befor 1920 . (befor sovetiziation) / 1992 - ... (period NKR)
CHRONOLOGY OF MILITARY AND
(WITH AND WITHOUT COMMENTS)
MOUNTAINOUS KARABAGH DURING THE SOVIET PERIOD
POLITICAL SYNOPSIS OF 1920: BEFORE LEAVING
THE POLITICAL SCENE THE MOUSAFATS MANAGES TO ORGANIZE THE MASSACRE OF THE
ARMENIAN POPULATION OF SHUSHI AND SET THE MAIN PART OF THE TOWN ON FIRE. AFTER
THE ESTABLISHEMNT OF THE SOVIET POWER IN BAKU, FOLLOWING THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS,
THE SOVIET RUSSIA ACKNOWLEDGES THAT MOUNTAINOUS KARABAGH IS A DISPUTABLE TERRITORY
BETWEEN THE SOVIET AZERBAIJAN AND THE REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA. AFTER THE ESTABLISHMENT
OF THE SOVIET POWER IN YEREVAN RUSSIA WELCOMES THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF MOUNTAINOUS
KARABAGH AS THE INTEGRAL PART OF ARMENIA BY THE SOVIET AZERBAIJAN.
March 23 – The arson of Shushi and neighboring Armenian villages by the Mousafats. The massacre of the Armenian population of Shushi. Details in: Shushi.
April 23-29 – The IÕ Congress of the Plenipotentiary Representatives of Mountainous Karabagh declares viod the Interim Agreement concluded with the Mousafat Azerbaijan “in view of the assault of the peaceful Armenians of Karabagh and the massacre of the populace of the town of Shushi and villages perprtrated by the Azerbaijani troops”. The Congress promulgates about the connection of Mountainous Karabagh with Armenia as its integral part.
April 28 – Entry of the 11th Red Army into Baku. Overthrow of the Mousafat government and establishment of Soviet power in Baku. Promulgation of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (AzSSR).
Comment: Thus, the Interim Agreement became void not only because it was denounced by the National Council of Mountainous Karabagh, but also because the Mousafat Azerbaijan ‘left the political scene’ without having any legal successor.
June 9 –The National Council of Mountainous Karabagh sends a wire to the representative of the Republic of Armenia in Moscow about termination of the Interim Agreement with the Mousafat Azebaijan by the Congress of Plenipotentiary representatives of Mountainous Karabagh and decree of the IX congress of plenipotentiary representatives of Mountainous Karabagh ‘On Connection of Mountainous Karabagh with the Republic of Armenia as its integral part’.
Comment: The lawfully elected authorities of Mountainous Karabagh functioned even after the overthrow of the Mousafats in Baku.
July 10 – A letter is sent to the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (of bolsheviks), signed by the chairman of the Azerbaijan Revolutionary Committee Narimanov, members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan Mikoyan, Neneyshvili, member of the Caucasus Bureau of the Russian Communist Party (of bolsheviks) Mdivani and members of the Revolutionary military council of the XI Red Army Vestnik, Levandovski and Mikhaylov about the appropriateness of creating a ‘supranational center and source of class revolution in the East’ instead of a national republic in Azerbaijan.
August 10 – Agreement between the Republic of Armenia and the government of the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic (RSFSR) confirming that ‘The right of the Republic of Armenia and the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic to the disputable territories should not be predetermined by the fact of occupation of the disputable territories by the Soviet troops’.
Comment: Russia was confident about the establishment of the Soviet power in Armenia in the nearest future and at that moment did not cede Mountainous Karabagh to the non-Armenia although Russian authorities were quite aware that Mountainous Karabagh was a primordial Armenian territory. At that time Moscow was not infused with the idea of ‘Great Azerbaijan’ as the outpost of socialism in the East yet.
November 2 – The League of Nations declines the request of the Mousafat Azerbaijan to become a member of the League. Details in: League of Nations.
Comment: It is stated in the decision that the League of Nations cannot accept a state that is not recognized de jure by any of its members.
November 29 – Establishment of the Soviet power in Yerevan. Communists come to power.
Comment: This was a transfer of powers and not forceful overthrow.
Nvember 30 – The statement of the Revolutionary Committee of Azerbaijan about Azerbaijan’s acknowledgment of the ‘disputable territories’ of Nakhichevan, Zangezur and Mountainous Karabagh as an integral part of the Soviet Armenia. Details in: Nakhichevan.
Comment: The statement was transmitted by a wire to Yerevan where it was published in newspaper ‘Communist’ on December 7, 1920. The present leaders of Azerbaijan are skeptical about the existence of this document although in the 1920s’ the authenticity of the statement of the Azerbaijan Revolutionary Committee was out of question for the Azerbaijani authorities. Moreover, S.Kasyan, the chairman of the Revolutionary Committee of Armenia sent a special response in writing to the chairman of the Azerbaijan Revolutionary Committee N.Narimanov.
December 2 – Declaration of the Revolutionary Committee of Azerbaijan on the recognition of Mountainous Karabagh, Zangezur and Nakhichevan as the integral part of the Armenian SSR.
Comment: The Declaration was first publicly announced on December 1 at the meeting of the Baku Council on the occasion of marking the establishment of the Soviet power in Armenia. In fact, at the meeting N.Narimanov uttered publicly the acknowledgment of Nakhichevan, Zangezur and Azerbaijan as the integral part of the Soviet Armenia. Nevertheless, on December 2 the edited text of the Declaration was published in the Baku newspaper ‘Communist’ (in Russian). Now, the main narrative of the Declaration read: ‘The territory of the Zangezur and Nakhichevan Districts constitute the integral part of the Soviet Armenia while the peasants of Mountainous Karabagh are granted the right to self-determination’. The Revolutionary Committee of Azerbaijan pretended to be unaware about the declarations made at the Congresses of plenipotentiary representatives of Mountainous Karabagh regarding the connection with Armenia and promulgation of Mountainous Karabagh as an integral part of the Republic of Armenia. Moreover, Baku assumed to grant or not to grant the people of Mountainous Karabagh the right to self-determination. The new wording of the Declaration of the Revolutionary Committee of Azerbaijan was accepted as a new version of recognition of Mountainous Karabagh as the integral part of the Soviet Armenia since the determinedness of the people of Karabagh about the issue of self-determination was out of question.
1921 (before July 4)
POLITICAL SYNOPSIS OF THE FIRST HALF OF THE YEAR: IN WINTER OF 1921 MOSCOW WAS CAPTURED WITH THE IDEA OF ‘GREAT AZERBAIJAN’ AS A SOURCE OF CLASS REVOLUTION IN THE EAST. IN LIGHT OF THIS POLICY NAKHICHEVAN IS ASSIGNED TO AZERBAIJAN AS A PROTECTORATE. CONCURRENTLY AZERBAIJAN REVIVED ITS PRETENTIONS ON MOUNTAINOUS KARABAGH WHICH WAS ACKNOWLEDGED AS THE INTEGRAL PART OF THE SOVIET ARMENIA.
March 16 – Conclusion of the Russian-Turkish agreement in Moscow. Paragraph 3 of the agreement reads: “Both parties to the agreement have agreed that the Nakhichevan District … shall constitute an autonomous territory under the protection of Azerbaijan provided Azerbaijan does not pass the territory concerned to any third party’. Details in: www.genocide.ru
Comment: In the context of the international law, the Russian-Turkish agreement is a vivid example of violation of the law. The two states, the Soviet Russia and Turkey, decided to pass part of the territory of the sovereign Soviet Armenia (i.e. Nakhichevan) under the protection of another state (the Soviet Azerbaijan) without the consent of these states. Meanwhile, the issue of Mountainous Karabagh was not discussed as it was undoubtedly admitted that it belonged to the Armenian SSR.
June 3 – At the plenary session of the Caucasus Bureau of the Russian Communist Party (of bolsheviks) (with the participation of N.Narimanov) it was resolved unanimously ‘to emphasize in the declaration of the Armenian government the fact that Mountainous Karabagh is part of Armenia’.
June 12 – Declaration of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Armenian SSR on Mountainous Karabagh as the integral part of the Armenian SSR based on the Declaration of the Revolutionary Committee of Azerbaijan and the agreement signed between the governments of the two republics.
July 4 - Decree of the Caucasus Bureau of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (of bolsheviks) on inclusion of Mountainous Karabagh in the Armenian SSR. The decision of the Caucasus Bureau of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (of bolsheviks) dated July 4 was approved without any procedural violations, by open voting.
Comment: The issue of Mountainous Karabagh was predetermined in Moscow in view of the Bolsheviks’ Eastern policy. Nevertheless, Moscow’s approach to this issue seemed so much in contradiction with the principles of social and national justice declared by the revolution that Moscow withheld from imposing the cynical and autocratic decision on local party leaders of the party leaders immediately. On the one hand, the central government ‘relied on their smartness’. On the other hand, the local leaders who ‘were captured’ with the ideas of revolution and took a fair decision deriving from the equality of peoples.
July 5, 1921 – February 1988
COMMENTS ON KEY POLITICAL ISSUE OF THE PERIOD:
EASTERN POLICY OF BOLSHEVIKS SERVED AS UNANNOUNCED SANCTION FOR RUNNING A POLICY OF FORCED ASSIMILATION OF NATIVE PEOPLES OF EASTERN TRANSCAUCASUS PROFESSING ISLAM (TALISHES, KURDS, LEZGINS, TATS, UDINS, ETC.). AS TO ARMENIANS, THE MIAN OPPONENTS OF THE AZERBAIJANI LEADERS, THE TACTICS OF OUSTING THEM BY MEANS OF POLITICAL PERSECUTION, ECONOMIC TERROR AND OTHER SOPHISTICATED FORMS OF ‘MILD PRESSURE’, RACISM AND INTERNAL COLONIZATION WAS CHOSEN. THE USE OF A NEW ETHNIC NAME ‘THE AZERBAIJANI’ BECOMES ONE OF THE KEY TOOLS OF IN THE POLICY OF ASSIMILATION AND DEPORTATION. Details in: ETHNIC COMPOSITION OF AZERBAIJAN.
July 5, 1921– The Decree of the Caucasus Bureau of the Russian Communist Party (of bolsheviks) on Mountainous Karabagh was recognized as approved: ‘Given the national peace between the Moslems and Armenians, regular economic relations between Highland and Lowland Karabagh, its links with Azerbaijan, Mountainous Karabagh shall remain within the Azerbaijan SSR, and a wide-range autonomy shall be granted to Mountainous Karabagh with its administrative center in Shushi…’
Comment: In its political motivation (‘Given the necessity of national peace between the Moslems and Armenians…’) the Decree recognizes the Armenians of Azerbaijan as a party of the conflict related to the national-state system of Azerbaijan, as well as the right of the Armenians to broad autonomy in Mountainous Karabagh as a separate administrative unit (oblast). The Decree envisages regional autonomy to the entire Mountainous Karabagh (later the oblast was established only in the part of the territory of Mountainous Karabagh). The Decree was neither put for discussion nor actually approved. Nevertheless, it was enforced as a resolution with a national and legal status allegedly taken by the leaders of the Transcaucasus Soviet republics with the participation of Stalin, the representative of Russia. Both the fact of resolving of the issue by the Caucasus Bureau of the Russian Communist Part (of bolsheviks) and the content of the Decree prove that the issue of Mountainous Karabagh was not regarded as an internal affair of the Azerbaijan SSR and could not ever become as such in the future.
September 26, 1921 – The Political-Organizational Bureau of the Central Committee of the Azerbaijan Communist Party of bolsheviks resolved: ‘to request the Caucasus Bureau to review its decision on separation of Mountainous Karabagh and not to grant autonomy unless the relevant decision is made’.
Comment: In fact, immediately after the promulgation of the Decree of the Caucasus Bureau, the Azerbaijani leaders feverishly took actions against the enforcement of its provision on the separation of Mountainous Karabagh as a national autonomy. Although their efforts towards the cancellation of the Decree were fruitless, the Azerbaijani leaders achieved the aim of establishing the oblast only in those territories which had been withdrawn from the Soviet Armenia.
December 25, 1921 – At the XI congress of the Soviets the report of the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs of RSFSR for 1920-1921 was publicized where it was stated that ‘in July an agreement will be signed with Azerbaijan on Mountainous Karabagh which will be connected with the Soviet Armenia’ (cf.: Documents on the USSR foreign policy, vol. 4, p.727).
February 1922 – The Caucausus Bureau of the Russian Communist Party (of bolsheviks) was replaced with the Regional Committee of Transcaucasus (RCT).
March 12, 1922 – The Federal Agreement on Establishment of Transcaucasus Federation was concluded in Tbilisi at the conference of the plenipotentiary representatives of the Central Executive Committees of the Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian Soviet Republics.
December 1922 – The establishment of the USSR. The Transcaucasus Federation was one of the founders of the USSR.
1921-1923 - AzSSR reviewed the idea of creating the “Red Kurdistan”, another national autonomous region, in Mountainous Karabagh which would include the Kelbajar, Lachin, Kubatlu and Jebrail regions.
June 7, 1923 – The Central Executive Committee of AzSSR approves the Decree ‘On Establishment of the Autonomous Oblast of Mountainous Karabagh’.
Comment: The autonomous oblast (province) was established only in those parts of Mountainous Karabagh which had been left ‘within the territory’ of the AzSSR. This was in breach with the Decree adopted by the Caucasus Bureau. A new concept, ‘Armenian part of Mountainous Karabagh’, was introduced in the Decree. Lachin, Karavachar (Kelbajar), Kubatlu, Jebrail, Shahumyan, Khanlar and the entire northern territory of Mountainous Karabagh were not included in the autonomous oblast. The Decree proclaimed that the goal of the Soviet power in Azerbaijan was to create a ‘unified state union’ of Armenians and Moslems and defined an important legal covenant that “the title to all pastures, forests, gardens, as well as the ownership right to the lands and water shall remain with the present owners”.
July 31, 1923 – The Decree “On Nationalization of Government Institutions of AzSSR” of the Azerbaijani Central Executive Committee of Councils was adopted. According to the Decree, “the Armenian language shall be the official language which will be used in relations with the Autonomous Oblast of Karabagh”.
Comment: Basing on the international (non-national) character of the AzSSR, the Decree defined that in AzSSR each citizen ‘shall have the right to apply to any Soviet institution in his or her native language, while all the Soviet institutions shall provide responses and explanations in the language in which the paper is made’.
1926 – Armenian refugees from the Nakhichevan oblast (province) are refused to return home. The refusal was explained by “the lack of arable land in the Nakhichevan Autonomous SSR’ as it was stated in the Decree of the Central Executive Committee of AzSSR although ratio of land per capita in Nakhichevan was higher in other regions of Transcaucasus. Long after the Turkish intervention the abandoned Armenian settlements remained uninhabited. Those Armenians who still lived in Nakhichevan were forced out from their homes in 1988.
1927 – Ten large Armenian settlements of Getabek region (Northern Artsakh) were passed to Shamkhor region.
Comment: The purpose of this action, as well as any other administrative divisions was to prevent the concentration of the Armenian population in any of the regions, especially the ones which bordered the Armenian SSR
The 1930’s – The Turks of Eastern Transcaucasus (Azerbaijan) who were formerly called ‘the Caucasus Tatars’ and were indicated in the All-Union Census of 1926 under the ethnic name of ‘Caucasus Tatars’, accepted a new ethnic name which did not exist before - ‘Azerbaijani’ and automatically become a titled nation.
1936 – The adoption of ‘the Stalin Constitution of the USSR’. The renaming of the Autonomous Oblast of Mountainous Karabagh (AOMK) into Mountainous Karabagh Autonomous Oblast (MKAO). The constitutional status of the autonomous oblast as one of the forms of the Soviet national statehood was retained in the national-state system of the USSR.
Comment: The initial name of the oblast (AOMK) reflected the original purpose of establishing the oblast in the territory of the whole Mountainous Karabagh ‘left within the territory’ of the AzSSR.
1966 – The issue of reunification of Mountainous Karabagh with Armenia was reviewed at the secretariat of the Central Committee of CPSU. Discussion of the respective letter of the secretariat of the Central Committee of CPSU to the Committee of the Communist Party of MKAO.
July 1967 – Disturbances in Mountainous Karabagh connected with the brutal murder of an 8-year-old boy from the village of Berdashen by the Azeri headmaster of the school of the neighboring village.
November 23, 1977 – The issue of the MKAO was discussed at the session of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers of the USSR in light of finalizing on the results of the open discussion of new draft Constitution of the USSR.
Comment: The minutes of the aforementioned session read: ‘Due to historical factors decades ago Mountainous Karabagh was artificially annexed to Azerbaijan without taking into account the historical background of the oblast, its national composition, the wish of the people and the economic interests. Today the issue of Karabagh is still open and arises concern… Mountainous Karabagh (in Armenian ‘Artsakh’) should be connected with the Armenian SSR. This will be the due solution of the problem’.
July 16, 1986 – The Law ‘On Mountainous Karabagh Autonomous Oblast’ was adopted in AzSSR..
Comment: Both the Constitution of AzSSR and the aforementioned Law ‘On MKAO’ should be in line (and not in contradiction) with the Constitution of the USSR. The status of any republic or oblast within the USSR was defined by the Constitution of the USSR which was regarded as the legal guarantee of the territorial intactness of both the republics and autonomous units. Article 3 of the Law ‘On MKAO’ read: "...The territory of the autonomous oblast cannot be changed without the consent of the Council of the People’s deputies of the Mountainous Karabagh Autonomous Oblast’.
1987 – Disturbances took place in Chardakhlu village of Northern Artsakh as a result of the instruction issued by the Baku authorities about transferring part of the arable land of the village to the neighboring Azerbaijani village.
Comment: During the Soviet power the lands were taken away from the Armenians for various reasons. For example, in the 1930s’ the Armenian village of Oher of Hadrut region was passed to Fizuli Region. This was explained by its remoteness from Hadrut, the regional center. The village of Gyulabli of Martuni region of MKAO was passed to Aghdam region for the mere reason that its population was not so familiar with the Armenian language. The settlement Lesnoye (Askeran region) was assigned the Azerbaijani name of Meshali, etc. As a matter of fact, the Armenian settlement Artsvashen (Krasnoselsk region) became an enclave after some of its lands were taken away. Meanwhile, in the Armenian SSR Azerbaijani enclaves appeared as a result of their transfer to AzSSR. Due to such regular policy of “diminishment of land’, the territory of the Armenian SSR was decreased from 30,247.6 km2 in 1927 to 29,742.5 km2 in 1988 (by 505.1 km2). The claim to Chardakhlu was a normal action of ‘silent seizure’ of the Armenian lands within AzSSR.
FEBRUARY, 1988 – DECEMBER, 1991
THE KARABAGH MOVEMENT DURING THE PERESTROIKA AND BREAKUP OF THE USSR:
COMMENTS ON THE KEY POLITICAL ISSUE OF THE PERIOD:
THE KARABAGH MOVEMENT WAS THE REACTION TO THE POLICY OF FORCEFUL ASSIMILATION AND RACISM RUN IN AzSSR. SUPPRESSION OF THE KARABAGH DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT WHICH CLAIMED FOR EQUALITY OF PEOPLES AND HUMAN RIGHTS MARKED THE FIASCO OF SOVIET AUTOCRATIC REGIME. IN THE COURSE OF HISTORY THE FORCES INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE USSR WHICH ACCELERATED THE BREAKUP OF THE SOVIET EMPIRE BY USING THE KARABAGH FACTOR WILL BE SURFACED.
POLITICAL SYNOPSIS OF THE YEAR: RELYING ON THE POLICY OF DEMOCATIZATION AND OPENNESS DECLARED IN THE USSR, THE PEOPLE OF KARABAGH PUT FORWARD THEIR USUAL POLITICAL DEMAND OF REUNIFICATION WITH ARMENIAN SSR. BAKU REACTED TO IT WITH THE SUMGAYIT GENOCIDE. THUS, THE INTERNAL CONFLICT WHICH BURST IN THE USSR BETWEEN THE AUTONOMOUS OBLAST AND ONE OF THE UNION REPUBLICS WAS TRANSFORMED INTO AN ETHNIC AND POLITICAL CONFLICT BETWEEN THE ARMENIAN AND AZERBAIJANI PEOPLES OF AzSSR. THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT SUPPORTED THE AZERBAIJANI. Details in: Operation ‘Circle’
February 20 – The resolution of the Special session of the Council of People’s Deputies of MKAO ‘On Motion to the Supreme Soviets of AzSSR and ArmSSR for Passing MKAO from AzSSR to ArmSSR’.
February 21 – The adoption of the resolution ‘On Events in Mountainous Karabagh’ by the Central Committee of the CPSU where the Resolution of the Special Session of the People’s Deputies of MKAO was qualified as an action provoked by the nationalists.
February 22 – The ‘march’ of a crowd of criminals from Aghdam to Stepanakert for ‘setting order’ in the capital of the oblast.
Comment: On the way to Stepanakert, the crowd was stopped nearby the regional center of Askeran by the military and residents of the regional center. There was no skirmish. The provocation seemed to have failed. However, later it turned out that two young Azerbaijani were killed. On the same day it was revealed that one of them was killed by an Azerbaijani militiaman.
February 26 – Katusev, the Deputy Attorney General of the USSR spoke by the Azeri and Armenian TV with respect of the events nearby Askeran.
Comment: Katusev’s speech was the first provocation of the central government against the Karabagh people. Not only did not Katusev utter publicly that the murder was committed by an Azerbaijanian militiaman but he intentionally hinted in his speech that the murder was committed by the Armenians.
February 28-29 – The Sumgayit genocide of the Armenians. Details in: Sumgayit
Comment: Later the President of the USSR M.Gorbachov announced that the troops were late only for two hours (although they were quite close). In fact, even after the arrival of the troops they were inactive and stayed in the role of spectators of the vandalism.
March 24 – Adoption of a Decree of the Central Committee of CPSU and Council of Ministers of USSR ‘On Measures Aimed at Fostering Social and Economic Development of Mountainous Karabagh Autonomous Oblast of the Azerbaijan SSR for 1988-1995’ which envisaged actions on enhancing the social-economic and cultural development of all Armenian regions of AzSSR, as well as its capital Baku. Thus, the central government sent a clear message that it considered Azerbaijan as a republic of two nations, two main communities.
July 12 - The Resolution “On Promulgation of Withdrawal of MKAO from AzSSR” was adopted at the 8th session of 20th convocation of the Council of People’s Deputies of MKAO.
Comment: The Resolution of the Session of the Council of People’s Deputies of MKAO of February 20 contained only the request for including the MKAO in the Armenian SSR. Though the Sumgayit genocide and the rising wide-range violence expressed in the form of massacres and assaults throughout AzSSR, and consequently, the expansive violation of constitutional and civil rights of the Armenian people of AzSSR served as basis for adopting the resolution on withdrawal of MKAO from AzSSR. MKAO made such decision as one of the subjects of the national-state system of the USSR which had a recognized right to self-determination. The Decree did not contain the issue of reunification with the Armenian SSR.
July 13 – The Presidium of the Supreme Council of AzSSR adopted a resolution with respect of the Motion of the Council of People’s Deputies of MKAO on passing MKAO from Azerbaijan SSR to Armenian SSR.
Comment: In the decree, the said request was assessed as unacceptable ‘since its implementation would contradict the interests of the Azerbaijani and Armenian populace of the republic…’.The decree was adopted in the spirit of the documents prepared for forming AzSSR as a non-national (international) republic of the two main communities – the Moslems and Armenians (though after sixty years of assimilation or suppression of numerous native nations, instead of the expression ‘Moslems and Armenians’ a new phrase – ‘the Azerbaijanians and Armenians) was used for the first time. Chronologically, it was Baku’s last acknowledgement of the fact that the Azerbaijaniani and Armenians were the two main communities constituting the state of AzSSR. On the following day, Baku ‘corrected its mistake’. Instead of the phrase ‘the Azerbaijani and Armenian nations of the republic’ the amended Decree contained the phrase ‘the Armenian and Azerbaijani nations of the oblast’! This wording distorts both the geography and essence of the conflict: the Armenian people of Azerbaijan (the Armenian populace inhabiting outside of Mountainous Karabagh) – the main victim of the conflict, is excluded from the picture of the conflict.
June 15 – The Supreme Council of the Armenian SSR adopted the resolution with respect of the Resolution of the special session of the Council of People’s Deputies of MKAO of the Azerbaijan SSR of February 20, 1988 “On Motion to the Supreme Councils of the Azerbaijani and Armenian SSR on assignation of MKAO from the Azerbaijan SSR to the Armenian SSR’. The Supreme Council of the ArmSSR gave its consent to connecting MKAO with the Armenian SSR’.
Comment: The Decree did not contradict the USSR Constitution since by the adoption of such decree the Armenian SSR only expressed its consent to the reunification of MKAO with the Armenian SSR. The Decree left room for finding the political settlement of the problem.
July 18 – The issue of Mountainous Karabagh was reviewed at the session of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the USSR. It was stated in the respective resolution that ‘the Presidium deems it impossible to change the borders and the national-territorial arrangement of the AzSSR and ArmSSR set on the basis of the constitution. The Supreme Council takes this resolution based on the provision of the USSR Constitution (Article 78) which defines that the territory of a Union republic cannot be changed without the latter’s consent’.
Comment: The central government was not against changes in the borders and the established national and territorial system (in a sense these borders within a single Union were merely of territorial-administrative significance) but it was unacceptable for the central government that borders could be changed upon the claim of a nation. Earlier borders of the Union republics had been changed by Moscow’s own initiative dozens of times without regard to the Constitution. In particular, the borders of the Armenian SSR were changed in favor of AzSSR several times. Moreover, in case of Armenia this issue was resolved without any minutes or agreements. Instead, for taking a similar decision the map with the inserted changes published in Moscow could serve as a basis (as it was in the case with Artsvashen village).
November 21 - The start wide-range anti-Armenian terror and massacres throughout Azerbaijan.
November 22 - The attacks of the Azeris on Armenian districts were withstood in Gandzak (Gyanjha).
November 23 - The Soviet troops intervene in Gandzak (Gyanjha), the second largest town in AzSSR.
POLITICAL SYNOPSIS OF THE YEAR: A SPECIAL FORM OF GOVERNANCE WITH DIRECT SUBORDINATION TO THE CENTRAL AUTHORITIES WAS INTRODUCED IN MKAO. THIS TURNED TO BE THE LAST STATUS OF MKAO DURING THE SOVIET PERIOD. THE WEST SUPPORTED THE KARABAGH DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT IN RESOLVING THE PROBLEM BASED ON THE RIGHT OF NATIONS TO SELF-DETERMINATION.
January 12, 1989 – Adoption by the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the USSR of a decree on introduction of a special form of governance in MKAO and creation of Committee of special governance (CSG) headed by A.Volskie. Under the decree the activity of the Council of People’s Deputies of MKAO and the Committee of the Communist Party of the Oblast was suspended.
Comment: In the Resolution of the Committee of Constitutional Control of the USSR of November 28, 1991, it was acknowledged that the provision of the Directive on Establishing Special Governance concerning the dissolution of the Council of People’s Deputes of MKAO of the 20th convocation was in contradiction with the Constitution. Practically, the directive on establishing special governance assumed the withdrawal of MKAO from the direct subordination to AzSSR. The introduction of the special governance derived from the resolution of the 8th session of the Council of the People’s Deputies of MKAO on the withdrawal of MKAO from AzSSR. Mountainous Karabagh was put under direct subordination of the central government. Chronologically, this status was the last status of Mountainous Karabagh during the Soviet period.
January 13 - The Resolution of the USSR Council of Ministers ‘On measures related to the introduction of special form of governance in the Oblast of Mountainous Karabagh’ was passed. According to Clause 1 of the said Resolution, the social-economic indicators of MKAO should be reported in a special line (separate from those for AzSSR). Shortly after that the Department of the Interior of MKAO was passed under direct subordination to the Central Government of the USSR. The Editorial-Production Agency was established by the order of the State Committee of Statistics of the USSR.
May 6 – Decree of the USSR Council of Ministers which stipulated the withdrawal of industrial enterprises and organizations of MKAO from the subordination of AzSSR.
July 13 – In Shushi, the Azeris destroyed the statues of Nelson Stepanyan, twice conferred with the title of Hero of the USSR and Ivan Tevosyan, an outstanding statesman.
July 19 – The Foreign Affairs Committee of the USA Senate adopted the Resolution ‘On US assistance in the peaceful settlement of the dispute about Mountainous Karabagh in conformity with the wish of the people of Soviet Armenia’. In particular, the Resolution read: ‘… to appeal to president Gorbachov with the request to review the claim on reunification with Armenia together with the representatives of Mountainous Karabagh and democratic movement (including the members of ‘Karabagh’ committee recently released from prison)… In bilateral talks with the Soviet Union, pledge for conducting investigation at the highest level of the violations against the Armenians, as well as identifying and punishing those who are liable for the murderous crime’.
July 26 – At the special session of Shahumyan Regional Council of People’s Deputies the resolution with the motion on connecting the Shahumyan Region with MKAO was adopted.
August 7 – In Geneva, at the UN Human Rights Sub-Commission the government of the USSR was recommended to conduct a referendum in MKAO “for the purpose of determining the will of the majority of the population of the region…”.
August 16 – The first session of the plenipotentiary representatives of MKAO was held in Stepanakert: “… for the purpose of stabilizing the situation in the region before the reestablishment of the functions of the Council of People’s Deputies of MKAO and the regional committee of the Communist Party …” the session “…elected the National Council and in the name of the people of MKAO delegated it with the powers of administration in all areas of the Oblast during the interim periods between the sessions”. At the session the National Council of MKAO was elected, and the state flag of the USSR was recognized as the symbol of the state power.
May-September – AzSSR started the blockade of MKAO and Armenia.
September 23 – The Sovereignty Law was passed in Baku which prescribed that the laws of USSR could become effective in AzSSR only after their approval by the Supreme Council of AzSSR. The aforementioned law “provided” for the right of AzSSR to withdraw from the USSR and reunite with any other states.
Comment: The Sovereignty Law could be passed by any of the Soviet republics without transgressing the international law but not AzSSR since under the existing international agreements and covenants with respect of the territories included in AzSSR it had restricted sovereignty in Mountainous Karabagh and Nakhichevan.
October 1 - St. John the Baptiser ’s Monastery was opened in Gandzasar which was built in 1216-1238 and was non-functional during the period of Soviet power.
October 10 – Provocative action in Stepanakert was perpetrated by the central government. A column of trucks with the students of the firemen’s technical school of Sverdlovsk by-passed the main highway and “drove” through Stepanakert. Fire was opened on houses and people in the streets. Six locals were injured. One of them died in hospital.
November 3 - Turks-Meskhetses were taken to the epicenter of inter-national collisions for separating the conflicting sides.
November 19 - The US Senate adopted the resolution on Mountainous Karabagh which read: “Given the concern of the 80% of the Armenian majority of the Autonomous Oblast of Mountainous Karabagh …, the fact that the Soviet government characterized the assassination of Armenians on February 28-29, 1988 as a in Sumgayit massacre, the fact that initially the people and government of the Soviet Union… took a positive action and created the special governance interim committee of the Autonomous Oblast of Mountainous Karabagh…, the fact that the Committee was ineffective,... to promote the fair settlement of the conflict around Mountainous Karabagh which will actually reflect the conviction of the people of the region”.
November 21 – The National Council of Mountainous Karabagh responded to the US Senate in a wire where it expressed its gratitude for understanding the fair claims of the Karabagh movement and support for the just strivings of the people of Mountainous Karabagh.
November 29 – The resolution of the Supreme Council of the USSR “On Actions Aimed at Normalization of the Situation in the Autonomous Oblast of Mountainous Karabagh” was adopted. In the course of the discussion of the problem a unanimous opinion was expressed about enlarging the scope of powers of the Committee of Special Governance. However, the administration of the USSR put to the vote the resolution which envisaged cessation of the special governance. According to the resolution, it was stipulated to create an Azerbaijani-Karabagh Organizational Committee with equal rights of the members of the committee for the purpose of reestablishing the regional state governance agencies. Nonetheless, the aforementioned committee was not created before the breakup of the USSR, and the status of the special governance under the direct subordination to the central government was the last state-legal status of Mountainous Karabagh in the context of the Soviet state-legal system. The resolution was adopted without the participation of the people’s deputies from ASSR, MKAO who had left the session of the Supreme Council of the USSR as a sign of protest.
November – The last few Armenians left Gandzak. Details in: Kirovabad
December 1 - The adoption of the joint resolution of the Supreme Council of the Armenian SSR and the national Council of MKAO “On Reunion of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) and Autonomous Oblast of Mountainous Karabagh”.
December 4 – The adoption of the resolution of the Presidium of AzSSR where the key covenants of the Resolution of the Supreme Council of the USSR (Paragraphs 3, 4, 6, 7) of November 28 were suspended.
December 20 – The arson of the chef d'oeuvre of architecture, Church Kazanchetsots in the town of Shushi by the Azerbaijani. 1990.
POLITICAL SYNOPSIS OF THE YEAR: IN THE VIEW OF THE TURKIZATION OF EAST TRANSCAUCASUS FOLLOWING THE FORCEFUL ASSIMILATION OF THE MINOR ISLAMIC NON-TURKISH PEOPLES, THE LOCAL TURKS DEFEATED THEIR MAIN OPPONENT IN THE EAST TRANSCAUCASUS, THE ARMENIAN PEOPLE OF AZERBAIJAN, BY MEANS OF VIOLANCE AND IMPOSED ASSIMILATION. AN ABRUPT STEP WAS TAKEN TOWARDS A MONO-NATIONAL AZERBAIJAN, TO “GREAT TURAN”. THE CENTRAL GOVERNEMNT OF THE USSR WAS SUPORTIVE FOR AZERBAIJAN ALTHOUGH SUCH SUPPORT WAS NOT DISPLAYED OPENLY. IT WAS VEILED BY THE PHRASING “AT PARITY”. AT THE YEAR-END THE LEADERS OF MOSCOW AND BAKU PREPARED THE PUNITIVE ACTION, THE ÎPERATION ''CIRCLE", FOR SUPPRESSING KARABAGH AND DEPORTING THE ARMENIANS OF KARABAGH.
January 12 - The Presidium of the USSR Supreme Council passed the Resolution “On Illegitimacy of Resolution of the Supreme Council of AzSSR” of December 4, 1989.
January 12 – The first secretary of the Central Committee of Azerbaijan Vezirov delivered a speech by TV calling for determined actions against the Armenian population. It was in this speech that the phrase “The Center (Central Government) is in our hands” was uttered.
January 14 – Demonstrations of the Lezgins-residents of the north-east regions of AzSSR (South Lezgistan). The Lezgins claimed for self-determination and separation from AzSSR.
January 13 - 15 – Massacre of the Armenians in Baku.
Comment: During the massacre the Soviet troops stayed in the quarters and did not leave the airport of Bin where they had been landed earlier. After the massacres in Baku and other regions densely populated with Armenians the phrase “the conflict in and around the Mountainous Karabagh” disappeared from the language of the USSR central government. Instead, the language “conflict between the Armenian SSR and Azerbaijani SSR” was used. The sanguinary events in Baku revealed the initial intention of the central government to transform the conflict between Mountainous Karabagh and Azerbaijan to a conflict between the Armenian SSR and Azerbaijan SSR.
January 15 - During the days of massacre in Baku the emergency state regime was established in the Autonomous Oblast of Mountainous Karabagh (!) and some of the bordering regions (it should be noted that the emergency state regime was not established in Baku). Demonstrations and meetings were banned. The directive on the emergency state regime envisaged de-arming of citizens, and, if appropriate, institutions and organizations. It was a selective de-arming of the population, i.e., only the Armenians were de-armed.
Comment: The directive was enforced under the circumstances when there was no legislation on the legal regime of the emergency state. The de-arming of the population was conducted exclusively among the Armenians.
January 15 - The Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of ASSR sent a message to the scientists throughout the world and called for criticizing the barbaric massacre of the Armenian population of AzSSR. The scientists of France, the USA, Sweden, Austria, Belgium responded to this appeal… They characterized the violent actions as a crime against the mankind.
January 16 – The arson of the Armenian church in Baku.
January 20 – The Soviet troops entered Baku after the complete deportation of the Armenians from the city.
February 12 - The Supreme Council of ASSR adopted the resolution “On Acknowledging Illegitimate the Resolution of theáþðî Caucasus Bureau of the Russian Comunist Party (of Bolshevik) of July 5, 1921".
Comment: Actually, it cannot be regarded as a resolution given the fact that no discussions or voting was held. It was not approved but was enforced against the will of the Karabagh people. The resolution of the Supreme Council of ASSR was silent about this legal aspect.
April 3 - The Law of the USSR “On Procedures for Settling Issues Related to Withdrawal of a Soviet Republc from the USSR” was passed. Comment: The aforementioned law defined the right of autonomous territorial units and ethnic groups living jointly within a specific territory to determine independently their state-legal status in the event of breakup of the USSR.
April 21 - The presidium of the Supreme Council of the USSR was convened.
May 20 – Elections of the deputies of the supreme council of ASSR from MKAO were held in 11 electoral precincts out of 12 ones.
September 10 - A special committee of the Supreme Council of ASSR on Artsakh was created. In autumn the Central government of the USSR and Baku prepared a wide-range joint military operation against Mountainous Karabagh. The number of the Azerbaijani OMON (militia units of special assignment) was increased to more than 5.000 person while it should not exceed 300. By the order of the minister of the interior of the USSR the troops of the ministry of the interior of the USSR located in Azerbaijan were passed to the disposition of the administration of AzSSR.
December 24-25 - The Soviet troops distributed in AzSSR routed the village of Kajavan of Martakert Region.