Interview of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev to the Russian NTV channel on the 9th anniversary of the tragedy on January 20 - Ankara, Gulhana Medical Academy, January 20, 1999

Today is the 20th of January, the day mourning for Azerbaijan. By the decision of the Politburo and personally Mikhail Gorbachov, the Soviet troops entered Baku, Azerbaijan on January 20, 1990, in order to suppress the people, demanding the Soviet authorities to prevent the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan and stop the unfair policy of the central government. However, the authorities sent troops against the peaceful, totally unarmed people. Within one night 135 people were killed, including children, women, and the old. About 750 people were wounded.

It was a real injustice. I know the Soviet history, both pre- and post-war. No other state has behaved like this against its own country. Defence Minister Marshall Yazov, Interior Minister Bakatin, General Varennikov, first deputy chairman of KGB General Babkov and others headed the supression. What had Azerbaijan done, a small country which made these officials send so many troops here?

A lot of blood was shed. When this grave crime was committed, I was in Moscow. Because of flu, I was resting in Barvikha. As soon as I learned about the tragedy I retutned to Moscow. On January 21, I talked to thousands of Azerbaijanis, who were in front of the building of the permanent representative of Azerbaijan. I severely criticized the anti-humanist policy of the Soviet administration headed by Gorbachov.

Because of that I faced problems, a lot of negative articles about me appeared in mass media. Therefore, I left Moscow in the summer of 1990. I faced many problems during my departure, too.

It is history. I must tell about everything. I am very excited, because I am not in Baku now. Every year on January 20 we attend the graves of the victims.

I was surprised when they tried to cover what had been committed. The then Azerbaijani administration, the Azerbaijani Communist Party was guilty for that. However, the people from the Communist regime remained in power even after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. When I returned to Baku in 1994, we discussed the tragedy in our parliament and appreciated it politically. Of course, no one from the Soviet administration, including Gorbachov, who was guilty, said anything about the crime. They don`t want to say anything, though so much time has passed. Using your TV, I would like to say that I wonder why black nobody wants to speak of their crime after the lapse of so much times, though other things of the totalitarian regime are criticized in the democratic Russia. Of course, we want the people guilty in it to be punished. Now we need justice more. Later we admitted that the Soviet Union made a mistake when it intervened Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968. The Moscow press wrote about how the Rostov mass turmoil was represssed during the rule of Kruschev. Then why this tragedy is not mentioned?

They can not do this, because they are guilty. But in order to establish justice, develop the friendly relations between the Russian and Azerbaijani peoples this tragedy must be evaluated in the democratic Russia. If the Russian Federation declared itself the successor of the Soviet Union, then it must use all the means the Soviet Union used in the international arena. Moreover, the crimes committed by the Soviet administration must be investigated. The tragedy was committed in 1990, not long ago.

Using the opportunity, I ask the Russian government to take all the measures for the investigation of this crime. It would help the development of the relations between the Russian and Azerbaijani peoples.