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[Azerbaijan State Telegraph Agency “AzerTAj” January 10, 2007, 14:04:59]

Seventeen years pass since January 20, 1990 events, which went down the history of the Azerbaijan people as a bloody January tragedy.

The monstrous act of terrorism committed in that day by military machine of the former Soviet state against the people of Azerbaijan, will always remain as a black page in history of civilization, and as one of the worst crimes against humanity.

Hundreds of innocent people were killed and wounded as a result of the massive terror, the massacre of peaceful population stood up for national liberation and territorial integrity of its country. This once again demonstrated to the whole world the criminal nature of the totalitarian Soviet regime on the threshold of its collapse.

The large contingent of the Soviet Army, commandos and interior troops entered Baku committing special cruelty and unprecedented murderous deeds. The communist dictatorship did not scruple to repeat in Azerbaijan – at that time, one of the Soviet Union’s republics – what they did during invasions of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Afghanistan. At that time, Azerbaijan was subjected to aggression from neighboring Armenia.

In those conditions, the Soviet leadership has not only undertaken resolute measures to prevent the conflict, but, on the contrary, included soldiers, officers and even cadets of Armenian nationality drafted in the cities of Stavropol, Krasnodar and Rostov in the units invaded Azerbaijan.

The military contingent entered Baku - numbering 60 thousand, according to some data, - had passed “comprehensive” psychological training to perform the “battle task” as follows (excerpt from the report of independent military experts of the organization “Shield”): “you have been delivered to Baku to protect Russians - local population brutally annihilate them; extremists have placed snipers on roofs of buildings around the Salyan barracks (area in Baku, where main military garrison is quartered), in this territory alone there are 110 weapon emplacements; buildings and apartments are full of rebels from the Popular Front of Azerbaijan, and they are set to meet you with powerful machine-gun fire.

The leadership of the Soviet Empire led by Michael Gorbachev took advantage of playing the “Russian and Armenian card” in Baku very skillfully. The troops were allegedly sent to Baku to protect the Russians and Armenians, families of servicemen, to prevent coup by “nationalists - extremists”. In reality, it was nothing but obvious hypocrisy and bold lie. Even if the Soviet leadership’s arguments were close to reality, there would be no a necessity to send troops armed up to teeth to Baku. At that moment, there were 11,5 thousand soldiers of Internal Troops, numerous military units of Baku garrison, and air defense forces deployed in Baku. Commandment of 4th Army also was in Baku.

Nevertheless, roughly violating the clauses of article 199 of the Constitution of the USSR, and the article 71 of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan SSR (Soviet Socialist Republic), Mikhail Gorbachev signed an Order on introducing on January 20 an emergency situation regime in Baku. However, the KGB’s commando “Alfa” blew up power generating unit of the Azerbaijan State Television stopping TV broadcasting in the Republic the day before, on January 19 at 19:27. Later at night, the troops invaded the city, whose residents had not been notified of introduction of the emergency situation regime, and perpetrated a massacre against them.

Nine were killed even before the Gorbachev’s Order took effect at 00:00 on January 20. Announcement on introducing an emergency situation in Baku was made public on the Republican radio only at 7:00 a.m. on January 20. By this time, death toll had reached 100, as the high-ranking officials sent by Gorbachev to Azerbaijan, had boldly claimed no an emergency situation would be introduced. This is how loathsome the guise of the Soviet empire’s leadership was, the leadership headed by Mikhail Gorbachev, who stained his hands with blood of innocent people, and later awarded with the Nobel Prize (?!..).

Tanks and armored troop-carriers were destroying everything in their path in the streets of Baku, with soldiers grimly firing at all and everything around them. The bullets would reach the people not only on the streets, but even in busses and their own apartments. Even ambulances carrying those wounded were subjected to fire. As a result, 137 were killed, about 700 wounded and over 800 unlawfully arrested.

The following is an excerpt from the report by experts from the organization “Shield”

- the people were shot with a special cruelty and from close distance. For instance, Y. Meyerovich was hit by 21 bullets, D. Khanmammadov by over 10, and R. Rustamov by 23;

- subject to fire were hospitals and ambulances; doctors were killed;

- some people were killed with bayonet-knives; among them was stone-blind B. Yefimtsev;

- 5.45 mm caliber cartridges for Kalashnikov automatic rifle were used

Minors, women, old and disabled people were among dead. Could they really be those whom Gorbachev and his company used to call “nationalists-extremists”?

On the 20th of January, the whole world was already aware of the monstrous massacre in Baku. Here is what was written in the January 22 edition of the newspaper “Pravda”, those times’ ideological mouthpiece of the Soviet Empire: “The claims on alleged death of women and children as a result of the efforts to introduce emergency situation regime, are nothing but an explicit provocation. It must be reiterated: this is a deliberate lie! Their goal is to upraise the population against the Soviet Army and law enforcement bodies…“

The day after the tragedy in Baku, on 21 January, Heydar Aliyev, who had been expelled from the Soviet Union’s leadership in 1987 because of biased attitude of Gorbachev incited by Armenians towards him, and later subjected to Moscow’s pressure, came to permanent representation of Azerbaijan in Moscow, and held here a press conference, at which he made a harsh statement overtly condemning the act of Soviet leadership’s aggression against the Azerbaijani people. Unfortunately, the then leaders of Azerbaijan took absolutely different stance, still looking to Moscow.

The 20 January and previous tragic events in Azerbaijan’s history became a manifestation of the aforethought policy pursued against our people over the 20th century. Stages of this policy are genocide of the Azerbaijan people, continued annexation of the Azerbaijan’s territory during Soviet time resulted in its reduction from 125 thousand to 87 thousand sq. km., developments in Nagorny Karabakh started with the connivance of the Soviet leadership, and expatriation of Azerbaijanis from their native lands in Armenia.

However tragic the January 1990 massacre is, it failed to crush the will of the Azerbaijan people, its aspiration to struggle for national liberation. The sons and daughters of the Motherland killed at that terrible night have written a brightest page in history of Azerbaijan, and paved the way to national liberation and independence of the people.

During the first years of the state independence of Azerbaijan, its leaders entirely immersed in fight for power, did not take deliberate efforts for the 20 January tragedy to be given a legal assessment, and its offenders to be revealed. Only after national leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Aliyev returned to political power, in 1994, the bloody January events were given full political and legal assessment, and the names of their offenders were made public.

One of the highest points in Baku is the place, which became sacred for every Azerbaijanian. It is the Alley of Martyrs, where victims of the 20 January tragedy, and those who died in the battles against the Armenian aggression were buried.

Thousands of people visit this place yearly on 20 January to commemorate sons and daughters of Azerbaijan, who sacrificed their lives for freedom and sovereignty of the Motherland. Generations will change, but memory of them will live on forever in hearts.