the trap.
Voice-over: The attack plan was carefully worked out. The soldiers of Defense Army of NKR and the volunteer fighters were properly trained.
Levon Melik-Shahnazarian: The assignment was to let everyone move towards Aghdam without obstruction. And to destroy anything coming from Aghdam.
Ashot Khachatryan: The first military order from our commander, at that time – Arkady Ter-Tadevosyan – Commandos, was to regulate the treatment of all the captives. He would literally order to treat them in a humane manner.
Felix Beglaryan: We were instructed by chief commander and my commander Vito Balasanyan not to massacre the civilians, not to touch them, in the worst case to take them as captives, to exchange with our, Armenian captives. And that was exactly how we did it.
Voice-over: Late at night of February 25 the units of NKR self-defense forces took their positions. The assault began at 23.00 sharp. The artillery fire was directed at military objectives and positions of the enemy.
Ashot Khachatryan: The operation went successfully, at least our casualties were minimal in fact.
Voice-over: Though at the initial stages of the action, at the first stages of the assault the resistance was furious, but already after 2-3 hours of fights it was clear for the Azerbaijanis that they are not in the position to hold Khojaly.
And even then they would contact Aghdam by open radio, by telephones all the time to ask for assistance.
Levon Melik-Shahnazarian: I came to the headquarters, put on my earphones, which we used to listen to the conversations of Azerbaijanis. Literally 5-10 minutes later one of the commanders of the bandit units went on air and started to curse with very dirty words Khojaly, Shushi,
Mutalibov and all the others, and ended up saying that since assault on Stepanakert never began and not having received any assistance now, they are not able to defend themselves any longer and are leaving the village.
Quote from the report of Human Rights Center «Memorial» (Russia) - The organized resistance at the scope of the entire garrison of Khojaly was rapidly broken. The destructions in Khojaly confirm the fact of artillery shelling, but do not match destructions and data peculiar for hard street fights.
Voice-over: Some separate cases of resistance however did occur: the Azerbaijani commandoes and OMON members, hiding in the basements and attics, were returning fireall the way until morning, while in some spots until the night of the following day.
Victoria Ivleva, Russian journalist: In the morning I was in Khojaly. The village was on fire. Dead bodies in the streets, I counted 7 killed, one on militia uniform. Then we ourselves got under gun fire. It was the Azerbaijani OMON members shooting who settled in one of the houses.
The fight near that house went up until the night and ended for the Armenians with two killed and several wounded. I do not know what happened to the OMON soldiers – whether they died or managed to escape in the dusk.
Voice-over: By the night of 26 February the assignments have been completed. One of the fire points, which was used to annihilate the population and infrastructure of Stepanakert in a planned way, was demolished. The airport and land communications were unblocked. The populated area located right in the center of Artsakh was taken under full control. In the morning of 26 February the first Chairman of the Supreme Council of NKR Arthur Mkrtchyan received a call from the President of Azerbaijan Ayaz Mutalibov.
Levon Melik-Shahnazarian: Mutalibov was speaking rather respectfully, at the same time with emotion. Arthur Mkrtchyan, listening to him, said: Ayaz Niyazovich, you have been misinformed, and what you are saying just could not have happened. I am just here being told about very few victims in Khojaly among civilians. There is no word about massive casualties among civilians, and right now we are discussing the issue of securing food for civilians who stayed in Khojaly although, as you know it yourself, it is because of you that we are having difficulties with food. As far as I can understand, Mutalibov believed.
Voice-over: Two days after the operation to breach the blockade of Stepanakert and Khojaly liberation, on February 28 1992, the world learned that parts of the civilians from the town, not evacuated timely by Azerbaijani authorities, did not manage to reduce and they tragically died near Aghdam.
Power at the expense of lives
Voice-over: Two days after the Khojaly liberation operation, on 28 February 1992, the world learned that a portion of the civilians from this area, not timely evacuated by the Azerbaijani authorities, did not manage to rescue and tragically died near Aghdam.
Let us address the circumstances and the reasons for the deaths of people, with the primary responsibility undoubtedly with the criminal actions of the political elite of the Azerbaijani Republic. Thousands of people during nearly one year contrary to all the existing humanitarian norms were forcefully kept in the epicenter of military activities -in Khojaly. In Baku today they do not conceal that those people were used as human shields. At that time the Baku authorities were cynically counting on the idea that despite dire necessity, the Armenian side – driven into deadlock and exhausted – would not assault the town given the presence of civilians there; even if it would, then this could be used against Armenians.
Voice-over: The chairman of the Azerbaijani parliamentary committee investigating these events, Ramiz Fataliev, confessed about this in an interview with Radio Liberty.
Ramiz Fataliev: Four days remained until the events in Khojaly. On February 22 at the presence of the President, Prime-Minister, head of KGB and others a session of National Security Council was convened. Up until today no one knows where the mistake was omitted, and who did that. At the session it was decided not to take people off from Khojaly. It was considered, if we evacuated the civilians, thus we would invite Armenians to invade the village. That is we would push Armenians to an offensive ourselves.
Even the members of National Security Council knew, that Armenians were not into committing any actions like genocide. They were thinking if the civilians flee the town, we would surrender Khojaly ourselves.
About Khojaly being one of the targets of the NKR defense army and why. We began talking about that long before the operation itself. And ever since the end of January and beginning of February the warnings addressed to the people of Khojaly about the looming military operation and need for the civilians to care about their safety and leave the village were voiced nearly every day. And I have to say that residents of Khojaly not only knew about it, but also put all the efforts to leave Khojaly. We were visually observing the helicopters that were flying and carrying something away, we watched that a couple of times, it was shown by Azerbaijani TV. This means the helicopters would bring journalists as well, who saw people striving for salvation and being pushed away. Azerbaijan would not let them leave Khojaly.
Turk-Meskhetians: - Why all the children had been taken out from there, nearly all the children, but your Turkish kids were left? – Because they didnt allow
- But why Azeri kids were allowed?
- Well, they were getting on each other like donkeys, breaking doors of the helicopter, how could we fly in that situation? Would get smashed! – They ran away and you are left here?
- Well (YES)
- We wanted to leave, but were not allowed, they were getting on the helicopter themselves… – They killed the kid….
- Did they kill the kid? Why?
- It was stuffy… when all of them… (was smashed)
- They were in captivity then, when they were living in Khojaly…
- We didn’t go out anywhere for 4 months! Isn’t that a hostage?
- And they didn’t allow you to leave, did they?
- Where? They would slaughter and kill us.
- Didn’t they allow on helicopter either, did they?
- Believe it or not, I was going to the helicopter site… wanted to flee on helicopter. Ten days in a row, but wasn’t allowed any closer…
- Who didn’t admit you?
- A military unit is there…
- National army?
- Yes, they were around with machine guns, sort of to keep order, stand back, come by one, by list, [but] as the helicopter would land – a mess would begin. Everyone puts his kinship ahead… We were always left. This is why our Meskhetian Turks stayed with their children being unable to leave. As we said we live here, in Finnish houses at the very edge, please be kind and don’t shoot from here, because we are neutral people, you would shoot from here, they would shoot from there on our direction, our kids are afraid, shoot from other posts… They [Azeris] would not listen to us. On the contrary, they shouted at us, saying «what the hell»?!
Voice-over: Later the president of Azerbaijan Ayaz Mutalibov was assuring everyone that yet few months before those tragic events he assigned to move women and children from Khojaly. The notorious assignment was not performed. Besides, the above-quoted confession of the representative of the Azerbaijani political leadership of those years, testimony of Ramiz Fataliev, to a certain degree refutes Ayaz Mutalibov, President of Azerbaijan in 1990-1992’s words. The fact is there: the major part of Khojaly residents left the town the last. They fled in an unorganized way, hastily, dressed in what they had on, committing themselves to the will of chance and remaining hostages of fate – fate of doomed to death by their own governors, since it was the authorities that did not secure evacuation of civilians.
Turk-Meskhetians: - They said don’t go anywhere, stay home,
- Mamedov Elman
- The one who is the head of Raykom Secretary?
- Yes, Mamedov Elman Javalovich
- All our elders witnessed that
- And himself, where did he leave to?
- He was there that day
- The rest fled earlier, but he was there
Voice-over: Moskovskij Komsomolet’s correspondent Viktoria Ivleva, who had visited Khojaly those days, wrote «They are not needed by anyone, they belong to no one».
Ashot Khachatryan: After the siege of Khojaly we got 700 Azerbaijanis, and the Meskhetian Turks among them, whom we gave back without any precondition and without preliminary whatever you call them, we gave those people back on 28 and 29 February. All of those people were transferred to the Azerbaijani side.
Trailer from a film by Russian journalist Svetlana Kulchitskaya, 1992: You will now witness how an operation unfolds. This is the border. From those side representatives of Azeri side approach and this is the representatives of Armenian side.
A day prior to our meeting, we sent the Meskhetian Turks, former residents of Khojaly, those eternal wanderers, an ever persecuted people…
And this is a new group, which they [Armenians] are sending again to Azerbaijani side without exchange, because Azeri side didn’t bring Armenian captives.
Turk-Meskhetians: - We are satisfied with Armenians, Azeris are a bad nation.
- There was a time they [Armenians] didnt have anything to eat, but gave us tea, bread…
- They were feeding us. They didnt have either bread or antyhing, but they used to give us their last loaf.
- Feeding you?
- 3-4 times…
- Did they give you electricity?
- Yes, they charged the engine and supplied electricity for us.
- But do you say Azeris are bad?
- Azerbaijan is very bad.
- And you are Azeris?
- Mutalibov is to be blamed and his company.
- Mutalibov is bad.
Turk-Meskhetians: I did see that they when keeping them in captivity, kept them not in the basements, but in buildings where there is light, they did provide food, drink, would bring blankets and even clothes for the kids…
Levon Melik-Shahnazarian: I am absolutely certain about the date – 28 February. We gave them back without any conditions, without preconditions, and today it is highly unpleasant to me that a person who has been there , I am speaking of Viktoria Ivleva, who had seen the attitude, today goes out to say that nobody needed them, this is why they were returned. It was not that way, we offered them to stay.
I want to tell you officially, that if you want to stay and live in Nagorno-Karabakh, or in Khojaly in your houses where you used to live – you can! Moreover, we, our authorities guarantee your safety and security [here], and if you agree to live [here], we would naturally find you an employment; you will get salaries and may live in those houses which you had been provided…
Levon Melik-Shahnazarian: They were really frightened, they feared, though I repeat there has been no violence towards them. There was a request to give them to the Azerbaijani side, which was done on February 28.
Victoria Ivleva: «…Two days later the Turks were freed, they were transported unit l the frontline in Askeran region, and they showed them the road and … “move on, walk on”».
Voice-over: Already after the start of the military operation by the Armenian armed units as a result of criminal indifference by official Baku and lack of organized evacuation the Khojaly residents in an attempt to reach Aghdam left Khojaly in their own from the eastern side and moved in three different directions: The first and less dense of the groups moved to the north-east, via mountains located between Noragyugh and Askeran. Among those who were moving in that direction there was a group of 12 who circling Askeran from left reached Armenian positions near Khramort. The real number of civilians who moved round Askeran from left is not known; however, none was noticed there except those 12. Likewise, not a single death case was registered there.
Slavik Arushanyan: Where I was defending, 12 people got lost, that was apparently the only group which walked over the hill from Noragyugh, considering that the passage between Askeran and Khanabad would be open, there would be no one, and all of a sudden they face us at the guard. Our guys got them and brought them, never killed any of them, they handed them all to the police.
Quote – From the report of Human Rights Center «Memorial» (Russia) According to the data received from both sides by 28 February 1992 over 700 captive civilians of Khojaly, captured both in the town and on their way to Aghdam, were handed to the Azerbaijani side. Majority of them was made up of women and children.
Voice-over: The other group of civilians leaving Khojaly headed south-east, leaving Karkar river bed on the left. Trying to circle the hardly passable mountains, they moved in the direction of Kjatuk village. As a result, majority of those who were moving in this direction died of cold. Their bodies were found later, after the snow melted.
Voice-over: The third group of people who left Khojaly was the most numerous one. It was made up of those who knew or understood that the only logical way of exit is the corridor left by the Armenian side. It was that corridor that they chose. Having left Khojaly border from the east, this group moved straight, via the basin of Karqar river, leaving Askeran to the left. Having safely passed all the Armenian areas and military positions, this group trespasses the administrative border of Nagorno-Karabakh Administrative District and found itself on a territory under control of Azerbaijani military. It was exactly here, at the end of the humanitarian corridor, close to Aghdam, a part of those who left Khojaly, dies, these people were most likely the victim of aimed fire.
Aik: No one touched them… they marched around 15km from Khojaly and right up here easily…
Voice-over: Further on the Baku authorities in order to justify their own actions chose the most primitive of all possible explanations. They argued there was no corridor left by the Armenians.
Ashot Khachatryan: – Nobody ever refused that corridor then, and they knew as well that the corridor has been left for them so they could escape, that corridor was a necessity, both for us and the Azeris.
Voice-over: According to the plan, the humanitarian corridor passed through the Karkar riverbed, which means started from east of Khojaly and then in the direction of the riverbed, and then via the valley reached Aghdam. The corridor from the one hand was the shortest way linking Khojaly to the closest settled area, under control of the Azeri military. On the other hand, given the specific landscape the corridor was the only passable road without mountains and woods while the highway Stepanakert-Aghdam and railway stretching across the river bank, served a perfect reference point.
Levon Melik-Shahnazarian: It was a logical corridor; we did not even need to say that the road is free. It was clear any way that residents of Khojaly willing to leave it will go away in that very direction. That was the shortest and the most flat, I mean the landscape, as well as the shortest road to the big by that time Azerbaijani-populated town of Aghdam, currently Akna. They were supposed to go in that direction, where in fact they were left out of the trap.
Voice-over: In recent years, speculation over the corridor under the burden of proof Have undergone certain changes. If initially the existence of the corridor was rejected completely, then later on it was acknowledged with certain constraints, with the objective to neutralize full compliance of the Self-Defense forces of NKR with the humanitarian right norms and aspiration of the Armenian side to rescue the civilians. In particular, it was held that the corridor was there but the civilians knew nothing of it.
Fighters of self-defense forces of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic:“We promise, this time will celebrate New Year in Khojaly “
Levon Melik-Shahnazarian: The warnings went on nearly daily, starting from the end of January 1992, and there are tons of confirmations of this both from the Azerbaijanis side and residents of Khojaly.
Vazgen: As you watch [that direction] 15 meters downwards, the Stepanakert-Aghdam railroad was passing here, and during those clashes the main chunk of those people: women, children – were passing from Khojaly to Aghdam by the railroad. Should we wish so, it was possible to shoot them down all from this fortress, 20 meters only.
Voice-over: The senselessness of killing people exiting via the valley was voiced by Azerbaijan’s president Ayaz Mutalibov back in 1992.
Ayaz Mutalibov, President of Azerbaijan in 1990-1992 : 1. The corridor which people could use to exit was left by the Armenians. Why would they shoot then? Especially on the area close to Aghdam, where by that time there were enough forces to go out and help the people. (Nezavisimaya Gazeta paper, 02.04.1992г)
Arkady Ter-Tadevosyan: We were not surrounding them, not even Shushi. We would give them passages to exit all the time.
Voice-over: The Armenian side treats speculations around the corridor ironically: «If there was no corridor or if that was a trap, then how would Elman Mamedov get to Baku and become a member of the parliament? » These words are about head of Khojaly executive committee, who literally the following day after the events in Khojaly in an interview with Chingiz Mustafaev not only accepted the existence of the corridor, but also that he perfectly knew about it.
Arkadiy Ter-Tadevosyan: If you circle the enemy, they would fight till the end, they would know they were encircled, and in order not to be captured, they would fight to the end, everyone know this truth, and therefore the claim that we destroyed those civilians , commited a genocide – is a fairy tale that is invented…
Thomas de Waal: I don’t think it was a deliberate act of intimidation, approved from the very top, I believe it was a war, and it was a very chaotic situation…
Turk-Meskhetians: Thank you very much that no one shot us down in the basement, and we went out.
I thank these people again that they even dressed our kids, and even gave some food. They were feeding us very well. And even didn’t touch anyone…
- Have you been beaten?
- Tell me the truth, don’t fear.
- No, I said!
- How have you been treated?
- Nothing [special], just humanly.
- The civilians were intentionally left there by Baku authorities and forcefully kept in the epicenter of the hostilities.
- The Azerbaijani side, being perfectly aware of the planned assault and existence of the provided corridor, did not take any single measure to move the civilians out.
- After the assault began, organized exit of the civilians via the corridor was not organized, though the authorities of the village were aware of the corridor, and that was a direct responsibility of the presently living then mayor of Khojaly Elman Mamedov and Arif Gadjiev.
- The people taking advantage of the corridor and passing it till the end crossed the confrontation line of the troops and safe and sound exited onto the territories under control of Azerbaijani military units.
Voice-over: Let us focus on the circumstances of that night. Closer to dawn, groups of people who had left Khojaly and escaping commandos hiding among civilians reached the confrontation line or, to be more precise, vicinity of Ukhtasar, Aghdam suburb, a place called Sheyly. It was right here that several groups in a dusk instead of continuing their was strait forward, being disoriented by the radio, turn right, to the valley side, located between Ukhtasar and Lachinguy and which leads to Nakhichevanik village.
Suleyman Abbasov, member of an armed group located in Khojaly: We with part of the civilians reached Nakhichevanik, hoping to find a shelter here – we were informed on the radio before that the village had been fought back from the Armenian commandos.
At this right moment Azerbaijani from Ukhtasar make an attack in dusk on the Armenian positions. The unit of Azerbaijanis, firing at will, starts assault. According to the words of Armenian commandos, located in Lachinguy Mountain, Azerbaijanis used armed vehicles in the battle.
Vigen: A T-72 tank moved out from the back side of the mountain and headed towards our positions, and noting nobody prevents it from moving the tank pulled over and started firing in our direction.
Voice-over: In the lines of people who found themselves in the zone of unorganized fire, shootings begin, It becomes obvious that Azerbaijani commandos, who undertook Khojaly defense, were among those who were the first to exit the town.
Yuri Girchenko. In some of the running people groups were Azerbaijani OMON team members and just regular armed people from the town garrison. Those armed bandits, having noticed Armenian positions, started firing at them. The Armenians fired back. The casualties’ toll was going up. Azerbaijanis from Aghdam attempted to breach using weapons in the direction of “free corridor”. In that breach two officers from our demeaning battalion took part on their own initiative. Two of them died. Our militia officer, lieutenant senior Vagif Iskenderov died there as well. At the time when Armenian positions were fighting back the assault, the first refugee groups from Khojaly came up to them from behind. There were OMON members in those groups. They started firing the positions.
Armenian militiaman-1: They had hetman among them, they started firing at us…
Armenian militiaman-2: I know well, they had their commander in that group, in military gear and with body armor.
Armenian militiaman-3: I know them all, we knew almost the majority, same OMON fellows, those who committed many things in the airport.
Armenian militiaman-4: They had such people, that they hid in these crowds and fired at us, at our people… They scoffed at our girls. We knew those people, and they all hid among those refugees.
Voice-over: The escaping commandoes hiding among civilians and just trying to save their lives having seen Azerbaijanis started firing at Armenian positions. And they never considered that by doing that they are jeopardizing the lives of those people who came with them unarmed. The unit of Azerbaijanis which attempted assault from Aghdam, or, more precisely, from located nearby Sheyly village, takes a fatal step. They do three shots using the gun, but all the three shells, not reaching the Armenian positions, fall on the valley while the people were passing.
Eynulla Fatullayev, Azerbaijani journalist: - According to the words of Khojaly residents themselves, they took advantage of that corridor and the Armenian soldiers, who were placed behind corridor, indeed were not firing at them. Some soldiers from National Front of Azerbaijan moved part of Khojaly civilians to Nakhichevanik village due to some reason, which at that time was under control of Armenian Askeran battalion. Whereas the remaining part was covered at the bottom of Aghdam region by artillery shelling. While in Askeran, I listened to the deputy head of Askeran administration Slavik Arushanyan, Deputy Head of Askeran district of NKR, and compared his recollections with the words of Khojaly residents, who were fired by Azerbaijanis. I asked Slavik Arushanyan to help me identify the corridor where the Khojaly residents were exiting from. Making myself familiar with geography in the area, I can fully ascertain that assumption that the corridor did not exist are void of any grounds. The corridor did exist, otherwise the fully surrounded and isolated from the external world residents of Khojaly would never be able to breach the circle and exit. But after the refugees passed Kar-Kar river, they split, and some of them headed in the direction of Nakhichevanik due to unknown reason. It seems like the battalions of National Front of Azerbaijan were striving not to liberate the civilians but to get greater blood on the way to overthrowing Ayaz Mutalibov.
Slavik Arushanyan: Later on, when we showed him the corridor, we headed to the place where our positions used to be before and where the Khojaly residents were stopped at that time. And I showed him the place which was fired at three times by Azeris – from a gun, hitting their own refugees. He himself offered me to go and see. We searched together and found the exact locations where all the three shells hit. Noteworthy, the holes left by the shells even more convinced him that that was exactly how it all happened. Before, I would not even see where the shells fell. But he wanted to, we searched and we found he was shocked. I told him then that was the Eastern side which was not overlooked from our positions. And I showed him the place where their positions were located, from where the strikes hit. I goes he was one hundred per cent convinced that everything was exactly that way. Later I told him that it was not just me who saw it, but also the entire unit, which was with me then. Everybody saw and all of them can testify that they (Azerbaijanis) in reality were shelling the refugees from their artillery guns.
Voice-over: In fact, the Azeri commandoes with their own hands shelled their compatriots, exactly those people who few months on end were rejected from moving out from the hostilities zone, and then – during several hours in the conditions of imminent military activities were not evacuated. Why? Apparently, the Azerbaijanis who started assault considered that Armenians are counter-attacking, and just got engaged into a battle, without realizing that they are dealing with those who had left Khojaly. This response looks quite reasonable at first look, and it should not be argued, unless one “but”.
Dana Mazalova: At Chingiz’s house I have seen all the footage taken there. He told me how he found them, how this footage show his trip on the helicopter, flying over Azerbaijani territory with an Azerbaijani helicopter, he sees something strange, asks the pilot to go down and takes pictures. And it is visible that there are dead bodies and between them there is a person in uniform moving around, who is not afraid of Azerbaijani helicopter. Those pictures have only those dead bodies. I am sitting at his house, with his son on my knees and he like a doctor is showing me and explaining that someone fired at those people’s knees, so they could not move.
Voice-over: The bodies of the killed stayed in the open air for several days, on the territory controlled by Azerbaijanis. During that time the bodies of the killed were moved, turned over, scalped, and undressed.
Dana Mazalova: There is this important picture – a boy of 2-3 years with a knitted hat. Two days later, March 2, Chingiz comes back and sees that those very Bodies which he captured there were posthumously scalped by someone. And he shows the boy with that knitted hat. I will never forget that, this cannot be forgotten. When I watched that up, he told me: “you understand, I am now scared to move around Baku without an armored vest”.
Armine Adibekyan: We have two footages, one which took place 28 February, the other – 3 March. The one which was done on 28 February the bodies are in normal condition, if that can be said about dead bodies. At least, those people dies and nobody touched them. The footage of 3 March shows those bodies already in distorted condition. But it is not even that which is strange. Those people died simultaneously; at least their death date is fixed as 26 February 1992. But looking at pictures of 3 March, we suddenly discover that those bodies were scalped at different times. This body was scalped either immediately after death, or when he was still alive, this is proven by a bloody wound. That body was scalped much later, because we do not see any blood, as blood had stopped long ago and it could not be seen. . So how does it happen that accusing Armenians of being culpable of this, Azerbaijanis have no way to explain how Armenians would several times get on the territory controlled by Azerbaijan.
Dana Mazalova: My colleague, a Czech national, and I learnt about that just now and by chance – after that terrible event in Lidice, that they have been with OSCE mission then and a were shown a house where few days or maybe even more those bodies were kept. That means that they didn’t bury them and kept somewhere in a house, in order to show off later. And perhaps these are the shots that we saw and that were presented like Chingiz’s, but those are not Chingiz’s shots, as there are corpses from that house; and this is not shot on [February 28], but March 2…
Voice-over: In this case, the issue here changes: who did that and why? It is not possible to provide an answer without touching on internal political situation within Azerbaijan.
Voice-over: For the People’s Front of Azerbaijan, which yearned for power, such an obstacle as life of their compatriots never existed. This can be proved by events in Baku in 1990, when representatives of this movement according to a meticulously elaborated plan start pogroms of local Armenian population. And when Soviet troops enter the city to restore order, the People’s Front provokes collisions between the compatriots and regular army, which results in deaths of hundreds of civilians.
Ayaz Mutalibov, President of Azerbaijan in 1990-1992: The disappointing situations which exist here – clashes, death of people, you know, arouse the feeling of bitterness and sorry and suspicions on the account that someone is certainly not happy about the process. You see, out of certain goals, I do not know, but at least I am feeling that there are powers who do not want that, as long as it gets worse, as long as it continued this way, because, you know, it is always very convenient to take advantage of dirty water, there are always those who are after the dirty water. There are also people who do not care whom to shoot at.
Voice-over: Humanitarian values never captured representatives of national-revolutionary streams. Baku events from this point of view are far from being the only, while leaders of People’s Front of Azerbaijan are no exception.
Ayaz Mutalibov: The impunity which is prospering with us as you understand, these people undertake bold attacks and escape immediately, hiding somewhere, having a base somewhere. Those agencies that long time ago were supposed to get the idea of everything of it, are displaying some infantilism, and now in general we feel that the law enforcement bodies have somehow confined in themselves. Each maintains the uniform honor, authority of the agency, they are today under the sight, under the harsh fire of public critics, this is why they are not taking any serious measures.
Document: Confidential, number of copies – one: To the Head of the Chief Headquarters of the Ministry of defense of Azerbaijani Republic mayor general Musayev,l reporting that 6 February 1992 according to your assignment I visited Aghdam to clarify the factual situation in the military units. After liberation of Farroukhly village from Armenian commandoes where their military task was to end, they, without any direction to do that, headed on to the village of Khramord, not having investigated into the enemy’s positions. As a result, 8 people died, 3 armoured vehicles lost. 27 local military units are acting in Aghdam, they are mainly busy with cattle raiding after the villages seizure, as well as pillage and looting. In Farroukhly village the two so-called soldiers shoot each other over rice. One of them died on the spot. In all the cases there is lack of unified general commandment over military actions, lack of technical supplies of military units, very weak rear, lack of military discipline. Urgent measures are needed to resolve those issues. 6 February 1992, colonel Amrakhov.”
To the Head of the Chief Headquarters of the Ministry of defense of Azerbaijani Republic Report
I bring to your attention that during discussion with the leadership of Geranboy region and law enforcement bodies it has been established that: General-mayor Rzaev, colonel Salakhov and intelligence unit, subject to them , while located in Geranboy , Naftalan, was not busy with planning of military actions. The leadership and fighters of the national army were getting drunk, the fighters were doing looting, local authorities and civilians were scared to go out into the town after 18:00. The Prosecutor of the district major general Rzayev never reacted multiple filings regarding prevention of the disorder. Monument to N.Narimanov in the town of Naftalan was shot at while deployment in Geranby region, which is proved by traces on the monument’s face. Armed vehicles were used against staff of a restaurant in Naftalan with demand to provide liquors. 6 February 1992, lieutenant-colonel Sh.Shikarov”.
Ayaz Mutalibov: Of course, in such chaotic condition when you do not know who shoots from which bush and at whom, you just lose yourself. It is very difficult to say anything specific.
Voice-over: But most important, in the created chaotic situation to over throne Ayaz Mutalibov, just one step was needed from the People’s Front of Azerbaijan. And it should have the outrageous fact in its basis, such a fact that that could create atmosphere of panic and instill the sense of treachery at the broad circles of the public.
Ayaz Mutalibov: A normally liberal opposition is always governed by political, commonly-accepted goals, but, unfortunately, rushes on the political arena into a movement of an extremist orientation, which is also attributing itself to the opposition. There are people who do not shun any means to obtain their political goal.
Voice-over: And the leaders of the People’s Front of Azerbaijan used to their best the Khojaly-Aghdam operation to reach their political goals. The mechanism was extremely simple: to keep the people in Khojaly at any cost (with that they at first received food, while later they were not allowed to leave the village). Then – create panic in Baku around Khojaly surrender and the tragic events that followed it. Declare the acting President Ayaz Mutalibov the culprit of all this and remove him from power. The following irrefutable facts prove that the People’s Front was pursuing this goal and was acting expediently and in a targeted way, in accordance with a meticulously designed plan:
1. Despite the full compliance by the Armenians of the norms of international humanitarian law, against all those laws and rules of waging a war, in Khojaly instead of organized exit of people from war areas, a panic is being instilled among the civilians. It is not hard to trace those who were doing that: it was the commandos of the National Front of Azerbaijan.
2. People who on their own initiative were passing through the humanitarian corridor are deviated from the chosen path by certain individuals and are led in the direction of Armenian village Nakhichevanik; they are misinformed that the village is under control of Azerbaijanis. According to the testimonies, the commandos of the People’s Front set up communication with the refugees and transmitted them this message.
3. An attack from Aghdam is made towards the humanitarian corridor. Moreover, the governmental troops of Azerbaijan, deployed on the left bank of Karkar river, do not take part in the assault. While a large-scale attack follows from the section on the right bank, controlled by the nationalists. In the course of this attack commandos of the People’s Front open fire on the compatriots, retreating from Khojaly. Furthermore, they shell with artillery missiles on the lines of civilians.
4. People, heading towards Nakhichevanik, are first caught in a cross-fire between commandoes of the People’s Front, attacking from Aghdam, and fighters from Armenian positions. And then they become the victims of a back fire, provoked by shooting by the commandoes between them.
5. And the most important: already 25 February, a day before the Khojaly operation, a rumour goes in Baku about mass killings in Khojaly, and uproar rules the town. That is, some specific forces in Baku yet before the start of the events already knew of the expected events here, which are testified by Kirill Stolyarov in his book «Collapse – From Nagorno-Karabakh to Belovezhskaya Pushcha».
Voice-over: By the night of February 25 the rumor circulating in Baku that Armenian commandoes captured Khojaly and brutally killed the civilians, without any remorse to women or children. Mutalibov immediately called the Minister of the Interior T.Kerimov and Security Minister I.Guseynov, who confirmed the rumors of the death of numerous people. They explained they had not been able to ascertain the information which was received from nowhere…
Dana Mazalova: I described with my question to Ayaz Mutalibov all I saw, but I just say what my colleagues have shot. While he thinks and says that this has been apparently perpetrated by People’s Front to over throne him.
Ayaz Mutalibov: As rescued Khojaly civilians argue, all that was arranged to have an excuse for my resignation. Some power was acting to discredit the President. I do not think that Armenians, who treat such situations very clearly and with good knowledge of issues, would allow the Azerbaijanis to receive documents revealing their fascist acts. It can be assumed that someone had interest in showing that footage later on the session of the Supreme Council and focus everything on my personality. If I claim this is Azerbaijani opposition to be blamed for, then they can say that I am libeling them. But the general tone of the speculations is that the corridor which people could use to exit was left by the Armenians. Why would they shoot then? Especially on the area close to Aghdam, where by that time there were enough forces to go out and help the people. Or just negotiate that civilians are leaving. This practice existed all the time.
Voice-over: In an interview with Azerbaijani TV correspondent Mamedov openly stated
that he is well aware of those who is to blame for Khojaly tragedy. And he was not talking about Armenian side.
(«Ogonyok» Magazine, N14-15, 1992 г.)
Ayaz Mutalibov: We are just tired, tired of this confrontation. Common people are dying every day, while someone is building their ambitions on it and puts political goals.
Voice-over: Comments are not needed here. It only remains to find out why would present authorities of Azerbaijan at any cost blow the bubble of “Genocide in Khojaly” and for that purpose subscribe to incredible costs and terrifying falsifications..
Elman Mamedov, Head of executive committee of Khojaly: I will say openly and do not want to hide, as we, concealing our troubles, have reached this stage. The reason of our troubles I am seeing in pointless fight for the power! There has to be one president in one republic. The people have to elect one person, vote for him, so that he skillfully rules the country, while the others should help him!
Ashot Khachatryan: A friend of mine over one private case compared once a regular pickpocket, who got into somebody’s pocket in a bus and was caught on the spot. What does a pickpocket do in such cases? He starts complaining, that his wife is in hospital, his kids are sick, he tries to call for pity to himself. Someone believes that, someone treats this skeptically, some elderly woman would pass an apple to him saying “take this to your wife or kids”. Presently Azerbaijan has employed exactly this policy – they want with the hands of international community find solution to their issue. An issue of a rapist who failed in doing something, and he wants his idea of violence and his business to be completed with the hands of international community
Voice-over: “The hero of Maidan”, called by Heydar Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan in 1993-2003 “the founder of national- democratic movement in Azerbaijan”, – Neymat Panakhly informed that “prior to the tragedy in Khojaly he applied to Aliyev, who then was member of the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan and head of Nakhichevan, with a request to take measures to prevent the tragedy.” The response was:” Blood-shed will be of benefit to us, we should not be interfering into the course of events”.
Eynulla Fatullaev, Azerbaijani journalist: …It was their (Armenians’) large-scale attack which created a favorable Ground for arbitrariness and vandalism by the battalions of National Front of Azerbaijan. Fakhmin Hadjiev, Tamerlan Garayev and other front-line soldiers, responsible for this section of the front, did nothing to rescue the civilians! Nothing! Think of the news conference by late Chingiz Mustafaev, held in April 1992. Not long before his death, where he unambiguously stated that when their helicopter was landing in Nakhichevanik village, the soldiers, standing near the dead bodies, opened fire on their helicopter, and then they ran towards Aghdam!!! He then demanded active investigation, but… Unfortunately, neither the Parliamentarian committee, nor the Prosecutor General’s office ever responded to the main question – why the civilians were not evacuated. Why some of the civilians were killed near a farm close to Shelli, that area was under control of Azerbaijani People’s Front battalion! You know, there are many unanswered questions.
Elman Mamedov: We are now in a situation when you do not know who is doing what. Who is the president, who is the opposition? Who tells the truth and who lies. it is not clear who serves whom and who has which objectives. We do not know who to accuse of this tragedy. We do not know whether to attribute it to those, who were trying to shatter the president’s chair, taking advantage of their rights, granted to them by the president and who threw us under the bullets. Or should we attribute this to the president so he has a trial of those whom he gave power but they deceived him and did not protect Khojaly. We do not know whether to attribute this to Ministry of Defense, who has nothing, left behind. We do not know whom to attribute to this ordeal and who will be blamed for this by the history.
Voice-over: Apparently, that long list of questions became the reason for Azeri journalist
Chingiz Mustafiev to die a month after his speech in Milli Mejlis with The exact circumstances unclear. There is no doubt those questions became the reason for Eynulla Fatullaev to find himself behind the bars as a result of fabricated accusations; he was only able to get freedom after justifying verdict of the European court on human rights. The same list of questions is the reason of Ayaz Mutalibov exile from the country.
While the behaviour of Armenian side was fully coherent with the logic of the situation developed by February 1992 and matched all the norms of military activities. Armenians did not have alternative then. The Aliyev clan, aspiring for eternity, put a taboo on access of rightful information on Khojaly-Aghdam topic. The continuing squall of falsifications testifies that certain stakes have been put on Khojaly brand, and as a consequence there are a number of questions remain unanswered.
Thomas de Waal, a Carnegie foundation expert, author of Black Garden: That Armenians took Khojaly, had its military logics, I am not arguing.
Voice-over: The clan of Aliyevs that claims to be undisputed have tabooed the outreach to truthful information on Khojaly-Aghdam issue. The ongoing flow of falsifications obviously testifies that in Baku they have made certain bids on the brand of Khojaly, and as a consequense various questions still remain open – and they just don’t have answers…
Few days after Aghdam events, on March 6, 1992, the president of Azerbaijan Ayaz Mutalibov was forced to resign, and on June 7 the leader of Popular Front Abdulfaz Elchibey became a new president of Azerbaijan.
* Some details in the text and in the film may slightly differ since the final changes were made during montage.