The President of Armenia, addressing the audience of different countries, falsifies history for the second time since the beginning of this month. This is Yerevan’s policy, the goal of which is to convince the international community that the Armenians constituted the majority of the population of Karabakh since ancient times. But the scientific works of Armenian historians and other established researchers of the Caucasus, as well as official documents of the Russian Empire and the USSR, present a completely different picture.
On November 6, the website of the Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique published an interview with Armenian President Armen Sargsyan (scan). As in his interview with the Russian news website RBK, he completely misrepresents statistics of the twentieth century, speaks about fictional events, and completely distorts the real historical facts. Two such interviews in a row for different audiences in different countries demonstrate the purposeful efforts of the Armenian leadership to impose a fabricated narrative of Karabakh on the world community.
We will quote in full the part of Sargsyan’s interview with La Libre Belgique, which deals with history.
Sargsyan stated the following:
“Karabakh is the historical homeland of its inhabitants. These people have been there for thousands of years. They became Christians there in 301 A.D.. They lived there in the mountains when the Seljuk Turks came from Central Asia in the 11th century. They saw the Mongols, the Great Tamerlane. They were part of the Persian Empire, then Russia, but never of Azerbaijan.
The problem started with the creation of the Soviet Union, when Comrade Stalin gave away Nakhichevan and Artsakh (to Azerbaijan) for a short while. If you go back to the XX century, at that time 350,000 – 360,000 people lived in Artsakh, and the overwhelming majority of them – 95% – were Armenians. The remaining 5% were Azerbaijanis, Sunnis and Shiites, Russians, Greeks, Yezidis. At that time Shusha was a large city with 60,000 inhabitants, and the majority of them were Armenians. It was smaller than Tbilisi, but larger than Yerevan. During the Soviet years, Karabakh was an autonomous region within Azerbaijan. Nagorno-Karabakh had the highest degree of autonomy in the world since it was guaranteed by the Soviet Union. It lasted for 70 years. Despite this, over 200,000 of its inhabitants left. Why? Because there were no Armenian schools, because young people could not get jobs. It was ethnic cleansing, more or less peaceful.“
Now let’s review the key fragments of this statement in comparison to the real archival materials and official documents, the scans of which are provided within the text.
“Karabakh is the historical homeland of its inhabitants. These people have been there for thousands of years… They were part of the Persian Empire, then Russia, but never of Azerbaijan”
The beginning of this phrase is true, its ends with a lie. Here is a quote of the Armenian historian Arakelya: “Two thousand years ago the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and all regions of Azerbaijan was a dwelling place of the Albans” [A. Arakelyan. Karabakh before the conquest by Russian tsarism // Historical Journal, №2 1938. P. 68].
Albans along with the Turks, are the main components from which the Azerbaijani nation was formed. This was noted by the established researcher of the Caucasus Ilya Petrushevsky: “A significant part of the Azerbaijani Turks are the Turkic descendants of various peoples of ancient Aghvania” (Aghvania is a synonym for Caucasian Albania) [I. Petrushevsky. On the pre-Christian beliefs of the peasants of Nagorno-Karabakh. Baku, 1930. P. 14].
How Karabakh was turned into “Armenian” was described by the abovementioned Arakelyan: “In the second half of the 1st century BC, Artsakh was taken from Albania by Armenia. The domination of the Armenians continued until the end of the 4th century… The Armenian king, having conquered Artsakh, resorted to the most terrible and brutal methods of struggle against the inhabitants of Artsakh so that they would not dare to rise again to fight for their independence” [A. Arakelyan, Pp. 69-70].
“They became Christians there in 301 A.D.”
Again it is only partially true: they didn’t just “become” Christians. “In Agvania (the Armenian name for Albania), the church served as an instrument for the Armenization of the country...” [Petrushevsky I., P. 8]. But, despite this, “Karabakh has never been one of the centers of Armenian culture” [Petrushevsky I., P. 13].
“The problem started with the creation of the Soviet Union…”
That’s a sheer lie and an attempt to hide the true picture of how “the problem started.”
“What was the reason for the bloody events, you probably already know,” noted the newspaper “Kavkaz” on 11 February 1905. “The sorrowful Armenian-Tatar animosity, caused by complex and mainly economic reasons, has been brewing here for a long time. In January, a Tatar prisoner who tried to escape was murdered by the Armenian escorts; rumors arose among the Tatar population about the deliberate nature of this murder, and from that time on, anti-Armenian sentiment among the Tatars began to manifest itself quite noticeably. But open attacks and skirmishes did not occur until the tragic incident of February 6th. On this day, on the Parapet, near the cathedral, an Armenian, as it is believed from personal accounts, killed a Tatar with a shot from a revolver. This murder was the signal. In the evening, an open massacre began in the streets of Baku… ”.
“Something absolutely spontaneous, something irrepressible — a widespread rampage began,” the same newspaper reported on February 12. “On the very first day of the riots, up to 35 people were killed and wounded… Riots took place in the vicinity of the city: several Tatars were killed, one Tatar mill was surrounded by an angry crowd of Armenians“.
Soon, mass clashes engulfed the entire South Caucasus. During 1905-1906, 158 Azerbaijani villages were destroyed throughout the region [Huseynov R. Sketches of the revolutionary movement in Azerbaijan // Issue I, Revolution 1905-1907. Baku, 1926. P. 81].
“… The Armenian-Caucasian massacre in the Caucasus, in which the Dashnaktsutyun party revealed its power: the organization of its military forces, modern weapons and strict discipline; this event, which arose on the basis of the long-standing hatred that existed between the Tatars and Armenians, was used by the Dashnaktsutyun party…” , – noted in an official document of the Police Department of the Russian Empire.
This was the real starting point of the still ongoing confrontation, and not the “creation of the Soviet Union” as President Sargsyan wrongfully claims.
“Comrade Stalin gave away Nakhichevan and Artsakh (to Azerbaijan) for a short while”
That is a total lie.
The decision on Nagorno-Karabakh was adopted on July 5, 1921 at the voting of the Plenum of the Caucasian Bureau of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party. This decision was not to “give” Nagorno-Karabakh to the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, but to “leave Nagorno-Karabakh within the Azerbaijan SSR“ [From the minutes of the meeting of the Caucasian Bureau Karabakh Autonomous Region of the Azerbaijan SSR (documents and materials). Baku, 1989. P. 92]. Moreover, there is not a word about “short while” in the July 5th resolution.
The fate of Nagorno-Karabakh was determined by a real vote of the members of the Caucasian Bureau. This is evidenced by the results of voting by members of the same bureau the day before. [From the minutes of the evening meeting of the Plenum of the Caucasian Bureau of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) // On the history of the formation of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of the Azerbaijan SSR (documents and materials). Baku, 1989. P. 90].
Each of the participants of the meeting was defending his point of view, and they failed to reach an agreement. Therefore, it was decided to hold one more vote on Nagorno-Karabakh – on July 5th. If the decision had been taken by Stalin in advance, it would have been approved on July 4th. But Stalin himself, although he was present at the vote, did not take part in it. And at that time he did not have the power to make such decisions. Stalin started to take relatively significant posts in the leadership of Soviet Russia only in April 1922. And he achieved full power gradually – only during 1924-1927.
“If you go back to the XX century, at that time 350,000 – 360,000 people lived in Artsakh, and the overwhelming majority of them – 95% – were Armenians. The remaining 5% were Azerbaijanis, Sunnis and Shiites, Russians, Greeks, Yezidis. “
Part of this phrase is a lie, the other is an attempt to hide the real ethnic history of Karabakh through selective presentation of statistics.
If we really look back to XX century, to the last census made by the administration of the Russian Empire, then by January 1, 1914, the total population of the four districts of Karabakh was 582.621 people. 318.722 of them are Muslims (54.7%) and 252.252 are Armenians (43.3%). Therefore, in the September 2020 borders of unrecognised by any international entity “Artsakh republic” 106 years ago Muslims were the majority, and Armenians accounted for just over 40% [Caucasian calendar for 1915. Tiflis, 1914. Statistical section, Pp. 218-219, 230-233].
One of these four districts, Shusha, was created within the boundaries of the historic Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh in Armenian). Later, this district became the main territory of the Autonomous Region of Nagorno-Karabakh. By January 1, 1914, 178.081 people lived there. 95.257 of them are Armenians (53.5%) and 77,189 are Muslims (43.3%). Thus, contrary to the President of Armenia claims, within the borders of Nagorno-Karabakh proper 106 years ago, Armenians accounted for just over half of the population, and not an “overwhelming majority” [Ibid].
And here is what happened after the fall of Russian Empire: “The Armenian government, represented by the Dashnaktsutyun party, tried to cleanse Zangezur and other districts from the Muslim element to create purely Armenian territories…”, – July 20, 1920, the newspaper “Communist”.
As a result, according to the 1921 census, 135,591 people lived in the Autonomous Region of Nagorno-Karabakh, not 350,000 – 360,000 as Sargsyan claims. Of this number, 94.4% were really Armenians. Thus, out of more than 77.000 Muslims in 1914, after only six years, only 7.593 people remained. The rest were expelled or exterminated. That is why Sargsyan announced the percentage of Armenians and Muslims in Nagorno-Karabakh for 1921, not 1914.
“At that time Shusha was a large city with 60.000 inhabitants and the majority were Armenians”.
It’s a lie.
According to the data of the Shusha district administration on January 1, 1914, the population of the city of Shusha was 42.568 people: 22.416 of them were Armenians (52.6%), 18.890 were Muslims (44.4%).
As the newspaper “Baku rabochii” noted, “dashnaks on March 23, 1919 attacked the city of Shusha, inhabited by almost the same number of Armenian and Muslim populations…”. As a result, the number of inhabitants by 1921 decreased to 9.223 people (from 42.568 in 1914).
After the administrative center of Nagorno-Karabakh was moved to Khankendi (later renamed Stepanakert) , the outflow of the Armenian population from Shusha began there. And vice versa, the Azerbaijanis who remained in other places of Nagorno-Karabakh, began to move to Shusha, considering this city to be their historical center in the region. Consequently, in the “Report of the Government of the Azerbaijan SSR for 1925-1926“ it was noted that the city of Shusha was inhabited “predominantly by the Turks“. The guidebook, published in Moscow in 1927, reported that in Shusha “there are about 10000 inhabitants (exclusively muslims)”.
Over the next two decades, the number of townspeople continued to decline: in 1939 there were 5.424 [Results of the 1959 All-Union Population Census – Azerbaijan SSR. Moscow, 1963. P. 15]. But after World War II, the city’s population began to grow gradually, and in 1959 it was 6.117 people [Ibid.].
But the ethnic composition has not changed: according to the 1989 census, 17.000 people lived in Shusha, 98% of them are Azerbaijanis.
Therefore, Shusha has never been “a big city with 60.000 inhabitants”, and for most of ХХ century Armenians weren’t a majority there.
“…over 200.000 of its inhabitants left”
It’s a lie.
The dynamics of the population of the autonomy of Nagorno-Karabakh during the XX century was as follows:
- 1921: 135.591 [Kocharyan G., P. 8]
- 1926: 125.000 [Nagorno-Karabakh during the years of Soviet power. Stepanakert, 1969. P. 27]
- 1939: 150.800 [Ibid.]
- 1959: 130.400 [Ibid.]
- 1969: 151.400 [Ibid.]
- 1979: 161.000 [Population of the USSR according to the 1979 All-Union Population Census. Moscow, 1980. P. 10]
- 1989: 188.000 [The national economy of the Azerbaijan SSR in 1988. Baku, 1990. P. 375]
It is unclear, how, with such dynamics one can speak of the departure of 200,000 people from Nagorno-Karabakh during the Soviet era.