Sumgait events 27-29 February 1988: Attempts to analyze after 30 years

2018 February 13 ( Tuesday ) 11:38:04
Print version
Русский  Azərbaycan
Analytical Service Turan

This year the 30th anniversary of the Sumgayit events on February 27-29, 1988, which played a significant role in fomenting the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, will be marked. Until now there is no clarity in the real causes of the tragedy. Only different, usually contradictory versions, which can be called probable scenarios of events. Let's try to group them:

Sci.1: The events in Sumgait are genocide, which is the continuation of the genocide of 1915 in the Ottoman Empire. Azerbaijanis in their cruelty and hatred of Armenians are no different from Turks, there cannot really be any difference, since Azerbaijanis are Turks. Sumgait is the plan for the final eviction of Armenians from Azerbaijan through intimidation and terror.

The presence of lists of Armenians, the manufacture of cold steel at factories ( the talk is about the reinforcing bars), the disconnection of telephones by the workers of the city communication center, as well as the power cuts in entire neighborhoods in the day of the pogroms, are not "fabrications" that "continue to interfere with the investigation" , but the facts lying on the surface of events, ignoring which leads the investigation into the impasse outlined by the authorities.

Explanations should be sought in history, in certain ideological and psychological realities. The massacres of Armenians in Baku in 1918, the massacre in Shusha in 1920, the methodical survival of the indigenous Armenian population from the Nakhichevan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, frequent crimes on national grounds, the constant and almost undisguised discrimination of the Armenian population throughout the Republic of Azerbaijan, the desecration of Armenian monuments of history and architecture, inspired since childhood enmity towards Armenians.

Sc.2: Armenians needed a strong reason for the withdrawal of Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan, therefore, certain people were commissioned and carried out pogroms and murders in Sumgait attributed exclusively to Azerbaijanis on behalf of the center in Yerevan.

The Armenians detained as guilty of the Sumgait events were released. The main defendant in the case, Eduard Grigoryan, who incited the participants of the violence to violence, personally killed six Armenians and raped several Armenian women. Grigoryan, who was convicted three times, spent a total of more than ten years in prison. Shortly after the verdict on the Sumgayit events, E.Grigoryan was sent to Armenia, where he was released, then he moved to Russia.

Today, the Armenian side tries to present the situation in such a way that E.Grigorian's mother was Azerbaijani, and he himself was Azerbaijani. However, in the criminal case there are copies of his passport and military ID card, where the nationality indicates that he is Armenian. And today we continue his search for the purpose of bringing to criminal liability. It was possible to reveal that he lived in the Moscow area, but then his tracks were lost, - Deputy Prosecutor R.Usubov. More than 100 Armenians withdrew large sums of money from bank accounts before the riots and left Sumgait. We are talking about wealthy families "

According to the version first voiced by academician Z. Buniyatov in the article "Why Sumgait", Sumgayit pogroms were organized by "Armenian nationalists" in order to discredit Azerbaijanis. The Armenian conspirators allegedly installed hidden cameras in the places of future pogroms ahead of time, and the captured film was immediately distributed to news agencies around the world. Buniatov's version is based on disparate and unrelated facts. One of them: on the eve of the events Sumgayit Armenians withdrew about one million rubles from their accounts in the local savings bank. Another fact: participation in the pogroms of the Armenian Eduard Grigoryan. According to one version, during the riots Grigoryan instigated others to commit excesses, and according to another version, Grigoryan was forced to join the pogrom-makers of his factory friends-Azerbaijanis. The State Security Committee and the Prosecutor's Office of the former USSR: conducted an investigation of these events, during which numerous facts were revealed that unequivocally and convincingly prove that the actual organizers of the Sumgayit events were the Armenians themselves. In investigative materials, the main organizer of the Sumgayit events is Eduard Grigoryan, born in 1959, which is confirmed by numerous testimonies and evidence. The investigation revealed that six of the 26 killed were personally killed by E. Grigorian. In addition, during the investigation, the names of other Armenians - Oganyan, Samoilov and Pavlovsky, as well as the names of the brothers of the above-mentioned E. Grigorian were raised among the organizers.

Zardusht Ali-Zade: met with workers of the local aluminum plant. According to him, the workers said "about the strange, unearthly kind of young men who started the crowd." It is necessary to find out whether they really were, where they had gone, whether they had tried any of them.

Usubov: "At that time, Colonel Kalantarov, an active member of the" Committee for the reunification of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region with the Armenian SSR "(" Krunk ") arrived in Sumgait. He had lists and addresses of Armenians living in the city. Before the riots he left Sumgait. Violence was inflicted on the families of those Armenians who did not pay contributions to Krunk. The investigation revealed that the majority of the deceased Armenians were exactly those who refused to pay the "Krunk" committee. Among the provocateurs of the riots were people dressed in black cloaks, who talked among themselves in Armenian, while being fluent in Azerbaijani. They conducted propaganda among the crowd, distributed alcohol to the youth and cold steel. "

Sci. 3: The events in Sumgait were the result of the actions of the Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia, against which the Armenians showed unprecedented cruelty, which in some cases resulted in killings.

Thomas de Waal cites the testimony of two people who claim that they saw Azerbaijani refugees from Armenia in Baku back in November 1987 and January 1988 (there is absolutely accurate information about the appearance of refugees in Baku in November 1987, going to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan.) At the same time, he writes that Aramais Babayan, in 1988 the second secretary of the Kafan Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia, told him that he "cannot remember a single case that the Azerbaijanis leave the territory of the region until February."

Fuad Musayev, in February 1988, First Secretary of the Baku City Committee of the CPAz: hundreds of refugees from Armenia started arriving in Baku in mid-February. They were located in the settlements of the Absheron peninsula, populated by immigrants from Armenia. In the morning buses were sent there, they were sent to the city, but the refugees went to complain not to the Central Committee, the Council of Ministers and other instances, but to workers 'and students' dormitories. Their stories about harassment and insults committed by Armenians in Armenia, extremely excited the crowd. Buses were organized by Zohrab Mammadov, the first secretary of the Absheron District Committee of the AKP, himself a native of Armenia, from the staff of Heydar Aliyev. I realized that it was a pogrom, ordered to block all roads to the city from these settlements. The order was executed. The buses went to Sumgait, a town of chemists 25 kilometers from Baku. On February 26th, there began a pogrom.

Sci.4: The pogroms were carried out by the declassed, hooliganous and criminal elements of Sumgait, initiated by reports of a mass forced eviction of Azerbaijanis from Armenia.

Sumgait is the first of a series of terrible events in modern Azerbaijani history, which is almost impossible to understand, because in politics, imbued with informal "mafia" ties and corruption, politics is really made by secret forces, collusions and provocations, and even more - interpreted through secret forces, conspiracies and provocation. If you add to this:

- Moscow's desire to silence Sumgayit events in order to "calm" the society,

-The aspiration of Armenians to inflate them as much as possible, presenting the continuation of the genocide of 1915, the Azerbaijanis, - to blame everything on the Armenian provocation, blowing up the mysterious role of one of the most active pogroms - the Sumgait working criminal E. Grigoryan, then we will have to admit that the truthful picture of Sumgayit events is unlikely to ever be restored. But it is clear that in Sumgait, the combustible mass of those who had recently arrived from the village and who formed lower-middle cities of the traditionalist consciousness, exploded in the city of Sumgait (whether it exploded itself, or someone threw a match) acquiring a specifically lumpen-criminal shade in the city ... (D. Furman, A Abasov)

Out of a huge number of pogroms, 94 rank-and-file participants, mostly adolescents and young men, were brought to justice. About eighty people were convicted. One of them, Ahmed Ahmedov, was sentenced to death.

SC.5: The events in Sumgait are the result of the activities of the special services of the Center (KGB and GRU) on the instructions of the party bodies (variant "a") or on their own initiative (variant "b") to stop the "perestroika" process and at the same time scare the Armenians so that they refused political demands.

There were also versions that Sumgayit pogroms were initiated by the KGB in order to frighten Armenians and force them to abandon political protests. According to another version, the massacre in Sumgait was organized in order to discredit Gorbachev and his perestroika.

The prosecutor's office of the USSR rejected evidence of preparations for the massacre. In the media, only the first two processes were mentioned, while the rest were not marked.

R.Usubov: "The Kremlin and the KGB demanded a quick transfer of the criminal case to the court. As a result, a fair and thorough investigation was not conducted. The leadership of the secret services and the USSR demanded that the criminal case be submitted to the court as quickly as possible, and tried to keep Azerbaijanis out of the investigation so that the main guilty persons were not brought to criminal responsibility "

Sc.6: Events developed and implemented so-called "agents of influence" on behalf of various Western centers with the aim of the collapse of the USSR.

In the 1990's. this version was developed in the Azerbaijani film trilogy Echo Sumgait, in which its author, filmmaker Davud Imanov, presented Sumgait as the arena of an international conspiracy against Azerbaijan prepared by the CIA in conjunction with Russians and Armenians in order to break up the Soviet Union.

Hardly anyone doubts that since the late 1980s the West in all directions has confidently "pierced" the collapse of the USSR as a decisive factor in the collapse of the world socialist system. So the "Sumgait break" was the most important link in the chain of bloody events that inevitably brought the collapse of the USSR. A.Mostova writes: "The state collapsed not in Belovezhskaya Pushcha - there was divided power, and not the country ... for the Soviet Union the crack passed through Sumgait."

In the refraction of the development of the "Armenian movement" the role of A. Yakovlev is clearly seen, i.e. this wing of the CPSU recognized the possibility of redrawing borders within the USSR.

Sc.7: The main "agent of influence" was M. Gorbachev - all responsibility for Sumgait and subsequent incidents in the USSR lies solely on him.

"The central authorities were aware of what was happening. In order to prevent mass riots in Sumgait, it was enough to use the army. However, as Mikhail Gorbachev later stated in the case of Sumgait, on January 20 in Baku, Alma-Ata, Tbilisi, Vilnius, "we were late one or two days". This is a blatant lie. As Soviet Defense Minister Dmitry Yazov said in his memoirs, "we were there and were waiting for the center's instructions, but instructions were never received," the deputy prosecutor general of Azerbaijan said.

"It so happened that during the acute perestroika conflicts on interethnic grounds M. Gorbachev was usually abroad ... This circumstance was used by those who believed that all the troubles come from the conservative wing of the Politburo, and not from Gorbachev, Yakovlev, Shevardnadze (USSR minister in 1985-1990) and Medvedev (Vadim Medvedev - a member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee in 1988-1990) who often traveled abroad together. Naive people who believed in these children's tales! Can such events be organized and implemented in a few days? They in fact are a consequence of any reasons and ripen not one day. Especially since the secretary general ... not for a single minute was not connected with any point of our country, and indeed of the whole world "- Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Nikolai Ryzhkov. "The origins of destruction."

Sergei Grigoryants: "The whole history of the USSR is abundantly in blood. The killers and their inspirers are well known to us. Who is guilty today? First of all, Gorbachev. This must be said, even at the risk of helping his more sinister opponents"

Sc.8: Sumgait events are the result of the struggle for power in Azerbaijan between two party groupings, in connection with which the name of H.Aliyev is mentioned.

Party and Soviet authorities were inactive, the Sumgayit militia in some cases contributed to the pogrom. However, during the inspection of the facts by the General Prosecutor's Office of the USSR, this information was not confirmed. In an article published in 1989, George Soros, suggested that the local pogroms related to the Armenian pogroms were led by the former head of the KGB, Heydar Aliyev, who in 1987-1990, was retired.

Sc.9: Complex - options that combine all or some of the scenarios into one.

For each of these scenarios, over a period of thirty years, a certain number of eyewitness and analytical materials was collected. However, their juxtaposition builds a rather curious picture: some of the "eyewitnesses" did not see anything, or resulted, presented biased information, or simply lied. Analytical materials in general were of a one-sided nature, which makes bring s to the idea that the authors were bribed, or trusted unverified and unconfirmed testimonies and materials.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and, consequently, its so important episode - the Sumgait events are called the detonator of an explosive device that destroyed the USSR. So, Tom de Waal estimated these events as the first outbreak of mass violence in the perestroika USSR. Meanwhile, those were the events of Kazakhstan on 16-18.12.1986 in Alma-Ata and some other large cities of the Kazakh SSR, also under various secrets and myths. So, later there were stories about dozens of protesters who were taken out of town and left there without clothes. There were also (though never received 100% confirmation) information about the Kazakhs, dropped by representatives of punitive structures from the roofs of houses. According to official data, three people were killed, including a volunteer. Unofficial sources are expected to yield much higher figures: from 10 to more than 100 dead. However, these data subsequently did not receive confirmation: it was estimated that the number of arrested, detained or simply interrogated in this case reached many thousands. Up to 900 people were sentenced to administrative penalties (fines, correctional labor). Hundreds of citizens were dismissed from work or expelled from universities. About 100 people were prosecuted, which is very similar to the events after the Sumgayit pogrom, including attempts to silence them in the press.

According to official data of the Prosecutor General's Office of the USSR, during the riots in Sumgait, 26 Armenian citizens and 6 citizens of Azerbaijani nationality were killed, more than 100 people were injured.

Why did the tragedy in Sumgait become possible? The events were spontaneous or were they planned? The answer to these questions to some extent gives a chronicle of the events of the previous tragedy. A unilateral, consistent and systematic escalation of the conflict was bound to lead to a spontaneous reaction and bloodshed, after which the point of return became difficult, if not possible.


Autumn of 1945 is Armenia's first appeal on the accession of Nagorno-Karabakh.

In November 1945, the head of the Armenian Communist Party, G.Arutyunov, addressed Stalin with a letter, in which he raised the issue of including Nagorno-Karabakh as a part of Armenia as the Karabakh region. On the instructions of Stalin, Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) Malenkov sent a request to the Secretary of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan Mir Jalal Bagirov about the proposal of Arutyunov. Bagirov offered a different solution, namely territorial exchange: with the exception of the Shusha district, populated primarily by Azerbaijanis, the rest of the territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region passes to Armenia. In return, the three regions of Armenia, adjacent to Azerbaijan and mostly populated by Azerbaijanis, are moving to Azerbaijan. The decision was postponed.

1948-49 - Mass expulsion of Azerbaijanis started on the pretext of return of repatriated Armenians to Armenia. In total, more than 200 thousand Azerbaijanis were evicted.

1963 - Khrushchev's petition signed by 2,500 Karabakh Armenians. Disorders in Karabakh, which affected 18 people. The tension that arose was maintained until the early 1970s.

1986 - Z.Balayan's anti-Turkish book "Hearth"

August 1987 - on behalf of 75,000 Karabakh Armenians Gorbachev sent a petition on joining the region to Armenia. With the same request to the head of state appeals the Armenian Academy of Sciences. In September, Zori Balayan, and in October the son of Anastas Mikoyan, Sergei, made a speech in the foreign press on the Karabakh issue

October 17-18 - the first rallies in Yerevan.

The Paris statement of Gorbachev"s adviser - A.Aganbekyan on the expediency of joining the Nagorno-Karabakh to the Armenian SSR

November 1987 - the first Azerbaijani refugees from Armenia.

early 1988 - massive clashes and unrest in the town of Kafan of Armenia.

January 25 - hundreds of Azerbaijanis are forced to flee to Azerbaijan.

On February 20, the session of the regional Council of People's Deputies of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region in Stepanakert adopted an appeal to the Supreme Soviets of the Azerbaijani, Armenian SSR and USSR with a request to allow the withdrawal of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous region from Azerbaijan, and to join it Armenia.

February 21 - Azerbaijani radio and television: unrest in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region is organized by extremist groups.

On February 22, near the Armenian settlement of Askeran in the territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, there was a clash with the use of firearms between a large crowd of Azerbaijanis from Agdam going to Stepanakert to "restore order", militia-cordons on their way, and the local population. As a result of the clash, two Azerbaijanis were killed (by the Azerbaijani policeman), 50 people were injured.

February 23 - the number of Azerbaijani refugees from Armenia increased to 4,000.

February 26 - in Sumgait, a small rally in the central square of the city named after Lenin on the occasion of the appeal of General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachev to the working people, to the peoples of Azerbaijan and Armenia in connection with the events in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.

The evening of February 26 - First Secretary of the Central Committee of Azerbaijan Communist Party Kamran Bagirov and the chairman of the government Hasan Seyidov visited the city of Suymgayit: in the evening they met with citizens in the Club of Chemists. Unpleasant questions and accusations. The leaders of the republic are forced to retreat through the back door and go to Baku.

The evening of February 27 - tribune performances grew into violent actions.

February 28 - the most violent acts.

In the evening of February 28, G. Kharchenko, deputy head of the Organizational-Party Work Department of the CPSU Central Committee, and General of the Army F. Bobkov, First Deputy Chairman of the KGB, arrived from Baku to Sumgait. G. Kharchenko: by the time of our arrival in Sumgait 15 people have already died.

February 29 - a regiment of internal troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR flew to Sumgait by airplanes and cadets of the Baku Combined-Arms School arrived. Despite the introduction of troops, murders and pogroms in some areas continued, as the troops had no ammunition and an order for the use of force and weapons to the pogroms. Officers and soldiers practically did not react to the appeals of the victims of the interference.

February 29 - meeting of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU on Sumgait. A curfew was introduced in Sumgait.