Speaking about the global processes that not only preceded the collapse of the Soviet Union, but became important milestones on the path to this tragedy, one cannot fail to mention the protests on its "national outskirts" that lasted from the moment Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1986 until the collapse of the country ... First of all, the speech here must be about that, truly, fantastically mediocre policy, which was carried out by the "center", the then authorities of the USSR for their "pacification" and bringing results, directly opposite to what should have been obtained.
Today, analyzing and comparing what was happening in different republics of the USSR, it is difficult to write off the actions of its leaders as "shortsightedness", inability to calculate possible consequences or simple incompetence. Here, as in many other issues, we are most likely dealing precisely with the implementation of a well-thought-out plan, a whole strategy for the destruction of a great power from within.
"Cruel Acceleration" or Belated Retribution?
On one of these completely failed attempts to "restore order" in the Lithuanian SSR in 1991, I already wrote somewhat earlier. It should not be forgotten that the bloody events in Vilnius were preceded by practically similar processes and incidents that took place in Almaty in 1986, in Tbilisi in 1989, and the riots in Dushanbe in 1990. And, among others, perhaps the bloodiest and most terrifying link in this chain is the events of 1990, which are still called "Black January" in Baku. We will talk about them today. It is clear that in today's Azerbaijan for "black January" there is not just an official, but a "canonical" interpretation, which does not allow any discrepancies or doubts.
Those killed during clashes with the Soviet army troops introduced in Baku as part of the declaration of a state of emergency in the city were declared "innocent martyrs for the faith and independence of the country." Their graves make up the main element of the memorial complex "Alley of Martyrs", which is now spread out in the capital of Azerbaijan on the site of Kirov Park and is one of the main national shrines. The memorial events held annually at this place are very similar in their degree of ecstasy to the rituals arranged in Kiev on the occasion of the never existed in reality "Heavenly Hundred" ... Indeed, according to the official data published back in 1990, during two days of January clashes died from 130 to 170 residents of Baku and about 740 were injured and injured. These numbers (as a rule, they are also pretty exaggerated) are often mentioned. At the same time, the death on the same days of at least two dozen servicemen of the Soviet Army and an unknown number of police officers is invariably passed over in silence.
This is not surprising - in that case, one would have to admit that on the night of January 19-20, 1990, there was no question of any "brutal dispersal of peaceful demonstrators." In the city and on the outskirts of it there were real street battles, during which the same firearms were used from both sides. Accordingly, on both sides of the barricades (in this case, this is not a figurative, but a literal expression) there were killed and wounded. The true number of losses of the army and the forces of law and order was strenuously hushed up then, and even now it is not at all possible to establish it. So with the first part of the myth - about "innocent martyrs", everything is already clear. However, this is far from the main point. If we are to conduct a frank conversation about "Black January", then it should start from the situation that developed at that time in Azerbaijan. It can be summarized in three words: "Soviet power collapsed." In reality, the republic was "ruled" by extreme nationalists and extremists from the "Popular Front of Azerbaijan".
This organization originated as a circle of secretly dissident liberal intellectuals - historians, writers, physicists, but very quickly transformed into a gathering of extremely aggressive and fanatical Russophobes and haters of Armenians. One of its key figures would be Abulfaz Elchibey, whom some considered a hero of the nation, others an agent of the KGB, others a man of the Aliyev clan, and the fourth considered a Turkish spy. They were right, perhaps everyone - except the first ... By the way, the current President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev once called this figure, who also managed to lead the country for a whole year, its “shame”. However, we are somewhat distracted, so let's go back to 1990 and its tragedy.
The real strength of the Azerbaijani "Popular Front" was, of course, the crisis over Nagorno-Karabakh. Moscow has “settled” it so “remarkably” that blood on this land is known to be shed to this day. The full impression is that the problem of the region was deliberately used to revive long-standing enmity between Azerbaijanis and Armenians and to foment the conflict in the Caucasus. They often talk about "black January" in Baku and heartily ... But at the same time, they somehow do not like to recall other events - for example, the Armenian massacre in Sumgait in February 1988 or the pogroms in the Azerbaijani capital itself, immediately preceding the entry of troops ... It is especially worth mentioning the destruction of the state border with Iran, which took place in the same early 1990. This blatant attack took place, accompanied by the demolition of engineering border facilities, the use of Molotov cocktails and firearms under the direct leadership of the APF, the tone in which was finally set not by "physicists and lyricists" but by rabid extremists, who recognized terror as the only worthy method of "political struggle". Jalilabad, Lankaran, and other settlements of the republic - since the end of 1989, activists of this gang began to completely openly seize and burn down the buildings of party and state bodies there, "overthrow" the local leadership, in fact, take power.
On January 13, 1990, at a grandiose rally in the main square of Baku, the PFA activists announced the creation of a "National Defense Council". By a strange "coincidence", on the same day, Armenian pogroms broke out in the city, which was distinguished not only by brutal cruelty and grandiose scale, but also, most importantly, by excellent preparedness. In the huge city, murderers and rapists went to very specific addresses, knowing in advance the place of residence of their future victims. For several days, a real hell opened up in Baku - people were thrown from balconies into fires made of furniture made under windows, young girls were raped right in the streets to the applause of the crowd. The exact number of victims of those events in Azerbaijan, of course, "do not know" ...
Fighting a fire with gasoline - a quick guide
The state of emergency was introduced in the republic by a decision of Moscow only on January 15. At the same time, for some reason it did not extend to the main hotbed of unrest - Baku. Generally speaking, something completely paradoxical and unimaginable was happening - the units of the internal troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR that were brought into the city received an order ... not to interfere in what was happening, but only "to guard the administrative buildings." Thus, the VV in a few days repelled as many as three attempts to seize the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan. We must pay tribute to the leadership of the units in the city - the evacuation of the Armenian and Russian population by ferries across the Caspian Sea was started by its representatives on their own initiative. At the same time, the military themselves found themselves in an extremely difficult situation - by January 19, of the 60 military units deployed in the city, 34 were tightly blocked by the PFA by order of Elchibey. location equipment, and in addition, fuel trucks filled to the top were placed, which the terrorists promised to set on fire at the first attempt to unblock.
It came to completely outrageous cases - a group of “people's front” members who had finally lost their "shores" thought of taking over a kindergarten, the majority of whose pupils were officers' children. According to their subsequent confessions, they wanted to "exchange children for weapons." The military who arrived in time (one of the teachers managed to escape from the kindergarten, who raised the alarm, rushing to the first people in uniform he saw), twisted the scoundrels without a single shot and freed the kids. Against the background of all this, the allied leadership seemed to have fallen into a stupor, either not daring, or not wanting to give the command to use force to stop the utter chaos.
However, it is necessary to speak not only about those horrible days when not only Armenians, but also Russians, the inhabitants of Baku began to openly throw in the face: "Get out or die!" The spiral of nationalist madness, as already mentioned, has been unfolding in Azerbaijan for several years - in front of Moscow's eyes. There is absolutely reliable evidence that the republic's KGB officers literally bombarded both their own leadership in the central apparatus and the local authorities with warnings that everything would end not just in big blood, but in a complete disaster. Until the last minute, no one thought to listen to them. During the pogroms in Stepanakert, the military and the military were also prohibited from using force against the brutalized militants. Then, when they began to attack the soldiers and the number of military wounded went to hundreds, the ban was lifted, after which order in the city was restored in a matter of hours.
Nevertheless, the complete impression is created that with their non-intervention, Gorbachev and other representatives of the party-state elite of the USSR were quite deliberately "winding up" the situation to the limit. At the same time, the military, law enforcement officers and many civilians, who were held hostage by the enraged nationalists who gained strength and were confident in their own impunity, were routinely exposed to attack. All of them were for Mikhail Sergeevich and his cliques just a small change in a big game ... Even the now deceased Marshal of the USSR Dmitry Yazov, in those days the former Minister of Defense of the country and who had been in Baku since the morning of January 19, later admitted: Gorbachev gave the order on the introduction of troops not to save the lives of the Armenian population or the soldiers blocked in the barracks, but in order to prevent the final seizure of power by the "Popular Front" and the separation of Azerbaijan from the country.
On the night of January 19-20, a specially created military grouping with a total strength of 50 personnel, with the support of armored vehicles and ships of the Caspian Flotilla blocking Baku from the sea, launched Operation Strike. The city included soldiers of the 106th and 76th airborne divisions, the 56th and 21st airborne assault brigades, combined detachments of cadets of higher educational institutions of the system of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR. Beginning at midnight, a state of emergency and a curfew were imposed in the city. However, due to the fact that the day before the local TV center was seized by the PFA militants, a transformer unit was blown up there, which provided its power supply, after which the televisions in the houses of Baku residents went silent. Nevertheless, the announcement of the state of emergency and the introduction of troops was made through the local radio, and was also duplicated with leaflets dropped from helicopters.
Moreover, later on from Azerbaijan I will sound accusations that the start of a military operation without agreement with the leadership of the republic was “unconstitutional” and “criminal”. And with whom could you agree on anything in those days ?! As mentioned above, both the Minister of Defense of the USSR and other representatives of the party and state leadership of the country were in Baku. However, according to their conclusion (which absolutely corresponded to reality), the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan, Abdurakhman Vezirov, who nominally headed the republic, did not control the situation in the slightest degree, like any other of the local "leaders". At the same time, they tried to negotiate with the Popular Front. Its leaders were literally begged to dismantle the barricades and not offer resistance to the troops entering the city - then everything would be done without blood. However, the deputy chairman of the PFA, Etibar Mammadov, proudly declared in response that "the invaders will receive a proper rebuff."
A rebuff was given ... Or rather, fierce resistance was rendered, perfectly prepared and organized. Fire was opened on the troops trying to demolish very solid barricades at the entrances to Baku. Moreover, the shooting was not carried out from "hunting rifles and self-made self-propelled guns", as the Azerbaijanis are now trying to tell. Obviously well-trained snipers were aiming at the military columns. On their way, whole "pouches" of gasoline were splashed, which was immediately set on fire - soldiers and officers had to break through the sea of raging fire. There are remarkable memories of General Alexander Lebed, who at that moment commanded the 106th airborne assault, about how they were fired upon by submachine gunners from the Neftegazflot ship specially approached to the shore. The trough full of militants was let down to the bottom with the aimed fire of the BMD ... This is to the question that "the military allowed themselves to fire from armored vehicles in the city limits" and similar accusations that sound to this day. Yes, they were shooting. But it was fire back. Another thing is that bullets, especially in urban combat conditions, do not always go to those to whom they were intended. What to do - such is war. In this case, it was started by people in uniform who did not enter Baku in the morning of January 20, 1990.
In my opinion, it would be wrong to place all the blame for that tragedy even on the leaders of the PFA and the forces that actually stood behind them. The main blood is on Gorbachev and others, whether they are wrong, the "foremen of perestroika", who allowed nationalist abomination to flourish in the Soviet Union, and in its most extremist forms. It was with their submission that no measures were taken to restore order in a number of republics until it reached the point of bloodshed. Tellingly, Turkey absolutely refrained from condemning the events in Baku, and the United States, represented by its own President George W. Bush, even expressed support for the actions of Mikhail Gorbachev, recognizing them as "a justified necessity." This alone is natural in the context of all subsequent events, it makes it clear who exactly was in the hands of the "black January" of 1990.