Newspaper Golos Armenii published an issue by Marina Grigoryan. Follow the article here.
Covering up a crime and criminals also constitutes a crime. One recalls this truth every time one familiarizes himself with the sophisticated tricks of Azerbaijan aimed at covering up their guilt for the monstrous acts of February27-29, 1988 in Sumgait. As new evidences about “Sumgait” emerge, namely – details, documents and facts –they take up greater and greater (and therefore more doomed) efforts in Baku to completely falsify and twist the historical realities. It is not by chance that these efforts have intensified relatively recently, after the Armenian side sharply increased and institutionalized operations in the fields of public outreach and information.
Prior to that in Baku they preferred to largely remain silent about “Sumgait”, following the saying “let sleeping dogs lie”. At the same time the Azerbaijanis knew very well what happened in Sumgait. For these reasons there was a silence of more than 20 years; but then there was a sudden revival of the issue after the Armenian side unveiled a great number of facts exposing the case. And the Armenian side presented documents of various formats and not empty propagandistic pieces, which the Azeris usually present as counterarguments. When all the facts, sources, documents, witnesses, video and photo materials speak against you, you have no choice but to resort to unfounded statements and long-abused clichés.
First comes the conclusion; the investigation will follow.
We deliberately waited for a couple of months, not responding to the messages of Baku mass media of the end of February and beginning of March. And now when the combustion of lies has subsided, until the next February, it is worth examining the publications which come to prove that in Baku they have been so concerned about recent revelations that they have taken up more active actions. While last year the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan announced that “the causes, the context and the overall reality of Sumgait events was quite different”, this year they decided to describe exactly what is “different” in detail.
According to Baku mass media, Deputy Chairman of Azerbaijani State Television Ibrahim Mamedov wrote a book titled The Sumgait Provocation against Azerbaijan: The Grigoryan Case, the presentation of which took place at the end of February during the conference at the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan devoted to the 27th anniversary of “Sumgait”. The venue of the event itself indicates that the program of criminal falsification of Sumgait events is being carried out under the control of the President of Azerbaijan personally. This is not surprising given that last year this project was supervised by the Chief of Staff of President’s Administration Ramiz Mehtiyev, who was infamous for a number of statements on the same “Grigoryan case”.
The main idea of Mamedov’s book repeats an old tale according to which “the Sumgait events of 1988 were a pre-planned provocation against Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani people”. To support this version he argues that “all the facts and documents prove that Eduard Grigoryan was taking part in the murder of six Armenians and that he personally confessed this”. “The investigation revealed that the Armenians and the intelligence services of the USSR had previously prepared for these events. The collected evidence comes to prove that Sumgait events constitute a preplanned provocation”, – announced Mamedov without demonstrating any of the “collected evidence”.
First Deputy Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan RustamYusubov (who had announced about the resumption of investigations on Sumgait events last year), said during the presentation the most crucial and “sensational” result of the investigation: in “Odnoklassniki” social network they found a photograph of a man who looks like Eduard Grigoryan.
Based on the examination of this photograph, the Baku-based detectives concluded that it is his photo and that he is currently residing in the Moscow Region. That was the final result of one year’s work of the First Deputy Prosecutor-General and his investigation team. One should think that during the next year they will be busy searching for Grigoryan in other social networks. Because based on Yusubov’s statements, the prosecutors have no other task except searching and “exposing” only one person among hundreds of the Sumgait killers and pogrom-makers. The reason for this is plain and simple – Eduard Grigoryan has an Armenian surname.
The goal of Baku investigators and propagandists however does not amount solely to searching for Grigoryan. In Azerbaijan a long time ago, almost immediately after the events, they announced their verdict, claiming that “the Sumgait events were organized by Grigoryan together with his brothers and other Armenian extremists who were carrying out orders of the USSR KGB”.
Besides, the very need to somehow back up this version made the “Baku Pinkertons” announce about the “resumption of the investigation”, although the legal practice in the whole world would follow the opposite approach – first they conduct investigation and then, based on the obtained data they make a conclusion and bring forth charges. The problem is that this commonly accepted way has brought to completely different, ruthlessly exposing conclusions for Baku.
The novelty of this season is the emergence of another non-Azerbaijani surname in the announcements made by Baku. It is Georgian Konstantin Phakadze, whose whole “guilt” was that his wife was an Armenian and also that he honestly told about everything he had seen in those days. His story, together with very valuable observations, is included in the book Sumgait Tragedy. Pogroms Against Armenians in Soviet Azerbaijan (Volume 1, Eyewitness Accounts) These two facts served as basis for the Azerbaijani investigators to announce that “provocations in Sumgait were done by Phakadze, who was an activist of separatist Karabakh Committee”. For this they are referring to “the archival materials of the KGB”, again without demonstrating any “materials” as a proof.
The legal aspects of the investigation
27 years have passed after Sumgait. Mass crime was going on unpunished and without any obstacles for three full days on February 27, 28 and 29 in the city located only 25-30 km away from Baku. The crime was committed openly, in broad daylight, in front of law enforcement bodies and thousands of citizens, and it involved hundreds of Azerbaijanis. It resulted in multiple murders, rapes, tortures, plunders, arsons as well as deportation of 18.000 civilian residents of that city.
Having resumed the investigation of those events more than 20 years later, in Baku they could only find, from among voluminous documents, one single Armenian surname among hundreds of criminals and started to search for this very man, accusing him of organizing the whole mass crime.
The database of facts at the same time is substituted by unfounded propagandistic statements and a couple of references to Azerbaijani sources. No argument of legal nature is brought in the resources that are made public.
During the above-mentioned meeting Yusubov made the following statement: “Appropriate work has been done for identifying the location of one of the main organizers of the Sumgait events -Eduard Grigoryan”. That the Baku investigators of the Sumgait case (who use social networks for searching criminals) have one single person as the target of their investigation among many perpetrators, is demonstrated also by the title of the book presented in Baku – The case of Eduard Grigoryan.
Thus, there is a clear attempt of bringing downgrade an ethnically motivated mass murder, which has all the elements of genocide within the meaning of the UN Genocide Convention, to a crime committed by one person. Otherwise, in Azerbaijan they would now be searching not for only one among hundreds of Sumgait executioners, but for all those who were never held responsible or punished for organizing and committing the crime. In that case the main criteria of the investigation would be not the ethnicity but completely different factors.
A question arises: On what legal grounds is the Azerbaijani side searching specifically for Eduard Grigoryan? What new investigative materials and newly discovered facts dictate the necessity to identity his location and in the future to sue him again?
Let us now examine the facts.
E. Grigoryan was detained on 1 March 1988 together with dozens of other suspects accused of committing the Sumgait crimes. According to the data demonstrated in a number of sources, there were altogether more than 90 people detained in the framework of the investigation, while hundreds took part in the pogrom. The Sumgait case was dispersed and presented as several separate criminal cases. Grigoryan is mentioned only in one of those cases. The original copy of prosecutor’s indictment , in which Grigoryan was among the six Azerbaijanis, is freely accessible online (in Russian).
The criminal case N18/55461-88 in question was investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office of the USSR, the final indictment was signed by the Azerbaijani Prosecutor-General Ilyas Ismayilov and the trial was held in Sumgait. In December 1989 Grigoryan was sentenced to 12 years in prison and as a result, in the framework of similar cases in the entire Soviet Union, was conveyed to Armenia. In December 1992 he was subject to amnesty declared by the President of the newly independent Republic of Armenia, and released from prison. After that his traces have been lost, however it can be claimed convincingly that he left Armenia.
In any case, one thing is clear – Eduard Grigoryan was released according to a legitimate procedure and there are no grounds for double prosecution, unless new facts and circumstances have become known. The Azerbaijani side does not present such evidence and is making only statements that have nothing in common with jurisprudence.
In Baku, on the level of Azerbaijan’s Deputy Prosecutor-General, they are trying to explain their search for Grigoryan by referring to the old verdict about his role as the “organizer of pogroms”, without backing up this verdict with any legal fact or proof. It is beyond doubt that should Azerbaijan’s Prosecutor’s office have had at least one single new fact that could legally justify the search or could bring a new case against Grigoryan, this would have been immediately made public and widely spread.
Let us bring another quote fromYusubov’s speech. “The investigation of Sumgait events of 1988 was conducted in a biased way and was based on political order; the real criminals avoided punishment. The main prosecution cases were run by investigating officers who were invited by the USSR General Prosecutor’s office and from different regions of Russia. As a result of the investigation they came to a conclusion that the Sumgait events were organized by the Armenians and by the special services of foreign countries. Information about the Sumgait events being organized by the USSR was received during the investigation that was carried out early in 1989-1990s.”
Again, there is not a single reference to the original source, not a single document or piece of evidence.
At the same time there is a grain of truth in the statements made by Azerbaijan’s Prosecutor-General. The case was indeed heard in a biased way and the actual culprits – first of all the masterminds – were not brought to justice. This was best described by former Prosecutor of the Azerbaijani SSR Ilyas Ismayilov, who later became the Prosecutor-General of the Azerbaijani Republic and from 2006 till now has been a deputy of Milli Majlis and member of Parliamentarian Committee on Human Rights.
In 2003, still not a member of parliament, the same Ismayilov that had signed the indictments on Sumgait pogroms at the time, in an interview to Baku newspaper “Zerkalo” (as a result of mass repressions and persecution of journalists and human rights activists in Azerbaijan this newspaper was closed down in December 2014) said: “The perpetrators, who provoked people to commit pogroms in Sumgait, carry in their pockets mandates of deputies and are sitting today in Milli Mejlis”
As we know, in Azerbaijani Parliament had not a single member with an Armenian surname, either in 2003 or now. And that means Ismayilov did not mean Grigoryan.
The Armenian side would have completely supported the initiative of conducting a new investigation on the case of the Sumgait crimes, if only… if only it weren’t of propagandistic but of a legal nature and if it were dictated by a sincere strife to expose the perpetrators – the organizers and the executioners.
In that case the investigation should have examined the materials of not one but of all the criminal cases on Sumgait deeply hidden in Azerbaijani archives, to which the access of an independent investigator is strictly denied. However, in Baku they publish only one of these cases and they are looking only for one among many convicts.
However, it should be noted that Sumgait is the only crime which was committed in Azerbaijan against the Armenian people at the end of 1980s and beginning of 1990s, on which criminal proceedings were initiated, investigations were carried out and even sentences were issued to only some of the convicts. Even the more, given the fact the cases had been largely covered up by the law enforcement bodies, and that the judges and eyewitnesses had been following the orders from the Kremlin to prove the “hooligan” nature of the Sumgait crimes, still the materials of those criminal cases on their own right are highly valuable official and, first and foremost, legal source for any further investigation into the Sumgait events, shall it ever take place.
Let us add that with the exception of one case (heard in the Supreme Court of USSR in Moscow), all the other cases were heard in the courts of Sumgait and Baku, even though the cases were transferred to regional courts of the Russian Federation.
Court proceedings took place under unprecedented pressure, even threats against lawyers and the Armenian witnesses (this is proven by multiple facts including audio-recordings).
As a result, those witnesses, including Azerbaijanis among them, and lawyers from Armenia, who initially hoped that justice will be served and were ready to give truthful testimony, at the end of the day refused to take part in the proceedings. However, even under these circumstances very valuable testimonies were recorded, including those given by Azerbaijanis, and indisputable facts were revealed, which give special importance to legal materials and especially to the court proceedings.
From the very outset the chances of the Armenian side to influence the cases or the proceedings had been minimal or non-existent at all. The investigation was carried out by the group from the USSR General–Prosecutor’s office, in which about 20 Azerbaijani investigators were included. The cases were heard in Azerbaijan, the indictments were signed by Prosecutor of the Azerbaijani SSR Ilyas Ismayilov – all this indicated that it was the Azerbaijani side which directly controlled and influenced the judicial procedures and the investigation as a whole. However, in Azerbaijan they don’t trust the investigation that was carried out in the Soviet courts and now they have decided to resume the investigation on a single case that has an Armenian surname in it.
By the way, there are many sources to claim – and that has been done by various authors before – that Grigoryan had quite weak, if any, connections to Armenian community in Azerbaijan or elsewhere. As such, there is the testimony given by a classmate of Eduard’s sister Aida Grigoryan. This woman, who is currently residing in Germany, recalls: “Once in the class the pupils were asked to tell their nationalities. When it was Aida Grigoryan’s turn she said that she considered herself to be Russian. We of course rebutted telling her that she has an Armenian surname. She answered that this was just a surname and that she did not consider herself to be an Armenian.”
Let us also add that prior to the Sumgait events Grigoryan had a number of convictions and prison sentences.
At the end of February and the beginning of March 1988 he happened to be among 94 convicts who were arrested on the Sumgait case –he was the only Armenian among them; there was also one Russian. All the others were Azerbaijanis. About 80 of them were sentenced to various terms in prison, while one of them, A. Ahmedov, was sentenced by the USSR Supreme Court to capital punishment – death penalty. There is massive non-official evidence (eyewitness accounts, newspaper publications, etc) showing that most of those convicted served only several months and even several weeks in prison and were released shortly. Up until now it is not known (at least for Armenian researchers) whether Ahmedov’s capital punishment was carried out.
The indictment of the case N18/55461-88, as it was mentioned earlier, is available online and anyone can make up their own opinion about how serious today’s charges against Grigoryan are. The case describes in detail unimaginably cruel atrocities committed by seven jerks (how many of them escaped a trial is a different question) against defenceless Armenians, however in the document there is not even a slightest hint on that Grigoryan was the “organizer” of these atrocities – either of the given episode, or of the Sumgait case as a whole.
The charges brought against him on a number of articles of the Criminal Code of the Azerbaijani SSR are not much different from the analogous charges brought against his accomplices, and he has been found guilty according to fewer articles than the others, such as Nizami Safarov or Galib Mamedov. There is no mention of the Grigoryan brothers in the case, together with whom, according to Yusubov, Eduard organized the pogroms.
The crazy version devised by Baku out of helplessness alleging that Grigoryan on the days of the pogrom was “taking revenge from those Sumgait Armenians who refused to pay membership fees to Armenian extremist organizations” gets absolutely no support either, as within the case there is not even a single mention or a hint of any such organization. None of the victims or witnesses mentions him as the organizer or the leader of the gang. To the contrary, all the materials of the case testify that Grigoryan was a common pogrom-maker and rapist, who acted the same way as multiple others with Azeri surnames.
At the same time there is no mention in the case of the involvement of Grigoryan in murders per se. This, however, does not prevent the Azeri propaganda from ascribing to him murders of Armenians, moreover – the number of victims “killed” by Grigoryan extends each year according to the Azeri propaganda. So, if two or three years ago in Baku they spoke of 5-6 people killed by Grigoryan, now this number has grown to 8-10. One may assume that after one or two years Grigoryan will be charged with all the murders carried out in Sumgait.
Go find Mejidov, Ganifaev, Muslimzade, Bairamova and others
Azerbaijani public figures who are engaged in Sumgait falsifications now, are keen on referring to one of the victims in the case with Grigoryan’s involvement. This woman is Lyudmila M, whose entire family severely suffered as a result of pogroms, while she was saved by a miracle. In her testimony she indeed recognizes Grigoryan and accuses him of rape, humiliation and plunder – in the same way as she accuses the others.
However, the Ordinary Genocide project possesses a video recording of the confrontation with the participation of Lyudmila M. conducted by the investigation group. In this video recording she recognizes the man who was the first to rape her on that horrible day. The suspect also confesses having done this – all this can be seen in the archival materials of the proceedings.
What is most noteworthy is that the prosecutor calls this man by the name – Mejidov Mail Ismail-ogli. This name is however not in the list of the convicts in the case of Lyudmila M. So here is a question to General Yusubov – why not announce a search for Mejidov M. I. in the framework of the resumed investigation on Sumgait? After all he was pleaded guilty as a result of the investigation, but for some reasons he avoided punishment.
Another reason for resuming the Sumgait case and for searching the perpetrators is provided in the testimony by convicted Turabiev in the court in relation to court proceedings on another criminal case which accuses Mehdiev, Rzaev and Turabiev in the murder of the Avanesyan brothers and in other crimes (the verdict ).
Turabiev states, “Near Mezhlumyan’s place I saw policemen. They were provoking the people to make pogrom in Mezhlumyans’ apartment. There were about 20 of them there. One of them had the rank of the Major; he approached people and asked, “Why are you standing doing nothing? You too go ahead, destroy and plunder”.
Question to Mr. Yusubov: Why isn’t there a search for the policemen, not only for those who were not doing their job during the pogroms, but also for those encouraging others to commit crimes against the Armenians? Were the Sumgait police, as well as other local bodies also acting according to the orders of Grigoryan and other “Armenian extremists”?c
Or, was it that the Sumgait police and the Prosecutor’s Office with all its employees, as well as all the other officers of law enforcement bodies of Baku and Azerbaijan from top to down were employees of the USSR KGB and were carrying out orders of one Armenian man – Grigoryan? In that case where was the administration of the Azerbaijani Committee of State Security (so cherished by KGB General HeydarAliyev) looking at? How could they have allowed such a humiliating state of affairs for the Azerbaijani state? And where is the current Azerbaijani leadership looking at, headed by his son Ilham Aliyev who is promoting such a shameful version of events for his state and for his people?
In the court case that was taking place in Moscow there were only three suspects. The materials of this criminal case and the indictment (in Russian) of which can be found on Karabakhrecords.info website) come to prove that on 29 February in the assault of only one (the 41st) quarter of Sumgait 400 people were taking part. 7 Armenians were brutally murdered (5 of them were Melkumyan family members), many apartments were plundered and other cruel crimes were committed. All this, according to the indictment, was carried out only by three hooligans, one of which was almost a teenager… while the Sumgait police were unable to stop them.
Does this even make any sense?
Well Mr. Yusubov, go and search for other executioners of Sumgait, including the policemen!
One more reason for the modern Baku investigators to work hard on are the statements made by two witnesses on one and the same case (heard in the Supreme Court of Moscow) – they are the master of Housing Department 12 of Sumgait T. Tahmazov and the head of the same Housing Department V. Mamedov. Both witnesses testified in the court that according to the orders of the representative of the Azerbaijani Central Committee of the Communist Party in Sumgait Ganifaev, all the items that were thrown out of the plundered apartments of the Armenians were immediately taken to the city dump, set on fire and dug into the ground. This means that immediately a couple of hours after the crime was committed substantial evidence was destroyed by the representatives of the local self-governing bodies. Many Sumgait residents also have testified that the traces and the evidence of crime were immediately destroyed.
Another question to Yusubov: Where is Ganifaev now? Why isn’t he being searched for to find out what goal he pursued when giving such orders and who ordered him personally to cause such substantial obstacles for the investigation? Maybe Ganifaev will show the investigators the desired road to the KGB?
One cannot but ask one more question: Why with the purpose of finding the organizers of the Sumgait pogrom no one is searching for then Sumgait authorities, for instance the First Secretary of the City Committee Jahangir Muslimzade? According to the testimony of many Sumgait residents he first made a speech at the rally on 27 February in which he called for “allowing the Armenians to go out of the city freely” and then he was seen with an Azerbaijani flag in his hands heading the bloodthirsty crowd.
Two hours after that street rally, pogroms and murders began in the city, but the name of one of those chiefly responsible for the situation was not included in any of the criminal cases. Likewise in none of these cases one can find the name of the Second Secretary of the City Committee Melek Bairamova, who took an active part in and made aggressive statements at the same street rally.
Moreover, there is verified information on that a day prior to the pogrom, on 26 February, Azerbaijan’s leadership arrived in Sumgait, among them the First Secretary of the Communist Party’s Central Committee (CC) Kyamran Bagirov, CC Secretary G. Hasanov and the head of the CC Department M. Asadov. On 26 February rallies were already being held in Sumgait where public incitements to murdering and deporting Armenians were already being voiced. With what purpose did the Azerbaijan’s high-ranking authorities arrive to Sumgait, while immediately after their departure the genocide of the Armenian population began in the city? Why is none of them mentioned in the criminal cases as being responsible for mass murder in Baku’s satellite city and for the non-interference of state authorities?
If in Baku they really had the goal of revealing the truth about Sumgait, then they would by all means take up measures for getting answers to the questions related to these persons and facts. For instance they would have tried to identify the purpose of the visit of the three men or the reasons why as the result of investigation none of the state and city authorities was tried, or even called in as a witness.
But Yusubov is interested exclusively in one man with an Armenian surname.
That almighty Grigoryan
It must be noted that by trying to shift all the responsibility on Grigoryan, together with his brothers and “other Armenian extremists” (their names, with the exception of Georgian Phakadze, aren’t mentioned; while Eduard’s brother Ernest was detained and then set free by the investigators and his name was never afterwards mentioned in the court proceedings), the Azerbaijani side is setting up its own people. After all, claims that Sumgait pogrom was organized by an Armenian, or even by two Armenians and one Georgian, is a total slap on the face of their compatriots.
This means that hundreds of Azerbaijanis readily ran after a criminal Armenian, blindly following his orders to kill, torture, rape and burn civilians, while thousands of others, with the same readiness indulged themselves in watching these atrocities as bystanders… And only few of the Azerbaijanis of Sumgait were capable of showing empathy and tried to help the Armenians with whom they had lived as neighbours, worked and were friends for many years.
Moreover, according to the version of Baku, Grigoryan, being an ordinary criminal (even if we suppose that he might have been in any way related to the KGB) had unlimited influence on law-enforcing bodies of Sumgait and Baku, on medical institutions, which refused to send ambulance cars and help the dying Armenians (there are many eye-witness accounts on this), on those in charge of the city telephone network so that he could make them cut the telephone lines of the Armenians for several days. In that case Grigoryan must have also prepared lists with addresses of the Sumgait Armenians in the Housing Department (as it was testified by dozens of eye-witnesses), as well as manufactured cold weaponry in Sumgait factories, about which local newspapers also wrote. He must have also strictly ordered the leadership of the city of Sumgait and that of Azerbaijan for whole three days to disregard the events which were taking place less than 30 km away from capital Baku!
Yusubov is also claiming that the “then acting head of the police unit of Sumgait, Lieutenant-Colonel Khanlar Jafarov asked General Kraev to send to Sumgait troops which were located in Nasosni town”. He had supposedly answered, “Can’t you deal with a group of hooligans?” A question arises: Why wasn’t Lieutenant-Colonel Jafarov, together with his officers, taking up any measures? Were they afraid of a group of hooligans or were they following Grigoryan’s orders?
Thus, if we follow the Azerbaijani version of events, there can be only one conclusion: all the state organs, including the law-enforcement bodies and all the leadership of Soviet Azerbaijan were subjected to one single criminal with an Armenian surname and to the USSR KGB. Why in that case isn’t the Prosecutor-General’s Office looking for those who brought such a shame to the whole republic and to the whole nation, who, according to the actual assessment of Yusubov himself, made the Azerbaijanis look as “barbarians”?
It is true that there indeed were Azerbaijanis who saved their Armenian neighbours and friends. According to some testimonies, some of them even paid with their lives for that, as they were killed by their frenzied tribesmen. Sumgait Armenians always expressed their immense gratitude to those people. However in Azerbaijan they did not make heroes out of those who showed compassion for Armenians by helping them. Only those in Azerbaijan were made heroes who killed and tortured people solely because they were Armenians. Their photos, for instance that of Ahmedov, who was sentenced to death by court, appeared in rallies taking place in Baku several months later, in November 1988, while slogans such as “Hail the Sumgait heroes!” were heard. If we follow Yusubov’s and Mamedov’s logic, then it was the detained Grigoryan who from prison gave orders to heroize Sumgait executioners. This is absurd!
As it is known, the heroization of the murderers, which was a shameful and savage act for the whole civilized world, continued in Azerbaijan in the subsequent years too. For example, murderer Ramil Safarov, who axed a sleeping Armenia officer at night in Budapest in February 2004, was shortly thereafter officially proclaimed as a national hero and an example for the Azerbaijani youth. Are the Armenians and the special services of some unknown countries to be blamed for that too?
So who after all organized the Sumgait pogroms?
As it was mentioned above, one can agree with the newly emerged Baku investigators of Sumgait crimes only in one point – the initial investigation was biased and the perpetrators were left unpunished. Likewise, there is no doubt that both in Baku and in Moscow they did everything to cover up what had happened, to hide the true scale of the atrocity crimes and to limit the case to punishment of some of the perpetrators. Deputy Prosecutor-General Yusubov claims that “information about Sumgait events being organized by the special services of the USSR was received during the investigation which was carried out in 1989-1990”. A year earlier the same Yusubov voiced another interesting tale: “It has been revealed that these events were backed up by the Armenian lobby and other foreign special services”, – he announced.
Let’s leave aside the illiteracy of the Prosecutor-General, who fails to understand the difference between a lobby and special services. The imagination of the Azerbaijani propagandists isn’t even shocking anymore; it can only amuse the investigators who are used to relying solely on facts and on legal arguments. But here again some more questions arise. What exactly did Yusubov mean by “special services of foreign countries”? Who exactly according to Baku investigators was behind these pogroms – Armenian, Soviet or foreign special services? Or maybe they were all functioning in collaboration (which is hard to imagine in 1988)? Most importantly, what is it that prevents the Azerbaijani side from publishing the sensational information which served as basis for such conclusions?
However, the Baku investigators do not present a single fact that would support the version that the pogroms were organized by foreign special services or by Armenian extremists. This gives us all the grounds to conclude that such facts simply do not exist. At the same time the undeniable evidence showing that the Sumgait events were pre-planned and organized by the KGB of the Azerbaijan SSR, and that the whole process was controlled and coordinated by KGB officers does exist. This is supported not only by eyewitness accounts, most of whom testified seeing Volga automobile, inside which there were some people who from time to time would call up the leaders of the pogroms and were thereby coordinating the process. Neither is this version solely supported by the facts demonstrating that in the factories of Sumgait weapons were being manufactured or that there was no reaction from the capital Baku to what was going on for three days. There is more than that.
We have obtained archival video footage which shows the coordinating and directing role of the Azerbaijani special services during the Sumgait events. You can see these video shots in the Ordinary Genocide. Sumgait, February 1988 documentary . In these videos it is clearly seen and heard that some people give orders by radio in Russian and in Azerbaijani, using previously agreed signals by which they lead the crowd. The negotiations by the radio are conducted calmly and demonstrate professionalism; in that same calm and cynical manner they are filming the atrocities that are taking place. Who could in those days so confidently control the situation and film it at the same time? It is needless to explain.
As “evidence” that the Sumgait pogroms were carried out by the Armenian lobby and by the Soviet and foreign special services the Azerbaijani side has been writing that foreign TV channels were supposedly filming everything by video cameras and that afterwards these shots were immediately shown on TV, but they do not name any single TV station, while the archival video records demonstrate in the best way who exactly was filming the pogroms.
The organization that thoroughly planned and carried out the Sumgait scenario was Azerbaijani KGB which was for many years headed by “all-national leader” of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev. The article by George Soros published in 1989 in Russian journal Znamya points directly to the leadership and to special services of Azerbaijan. Soros namely writes, “The assumptions that the first Armenian pogroms in Azerbaijan were instigated by the local mafia managed by the then first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the future President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev, are not far from the reality”.
Only the version that the pogroms were organized and exercised by the leadership and by special services of Azerbaijan gives exhaustive answers to all the outstanding questions on the Sumgait case, including the reasons for the inaction of the law-enforcement bodies. While a stunning similarity of methods and means used by the Sumgait executioners of the end of the 20th century with the executioners of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Turkey at the beginning of the 20th century provide all the grounds for believing that Sumgait was the first crime of genocide in terms of its timing, which came to prove that Azerbaijan continued the Turkish genocidal policies against the Armenian people.
Immediately after the Sumgait events a wave of anti-Armenian statements and pogroms was spread through almost all the localities of Azerbaijan. Ethnic cleansings, followed by massive rape and murders, continued for almost two years, up until the final straw – mass pogroms of the Armenians in January 1990 in the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku. These were carried out with no less cruelty and brutality but were of a larger scale compared to the Sumgait pogroms.
As for the role of the USSR KGB in Moscow, it also completely fits within the above-mentioned version. In that period the interests of Kremlin matched with the Turkish interests which pursued carrying out the Armenian Genocide at the beginning of the century – these policies were continued by the authorities of Soviet Azerbaijan. Both in Baku and in Moscow they aimed to scare the Karabakh Armenians and not to allow the initially exclusively peaceful, constitutional Karabakh Movement to evolve.
For that very reason for three days Gorbachev did not intervene and subsequently he cynically announced that the troops were late for three hours only. The troops entered Sumgait on 28 February, but they were carrying blank cartridges and were given orders not to intervene, so that the Azerbaijanis would have a chance to mutilate dozens of Armenians and to deport the whole Armenian community from Sumgait.
The common goals of Baku and Moscow were quite clear, “to scare the Karabakh Armenians by reminding them of the possibility of the repetition of the Genocide and to revive the process of ethnic cleansing of the Armenians from the region, which was interrupted at the beginning of the 20th century.
Where and for what purpose did the “Armenian trace” appear in the Sumgait case?
Let’s return to Eduard Grigoryan, whose participation in the Sumgait pogroms allows the Azerbaijani side to claim the existence of the “Armenian trace” in organizing the pogroms. Examination of the investigation records, together with the testimony of eye-witnesses, gives an answer to the question about the origin of this “trace.”
As it was mentioned above, in their accusations against Grigoryan they like in Baku to refer to the case of Lyudmila M., who suffered severely in the episodes in which this rascal was involved. At the same time they attribute to her, absolutely without any ground, statements which are absent from the case and from the court proceedings. However, the other evidence given by Lyudmila M., which became known in 1989, has been deliberately ignored. For the first time it was published in 1989 in famous pamphlet “Sumgait … Genocide … Publicity” and was subsequently cited in the other journals and publications.
Here is what she said in her testimony: “In the evening on February 27 several Azerbaijanis, who were in prison together with Grigoryan, came to visit him. They said, ‘Tomorrow we will attack the Armenians. We will be waiting for you near the bus station at 3 o’clock. He tried to refuse to join them. He then was told, ‘If you don’t come –we’ll kill you’. And Grigoryan went with them.”
The testimony of Lyudmila M., of course, in no way justifies Grigoryan. He is the same ruthless executioner of Sumgait, as the other hundreds involved in the case. However, this testimony demonstrates that the organizers were making all possible efforts to insure the involvement of a person with an Armenian surname, and thereby to create an “Armenian trace” in the Sumgait pogroms. This too, among other arguments, proves that “Sumgait” was a carefully planned, elaborated and controlled crime against the Armenian people with far-reaching objectives. Its masterminds and organizers tried to foresee absolutely everything, including the inevitable charges against Azerbaijan of committing genocide against Armenians in the Soviet era, similar to the charges brought against Turkey for committing the Armenian Genocide in 1915-1923.
27 years after the Sumgait, when this crime still remains uncovered and many questions remain unanswered (including the actual number of the victims), in Baku they still cling to the “Armenian trace” version, which was prudently prepared by their predecessors. It is easy to predict the goals and the subsequent steps of the Azerbaijani propagandists when the Armenian side goes on exposing further details of the case: they will try to find and request the extradition of Grigoryan, after which, resorting to well-known methods, they will try to make him confess that he, in collaboration with the USSR KGB, was the organizer of the Sumgait genocide.
They at the same time don’t notice that the chekists’(KGB) primitive propaganda ploy has long failed to meet its goals under the pressure of countless facts, legal arguments and testimonies of hundreds of witnesses; the card that seemed to be a trump card in 1988, has in the end turned out to be a totally losing card.
Prepared with the assistance of the Public Relations and Information Center of the Office of the President of Armenia, Yerevan.
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