Black Saturday

A state of emergency in Baku was declared on the basis of the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on January 19, 1990 and was publicly announced 7 hours after the troops were brought in, without the official consent of the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan SSR.

On 20 January Soviet troops under the codename “Strike” operation attacked Baku from all directions, including the sea to put down independence and freedom movement of Azerbaijani people. There had been earlier attacks in other Soviet Republics but never on the scale and brutality that took place in Azerbaijan.

Soldiers indiscriminately fired on women, elderly and infants, even drivers of the ambulance cars and doctors were subjected to brutal killing. Tanks and armored transporters were crushing civilian and medical vehicles with people inside. The heavy –handed crackdown resulted in 147 civilian deaths and the injuring of around 800 people.

Furthermore, before being dispatched to Baku officers and soldiers were instructed that “the Islamic radicals and mojaheds” took the power in the city, and the Soviet soldiers must protect the allegedly violated rights of Armenians. In reality the true face of the Soviet assault was drastically different. As it was later stated by D.Yazov, then the Minister of Defense of the USSR, the use of force in Baku was intended to prevent the takeover of the power in Azerbaijan by non-Communist opposition and ensuren that the Communist government remained in power.

This violent suppression brought a 70-year Soviet rule in Azerbaijan to an end and led to the restoration of its national independence. The Nobel Peace Prize 1990 was awarded to Mikhail Gorbachev “for his leading role in the peace process……”!!!

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