Many years arguments have been going on in Baku among politicians and journalists. Did Baku know that Gorbachev would bring troops in the city? Who signed the message with the re-quest to send troops in Baku?
Such a approach to the problem instead of system analysis of the events preceding the in-troduction of troops in Baku and the comprehensive assessment of all events is bewildering. There was then, on the wake of events, and especially there is now enough material to carry out comprehensive analysis and give the ultimate answer to these and other questions.
For instance, to understand the situation in the higher authorities of the USSR after 22 June, 1941, Edward Radzinsky drew accurate conclusions and answered many questions con-cerning the suddenness of the German attack on the USSR, not being a criminal law expert and analyzing Stalin's journal of visits in 10 days after the beginning of the war. Stalin's secretary Poskeryshev carefully registered there who visited Stalin in those terrible times and how long the visits took; Edward Radzinsky made use of this data. It proved to be informative enough to draw certain conclusions.
They mess it up, without going into details, trying to find out who of the officials of that time signed the telegram, even if someone of them really did it. Did we forget everything after the Second World War looking for the one who had signed the order to cross the Soviet border? We used to say the only right thing, that Hitler had attacked the USSR. And we know today that Gorbachev attacked Azerbaijan! And if someone signed that telegram, we should know that "hero" as the man who sold his Motherland and not as the chief culprit of the tragic events, as some politicians try to do.
To understand the situation in Azerbaijan that preceded the introduction of troops in Baku, we could use the entire Azerbaijan as the "journal" of visits and assessment of many other in-formative factors. The most facts that we know today were known even then and if there had been the desire, future events could have been predicted then. History do not like subjunctive mood, though.
We are going merely to use the facts that regularly appeared in open press, it will be enough to have the idea.
SO, HERE ARE THE FACTS PRECEDING THE INTRODUCTION OF TROOPS IN BAKU ON 20 JANUARY, 1990.
O. Platonov writes, "Gorbachev's membership in Trilateral Commission is to be referred to January 1989. The meeting of chief architects of the Soviet perestroika and "brothers" who had been working "for the good" of the "Universe architect" and "new world order" took place in Moscow. Trilateral Commission was represented by its chairman David Rockefeller (and also the head of the Council on Foreign Relations), Henry Kissinger, Georges Berthoin, Giscard d'Estaing, and Y. Nakasone. The side to be converted to the faith of the world backstage was rep-resented by M. Gorbachev, A. Yakovlev, E. Shevardnadze, G, Arbatov, Y. Primakov, V. Med-vedev and some others. As a result of secret talks, joint agreements on joint activity were worked out, the nature of the activity itself was clear to few, though. However, everything clarified in the end of the same year, when Gorbachev together with the same comrade-in-arms had a meeting with President G. Bush in Malta. "Many experts tend to believe that Malta was the place of those fatal agreements between Gorbachev and Bush, which led to the USSR breakdown and cata-clysms in the countries of Eastern Europe."
On 25 September, 1989, the USSR Council of Ministers passed resolution 795-193, on the basis of which the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs passed its resolution 169 on 18 October, 1989, on privileges for the persons who had made "official trips in Baku, Azerbaijan SSR, the region with special situation."
Here is an example of such certificate.
This is to certify that ……………………………………………. actually was on official trip in the period from …………199…. in the city of Baku, Azerbaijan SSR, region with special situation.
On the basis of the USSR Council of Ministers resolution 795-193 dated 25.09.89 declared by the order 169 of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs dated 18.10.89, Comrade………………… is entitled to all established privileges.
First deputy head
of Chief Bureau of Criminal Investigation
of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs Major General Y.I. Lagoda
Several questions arise concerning this resolution of the USSR Council of Ministers. Why the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict became the object of so close attention, while the entire USSR was literally blazing? Why was Baku singled out from the vast region of the conflict? Why is Yerevan not mentioned in that resolution, though there was an attempt of capture of "Zvartnots" airport there, as well as provocations at the nuclear power station ("Vympel" arrived in Yerevan to provide its safety), several Soviet soldiers and officers were killed etc.?
And most importantly, why was this resolution published three months before the invasion of the Soviet troops in Baku?
Similar resolution was adopted concerning Chernobyl disaster fighters, but it was adopted AFTER THE EVENT!
Intelligence officers of the prewar years asserted that Stalin had been watching Hitler's intentions to unleash the war against the USSR by the European prices of mutton and sheepskin coats. If Hitler intended to attack the USSR, sheep was to be slaughtered, mutton prices were to drop and prices of sheepskin coats, so necessary for the German army in the cold Russia, were to rise!
With such an informative certificate (it contained much more information in it than sheepskin coats), the appropriate bodies in Azerbaijan could have drawn appropriate conclusions, if they had wanted. BUT THEY DID NOT!
Misinformation about the situation in Baku was caught up by all Soviet mass media. Provocative misinformation also infiltrated the ranks of the Soviet Army, which naturally strained the situation in Baku even more.
It is well-known that at first the commander of the Caspian Fleet Lyaschenko V.S. tried his best not to interfere in the political situation in the republic. But he immediately received a "stimulating injection". Captain 1st rank Y.Y. from the special unit of the Caspian Fleet recalls, "I will never forget the end of 1989 when I received information through my channels that with the purpose of intimidation of the commander of the Caspian Military Fleet an attempt on the life of his son was being prepared. His son was at first a student at Caspian Military School and then transferred to Leningrad. They found him even then. I immediately reported to German Alexeyevich. Then we quickly got in the car and drove to Commander's, entered together and reported. He clutched at his heart, "Mates, he's my only son! How can I help?"…We thought over all variants, chose the best, and planned a nice and safe operation. The attempt did not occur."
Isn't it nice? Father is to protect his son! Afterwards Lyaschenko walked on tiptoe before the special department, since he understood what he was meant to do!
Such provocations were not single, it was a mass phenomenon. In connection with the events in Baku, Nikolay Medvedev writes, "I remember the book by Anton Ivanovich Denikin "The way of a Russian Officer" where he tells of the revolt of 1905, "On the ground of the embarrassment of the authorities, a phenomenon grew that was not akin to the military sphere: organization of secret officer societies, not for political purposes but for self-defence… I know about three of such societies. Due to the terrorist threats against high military commanders, officers in Vilno and Kovno registered well-known revolutionaries of the city, warning them secretly about the prepared punishment… The situation in Baku was more simple and undisguised. The open meeting of garrison officers adopted and issued the following for general information, "In case of murder of a single garrison soldier or officer, leaders and founders of revolutionary organizations, besides criminals, are responsible first of all. Criminals shall know that they will be caught and killed from now on. WE WILL STOP AT NOTHING TO RESTORE AND MAINTAIN THE ORDER (highlighted by the author)."
The Soviet officers in Baku were different. Naturally, some of them had many friends among the civilian population of Baku. They told their friends about the above-mentioned open meeting of garrison officers. High-ranking officials from the well-known subdivision of the Soviet Army arrived in Baku and were speaking about some terrorists from People's Front of Azerbaijan who had been arranging terrorist acts against the military and their families. They insisted that the military should take their families off to Russia, though they did not provide dwelling space and did not promise to render employment assistance (afterwards these "refugees" were shown on Central TV Channel where they told terrible things in habitual voice). Then several trained officers spoke, reminding their colleagues of their duty to the country and in conclusion a general and undoubtedly provocative resolution was adopted.
Here is the description of the garrison meeting in Shamkhor airborne forces regiment that had been withdrawn from Afghanistan three months prior to the meeting. In the regiment that had been ruthlessly killing in Afghanistan, the regiment the officers and soldiers of which had been ruthlessly killed by Mujahidins. The meeting is described and commented by its participant Victor Nikolaev in his story "Alive in Help", chapter "Do You Remember, Major…"
"Today's necessary and therefore anxious general meeting of the complement of all five garrison units was postponed from 10.00 a.m. to 04.00 p.m. The command did not inform us of the reason of this change but the officers' wives and children who gathered in the previously fixed 10.00 a.m. made the general atmosphere seem somewhat prethunderstorm with their agitated half-whisper and clamour and frequent slaps to bring the fidgety offspring to reason. Families living in garrison ramshackle "Khruschev buildings", families of paratroopers, aircraft and helicopter pilots, artillerists and signallers who were deployed to do their state duty on the left shoulder of Nagorno-Karabakh AO (with your head strictly to Russia) all the same already knew the reason of frustration of the vitally important meeting in the officer club of paratroopers.
The chief shock that wrung the hearts of the officers was the message received an hour later, "The memorial house of Marshal Bagramyan burned to ashes in Chardakhly village." (By the way, it is well-known that Bagramyan made the same strategic mistake near Kiev as Pavlov, sending over a hundred thousand soldiers and officers to death. Stalin had Pavlov shot but forgave Bagramyan who was supported by Beria, despite the tough demands of the military command to punish him. The same case was when Khruschev had Baghirov executed but made Mikoyan one of the country's leader, though he was even bigger criminal. - Author). Chardakhly was the home village of Marshal. It was situated in the territory of AO, 12 km from the garrison, in the mountains rising almost from the landing strip. Victor knew the memorial house by two natural for every officer visits due to the tender respect for the commander whose firm uncompromising demand in the war was not to send a company to attack if it had less than 50% of Russian soldiers…
Karine, an elderly, lean, intelligent Armenian woman who was not spoilt by frequent visits worked there. She told him from the heart everything she knew about Marshal, including the information on his genealogy up to the sixth generation. Victor then left the hospitable house with dolma-filled stomach, a bit drunk and convinced that the hostess was at least granddaughter of Marshal Bagramyan and a doctor of history. With womanly cordiality, in a low voice, with long pauses, as if not daring to confide it to Victor, she told him that he was serving in a very uncommon place, nearly a holy land.
"Many of your brother soldiers are lying here. I have right to say so."
Karine fell silent eyeing the saucer.
"Hundreds of Russian soldiers are lying here rammed in common graves. Your brothers, robbed and crippled, are lying there."
It happened on 9-12 January, 1918 at Shamkhor - Dallar station-to-station block, Transcaucaisan Railway.
Up to a thousand armed Transcaucasian Tartars in the trenches on either side of the railroad shot the soldiers in the carriages. There were five wrecked trains under Shamkhor bridge, three military, one passenger and one that turned into a heap of deformed metal. Corpses of Red Guard soldiers were scattered all around, some of them charred. Not one hundred of corpses of Russian soldiers farther, in the river canon. All the dead were crippled beyond recognition. My old men who saw all that had their hair standing on end. It was Shamkhor Babi Yar, undisclosed so far…
("Karine, an elderly, lean, intelligent Armenian woman who was not spoilt by frequent visits worked there", these words remind of a lean, intelligent in a way, Goebbels. Victor Nikolaev stuffed with dolma reminds a German burger of the thirties when all speeches of Hitler and Goebbels were perceived through stomach, "I promise you much bread and butter…" - Author)
Today, an hour before the meeting, small groups of officers were already shifting their feet at the club entrance and humming in a low voice till received the command to enter. Everybody was waiting for the arrival of paratrooper group from Chardakhly. People were also worried about Karine's fate. The local head of the special department, outwardly harmless, always thoughtful and friendly young major, was also standing there, in the circle together with the garrison commander and commanding officers…
"Comrades officers! Attention! Comrade Colonel!" the crowded officers club of paratroopers was filled with ringing silence. Never in the time of peace had the people been so disciplined and fit. Men looked withdrawn like before a battle. Women looked overmotherly. Children shrank between parents and were making eyes right and left like little mice. The legendary commander of the legendary Red Banner landing regiment, famous all over Russia was standing on the rostrum…
The audience livened up appreciably, voices became louder, a child burst out crying. Then the commander of the regiment asked the officers to help find seats for the newcomers, eight Armenian families…
The commander of the regiment together with the head of the special department of the garrison opened the facts that alerted the men and frightened the women. The intelligence officer, a brave man, declassified the facts that the officers had been guessing with heavy hearts. He read the following.
"…The Liberation Front of Azerbaijan is addressing Muslim brother… (there was no such front in Azerbaijan, it was made up for that meeting. - Author). Jihad against Russian aggressors… Holy war… Barbarian Russian Empire… We lost all national traditions, national pride because of them… We will build our own free Azerbaijan…. With our own army… We will come and break Russian laws… As long as we are together, we can bring the whole world to our knees, and this is good property!.." (all slogans of the People's Front of Azerbaijan spoke about "Soviet empire" and never "Russian empire". - Author).
Due to the gravity of what had been read, demands, advices and requests were brought to general attention. The Armenians cuddled together like an island cowered and drooped, exchanged strained glances and pulled up their kids."
Much in the speeches of commanders are one-to-one taken from novels "Russian Forest" by the forgotten Leonov and "War" by Stadnyuk. But the enemies there were fascists, while at those meetings citizens of the fraternal republic Azerbaijan that contributed to the formation of the USSR much more than Armenia were depicted as enemies.
It is quite understandable that after such a meeting military of the regiment saw no difference between Afghan Mujahidins and Azerbaijanis who were opposing separatists. There are certain reasons why all Soviet and later Russian publicists who wrote about everyday life of the Soviet Army in the Karabakh conflict constantly draw parallels between it and the Afghan war, making clear who is foe and who is friend.
The military who had been defeated and insulted in Afghanistan ruthlessly tried to wreak their hatred on Azerbaijanis, which was encouraged by the Supreme Command of the Soviet Army.
The most striking fact is that Victor Nikolaev dedicates all this dirty provocative concoction to…
"With the blessing of the Right Reverend Benjamin, Bishop of Vladivostok and Primorye, dedicated to father Alexander Korolenkov." That is the way!
If we compare the meaning of ideological actions of representatives of the central bodies of the Soviet Army spread in different military units deployed in the territory of Azerbaijan before 20 January, 1990, we will see a clear ideological model worked out in the corresponding bodies of the Soviet Army. It is IMPLANTING IN THE MIND OF THE SOVIET MILITARY SERVICEMEN HATRED FOR THE AZERBAIJAN PEOPLE, whose sole "fault" was its struggle against separatism. Common calls of the Soviet time for friendship and brotherhood between Soviet military and the population of the region they were deployed in suddenly became quite reversed.
Other USSR state bodies were keeping up with the process, each in its own way.
While the USSR was crumbling and total uncertainty ruled in the country, many high-ranking officials solved their personal and family problems without taking state interests into consideration at all.
On 29 July, 1989, due to continuous attacks on trains in the territory of the Armenian SSR, the train movement from Azerbaijan to Armenia was suspended. Nakhchivan ASSR remained in blockade.
The USSR Minister of Railways N. Konarev says in the national press that extremists from the People's Front of Azerbaijan seat women with children on the railway bed, thus preventing movement of trains to Armenia. Baku was stunned by such Goebbels-like statement of the minister.
Later, everything clarified. All financial resources of the ministry were concentrated in the hand of one deputy minister, Armenian by origin, Konarev's family friend. N. Konarev was going to defend doctoral thesis and one of his opponents and the chairman of the academic council were Armenian. How could the weak-willed Konarev not consider such surroundings?
Konarev's colleague, the USSR minister of communications issued the order on the subordination of NKAO communications system to Leningrad regional communications department, without even informing Baku. The order was so wild and absurd that Moscow had to cancel it on 25 August, 1989.
Such behaviour of the USSR high ranking officials, when they were pushing their personal interests into the foreground, was systematic, with only few exceptions.
In August 1989 the Azerbaijani V. Huseynov was appointed the head of the KGB of the Azerbaijan SSR, replacing the Russian Gorelovsky. It caused certain bewilderment, since Moscow had usually not entrusted responsible posts to persons of native nationality in troubled times.
On 1 December, 1989, the Supreme Council of the Armenian SSR passed the anticonstitutional resolution "On the reunion of the Armenian SSR and Nagorno-Karabakh". Armenian parliament passed the resolution "On including the plan of economic and social development of NKAO in the state plan of economic and social development of the Armenian SSR for 1990."
This resolution and particularly the inaction of Moscow influenced deeply the stability in Baku.
The belief consolidated that Yerevan was acting in unison with Moscow.
"Sovetskaya molodezh", the publishing organ of Latvian LKSM Central Committee, wrote on 1 December, 1989, "The US Secretary of State G. Baker said that the United States would not condemn the use of force in the USSR if the need arose to restore order, FOR INSTANCE, TO PUT AN END TO THE UNREST IN TRANSCAUCASIA (highlighted by the author).
According to Radio Liberty, G. Baker expressed the opinion at the press conference in Washington that such coercive actions could be relevant if clashes broke out between representatives of different nationalities of the Soviet Union. According to the Secretary of State, in that case the Soviet authorities might have no other choice but to use force by means of introducing the state of martial law or some other method. G. Baker emphasized that unlike the use of force to suppress peaceful marches of protest such measures would have been of totally different nature." It is obvious that speaking of Transcaucasia and use of force, G. Baker referred not to Armenia, since all branches of authority in the USA supported Armenia.
On 24 December, 1989, i.e. a month before the villainous action, the Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers Nikolay Ryzhkov said in an interview to the French television about "the intention of the Soviet leadership to use the army to stabilize the situation in Azerbaijan."
30 December, 1989. The borders with Iran are broken in Nakhchivan.
In connection with this fact, the chairman of the USSR Supreme Council Soviet of Nationalities Rafik Nishanov said, "This act is in full accordance with perestroika and democratization of the society and a worthy response to the bureaucrats hampering the intercourse of peoples."
After the introduction of troops, Gorbachev mentioned the demolition of the borders as one of main causes of the introduction of troops.
31 December, 1989. One of opposition leader said before many thousands of marchers, showing them a piece of wire, "Azerbaijan has been reunited!"
As a result of this "reunion", Moscow hastily renamed half of the 4th army as border guard, without even changing the military uniform, and closed the border. Exotic border guard it was; green caps, red tabs with… tanks on them! Officers received only caps but even caps did not suffice for everyone. The same with soldier shoulder straps, half the company with red ones and the other half with green ones. Afterwards Gorbachev and Yazov considered that "reunion" as an appeal to the destruction of the USSR.
Shortly before the January events, dubious public suddenly poured into Baku from all over the Soviet Union. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs information, their number made up 4,468 on 22 January, 1990. They were those who committed some offence and were detained. The precise number of all the newcomers, "Gorbachev's nestlings" naturally remained unknown. The history of Baku had never known such an irruption of suspicious people.
A deputy of the USSR Supreme Council, composer Arif Melikov writes that he had a firm impression that the process was somehow controlled by someone. "As I already mentioned above, we had individual conversations (after 20 January events - Author) with each prisoner in the presence of the prison administration and a doctor. And here we found out a curious fact. There was a man in the cell, a citizen of another republic, Russian, who had there for a criminal offence. Having found several such criminals in different cells, we demanded explanation. It was puzzling that those people easily told, as if boasting, that they were professional thieves and had arrived in Baku for pillage and that drugs had been found when they had been arrested. They were Dolgov Victor Petrovich from Kuibyshev, Rodionov Alexander Ivanovich from Kransodar, Voloshkin Alexander Stepanovich from Kiev. As we can see, a rather vast geography. The authenticity of their names and surnames has been a mystery for me so far, though."
And he is right. It was one of the ideological elements of provocations against Baku. Suspicious persons were planted to respectable but illegally arrested citizens of the republic and willingly confessed all sins "diluting" the general mass of prisoners. Thus, the model was being built that was trumpeted by all Soviet mass media, "a mass of declassed elements and drug addicts took part in marches and pickets…"
That uncommon process did not receive worthy attention in Baku in the beginning of its development before the January events.
Speaking in Bureau of the Azerbaijan CP CC on 19 December, 1989, the chairman of the Ethnic Affairs Committee of the USSR Supreme Council G.S. Tarazevich introduced the term "self-regulating territory" in regard to NKAO, continuing Volsky's expression "the people of Karabakh" (many years later A. Yakovlev already spoke of the Karabakh language). Tarazevich determined… the blockade of Armenia as the chief problem. "We should at any price put an end to this blockade destructing the friendship of peoples," he said. "This is our principal task." Besides lifting the blockade, Tarazevich suggested… opening Lachin road, which "will give the Karabakh Armenians to enjoy their native ancient Armenian culture." He finished his speech with an ominous phrase, "The Centre will not allow the further blockade of Armenia that leads to the collapse of its economy."
The politician responsible for ethnic relations, before whose eyes Armenian separatists are ruining the very ethnic relations striking blow after blow on its basic concepts, assigns primary importance to the problem that is far from his competence and threatens Baku in case of negative answer.
Instead of raising the whole layer of the accumulated problems and trying to contribute to this problem, Tarazevich concentrates on a secondary problem proceeding from the unsolved principal one and moreover not relating to his competence at all.
It was clear that another major provocateur had arrived in Baku to strain the situation intentionally and watch for guilty ones in Azerbaijan for some punishment measures.
In the early 1990, officers from "Vympel" and A subdivision of the 7th department of the KGB were sent to Nakhchuvan for carrying out operational missions.
One of the leaders of the republican Council of Ministers reported to the Central Committee of the Azerbaijan Communist Party that he had seen officers from Moscow in the halls of the Council. When asked what they were doing there, they answered that they were trying to find offices for themselves and their employees.
According to the republic-famous journalist (and the leadership of the republic knew that), a slightly drunk general he was flying with in the same plain said to him, "Soon we will take severe measures against you!"
9 January, 1990. While considering the issue of the plan and budget for 1990, the session of the Supreme Council of the Armenian SSR included plans of social and economic development of NKAO in the sphere of its influence. No reaction from Moscow followed which strained the situation in Baku even more.
9 January, 1990. High-ranking officials arrive in Stepanakert from Moscow, Ghirenko, Nishanov and Zhdanov.
They are met with submachine gun shots into the air in the outskirts of Stepanakert. They hastily escape back to Baku. Later Nishanov will say, "Certain forces wanted to kill me in order to blame the Armenians then (?! - Author)."
"On 14 January, 1990, one of the heads of the top secret KGB "Alfa" subdivision M. Boltunov arrives at Baku with his team.
"The KGB "Alfa" special group THAT HAD HAD COMBAT EXPERIENCE IN BAKU (highlighted by the author) and Vilnius received the governmental order to begin storming the Russian "White House" on the night of 21 August. These professionals could do everything in half an hour. Only "major military units" are capable of stopping them," writes the former commander of one of "Alfa" subdivisions.
It was clear that they had arrived in Baku to carry out serious operations.
"Alfa is a top secret unit of the KGB," writes Boltunov Mikhail, "Alfa is a unique unprecedented group in our country. There are very few such units in the whole world. "Delta" in the USA, GSG-9 in Germany, SAS in England, Israeli special units, a group of national gendarmerie in France, Austrian "Cobra", Belgian special quick reaction squadron, Spanish "GAL". We know that some other countries also try to form special units for antiterrorist struggle with the active assistance of Israeli and German experts. Despite the difference in social systems, antiterrorist units in different countries face many similar problems."
On 14 January, 1990, "Bakinsky Rabochiy" reported that a candidate member of the CPSU CC Politburo, the chairman of the Soviet of the Union Yevgeny Primakov and the secretary of the CPSU CC (supervising ethnic issues) Andrey Ghirenko had arrived in Baku. The same day, the Armenian "Communist" reported that member of the CPSU CC Politburo, and the secretary of the CPSU CC Nikolay Slyunkov and the deputy chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers Ivan Silayev.
These two messages contain important information. The ace of undercarpet politics Primakov and Ghirenko, a kind of Suslov of that Politburo, arrived in Baku, whereas two technocrats who were far from the problem of the Armenian-Azerbaijan confrontation arrived in Yerevan. Unlike Primakov and Ghirenko who were "toiling" in the well-known direction, Slyunkob and Silayev were spending their time in a country house over cognac and pool.
This alone should have alerted Baku. But it did not happen.
"On 15 January, 1990 the KGB special units "Vympel" and "Alfa" were AGAIN (highlighted by the author) redeployed to Baku."
"When the USSR began crumbling literally before our eyes, "Vympel" was redirected to flash points blazing up in the territory of the Union one by one, Tbilisi, Baku, Sumgayit, Northern Caucasia… The only place where they did not carry out their combat operations was the Baltic region," writes Dmitry Lomov, "Reporter".
Lieutenant Colonel of "Vympel" special group Erkebek Abdullayev says, "On 15 January, 1990, the KGB special groups arrived in Baku. We were accommodated in "Absheron" hotel in the governmental area and were wearing civilian clothes."
Here is a brief note on the KGB special unit "Vympel" that never budged from Baku.
Sergey Ptichkin writes, "In 1981, by the resolution of the USSR Council of Ministers and the CPSU CC Politburo, on the initiative of the head of the KGB Y.V. Andropov, the KGB special group "Vympel" was formed. It took place on 19 August.
"Vympel" immediately became one of the top secret units in the Soviet Union. IT WAS TO ACT ONLY OUTSIDE THE COUNTRY (highlighted by the author). A dual problem was set before the fighters of "Vympel". There were to be able to destroy any object (or those inside it) in any point of the earth and to be able to set any object free from the malefactors.
The specific character of the tasks required specific training. It was required to make not only universal soldiers but almost supermen. A fighter of "Vympel" was to speak fluently several foreign languages, have enormous physical stamina and remarkable strength, handle all kinds of small and cold arms skillfully, know demolition techniques perfectly, work with radio station, jump with parachute, swim under water, have knowledge of medicine on the level of medical assistant.. It is simpler to say what he did not have to be able to do…
So, each "Vympel" fighter could be worth his weight not in gold but in diamonds. The backbone of the group was composed from the KGB officers. Many of them went through Afghanistan where they had been fighting in "Vega", "Cascade", "Zenith" special units.
In the ten years of its existence "Vympel" became really universal and probably the best combat unit in the world with the real experience of a real war."
Such was the unit Gorbachev sent to the peaceful Baku!
None of the above-mentioned strict functions of "Vympel" was relevant to the events in Baku. There was neither the palace of Amin, not armed special groups.
"I have talked to the military. The pogrom-makers could be suppressed by one battalion of specially trained soldiers. And there were 11,500 soldiers of internal troops in the city in the days of pogroms! The statement of generals that the troops were blocked in quarters is ridiculous! When they needed to leave the quarters (on the night of 20 January) they did it. And they did it easily, by breaking down a rickety fence and to the sweep of the streets across a parking lot, right over cars." This is the opinion of the eyewitness of the black January, a film director Stanislav Govorukhin.
It is relevant here to clarify the reports of Armenian officials in response to the "invasion" of "Vympel" in the territory of Armenia. The official statement said, "On 6 May, 1991, training of the KGB special group "Vympel" was held at Armenian nuclear power station. During the training in complex situation, the actions of the group in the case of capture of the reactor block were worked through." No one was injured, only a few people got off with only a scare. But certain forces were hinted that the Armenian nuclear power station is not to be trifled with!
Armenian officials interpreted common training (that met national interests of Armenia, by the way) as follows, "According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Armenia, the reactor block of the Armenian nuclear power station yesterday, 12.40 p.m. by two special actions platoons that had arrived in Yerevan by helicopters. Yesterday, two villages in Goris regions, Aravus and Kornidzor, as well as Voskepar village in the northeast of the republic, were bombed from helicopters (?! - Author). According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Armenia, a full special actions regiment, 800 people with equipment and officers, arrived in the republic. The government and the armed forces of Armenia adopted the appeal to the UN Human Rights Commission, declaring the joint action of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Defence as interference in the internal affairs of Armenia, and also an appeal to the people of Armenia, where they call the people not to succumb to panic. Alexander Inskanadryan." "Nezavisimaya Gazeta", 7 May, 1991. No comment!
In Baku, "Vympel" did not maneuver but acted!
On 15 January, 1990, the presidium of the Armenian SSR Academy of Sciences appealed to the scientists of the world to raise their voice against the barbaric annihilation of the Armenian population in the Azerbaijan SSR. Scientists of the USA, France, Sweden, Austria, Belgium… responded to the appeal… They all characterized the events in Baku as a "crime against humanity". But the important point is that… the USSR embassies in those countries helped spread these statements, i.e. it was preparation of the public opinion in those countries for the actions against Baku.
"Moscow News" report that on 18 January, 1990, the European Parliament demanded that the USSR leadership should bring troops in Azerbaijan.
"On 18 January, 1990, a part of the KGB special units was sent to Nagorno-Karabakh where the groups stay till the end of February 1990."
The head of Z department of KGB Vladimir Lutsenko and head of a section Valery Khmelev say, "Finally, we received the order of the Commander in Chief from Moscow to bring troops in Baku on the night of 20 January, 1990…"
"Did the order refer to your subdivision?" asks the correspondent.
"Yes, it did. Some of our officers had already been in the city."
Let us make it clear concerning that "already". "Alfa", "Vympel" and other special units of the KGB began "making themselves familiar" with Azerbaijan long before 20 January; they just increased their presence on the eve of 20 January, 1990.
"After Afghanistan the 15th special unit (a secret group of the KGB - Author) was directed to the place of its previous dislocation in Chirchik. The 154th detachment remained its part, 177th one was passed to the brigade of LenVO… The 173th detachment took an active part in restoring order in Baku on 20 January, 1990," writes a KGB veteran in Internet.
Lieutenant Colonel of "Vympel" special group E.S. Abdullayev recalls, "In the autumn 1988, the activists of the People's Front of Azerbaijan managed to gather up to 500,000 marchers in the central square. Tents were set up before the House of Government, where hunger strikers were sitting. The aim of the hunger strike was to force the leaders of the Communist Party to resign.
The Azerbaijan government proved to be incapable of resolute actions. It was then that the KGB special groups "Alfa" and "Vympel" were sent to Baku.
We put on militia shoulder straps. All officers suddenly became privates. We live in the club of the republican KGB, ate in the canteen there and were soon exposed by the Azerbaijan colleagues that we had happened to meet in Afghanistan. They understood immediately that we had arrived in Baku not without purpose."
Exactly, not without purpose!
"On 12 January, 1990, airborne troops landed in the airport. The operation was headed by Bakatin and Bobkov."
Vyacheslav Shironin recalls, "By the order of President, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the KGB were entrusted with securing the state of emergency. In the second half of January 1990, for second time in the month, I was going to Baku on business trip by a military transport aircraft.
I was accompanied by a whole team of 100 senior officers of operational subdivisions of the KGB central apparatus, mainly the employees of the 2nd central committee, experts on fighting foreign intelligence. Among them were also the officers of the 5th department, they were familiar with methods of foreign intelligence agencies activity on psychological war in the "Islam front". There were experts on the problems of economic safety, transport and living facilities as well…
I remember the commanders of special combat groups introducing themselves to me in the airfield of Sheremetyevo, Alexander Miroshnochenko ("Alfa"), Sergey Lysyuk ("Vityaz") and lexander Gorodilov ("Vympel"). In their small groups I noticed with great satisfaction Victor Blinov and Oleg Lutsenko, with whom we had already taken part in detention of several criminals. We did not know then yet that the trip to Azerbaijan would drag on for many months and I would have to change officers many times. Those who arrived in Baku on the first call were Boris Zhirnov and Mikhail Platonov (who became generals later), Yuri Fedoskin, Anatoly Smirnov, Nikolay Stebnev, Victor Lughinin, Vladimir Voskoboynikov, Vyacheslav Pelenkov, Vladimir Rybakov, Igor Kuznetsov, Yevgeny Bataman, Victor Rastrusin, Vladimir Kashin, Vladimir Vasin and other officers of the 2nd central committee and the 5th department of the KGB, some of its subdivisions. We all had a common cause and our constant motto was the same order, "Prevent violence, avoid bloodshed!"
An impressive scale! But good intentions remained mere intentions.
There is one question in connection with such irruption of the KGB agents. Has there even been a case in the USSR history when such an impressive team arrived in any Soviet republic at one time? We believe there has not.
The heavy activity of the special units of the Red Banner Caspian Fleet in close collaboration with the KGB was impossible to overlook. They furthered the introduction of the Soviet troops in Baku in every way.
"Autumn 1988. Special subdivisions of the KGB "Vympel" and "A" are directed to Baku due to the aggravation of ethnic relations in Azerbaijan. During their stay, the groups are stationed at the ships of the Caspian Fleet in Baku."
I.A. Ch-v (he conceals his real name, there must be reasons for that) recalls, "On 18-19 January, 1990 a big turmoil began in the Azerbaijan capital Baku. By that time the Special Department of the Caspian Fleet headed by German Alexeyevich (the "Board of the Federal Security Service of Russia" wrote in his obituary, "The deputy director, the head of the Constitution Protection and Antiterrorism Department of the Federal Security Service of Russian Federation, Vice Admiral Ugryumov German Alekseyevich died suddenly on 31 May, 2001, in the pursuance of his military duty in the territory of the Chechen Republic") had had quite comprehensive information on the leaders of the People's Front of Azerbaijan, their sources of financing, their foreign puppet masters, their short-range plans. We knew the location of their bases, names of instructors, armament. We knew that the aim of the Front was to make Azerbaijan split from the Soviet Union. All this information was sent to the higher authority by German Alexeyevich. But the country's authorities had no right approach to the assessment of the coming and ongoing events. State security service is a tool of the state; its prerogative is to know and to report. Our special department headed by Ugryumov was coping with this task quite well in that period. Acting within the frames of law, we could decapitate the People's Front, isolate the provocateurs, detain politicized criminals, bring changes against them, arrest and hold them for court. We had plenty of evidence. But we were not authorized by Moscow (that is what the occupation of the Red Banner Caspian Fleet in Baku, while its functions included the protection of the southern sea borders of the USSR.)
According to another officer, once German Alexeyevich lost his temper and shouted at two officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the KGB who had arrived from Moscow to carry out inspection in the Caspian Fleet.
"Don't you ever read our ciphered messages?! So it looks like my men risk they lives for nothing? Do you understand that the collapse of the country has already started? Do you understand that the country has been set on fire from the south and we gave you this forecast a year ago?!"
They answered that Lubyanka was regularly informing Gorbachev and the reports on Azerbaijan were put on his desk every morning…
Immediately after the beginning of Baku events, the militants attempted to seize the arsenal near the Naval school. We received the warning in time that four trucks filled with armed people were moving in our direction from the city centre… We contacted the command and discussed the tactics within minutes. We showed our armed people, each of which had his shooting sector, to bearded men with submachine guns, bullied them a bit… And hurried to disappoint them that we had the order to shoot to kill if they tried to get to the arsenal.
"What are you talking about, captain? We are a thousand and a half, all with weapons."
"Well, be as it may. Five hundred will be killed at once, the rest will think… "
We, operatives, worked mainly at night. I had appointments in the city at midnight, at one, two in the morning…"
The above-mentioned demonstrates definitely that the special department of the Caspian Fleet intentionally exaggerated the events depicting the local population as extremists and themselves as a kind of heroes risking their lives every single minute. No deep and objective reports were sent to the Centre revealing the core of what was going on in Baku. They sent for the troops guided rather by their personal interests than the care about the USSR. Besides, the special department of the Caspian Fleet must have been missing jollies! In the Soviet time, the Red Banner Caspian Fleet was nearly a health-resort, since Iran had no fleet on the Caspian and no threats could be expected from it. The high commanders of the Fleet had built themselves fashionable houses at the seaside and were spending their time fishing (often poaching) and drinking in baths. When the dark hour of Baku came they probably decided that it was time they distinguished themselves before the Centre. What if they were awarded or promoted!
Vyacheslav Avtorkhanov, the driver of the head of the Caspian Fleet special department G. Ugryumov, recalls, "Naturally, we did not come back. German Alexeyevich had a classified document on him and we could not allow it to come to anyone's hand. We had no weapon. That happened on the second or third day of the pogroms in Baku, in January 1990." It is clear that this classified document concerned the internal political situation in Baku and promised nothing good to its citizens. There were undoubtedly plenty of such documents sent to Baku at that tense time.
"German Alexeyevich Ugryumov was born three years after the end of he Second World War to the family of a war veteran. Finishing school, he worked at a shipyard. In 1972 he graduated from the Caspian High Naval School. He served on the Caspian as ship captain," writes Vyacheslav Morozov about the FSB admiral.
We cannot but notice some insincerity in Morozov's lines, some incompleteness of the thought. Let us complete it.
He was born, studied, worked, got married etc. Ugryumov in Baku! Basic stages of his life were spent in Baku that was to become his second motherland. But he "invented puzzling combinations, false variants, skillfully informing the militants from the People's Front, and the latter "swallowed the bait" every time; arranged leak of information about the movement of buses and trucks that were going at totally different time and in totally different direction. He took everyone and everything from Baku through safe routes. He was the last to leave Baku." Ugryumov continued such activity concerning Baku in the future.
Russia gave one billion dollars worth weapons to Armenia, while the newly-fledged deputy director of the FSB, the head of the Constitution Protection and Antiterrorism Department Ugryumov was seeing to it that not a single submachine gun from Russia could get to Baku.
To be loyal to the oath did not mean to destabilize the situation in Azerbaijan.
As we can see, Baku did not become second Motherland for Ugryumov!
In the beginning of January, 1990, the Armenian side for the first time used re-equipped civil Mi-8 helicopters to fire from the air at the settlements of Goranboy region of Azerbaijan bordering the northern part of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Before the invasion of the Soviet troops in Baku, from 4 to 10 January, 1990 Gorbachev gave 100 tanks, artillery and anti-aircraft armament of the Soviet Army to Armenia.
9 January, 1990. While considering the issue of the plan and budget for 1990, the session of the Supreme Council of the Armenian SSR included plans of social and economic development of NKAO in the sphere of its influence. No reaction from Moscow followed which strained the situation in Baku even more.
In the beginning of January 1990, there were first cases of firing at Sadarak village with "Alazan-2" missiles, cannons and mortars. Cannons inflicted heavy damage; shells broke through roofs and attics, exploded inside buildings scattering thousands of small splinters. People were trying to press themselves against the mountains beyond the range of fire. 11 people were killed, over 50 wounded.
On 13 January, 1990, the Armenians occupied Kerki village in Nakhchivan AR by a sudden assault.
On 15 January, 1990, the armed Armenian infantry was sent to Gushchu village, Khanlar region of Azerbaijan.
On 19 January, 1990, the Armenians attacked Sadarak village in Nakhchivan.
Armed provocations of Armenian extremists considerably increased, while Moscow was talking about Azerbaijan extremists.
Troop movement around Azerbaijan began.
13-14 January, 1990. Provocateurs arranged mass disorders in Baku, 50 people were killed.
14 January, 1990. "Karabakh" committee declares military mobilization in Armenia, open signing up of volunteers for the war against Azerbaijan begins. No response from the Centre.
15 January, 1990. Mayor of Saint Petersburg A. Sobchak, the then "deputy of the Baltic", made the well-known statement on Leningrad TV in the programme Fifth Wheel. His provocative statement spoke about "the tragic fate prepared fro 600,000 Russians in Azerbaijan", thereby contributing to the bloody events of 20 January, 1990 in Baku. His coauthors in this provocation remained unknown.
Owing to Sobchak's efforts, the northern capital was prepared for any sanctions of the Centre against Baku.
The second tangible blow on Baku, which was logically related to the first one, was struck by Sobchak at the congress of people's deputies. Together with another Leningrad professor Anatoly Denisov who got involved in Sobchak's dirty games, he rejected his seat in the USSR Supreme Councilin favour of Nagorno-Karabakh delegation.
State of emergency and curfew.
It is well-known that in the terms of mass disorders when the situation is out of control of the authorities, the most efficient method is to declare state of emergency. The world practice shows that this method is to be used very carefully so as not to harm the conflicting sides, i.e. the balance of power must not be upset as it naturally leads to the strengthening of one of the sides.
It is what Gorbachev was doing with his asymmetric policy when he declared state of emergency, thereby strengthening the position of the Armenian side and preparing the blow on Baku.
It is what politicians, the military and intelligence were talking about.
Heinrich Malyushkin, Major General, writes, "Whereas in Azerbaijan state of emergency and curfew were declared not only in Baku and NKAO but also in adjacent regions, in Armenia, despite the situation, they were valid only in Goris region bordering with Azerbaijan. This certainly created favourable conditions for Armenian militants as to freedom of movement and actions along the border."
Vyacheslav Shironin writes the same, "It was only in Baku that we learned about the "area of responsibility" and we had to get to Nakhchivan by helicopters. While we were flying, my friends and I wondered why state of emergency had been declared just in several towns of Azerbaijan. In our report to the command in Moscow, we proposed that it should be at the same time declared in the regions of Armenia situated along the administrative border with Azerbaijan. For the conditions should have been equal for both sides and no one should have had advantage. The chief aim of state of emergency is to disarm the illegal armed formations. But if we disarm, for instance, only Nakhchivan militants, the Armenian ones will gain advantage.
No one could answer the direct question concerning this issue at the joint tactical meeting in Baku either. They only said that the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs had made similar proposals to the higher authorities. As it should have been expected, the question immediately arose in Nakhchivan and was redirected to me. I had to answer frankly.
"We are going to prove and insist…"
We should unfortunately point out that they failed. It was not their fault but their misfortune, since the local population was losing faith in them, which was of crucial significance in that situation.
Such policy of Gorbachev in declaring state of emergency in the conflict region gave huge advantage to Armenia. Among other things, all political institutions were functioning there and a considerable number of Western correspondents were walking freely all over Armenia, sending pro-Armenian reports to their home offices from the spot. Meanwhile, the state of emergency totally paralyzed political and social life in Azerbaijan and the republic turned out to be fully isolated from the rest of the world; pieces of information leaked into foreign press with great difficulty.
As many politicians said, Gorbachev should have brought troops in Armenia and declare state of emergency there at different stages of developments there.
When the deportation of Azerbaijanis from Armenia began on the state level, Gorbachev was absolutely obliged to declare state of emergency in the entire Armenia. He had all reasons to do it when murders and mass disarmament of soldiers of the Soviet Army, capture of military supply depots began, when the attempt of seizing the strategic airport "Zvartnots" was made, when the building the of the Supreme Council of Armenia was captured. Leaving his post, Mayor of Yerevan Ambartsum Galstyan said, "I am not afraid that the Communists or Dashnaktsans may come to power. The problem is it is riffraff that are coming to power."
After the following, it becomes clear what politicians were running the show in Armenia those years,
When asked, "There were many "dark incidents", such as poisoning, murder etc., in the first years of Karabakh movement. Many criminal cases were filed but the public never found out the truth. Do you think the truth about them will ever be revealed?", the former head of the KGB of Armenian SSR Usik Arutyunyan answered, "If there is interest in it, the truth will most likely be revealed. To understand why the crimes were not solved, let us remember who headed security agencies in that period. In this regard, it is not so much incompetent minister that is dangerous but the come-and-go people who appeared with him and who sometimes had criminal past. I was replaced by Valery Pogosyan, and then came Edik Simonyants, David Shakhnazaryan. But the head of a structure is to understand something by himself and take competent decisions.
Who came to the security agencies and whom did they bring with them? Let us remember one director appoint his driver the head of the KGB pretrial prison (I do not want to say any names) where perfect order had been reigning before him and where there had been no case of a prisoner's death since the thirties. And now, a man is killed in that perfect pretrial prison! A poet could have been appointed defence minister; an uneducated man could have become a deputy minister, a driver the head of a pretrial prison. In one word, the inefficient staff policy of those years played its part." Russian democrats and the international community, however, called those people "democrats of the new wave fighting for democracy!"
The former head of the KGB of Armenian SSR Usik Arutyunyan does not write what those people were doing in the territory of Azerbaijan. To imagine it, though, one does not necessarily have to have particularly rich imagination!
Gorbachev confined himself to stagy actions, since his chief interests were in Azerbaijan.
Such policy in declaring state of emergency was undoubtedly worked out by the Centre and was one of the links of the entire strategy to fetter the Azerbaijan people as much as possible, to isolate it from the rest of the world, to destroy all of its political institutions, i.e. to create most favourable situation for the crucial blow on Azerbaijan.
16-19 January, 1990. On the approaches to Baku, a large task group was formed with more than 50,000 military servicemen in total number from Transcaucasia, Moscow, Leningrad and other military districts, from the Navy, internal troops of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs. The Bay of Baku and approaches to it were blocked by ships and cutters of the Caspian Fleet. All officers, warrant officers and army conscripts of Azerbaijan origin were isolated in the units and subdivisions of Baku garrison. The republican bodies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the KGB were being disarmed under the pretext of inventory of government-issue weapons.
60th and 75th motorized divisions were brought to the southern borders of Azerbaijan with further deployment.
Two special divisions of the internal troops (Dzerzhinsky and "Don-100") were brought into NKAO, with Azerbaijan settlements being taken control over; this did not almost concern the Armenians.
January meetings of 1990. There is certain amount of information also in the meetings held on different levels with the participation of representatives of the Centre, several days before the introduction of troops. If we study it carefully, we will see that their behaviour at these meetings had much well-hidden information in it.
Vaghif Huseynov, the head of Azerbaijan KGB, one of the key figures in power who was in the confidence of the Centre, recalls, "At that time, only Centre had the actual power and actual police force to prevent large-scale organized or spontaneous disorders. But for the first nine days of disorders in Baku they did not interfere in anything. There was a considerable contingent of the internal troops of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs in Baku, over 4,000 people. They were inactive alleging that they had not orders from above.
Vezirov (the first secretary of the CC of the Azerbaijan Communist Party) held a meeting. At the meeting, the deputy minister of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs Liskauskas said that there had been warnings about potential pogroms but the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the republic had been unable to thwart the mass disorders. He also mentioned the facts that militiamen sometimes not only stood idle but even connived at the pogrom-makers. But after that Liskauskas said firmly, "We need the critical decision of the Centre on the possible use of force. The internal troops of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs will start operating without such decision!"
…After the meeting, I received a phone call from the head of the USSR KGB Kryuchkov. He asked why the internal troops of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs were not suppressing the disorders. I answered, "The leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs said that nothing would be done without the appropriate written instruction or declaration of state emergency." I reminded to Kryuchkov the words of the commander of the internal troops of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs Shatalin, "We've had enough of Tbilisi. It was politicians that made the decision, but it was us that were responsible."
Silence fell. After waiting for a little while, I asked Kryuchkov, "Vladimir Alexandrovich, you will probably understand me if I ask you what is going on. Thousands of people are being thrown out of Armenia into Azerbaijan, while the Centre is completely inactive. It is all like a nightmare. And now people are murdered, burned, thrown from balconies here in Baku, while many hours long meetings are held, reports are sent to Moscow, there are ambiguous nods and everyone is waiting. But no one wants to do anything. What is it behind this all?" Kryuchkov replied, "You know as well as I do that decisions are unfortunately taken too late here, or not taken at all…"
Even when one reads these reserved lines, it becomes clear that something dreadful was being prepared!
N. Ismaylova writes concerning other meetings, "Many things can be said about that days-long tragedy. I would like to recall one very important day, 14 January, when the then first secretary of the CC of the Azerbaijan Communist Party convened the Bureau of the Central Committee for an emergency meeting.
"Mass disorders began in the city yesterday," said Abdurakhman Vezirov, "there are some deaths, there are some wounded. We have gathered here today to prevent the events from developing."
Judging by the records, the morning meeting was rather confused and emotional, full of inadequate reaction, spontaneous unreasonable speeches. Someone proposed placing the wounded in the military hospital, to which the commander of the Baku group of army Popov answered, "We cannot do that. The military are on the heightened alert, they are to prepare everything for themselves." And no one asks what the general prepares hospitals for on 14 January. Dialogues with the commander remind theater of the absurd. Popov: "The armed forces are making some redeployment, putting themselves on the alert." Vezirov tells him with mild reproach, "Do not consider it polemics, but it would be desirable if I or prime minister were informed of any redeployment."
The first meeting ended with nothing. The second one was declared along toward evening, with Moscow visitors and Gorbachev's personal envoy Yevgeny Primakov participating. We know today that he is one of the most successful politicians, superheavyweight, political ace with imperial background, supporter of strong government authority, Russian Lawrence of Arabia, fond of Tsvetayeva's poetry, spy novels by Karr and Georgian toasts. I am giving so many characteristics from the press because nothing like this could be felt in the personality of the man who virtually conducted the second meeting of the Bureau. He avoided answering vexed questions, interrupted the speakers rudely.
"The situation is extremely critical," says the chairman of the Supreme Council Elmira Kafarova. "If we ask for people's help, they demand solving Nagorno-Karabakh issue. As soon as this problem is settled, mutual understanding will appear. Ayaz Mutalibov, Vaghif Huseynovm Rafik Zeynalov, Artur Rasizade, Rauf Akhundov and others say the same." Primakov replied, "Don't tell me about Nagorno-Karabakh! What shall we do with extremists who seized power in Lankaran and Jalilabad? With extremists in Baku?" They explain him that the only condition those extremists make is stabilize the situation in Karabakh. Primakov is displeased, "THEY HAVE OVERTHROWN THE AUTHORITY! WHY DO YOU TURN A BLIND EYE TO THIS? (highlighted by the author). Let us say, there is no sausage in Moscow and the people overthrow the authority. Shall we say that first we should give them sausage and then take measures?"
R. Zeynalov: "We have lost popularity with our people because we did not take nationalistic position. Compare the resolutions of the Central Committees of Armenia and Azerbaijan. A classical situation, an obedient republic can be ignored and a capricious one can be flirted with." Primakov: "You had better listen to what the Armenian comrade say." Zeynalov: "The Centre has not ensured our constitutional standards." "Is the Centre a baby-sitter?" said the angry Ghirenko, "You are talking of what you were to do yourselves!" Zeynalov: "It is state bodies that are to do something with militants and helicopters." Primakov asks Mutalibov, "Are you state authority?" Mutalibov: "Rather exhausted one." Primakov, "ARE YOU CONTROLLING THE SITUATION IN THE COUNTRY?" (highlighted by the author). And the striking reply of Mutalibov, "Is the situation in the country being controlled at all?"
Many conclusions can be drawn from this meeting, but two ones suggest themselves immediately, the insolent behavious of the Baku group of army Popov and the unusual behaviour of academician Primakov.
Such behaviour of Popov at that meeting had some reasons.
In Yerevan, Soviet generals did not interfere with the political events at all but they did it quite actively in Baku, by Gorbachev's personal order, impudently and unceremoniously.
Vezirov was under great influence of Soviet generals those days. As a rule, he used to fly to Moscow by the personal aircraft of the commander of the southern direction General of the Army Zaytsev and, according to eyewitnesses, often consulted the latter on the problems that arose. After the bloody events of 20 January he escaped to Moscow on a military aircraft.
But most importantly, it is absolutely evident that academician Primakov intentionally arranged a kind of street shootout at that meeting to distract the participants from the actual assessment of the situation and forecasting of the future events.
It was one of the well-known and frequently used methods of the KGB. Even then, Primakov knew the scenario of the following events if not in detail then in general, and it was easy to conceal the actual principal intentions of Moscow in such "shootout".
Extra couches for "future wounded" are prepared in the hospitals of Baku and the process is observed by a high-ranking official.
The leadership of the Azerbaijan KGB did not stay aside from those events either.
Vaghif Huseynov, the then head of the Azerbaijan KGB: "The Centre did not inform us about the forthcoming introduction of troops. HOWEVER, THE KGB HAD A SERVICE CONROLLING RADIO BROADCASTING. ON 19 JANUARY WE OBSERVED HIGH LEVEL OF ACTIVITY ON THE FREQUENCIES USED BY THE MILITARY. IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT THE TROOPS WERE PREPARING TO ENTER THE CITY… (highlighted by the author). I met with Elchibey on my own initiative and told him that it was necessary to take all possible measures in order to avoid clashes between the population of Baku and the troops. In reply, Elchibey promised me to talk to the leaders of the People's Front. He called me at five in the evening and said that the leaders of the People's Front had gone out of his hand, so there was nothing he could do either. Elchibey also said that the Central Committee and the government were to blame as well. They had driven the situation to the dead end."
The first part of this confession is important for the assessment of the situation at that time.
Vaghif Huseynov: "WE PROPOSED BRINGING IN TROOPS EARLY IN THE MORNING (highlighted by the author), declare curfew, and inform the population like it had been during the disorders in Baku in 1988. There had been no problem then, no one had been even injured. But the troops were brought in at night.
Special units should have been used instead. Why come into Baku by tanks? Police operations are not a function of the army in any world country. Internal troops are meant for this purpose. It is very suspicious that they were not used in Baku. We had special units in the Soviet Union that could disperse crowds of 100-300 people, didn't we? We did, but no one undertook anything. They waited till pogroms with murders began and introduced troops, even though they had had similar experience in Tbilisi, Nagorno-Karabakh, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan before January events in Baku…"
Considering the introduction of troops in Baku as a done deal, Huseynov merely suggested another, more merciful way of its realization.
Looking ahead, we should say that Vezirov was of the same opinion, judging by his statements.
Mister Huseynov either does not understand or intentionally pretends that he does not understand Gorbachev's actions. Who knew then or remembered about the bloodless introduction of troops in Baku in 1988? Virtually no one!
The order was restored quietly, though. But Gorbachev needed not order. HE NEEDED A CRUSHING BLOODY BLOW ON THE PEACEFUL BAKU FOR EDUCATION OF OTHER REPUBLICS. It was as clear as day, otherwise it is hard to explain such a large-scale preparation for the invasion in Baku.
Finally, was the leader of the republic Vezirov aware of the introduction of troops in Baku?
The then deputy head of Azerinform S. Perets recalls the meeting of Vezirov with the first deputy minister of defence Luzhin shortly before the January events in Baku, "Hardly had Vezirov begun telling about the meeting in the square when Luzhin rose up and pressed his heavy palms to the fragile table.
"Comrade Vezirov!" his deep voice filled the room. "We are well aware of the operational situation. We are keeping track."
"Very well", Vezirov agreed easily.
But Luzhin did not hear him already, sticking to his guns.
"I am to clear the square by the order of the chairman of the Defence Council!"
"What?" Vezirov asked again still smiling.
Luzhin repeated slowly as if explaining a lesson to a slow-witted schoolboy, "I am to clear the square immediately by the order of the chairman of the Defence Council!"
"Do you understand what you are talking about?"
"I do understand it perfectly well. I have the order to clear the square and I am going to do that!"
"With what forces?"
"Three thousand paratroopers."
"But there are three hundred thousand people in the square!"
Zaytsev and Tushin (generals of the Soviet Army - Author) did not get embroiled in the squabble. They simultaneously reached for their glasses of tea without arranging their moves. Perets thought that they did not completely approve Luzhin but consider it all a done deal.
"Order is order!" Luzhin sounded irritated. "The square will be cleared!"
"Are you so sure?" Vezirov picked up the phone and said to the speaker, "Connect me with Mikhail Sergeyevich."
It was only then that Perets remembered that Gorbachev was the chairman of the Defence Council. Hiding in his corner behind the aperture, Perets was waiting for the events to unfold further. He realized that Vezirov had dared to take an insolent step. A very insolent one.
Everybody in the room was silent. When the phone rang Vezirov stood up. Generals rose as well.
"Good evening, Mikhail Sergeyevich!" said Vezirov. "Sorry to disturb you."
"Good evening, Rakhman," Gorbachev replied, "never mind, I am on the road. What is it there? How is the situation?"
"Not that simple, in one word."
"You will get help."
"I know. Luzhin is already here. Thank you very much…"
"What is the matter then?" Gorbachev began getting annoyed.
"There is a small discrepancy."
"Of what kind?"
"We cannot sort it out who is the political leader of the republic, myself or General Luzhin…"
"Do you have other suggestions?"
"Only concerning the timing," Vezirov answered quickly. "We'd better have the square blocked and let no one in. And in a week when it is empty we will squeeze the rest out."
Luzhin clenched his heavy fists. Brick-red blush flowed back from his face and it became ash-yellow.
"Do what you consider necessary," Gorbachev said stiffly. "Political leader, indeed…" and then asked, "Do you need anything else?"
"Just a minute, Mikhail Sergeyevich," Vezirov closed the receiver with one hand and addressed the generals, "I AM ASKING YOU AS PROFESSIONALS, HOW MUCH FORCE DO WE NEED TO BLOCK THE SQUARE AND ENSURE THE ORDER IN THE CITY? (highlighted by the author)."
"About ten thousand people," said Tushin casting an inquiry glance at Zaytsev and Luzhin.
The latter kept silent.
"Ten thousand people, Mikhail Sergeyevich," repeated Vezirov.
(On 20 January, 1990, 30,000 military servicemen were brought in Baku, taking into account that experience. - Author)
"Organize the reception tonight."
"Thank you, good-bye."
On finishing the conversation, Vezirov settled back in his chair. Then he gave the generals a sullen look and said, "Begin blocking the square with the available forces. Then arrange the reception and accommodation of troops. As for the rest, act in accordance with the guidelines. Introduce the commandant of the special district Tyagunov and other heads of the commandant's office to me tomorrow."
Saying good-bye, Vezirov saw the generals to the door."
As the dialogue demonstrates, positions of Gorbachev, Luzhin and Vezirov were different in mere details but coincided in principle. Vezirov was not against the introduction of troops in Baku as a method of solving internal political problems. IT IS RATHER HARD TO BELIEVE AFTER THIS INFORMATIVE SCENE THAT THE BLOODY INTRODUCTION OF TROOPS IN BAKU ON 20 JANUARY, 1990 WAS NOT COORDINATED WITH VEZIROV AS WELL. IF HE HAD DONE IT ONCE…
Several days before the tragedy of 20 January, a telegram was sent to Moscow. It was signed by A. Vezirov and suggested "immediate instituting criminal proceedings against the leaders of the marching extremists that declare anti-Soviet and antiparty slogans and appeals. There are legal grounds for that."
And finally, to what extent were opposition leaders warned about the possible introduction of troops?
According to a member of the government of the People's Front of Azerbaijan Republic Etibar Mamedov, at the meeting with the leaders of Azerbaijan on 18 January, 1990, the chairman of the USSR Supreme Council Soviet of the Union Yevgeny Primakov commented on the possible introduction of Soviet troops in Baku as follows, "THE TROOPS ARE NECESSARY TO PREVENT THE SEPARATION OF AZERBAIJAN FROM THE SOVIET UNION. WE WILL NOT ALLOW THIS SEPARATION AT ANY COST." (highlighted by the author)
On this day, 19 January, Dmitry Yazov was in Baku, in the headquarters of the army with Vadim Bakatin and Yevgeny Primakov. Abdurakhman Vezirov and his gang moved from the building of the Central Committee to the headquarters from where the future marshal Yazov guided the operation. On 5.00 p.m. V. Polyanichko, the second secretary of the Azerbaijan Communist Party CC, said in a private conversation with Etibar Mamedov, "The question is settled, the decision is made, nothing can be done. For the sake of our old friendship, I'd advise you to hide."
On 18 January, the commander of Baku garrison General Sokolov warned Etibar Mamedov, "If we get the order we will not spare anyone; we are soldiers and will execute the order."
"We suggested taking control over the situation in Baku and other regions. They promised us that there would be no curfew in Baku and no troops would be brought in. But on 15 January, at night, reports came on the redeployment of army units with heavy weapons and equipment by air, sea and railway. Then we started blocking the ways. On the night of 17 January first attempts were made to unblock the city and bring in troops; marches were held with demands of resignation of the government and the leaders of the republic that had agreed with the introduction of troops so easily. On 17 January, in the evening, Y. Primakov said before the building of the Central Committee that the troops were necessary to protect the people. He was catcalled and left." The famous German political figure O. Bismarck said concerning one of the speakers in the Prussian chamber in 1898, "He is lying as if wiring!"
17-19 January, 1990. Marches before the building of the Azerbaijan CP Central Committee with demands of resignation of the leaders of the republic. Pickets and cordons on the roads to the city in protest against the threats of introduction of troops in Baku.
The day before the introduction of troops, officers of Baku Higher Combined Arms School sent the following telegram to Moscow.
BAKU 128/8109 110 19/1 1420=
BAKU 128/8109 110 19/1 1420=
MOSCOW KREMLIN TO COMRADE GORBACHEV M.S.
COPY TO GENERAL OF ARMY YAZOV D.T=
THE OFFICERS OF BAKU HIGHER COMBINED ARMS SCHOOL INFORMS YOU THAT THE SITUATION IN BAKU IS CONTROLLED BY THE PEOPLE'S FRONT OF AZERBAIJAN CENTRAL PRESS AND TELEVISION DO NOT ALWAYS GIVE OBJECTIVE INFORMATION ON BAKU INTRODUCTION OF REINFORCEMENT TROOPS IN BAKU AGGRAVATES THE SITUATION IN CASE TROOPS AND WEAPONS ARE BROUGHT IN THE CITY IT MAY LEAD NOT JUST TO BLOODSHED BUT EVEN TO FULL ISOLATION OF RUSSIAN-SPEAKING POPULATION AND ANNIHILATION OF FAMILIES OF BAKU GARRISON OFFICERS AND SOLDIERS WE BELIEVE THAT POLITICAL METHODS HAVE NOT BEEN FULLY USED YET TO SOLVE THE ACCUMULATED PROBLEMS OF BAKU WE ARE SURE IT IS POSSIBLE NOT TO TURN BAKU INTO SECOND ROMANIA UNDER INSTRUCTIONS OF THE OFFICERS OF SCHOOL CHAIRMAN OF OFFICERS BOARD COLONEL A. SAVELYEV HEAD OF POLITICAL SECTION COLONEL A. RUSAKOV
This telegram is provocative in principle. The introduction of troops in Baku is as if considered undesirable but at the same time, the telegram alleges that the power is illegally seized by the People's Front of Azerbaijan (afterwards Yazov often repeated this phrase), families of military servicemen are under death threat and the bloody events in Romania are mentioned for some reason.
In other words, the main proposal does not proceed from the assessment of the situation which always gives the supreme command full scope.
And curious enough, the telegram was afterwards published!
AND THE RESULT WAS…
20 January, 1990. The troops entered the city at night, sweeping away the cordons and shooting those along them. State of emergency was declared in Baku.
21 January, 1990. The Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan SSR demanded immediate withdrawal of the troops.
22 January, 1990. Funeral of the victims of 20 January. Up to one million people tool part in it.
It is a small but very important database of events immediately before the introduction of troops in Baku on 20 January, 1990.
As an example of the systematic approach to information processing a story is often quoted about a journalist of the early 20th century who lost all his money playing cards and, to pay back his debt, decided to sell to the foreign intelligence service the plan of military units disposition, names and posts of the command. Of course, the counterintelligence arrested the amateur spy but when the information he possessed was shown to the representative of General Staff the latter were shocked for the information was precise and classified. In the progress of the inquiry the journalist pleaded guilty and proving his repentance shared his method of learning "state secrets". He turned out to have read local newspapers in his trips to regions, being especially interested in society columns, "In the district town N the commander of the 17th hussar regiment quartered here Colonel V., Chief of the regimental staff Colonel M. attended the wedding ceremony of Lieutenant K. and so on and so forth".
There is such a scene in the immortal novel by K. Siminov "The Living and the Dead". An old Communist reasons the suddenness of the fascist attack on the USSR and says, "What a sudden attack is it? If someone quarrels with his wife in our house all neighbours know that at once. But a whole enemy armada gathered around the country and no one knows anything! And now they are talking of a sudden attack. I don't get it!"
If no one realized in those years that a large-scale military operation was being prepared against Azerbaijan, it can mean only one thing. There was not a single reasonable politician in the state structures, which we doubt, and not a single politician in the opposition who would have reasonably considered his ardent appeals to the citizens of his country in such a complicated political situation!
In addition to the method of that journalist and the reasoning of the old Communist, we are going to apply modern technique to this problem.
If we take the probability of every significant event in Baku at that time (for instance, arrival of Yazov, Bakatin and Bobkov in Baku, movement of the troops in the territory of Azerbaijan, arrival of high-ranking KGB officers in Baku, sudden activity of the Armenians) as 10% in the year, which is quite sensible figure in the USSR practice, then the probability of simultaneous occurrence of those events regardless of one another, i.e. at random fashion, will make up 0.00001% in the year, chief events taken into consideration!
Such probability borders on that of a large meteorite colliding with Earth!
IN OTHER WORDS, WITHOUT BASING ON ANY STATEMENTS OF ANY POLITICIANS, ONE COULD BE COMLETELY SURE AT THAT TIME THAT THE TROOPS WOULD BE BROUGHT IN BAKU.
THE ABOVE-MENTIONED DEMONSTRATES THAT THE EMPIRE HAD ALREADY LAUNCHED ITS MILITARY MACHINE AND IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO STOP IT WITH ANY TELEGRAMS. Even if the entire leadership of the republic had expressed their unanimous (which is unlikely) disagreement with the introduction of troops in Baku, the troops would have been brought in any way. A cause could have been found easily (for instance, the Centre could have had killed a Russian family and said that after the Armenians the extremists had gone at the Russians).
In this connection, a number of politicians say that had the people left the streets there would have been no victims in Baku. But this is a delusion! Had they done so, which would have been right decision, there would undoubtedly have been less victims among the civilian population but there would have been ones nevertheless. Soviet soldiers would have been shooting at offices and houses saying that militants were ambushing there.
There were to be victims in Baku, since it was one of the components of Gorbachev's plan!
THE INTRODUCTION OF TROOPS IN BAKU ON 20 JANUARY, 1990 WAS A WELL-THOUGHT STRATEGIC ACTION OF THE CENTRE INVOLVING ALL MAIN FORCES OF THE USSR, BOTH POLITICAL AND MILITARY ONES.
THE SCRIPTWRITER AND DIRECTOR OF THAT PREDICTABLE BLOODY EVENT WAS MIKHAIL SERGEYEVICH GORBACHEV, THE REST OF HIS CIRCLE BEING VOLUNTARY OR INVOLUNTARY PARTICIPANTS OF THIS TRAGEDY, SOME STARRING, SOME IN SUPPORTING ROLES, OTHERS AS COMPROMISER EXTRAS.
Several days before the introduction of troops in Baku, Vezirov had several ways to avoid the tragedy, death of a large number of innocent people.
In January 1991, when the threat of an assault on the government building emerged in Estonia, President Edgar Savisaar called the people not to gather in the square in front of his residence. "The duty of the government," he said, "is to ensure the safety of the citizens, not to put them under bullets." Allende acted in the same way in Chile in 1973; he removed the defenceless people from squares and defended his political views in the president palace himself with a submachine gun in his hands.
THE ONLY OPPORTUNITY TO STOP THE BLOODY INTRODUCTION OF TROOPS IN BAKU WAS FOR THE FIRST SECRETARY SURROUNDED BY THE ENTIRE BUREAU AND OPPOSITION LEADERS TO DECLARE TO THE MILLION MARCHERS IN BAKU THAT A DEADLY PERIL WAS IMPENDING OVER THE REPUBLIC AND THAT THE PERIL WAS COMING FROM GORBACHEV AND HIS TEAM; THAT ALL CITIZENS OF THE REPUBLIC, REGARDLESS OF THEIR POLITICAL VIEWS, WERE TO STAND FOR THE DEFENCE OF MOTHERLAND. THEN HE WOULD HAVE BEEN THE FIRST TO ABANDON KOMSOMOL SLOGANS AND TO TELL THE PEOPLE THE BITTER TRUTH.
ALL CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS SHOULD HAVE BEEN USED TO DEFEND THE HOME LAND, UP TO THE SECESSION FROM THE USSR.
BUT ONE HAS TO BE A PERSONALITY TO BRING ONESELF TO TAKE SUCH STEPS, AND VEZIROV'S CIRCLE AND OPPOSITION LEADERS HAD TO BE FIRST OF ALL CITIZENS OF THEIR COUNTRY AND THEN POLITICIANS TO SUPPORT VEZIROV IN SUCH STEPS IN THE COUNTRY'S DARK HOUR.
Vezirov chose his own way. He fled!