Lithuanian journalist who witnessed the bloody tragedy - "All this was a plan aimed at the Armenian occupation" | Eurasia Diary -

5 March, Friday

Lithuanian journalist who witnessed the bloody tragedy - "All this was a plan aimed at the Armenian occupation"

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A friend of Azerbaijanis and International Eurasia Press Fund, independent journalist Ricardas Lapaitis. He is a famous and beloved person known by many Azerbaijanis, and he is the one who voluntarely participated in the I Karabakh war recording many events in his camera.

Undaunted person who is always ready to tell the truth, shared his memories of the bloody January events and the political turmoil of the 90s speaking to Eurasia Diary:

How do you remember the 20th January looking back to 31 years ago? 

Today Azerbaijan celebrates the 31st anniversary of one of the most tragic events in the history of Azerbaijan. On the night of January 19-20, 1990, over 300 Soviet soldiers entering illegally in the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku and other regions brutally killed 147 civilians. As a result of it, more than 700 people were wounded and about 800 others were arrested out of law. This was the first time in the history of the Soviet Union that military forces were used against its own people. Black January influenced not only the history of Azerbaijan, but also the territories of the entire Soviet Union and the changes in the Eastern Europe. This literally influenced the collapse of the Soviet Union. This operation was prepared by the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the security service of the Soviet Union against the unarmed civilian population under the patronage of Mikhail Gorbachev. 

How this tragedy is recognised in your country Lithuania? 

Lithuania unfortunately could only follow the events in Azerbaijan as we were ourselves embarked on the path of independence and freedom. We understood that the red terror of the Soviet empire could occur in our Vilnius too. The terrible events in Baku, the atrocities of Soviet soldiers strongly influenced the Lithuanians, but this further increased the desire to be a free state! 

We learned about the terrible events in Baku pretty quickly: we had a Sayudis- an organisation like your People's Front of Azerbaijan (AXC). We frequently kept in touch. Moreover, our cameraman was in the epicenter of the terrible January events, who managed to shoot terrible footage on the streets of Baku. Azerbaijan at that time was in a complete information blockade. And after the energy block of Azerbaijan television and radio was blown up on January 19, the country turned out to be in full isolation of information.

The Lithuanians then little knew that all this was happening against the background of the Karabakh events. Lithuania did not understand then and there was very little information about the expulsion of Azerbaijanis from Armenia in 1988-89. With the support of the Kremlin, 270 thousand Azerbaijanis were expelled and deported from the territories of Armenia. Murder and deportation of Azerbaijanis began in Nagorno-Karabakh as well. All this was done with complete silence from the Soviet authorities and no interference. The main goal of the military operations in Baku was to prevent the desire of the Azerbaijani people for independence and suppress the resistance in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

The Red Terror in Baku made the whole world think that the Soviet Union was a concentration camp for many peoples and countries! And in order to preserve this camp, the Soviet Union could take brutal actions against its own people. The struggle of the Azerbaijani people for freedom and independence accelerated the processes of change in the Baltic States too! For us, it was an example of how to peacefully fight for our common human goals.

You have been a live witness of the I Karabakh war and period of the collapse of the USSR. How was Azerbaijan looking from outside the country? 

The Black January event powered my decision to personally come to Azerbaijan. Even then, when the united Azerbaijani people ousted Moscow's intercessor Vezirov from power, Azerbaijan was still under an information blockade. 

As regards the Karabakh conflict, for the first time in the history of the Soviet Union, Armenian nationalists began to point out the religion. They emphasized everywhere that Muslims are killing them. Until then, no one in the Soviet Union paid attention to what religion you were. Many magazines and newspapers were simply deceived. For the first time we heard the word Armenian diaspora. There were also many Lithuanians there. Articles were mainly authored by Lithuanians on this topic. Thus, most of the journalists travelled to Karabakh from the Armenian side. I chose another way – the way to stand by Azerbaijanis! I wanted to see everything with my own eyes. Believe me, it was only with great difficulty that I managed to publish articles about the atrocities of Armenians against the peaceful Azerbaijani population in Karabakh. The pursuit and threats began. But this did not break me; on the contrary, it gave strength to convey to the Baltic reader the objective outcome of the events in Nagorno-Karabakh. After all, everything happened with the help of a northern neighbour, the Soviet Union or just Russia. The imperialist forces have always looked at Azerbaijan as a tasty morsel. A rich country where there are all the minerals, fossils, and oil under the ground. Moreover, Azerbaijan is located on a strategic place - it is the door to the East. I was one of the few who told the truth about the Khojaly genocide in Lithuania. 

I would like to remind that in January, citizens of the Armenian nationality who were called up as reservists also participated in the killings of civilians in Baku. They appeared in Baku when they led an additional 66 thousand Soviet troops. Although in 1989 in Baku there could have been more than 110 thousand Soviet soldiers who blindly carried out the orders of the imperialist forces of the Kremlin.

How would you characterise the recent victory of Azerbaijan in Karabakh? 

The recent 44-day war and the victory of Azerbaijan is the restoration of historical justice. Continuation of the processes for which the Azerbaijani people fought back in the early nineties.

The occupation of the Azerbaijani land lasted thirty years. A million refugees lost their homes due to the Armenian aggression. They had occupied not only the central Krabakh, but also seven surrounding regions. The Armenian military has continuously violated the ceasefire for 30 years. Civilians living in the frontline zone became their target. Even children were killed by the bullets of Armenian snipers. Azerbaijan was the leader in negotiations on peaceful solutions to the conflict. Alas, Armenia denied its participation, and the occupation continued. The provocation against Azerbaijan began to be repeated practically every day. Azerbaijan launched a war of liberation within the framework of International Law and generally recognized borders. Armenia has never complied with the four UN resolutions on the withdrawal of the occupying forces from the territories of Azerbaijan. The second Karabakh war revealed a terrible picture: after the victory, the world saw destroyed cities, destroyed cultural monuments, holy places, cemeteries, mosques. Whole cities, towns and villages that once used to be beautiful had become like after the explosion of Hiroshima. The ecological system also suffered. Armenian invaders had destroyed everything before they left the territory. Armenians, who do not belong to any territory, have always tried to usurp Azerbaijani lands and Armenianize their historical monuments.

The world is not yet fully aware of the importance of Azerbaijan's victory. Karabakh and seven districts around it have finally found their way to true masters! I believe that this region will prosper in the future and open to tourism in general! 

All this is thanks to the President of Azerbaijan! Thanks to the Azerbaijani soldier! I humbly bow at their parents as well as expressing my condolence to the families of martyrs, whose sons gave their lives for the liberation of their country’s territory.  Thanks to them, many prisoners of war returned to their homeland from Armenian captivity.

I wish the country of Heroes peace and prosperity!


By Elnur Enveroglu

Eurasia Diary

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