Pogroms against Armenians in Soviet Azerbaijan

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Pogroms against Armenians in Soviet Azerbaijan.

Sumgait eyewitness accounts

Compiled and Edited by SAMVEL SHAHMURATIAN



It is extremely difficult to write a foreword for this book. Yet reading the book is even more difficult, unbearably so. It is not literature: It is living tragedy, an open wound for all the people who lived through those days. The recollections of eyewitnesses are like a conversation with oneself. Not before a camera, nor a microphone, nor printed in the press. They are the kinds of things people tell themselves, and perhaps their mothers, in the darkest of night. And, probably, no one else. But you are reading it. You must read it! Tears well up in your eyes, and pain wrenches your heart. And burning shame, shame that this happened here, in my time and in my country. Each of our citizens, then, was a participant.

Sumgait shook the Armenian people. It stunned with its brutality and with its cynicism. It struck Azerbaijan with its organization and its impunity. And it stunned people in Russia, but only those who knew the truth. This immense country — a sixth of the planet — does not know the truth even to this day. And the West hardly even noticed. Such was our glasnost in action. One is ashamed to recall how, during those days, when the dead were being buried and all of Armenia was on strike, Russian workers reproached the Armenians from the screen of Central Television for their failure to work, because plan targets would not be met as a result of the Armenians' actions. You wanted to turn away from the screen so as not to see the faces of people who, once again, had been misled.

History will undoubtedly pass its verdict on the Sumgait genocide. But judgments of living history always come too late, bringing further misfortune. I think that today's lack of progress in the country that proclaimed the policy of perestroika has its roots in the time when people believed in perestroika's slogans. The time when Karabagh chose to follow the path sought by its people, legally—by decree of its governmental authorities. It was an absolute majority: 75 percent of the people inhabiting the territory.

This was among the first stirrings of perestroika in the USSR, and Armenia became one of the first republics in which perestroika came to life, with many thousands of people turning up for rallies crying "yes" to Gorbachev. Never before and nowhere else in the country had perestroika and its initiator seen such support. But our regime fears unsanctioned popular movements more than anything else. As in the case of all our most important problems today, the government's lack of understanding and its inability to cope provided time for the dark forces to plan what happened in Sumgait. The authorities tried in every way possible to hush up and wallpaper over Sumgait, and to represent it as something other than what it was. General Secretary Gorbachev was often to repeat, "We were three hours late, it was a small group of hooligans." Coming from him, such words were even more shameful than they were from the mouths of ignorant workers.

Beginning with the first mistakes made in Karabagh, the Sumgait events—which remain without official condemnation—brought an avalanche of tragedies down on our country, tragedies that will take long to fully comprehend: Kirovabad and the streams of refugees from both sides, Tbilisi, Abkhazia, Fergana, Uzden, Ossetia, and now, the latest horror, Baku. It is not the Azerbaijani Popular Front—the "extremists"—who are to blame (first it was the Armenian, and now the Azerbaijani extremists who were fingered), but rather the authorities' fear of losing power. In the meanwhile, we have become a country of refugees. We are now hushing up these events just like we hushed up the famine in the Ukraine and the deaths of millions in the 1930s. Now the whole country is in a state of excruciating anticipation: What will come next? And everyone is searching for his own answer to the question of whether and at what point it was necessary to introduce troops into Baku. And why. To save the people or to save the State?

Such are our thoughts on what has taken place. We are all searching for a way out of today's dead end. The conclusion most often is to avoid stirring up the past—yet this is not the distant past, it is the past of the last two years. The most frequent notion is to begin with the tragic January of this year. But in our country in recent years all the months have been tragic. I think that we must begin with the full truth of these two years. Our leadership must tell our country everything. The whole chain of mistakes, instances of idleness, and intolerable actions. It is only with the whole truth that the search for solutions can begin. There is no need to fear—not for Muslims, not for Christians, and not for atheists: We are all people. But without shedding light on the truth, all our efforts will be for nought.

Perhaps I, being half-Armenian and half-Jewish, should not be the one to write this foreword. Perhaps it would be better written by the Azerbaijani woman who saved an Armenian family; this book contains her words: "Look what's happening out there, my child is seeing all of this, tomorrow he'll be doing the same things." This is a warning for all of us on this Earth. If we do not find a way to make each state, be it large or small, a state for the people, and not the other way around, then our children and our grandchildren will become a brutal, unhuman mob.

Yelena Bonner


February 1990


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Born 1972

Attended 9th Grade Middle School No. 17

Resident at Building 4/2, Apartment 25Microdistrict No. 3 Sumgait

Really, people in town didn't know what was happening on February 27. I came home from school at 12 o'clock, being excused to leave before the last period in order to go to Baku. When we left, everything in town was fine. Life was the same as usual, a few groups of people were discussing things, soccer and other things. Then we got on the Sumgait bus bound for Baku for my first cousin's birthday, my father, my mother, and I. We spent the day in Baku, and on the 28th, somewhere around 6:00 p.m., we got on the bus for home, figuring that I'd have enough time to do my homework for the next day.

When we were entering town, near the 12-story high-rises, our bus was stopped by a very large crowd. The crowd demanded that the Armenians get off the bus. The driver says that there are no Armenians on board; then everyone on the bus begins to shout that there are no Armenians on board.

The group comes up to the doors of the bus and has people get out one by one, not checking passports, just going by the way people look. We get off the bus, but are not taken for Armenians.

We set out in the direction of home. At first we were going to go into an old building where we knew there'd be a place to hide, but the whole road was packed with groups of people, all the way from Block 41 to the 8th Microdistrict. These groups were emptying people's pockets and checking Passports. People who didn't have passports with them were beaten as well. Then we decided to go home instead. Near the 12-story high-rises I saw burning cars and a great many people standing around the driveways, yelling - "Death to the Armenians" was written on the cars. When we came into the courtyard—we live in an L-shaped building—it was still quiet. We went on upstairs, but didn't turn on any lights. We tried to call Baku to warn our relatives, who were due to arrive on Wednesday, not to come. Then there was a knock at the door. It was our neighbors, who advised us to come down to stay at their place. We went down to their place, and they led us to the basement. They live on the first floor and have a base-ment which you enter across the balcony. We sat in the basement while an Armenian woman was beaten—she ran away naked. Our neighbors' daugh-ter said that's right, that's what the Armenians deserve, because in Stepanakert, allegedly, people were being killed, 11 girls from Agdam had been raped. We didn't stay very long in the basement. We tried to support one another as best we could, looking out the small window with the iron grating. Papa watched and said things now and then. He said that there was a fire near Building 5, probably a car on fire. Then one of the groups approached our driveway and demanded that they be shown the apart¬ments where Armenians lived. The neighbors said that there weren't any Armenians here, and the group set out for the other wing of the building. They appeared from the 5/2 side of the building, where, I later found out, a woman had been murdered. The woman who ran away naked died. Yuri Avakian was killed, too.

When the crowd left, the neighbors said that it was all over and we could go home. We went back up to our place and again didn't turn on the light. We started to gather up our things in order to leave Sumgait for a while. We tried to call a relative who lived in Sumgait, but there was no answer. We decided she had already left.

We sat at home. The phone rang, and the caller asked to speak with my father. I called him to the phone. It was Jeykhun Mamedov, from my father's work brigade. He said he was disgusted by what was happening in our town. He asked for our address and promised to get a car and help us get out of the city. To be quite honest, Papa didn't want to give him our address, but my mother got on the phone and told him. Some 15 minutes after the call a crowd ran into our entryway. Bursting into the building, they broke down the door and came into the apartment...

They came straight to our apartment, they knew exactly where the Armenians were. They came into our place. We tried to resist, but there was nothing we could do. One of them took my parents' passports and began to read them. He read the surname "Danielian," turned the page, read "Armenian," and that alone was enough to doom us. He said that we should be moved quickly out into the courtyard, where they would have done with us. Another, standing next to him, pushed some of the keys on the piano and said "your death has tolled." They had knives and steel truncheons.

I had a knife in my hand. Unfortunately, I didn't use it. I just knew that if I didn't give up the knife things would be much worse. They struck my par¬ents and said that I should put the knife on the piano. Then, one of them commanded that we be taken outside. One person was giving orders. When we were taken outdoors I went in the middle, and my mother was behind me. Someone started to push her so she'd walk faster; I let her go ahead of me, and fell in behind her. When he tried to push me, I hit him, and at that moment they began beating my parents; I realized that resistance was com¬pletely useless.

We are taken out into the courtyard, and the neighbors are standing on their balconies to see what will happen next. The crowd surrounds us. At first they strike me, and I'm knocked out; when I come to, they beat me again ... I lose consciousness often ... I don't see or hear my parents, since I was the first one hit and was out cold. When I come to I try to pick them up; they are lying next to me. The crowd is gone, the only people around are watching from their balconies. That's it. I try to pick them up, but can't. My left arm is broken. I start toward the drive, wanting to tell the neighbors to call an ambulance. The bodies of my parents are still warm.

We were attacked at around 9 o'clock. I regain consciousness at about 11 and try to make it up the stairs home . . . When I knock at the neighbors' door, they push me back and tell me to go away. I go up to the third floor, our neighbor puts a damp cloth on my head and says she will call an ambu¬lance; she sends her son off for one and takes me to our apartment. I often look out the window to see if the ambulance has arrived, but I can't see very far as a result of the blows, and it seems that my parents have already been taken away. Then I calm down and try to convince myself that they have been taken away, and everything will be OK.

But they were still there. Later, at 8 in the morning as I found out, the ambulance picked them up, but they were already dead. If they received attention on time, it is possible they would still be alive.

Later, around 12 o'clock on the 29th, policemen in civilian clothing come to our house with some "assistants." They call an ambulance, and 20 minutes later it arrives, and I am taken to the Sumgait Emergency Hospital. There they stitch the wounds on my head and rebind my arm. At 3 o'clock I and the other Armenians who are in the hospital are sent by ambulance to Baku.

In my ward at the Sumgait Hospital there were five people, all of them Armenians. The hospital was nearly overflowing with Armenians. The only Azerbaijanis there were those whose car had flipped over before the events, before the 27th.

Then I was in the Semashko Hospital in Baku. I was there 38 days. When I was released, on the 40th day, I found out that my parents were dead. At first they told me that they were in Moscow being treated, but later I found out that they were dead. My father's older brother told me.

My father's name was Nikolai Artemovich Danielian. He was born in 1938. My mother, born in 1937, was Seda Osipovna Danielian. Papa worked at PMK-20, the leader of the roofing brigade; mamma was a compressor operator.

They were also beaten on the head. The coroner's report stated that their heads were smashed open and bled profusely.

At the confrontation I met Jeykhun Mamedov, who had called. As it turned out later, he had been the one who tipped the crowd off. He had called specifically to find out if we were at home and to find out the exact address and dispatch the group. He knew the phone number, but didn't know the address. Before the events I had never seen him, but had often spoken with him on the phone, when he would ask to speak with my father.

I knew him by name. He denies that I was the one who answered the phone, saying that my father answered it. He denies that he called from a public phone, saying that he called from home, which also isn't true. I heard noise the sounds of automobiles. As I later found out, earlier he had been convicted, but had never served any time—he had received a suspended sen-tence. He was about 20 years old. I don't know if he has since confessed or not. I am sure that he was the one who tipped the crowd off. One-hundred percent sure.

My parents were from Karabagh. Father was from the village of Badar, and was two years old when his family moved to Baku, where his elder brothers were to go to school. He was a student at the Naval School, but never graduated. He went off to work on the virgin lands [one of the gigan¬tic agricultural projects instituted under Khrushchev.] When he returned he lived in Baku, and later moved to Sumgait, helping with the town's con¬struction. Mamma was from the village of Dagdagan, also from Karabagh. She worked in Sumgait, first in a bookstore, and later, on a construction site.

My sister is older than I. She lives with her husband here in Karabagh. I always loved my parents. That was why I went on to 9th grade, because it was their dream that I would continue my studies. I finished 8th grade and wanted to enter the Baku Nautical School, and after that, the Military School. But later I changed my mind, or rather, my parents got me to recon¬sider, saying that it would be better to finish the 10th grade and then join the Naval School. I was planning to be in the Navy almost my whole life long—since childhood I had dreamed of being a sailor. My father wanted it more than anything. He always recollected his youth, telling of the School, and he always said that he had made a big mistake in leaving it.

Now 1 live in Karabagh and never plan to leave here. I will stay at the home of my grandfather, of my ancestors, till the end of my days.

While in the hospital in Baku I learned the fates of many others who had suffered as well, like Ishkhan [Trdatov]. He managed to hold them off [at their residence in Microdistrict 3, Building 6/2, Apartment 6.] for a long time, lost his father [Gabriel], and by some miracle managed to survive. I also learned of Uncle Sasha, from Building 5/2, whose daughter was raped . . . Besides them, Valery—I forgot his last name—was in the hospital too, about a year younger than I, he went to School No. 14. He was riding with his parents in the car. People were throwing rocks at them, he was hit, and his parents brought him to the hospital, and he was in our ward. We even came to be friends. Before that we had just seen each other around town. But in the hospital we got to know one another better. I learned of the fates of others, those who had died, or who were befallen by misfortune . . .

Today Suren Harutunian, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Armenia, was shown on television. To be honest I am glad that Armenia agreed to recognize Nagorno Karabagh as part of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. I was repelled, no, revolted, to hear the Baku announcer who read the decision of the Azerbaijani Supreme Soviet Presidium against Karabagh becoming part of Armenia.

After the events in Sumgait and those in Baku, the best solution is to give Karabagh to Armenia, return it to Armenia, since the people want to live peacefully with the Azerbaijanis, but everything has to be right before they can do that.

I arrived in Karabagh on April 11. I felt very bad. I had constant headaches. After a while my strength returned. My older sister, Suzanna, took me in.

I think that justice should prevail; the people are demanding their due. You can't take away what is their due. My parents and I often spoke of Nagorno Karabagh, often visited here—I spent almost all of my vacations here. We had even decided that if Karabagh would be made part of Armenia, we would move here for sure. We always said that the Armenian people had suffered much, and that what had been done in 1921—removing Nagorno Karabagh from Armenia—was wrong. Sooner or later, mistakes should be corrected. And in order to correct a mistake, it must not be repeat¬ed; and the fate of all Nagorno Karabagh lies in the hands of our govern¬ment.

June 13, 1988 Stepanakert


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Born 1940


Sumgait Knit Outerwear Factory


Her daughter

Born 1964


Design Department

Azerbaijan Tube-Rolling Plant

Residents at Building 5/2, Apartment 38

Microdistrict No, 3, Sumgait

-Rima: The whole tragedy began for us on February 28. That day my daughter and I were to hold a karasunk for my husband. We had told all the relatives to meet at our place. We spent most of the night getting ready, and in the morning I said "I feel something wrong in my heart, something's going to happen." The situation in town was bad. On the 27th I saw a big crowd on Lenin Street shouting that Karabagh was not going to be given to the Armenians. I became upset, of course. I went to the policeman from our microdistrict; he has an office in Building 7. I went to ask that the police maintain order while we were honoring my husband's memory. You just never know what might happen. Then our acquaintance called, the one who was supposed to drive the bus so we could all go to visit my husband's grave. "I can't get to your place," he says, "it's impossible. The road is closed near the car plant." I told this to the district policeman, and he found a bus himself and says, "Come on, go quickly to the cemetery." I say, "What do you mean, quickly? People are supposed to come over at one o'clock this after¬noon." "No," he says, "you have to hurry." At 11:30 we left with our close rel¬atives for the cemetery, and the policemen—there were five of them—went with us. We returned home and quickly set the table, and the guests took their places. I had invited many guests, but all of them wouldn't fit into the apartment, so I had rented a big tent. We set it up in the courtyard, along with tables and benches.

The guests sat for a while, and suddenly there was noise and shouting. I look up and see about a hundred people coming our way. Young men, Azerbaijanis, from 13 to 25 or 30 years old. They've all got sticks and pieces of machinery in their hands. I was simply petrified. Our district policeman and some others went up to them and told them something, and then they left. Our guests from Baku started leaving in a hurry, and there had been only a few from Sumgait; many just hadn't been able to get to our place. We quickly cleared the tables and took everything inside, and folded up the tent and left it and the tables and benches in the courtyard. My closest friends and relatives were there in our apartment. My daughters were there—I have three daughters. Marina has two children, Stella recently got married, and Irina's still single; she and I lived together. Anyway, when everything seemed to have calmed down, I tell my daughters, "Set the table in the living room." We hadn't eaten since morning. We sat down and ate a little, and the men were trying to reassure us, saying don't be afraid, nothing's going to happen. And so we convinced ourselves that nothing would happen, cer¬tainly they wouldn't force their way into our apartment. . .

At 5:30 there was more noise and that shouting again. I go to the window and look out—a crowd has put our tent, tables, and benches into a pile and set them on fire.

-Irina: The Azerbaijanis in the building across from ours were trying to make them feel ashamed, saying "what are you doing?" They answered, "Keep quiet or it'll be bad for you, too."

-Rima: Then the crowd rushed into our entryway. We lived on the first floor, but at first they didn't bother our apartment, they ran upstairs. Good thing that our name wasn't on the door, just the apartment number. They shouted, "Let's go up to the third floor!" An Armenian family lived on the third floor—Sasha and Lena Avanesian and their two young daughters, Ira and Zhanna.

-Irina: From the kitchen window I see them drag Sasha Avanesian out of the entryway. They drag him out and immediately throw him under a bench. I say "Mother, Uncle Sasha is lying under a bench, I don't know if he's dead or alive." He's completely still. About this time our neighbor returns from the hospital (she had taken her child there) and sees Uncle Sasha, and comes running to our place to call an ambulance. Her name is Sabirgyul. She's an Azerbaijani, her apartment is across from ours. We called an ambu¬lance, and said that people were being killed here. They answered, "We're coming." We reported the fire to the fire department, and they said "We're on our way." But no one came, no one came to help us. We also managed to call the police, but no one came. When the district policeman and the others left they had given us a phone number, and said if anything happens, if there should be an attack, to call. I no longer remember the number, but when I was in the Nasosny village and the investigators asked, I wrote it down for them.

-Rima: Sabirgyul calls and says that people are being killed, but I'm simply overwrought and don't know what to do. Then there's pounding on the door, "Sabirgyul," I say, "tell them this is an Azerbaijani apartment!" She goes to the door and without opening it says that Azerbaijanis live here. They believe her, and I hear someone shout "to the third floor!" When I hear the cries of Sasha and Lena's daughters, it was as though I had been scalded with boiling water. "Girls," I say to my daughters, "quick, into the base-ment." Irina puts up a fight: "Mamma, I'm not going to the basement. You go down; I'll lead them away from you. I speak Azerbaijani well, maybe I can convince them to ..." I say, "Are you crazy, go down to the basement this minute! It's for you . . . it's you I want to save, and you want to stay here? No!" The basement was under a glassed-in balcony; my husband had dug it out four years earlier. I don't know what would have come of us if it weren't for that basement. We went down into it, Irina, Marina and her husband Vladik, their two children, Stella and her husband Andrei, Marina's father-in-law, Sveta, our relative from Baku, and I. Ten people.

One person stayed in the apartment, my daughter Stella's father-in-law. His name is Barmen Bedian. He saved us. You can see the trap door to the basement on the balcony floor, and that's why Barmen stayed, in order to cover it up, to hide the trap door. We had an old rug, he used it to cover up the door, and later, when they broke down the door to the apartment, the entire floor of the balcony was covered with shards of dishes. Later Barmen told me "Rima, I had enough time to get the glasses off the table so they wouldn't figure out that there were a lot of people here. I only left one glass." The poor man, how they beat him . . . now he's here, in Yerevan, in the hos¬pital . . . When they rushed into the apartment he thought only of us: "I for¬got to tell them to unscrew the light bulb in the basement," he thought. But Vladik unscrewed the bulb as soon as we got down there. The switch was on the balcony, and if they turned it on, the light would be seen through the racks in the plank floor and from outside as well, through the basement window.

-Irina: There was a small window there, with a metal grate, for ventila¬tion. Either they didn't see the window or they didn't pay any attention to it. -Rima: Through the window I saw someone climb up the downspout and peer into our kitchen. A couple of others were deciding what to do, and one says "I asked, it's an Azerbaijani apartment." "No," says the other, "Armenian." They break the glass on the balcony, break down the door, and we hear the whole apartment filling up with people. They did what they wanted, breaking things up, stealing, having a great time of it. From the noise and the voices it seemed it was happening right in front of our eyes. As soon as they came in, they started smashing the buffet; broken dishes flew onto the floor. One of them says, "Look how much stuff that Armenian has in here." We had cognac in the bar, they get it out, and someone says "Hey, Armenian cognac!" Someone else says "Don't drink it, it's poisoned." And what went on in the courtyard! We heard Zhanna Avanesian being forced out of the entryway, she's 22 ... They beat her, and her mother was screaming. And the crowd was singing "Vaksaly," which is ... I don't even know how to explain it...

-Rima: It's an Azerbaijani song, they play it at weddings when the bride is brought out of her parents' home. They sang it to taunt her.

-Irina: Zhanna cries out, "Please, please leave me alone, what have I done to you?" Later we learned how she managed to save herself.

-Rima: In our apartment someone started playing the piano; a trained musician from the sound of it. They played "Dary Khuram," an Azerbaijani song.

-Irina: They played a couple of other songs, too. Some of my father's tools were on the balcony. One of them shouts, "Anybody need an axe? They've got everything here, come and get it." We hear the sounds of the tools being handed out. At this point either they had caught Barmen or had brought in one of the neighbors. They got the large photograph of Papa with the black ribbon on it, and they said "Tell us who this is. When did he die?" But there was no answer to their question. They found either my mother's or my pass¬port and asked "Who is this? Where is she?" Again, no answer. Among them were people who spoke perfect Russian. I don't know if they were Russians or Azerbaijanis, but they spoke perfectly, without an accent. They all had terrible voices.

-Rima: They were beating Cherkez Grigorian right under our window, saying, "Come on, answer, are you going to go to Yerevan? Answer!" Cherkez' wife, a woman over 50, was brought out into the courtyard com¬pletely naked, and later they killed her. Cherkez, hurt, was shouting "Emma, Emma!" He cried out and groaned for a long time. He's really in bad shape right now, completely battered and bruised.

-Irina: Besides Aunt Emma, from our part of the building Uncle Yuri was killed. Yuri Avakian. He was burned alive.

-Rima: They took him, alive, and threw him into the fire, where our tent was burning.

-Irina: I don't know who exactly it was they had at that moment, if it was Uncle Cherkez or Uncle Yuri, but I heard the crowd decide to kill him. One says, "Let's burn him." Another says, "No, let's just beat him so that he suf¬fers and dies later." A third says, "Let's cut him up." This all took place just a couple steps away from us, under our kitchen window. I heard the names of two people in the crowd, the ones who were deciding how to do the killing. I think they were the leaders. One was named Aydin, and the other, Faik.

-Rima: How many they killed from the building across the way! Building 6. Many were killed there.

-Irina: They killed Armo Aramian and his son Artur. They burned Artur alive, too. They killed Valodya and Razmella Arushanian, husband and wife. Razmella is actually only considered missing, but everyone knows that she was burned. Ishkhan's father was killed. So was Rafik [Tovmasian].

-Rima: Killing wasn't enough for them. They stole, too. They take my daughter's coat: "Hey look at this coat! Llama!" They drag our rug out over the balcony: "Beautiful rug." They stole everything, down to the last pair of boots. My relatives had taken up money to help me out—they took that, too. And what they didn't want, what they didn't like, they broke or cut up with knives. They played and played on the piano, and then broke it. Finally, toward the end, about the only thing left was the clock. One says, "Hey, look, the clock still works." After that I hear a crash, a cracking sound, and I think, the clock, too." Later I saw what had become of our home ... I can't even describe it; it was like the place had been bombed. Even the curtain in the bathroom, they even tore that. Even that! They didn't take the everyday dishes from the kitchen. Those they broke on the floor and against the walls. They ripped up the pillows with knives. They smashed up the rented china on the balcony, the slivers rained down on me through the cracks between the planks. My daughter, Irina, she's 23 years old, everything was already for her trousseau—the suitcases were packed, I had even bought the wool for the bed ... they carried it all off!

But I couldn't care less about the things, no. How many horrors we lived through down in that basement! Ten hours we were down there, ten hours. It was crowded, we barely all fit in there, and there wasn't any air. Marina and Vladik have two kids. The boy is three, he fell asleep right away. The girl—her name is Diana—she stood there, ten hours that girl stood there with us. I felt around for her, I thought, maybe she's too frightened to breathe. She's five years old, she understands everything. I touch her, and her whole dress is wet, she had broken out into a sweat from the fear. A child, just a child . . . and you don't know, you don't know what to do ... I touch my girls to see if they're still alive, or if they've had heart failure ...

-Irina: I decided . . . it's even funny . . . that if they found us, they would take us out of there ... 1 was planning to convince them, to let everyone else go and they could do what they wanted with me. I'm not married anyway, I don't have anyone . . . Well, of course, everyone was thinking about how to save their own people.

-Rima: At three o'clock in the morning the soldiers on armored troop car¬riers arrived. We hear someone speaking Russian in the courtyard: "Are there any Armenians alive here?" Vladik says, "It's soldiers!" I say, "No, no! What soldiers? They're doing that on purpose to find the people who are hiding." And at first we didn't respond. Later my son-in-law couldn't stand it any more, he opened the trap door. We look out. Sure enough, it was sol¬diers. Thank God! They saved us, took us to the City Council building where they had collected all the Armenians. All of us went out into the courtyard right through the balcony window, we were afraid to go through the rooms. My younger son-in-law and I went to find out what happened to his father, Barmen. He wasn't in our apartment, and I thought then that they had killed him, too.

Mid-March, 1988 Yerevan


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Born 1956


Sumgait Barbershop No. 1


Born 1962 Housewife

Residents at Building 24, Apartment 2

Block 4


-Vladimir: On Saturday, February 27, we were at my mother-in-law's. We were all returning home together. On the way the trolleybus is stopped, and the crowd started to shout: "Any Armenians in there? Out with you!" This was the second time. We had already been stopped near the Bakhar Restaurant. "Armenians out!" They told the bus driver, "Open the door!" But the driver wouldn't open the door. Then they started to break the glass and threaten to overturn the bus. "If there are any Armenians among you, come out!" Everyone in the bus started saying "No Armenians in here." They stopped bothering us and left, since there were no Armenians. There were probably two or three thousand of them. They were demonstrators, coming from Lenin Square on the main drag. We just happened to be coming their way.

-Marina: I got frightened because of the kids. I didn't know that the worst was still ahead of us.

-Vladimir: We got home. I looked out the window, and there was a rally going on in Lenin Square. I couldn't hear anything, so I opened the window and caught a few phrases. The speaker was saying calm down, we won't give Karabagh to the Armenians, Karabagh is ours. From the crowd some¬one said that if that didn't happen they'd be back again the next day at ten o'clock with a new demonstration. A young fellow at the microphone said My mother lives in Agdam, I can't bring her here, all the roads are closed. Maybe they've already killed her there." Like that, yes. Another says that the Armenians in Karabagh killed two Azerbaijanis, a 16-year old, and the other, a 22-year old, wasn't it...

-Marina: And this they said after Katusev, Deputy General Procurator of the USSR, spoke on television. He said that two Azerbaijanis were killed. Can it really be right to say something like that on television?! It was right after that that they became so angry.

-Vladimir: That's what we think. That's what everyone thinks. They say everything started after that.

-Marina: And everyone blames that Katusev.

-Vladimir: The next day was the karasunk for my wife's father. I got up in the morning and said to my wife, "You stay with the kids, I'll go find out what's going on. Maybe the situation in town is such . . . that it's dangerous to go outside." My father and I went to see my wife's mother. Her name is Rima Khalafian. She says, "Well, are we going to mourn today?" "It's danger¬ous today," I say. She says, "Well that's all right, there's nothing we can do anyway, the guests have already been invited." I say, "Then let's go get the police, they'll come here and keep watch, if someone should come ..." So we went and told the police. Then my wife and my mother arrived. And we had wanted to rent a bus. We went out, but couldn't find one—no one would agree to drive. They said, "What, not on a day like today. I don't care if you give me 100, 200 rubles. I won't do it." We went back to the police. They rounded up a small bus and rode with us to the cemetery. We held the ceremony and all went home together. We had a tent set up in the courtyard for the occasion. The tables were set, the relatives were sitting down, and the police were standing there. Somewhere around one o'clock in the afternoon we look and see a crowd coming. We say to the police, "Do something." There were seven policemen. In the yard they found sticks and some sort of pipes . . . they hadn't brought anything with them, no weapons, nothing. So they up and set out toward the crowd. Five minutes later they come back and say, "Pick everything up quickly! They'll be back." Well, we say "We just sat down, by tradition we must drink toasts for the soul to rest in peace ..." There were about a hundred people sitting in the tent, they're saying, "what do you mean, half an hour? Everything has to be cleared away in two or three minutes, they'll be right back." Well we packed everything up and the relatives immediately went their separate ways. The ones who had come by cars from Baku—everybody. The closest relatives stayed on. I didn't want to go home, I figured it would probably be safer here: we're right downtown, it'll begin here, it's better to stay. We sat in my mother-in-law's apartment. Suddenly we hear shouting: "Hurrah! Hurrah!" They were coming. We look and there are hundreds of people in the courtyard—it's filled.

-Marina: They're whistling and yelling. "Hurrah!" "Ermeni! Ermeni!" [Armenian! Armenian!]

-Vladimir: The crowd moves closer and falls upon the tables, benches, and the tent: they gather it all up into a pile and set it on fire. Uncle Sasha Avanesian and his family lived on the third floor. He came out onto the bal¬cony and shouted, "You pigs, animals, what are you doing?"

-Marina: His daughters were shouting too.

-Vladimir: But he didn't realize that they had come for him, for us, come to kill us. And when they heard him they shouted "on the third floor!" We heard their voices in the entryway when they were going up the stairs: the Avanesians live on the third floor, we're on the first.

-Marina: They say, "It's they, probably, who are having the karasunk."

-Vladimir: "There," they say, "that's where the Armenians live, let's go." -Marina: That's just what they said, "gurkhy," that's karasunk in Azerbaijani.

-Vladimir: When they came to where we were they knew that one of the Armenians was having a karasunk. A Russian in Building 6 told them. Later, on March 10, he saw my father at the bazaar, they're friends. He says, "You had a karasunk on a day like that? We told them," he says. "They came to us and asked whose it was. We said 'the Armenians'. If we hadn't told them, they would have killed us." They already knew, they knew when they were coming that it was an Armenian karasunk. They just got the floor wrong at first. The crowd goes up to the third floor. We hear shouts. My mother-in-law says, "That's Lena Avanesian."

-Marina: The daughters were screaming. -Vladimir: The daughters were screaming, "Help! Help!" -Marina: "Stabbing! Murder!"

-Vladimir: They stripped them naked and took them out into the court¬yard, and began to beat them. I saw this out the window. I hadn't yet gone down into the basement.

-Marina: They took Uncle Sasha into the courtyard first, and started beat¬ing him. How they beat him! We heard his cries. "God, it's Uncle Sasha ..."

-Vladimir: Yes, it was Uncle Sasha. They mocked him. Our girls were say¬ing, "The pigs, look what they're doing." And he was in the courtyard, screaming. . .

-Marina: He was a Class 2 war veteran, he had seen combat . . . When they were still in the apartment you could hear the voice of his wife. And the swearing from those in the mob . . . The daughters were screaming and crying. Then they started knocking on our door.

-Vladimir: Not knocking, they were breaking it down. -Marina: There was an Azerbaijani in our apartment, a neighbor. She had come over to use the phone. Her name is Sabirgyul. She lives across from us. She came and says Sasha's in bad shape, let's call an ambulance. We try to call, but it's impossible to get through. No one answers the phone. We asked Sabirgyul, "Stay with us."

-Vladimir: "If anyone knocks, say that Azerbaijanis live here so they won't come in." And she says, "Good, I'll say it, but stay with me, I'm afraid too." My mother-in-law is in an awful state: "I'm most afraid for Irina." Irina is her second daughter, a beautiful single girl. "Now they're coming here," my mother-in-law says, "now they're coming here." Irina says, "I'm not going into the basement, I'm staying here!" Her mother screams at her, "You're crazy. What's important now is to save you; you go downstairs. We're all going to the basement." When everyone who had been in the apartment was in the basement, I stayed with Uncle Barmen. Sabirgyul says, "If you leave me, if you go away, I'll say that there are Armenians here, I'm afraid." I reassured her, "Don't worry, I'll be here right next to you." And she calls out the window, "Don't come in here," and while she does it, she waves her hand to indicate that there are no Armenians here, "Azerbaijanis live here." But someone in the courtyard gives us away, and the mob starts to throw stones against the glass. Sabirgyul is shouting and rushing about. . . But her broth- er, Vagif, is in the yard. "What are you in there dying for?" he says, "come out of there." And Sabirgyul goes out. I tell Uncle Barmen, "Let's go down to the basement too. Maybe they won't find us." He says, "No, you go. I'll go into the bedroom, I'll be in the bedroom." I go downstairs and he closes the trap door after me. And immediately they rush in, and it all began. You could hear everything in the basement.

-Marina: Yes, you could hear everything. And there was so much noise: they weren't just wrecking our apartments, but other people's, too. You could hear the sound of glass, something fall from high up.

-Vladimir: Then they brought Emma Grigorian from the fourth floor into the courtyard. Before that they beat her husband, Cherkez, near the entry-way. They beat him for five or six hours. Regardless of who or what group went up to him, they all beat him. They hit him on the head with frying pans, I don't know what all they hit him with, on the head .. .

-Marina: He groaned so, and cried out! You could hear the cries of Valya, Emma and Cherkez' daughter-in-law, all the way from the fourth floor. She screamed like a crazy person, calling her 6-year old daughter: "Krishna! Kristina!" We had already thought that they had taken her, carried her off. Poor Valya is screaming, and there is laughter from the yard: "No-oo, there's no Kristina any more, not any more!" Some boy was calling from the yard. Others were also laughing because she was shouting "Kristina! Kristina!" They had killed her, and that's all there was to it. Then they brought out Aunt Emma, I heard her voice, too. They stripped her. And when they broke down our door and came in they said, "Ah, there's bread here!" Muslims don't serve bread at a karasunk.

-Vladimir: They said, "This is the house that had the karasunk. Come on, let's wreck it, let's break everything ..."

-Marina: "Don't drink vodka from open bottles, they're probably poi¬soned. Don't eat anything, there might be poison in it. Take the unopened vodka." Then we heard them curse the memory of my father and throw his photograph .. .

-Vladimir: It was a big photo, an enlargement, on the piano. They stomped on it and threw it out into the yard.

-Marina: They cursed my mother in every possible way . . . Then they started to play the piano. The felt themselves quite at home, quite free, they took their time breaking everything ... I heard someone being beaten in the room.

-Vladimir: That was Uncle Barmen. They found him . ..

-Marina: I also thought that it was Uncle Barmen, my sister's father-in-law. They started beating him . . . And I say, "I think they're beating Uncle Barmen." And Vladimir says, "No, he went with the neighbor, Sabirgyul."

-Vladimir: I said that so that everyone else in the basement would not panic. There were ten of us down there.

-Marina: And Barmen's son, Andrei . . . we could barely hold him back.

He couldn't bear it, he kept whispering, "My father's up there! My father's up there!" We barely held him back. We calmed him: "Don't worry, your father is at the neighbor's." Then we hear them say, "Let's go up to the fourth floor. There are Armenians there, too. Let's go up there!" The mob went up to the fourth floor, and what they did up there! This I found out about later, when the soldiers in the armored troop carriers came. Through the grate I saw them burn somebody; later I found out it was Yuri Avakian. He also lived on the fourth floor. They just dragged him out of the apartment, beat him, and then burned him . . . Through the basement window I saw a per¬son burning ... I couldn't take it any more, I thought "God!" I thought that it was Uncle Cherkez, but it was Yuri.

-Vladimir: He held them off for a long time, Yuri, a long time. I heard the Azerbaijanis say "We just can't seem to break his door down. Get a crowbar, quickly! Get a crowbar to break down this door!" His son told me the details later. His name is Kamo. He climbed down the balconies. He said, "At work I'm afraid to look down from the second floor, I cannot imagine how I got down from the fourth floor."

-Marina: Kamo somehow managed to hook electricity up to the door and shock the people in the mob.

-Vladimir: They got the metal frame from the bed and stood it up against the door and ran the current through it, so the frame would be live. Then they poured water on the floor. So the floor was conducting electricity too The mob came in and was shocked. Then they dragged in mattresses from the neighboring apartment, where the Grigorians lived, and raced into the apartment over the dry mattresses.

-Marina: Someone in the crowd yelled, "When we get the door open we'll cut them all up, every last one!" Because it had taken them so long with the door. Kamo's parents had gone from the back room, from the bedroom, over the balcony to their neighbor's; she's an Azerbaijani named Khanum. But the bandits guessed that they had probably gone to her place, since there was no where else they could have gone on the fourth floor. And they started to pound on her door. Khanum opens the door, gets onto her knees, and says What do you want? Don't hurt these people! Here, if you want blood ..." and she cuts her leg, runs a knife along it, "here, here's blood for you! But don't hurt them!" But all the same they just grabbed Yuri by the arms and led him off. But they didn't kill his wife . . . From our section of the building they killed two people: Yuri Avakian and Emma Grigorian. Cherkez Grigorian and Sasha Avanesian didn't die, but now they might as well be dead. Our Uncle Barmen is also in serious condition . . . We saved ourselves, but what we went through down in that basement!"

-Vladimir: There were so many boxes in the basement that it was impossi¬ble to move

-Marina: There was nowhere to stand.

-Vladimir: The basement was small, really small. And we squeezed together into a clump away from the trap door so that they wouldn't see us it they opened it.

-Marina: We were packed in there. My child, Diana, was drenched in sweat. ..

-Vladimir: She was completely drenched when we came out of there . . .

-Marina: She was afraid to make a sound. She says, "Mamma, who is that?" I say, "Diana, dear, be still! Later, later!" She was all wet, we pressed her against us. There were dishes and tanks all around us in the basement.., the slightest movement would kick up a roar. And the whole time they were above us, standing right over our heads, on the balcony. We could clearly hear them talking among themselves.

-Vladimir: And there were Russians among them.

-Marina: They spoke perfect Russian.

-Vladimir: Those were Russians talking. They spoke without any accent whatsoever.

-Marina: We heard a fire truck drive into the courtyard. Something seemed to move on the fire escape, and then something broke . . . you could hear it. The vehicle left, but then another vehicle drove into the yard ... We were already going crazy. There was just nothing to save us any longer. We thought of death, of ... No matter where we had called beforehand, the police, the fire department—there was no help for us. And we all thought they'd probably kill us, we'd be lucky just to survive.

-Vladimir: 1 didn't believe we would get out of there alive. I thought, "All the same, they'll find us all the same, eventually they'll find us."

-Marina: I thought they'd find us too.

-Vladimir: When they went out onto the balcony and started to walk right over our heads and stopped on the trap door, the trap door let out a squeak, and I thought they were opening it. There was a woman with us, a relative from Baku, who came for the karasunk, Sveta by name. She whispered into my ear, "If they open the trap door, you grab at least one of them and drag him down here, and we'll hold him hostage." I answered that I had thought the same thing, and agreed to do it. But it was our fortune that they failed to notice the trap door.

-Marina: When they were breaking dishes on the balcony the shards fell down through the cracks between the boards. I stood dead still. Well, I thought, this is it! They carried so much out over our heads and didn't guess, they didn't open the trap door, and now they'll catch us all. This is it!

-Vladimir: And then our child started to whine. He's three years old. Before that he had been sleeping. Thank God we were able to calm him down. His name is Grisha. That's my father's name, too. "Papa," I say, "I am tired of holding him, I can't hold him any longer." I held him in my arms the whole time. He's small. Diana stood at least, but he couldn't stand, he was tired and his legs wouldn't hold him. Diana stood on her feet the whole time, the poor kid. She held out. Standing. When we left she was all wet. Her dress was entirely wet. From terror. She was shaking. I felt her legs touching my leg, and felt her quaking all over. I told my father to sit on the floor somehow and take the child, "I can't hold him any longer." I was already having spasms in my legs. My arms were tired, they hurt. Well imagine holding a child for seven hours. I tell my father, "Sit down gradual-1 somehow so no one will hear." He sits down ever so slowly on the con-Zete floor and I slowly hand the child to him. The boy is already asleep. I hand him over and he starts to sob in his sleep. I say, "Papa, turn him some-how so he won't sob, or they'll hear him." And all of us—all ten of us—sup¬ported one another. We said, "Quiet, quiet," we whispered with a rustle, "quiet, quiet." We sat that way, awaiting our lot.

-Marina: The whole time we were shaking and quivering. Some got thirsty, but withstood it. Our mouths were completely dried out, everyone had a bitter taste in their mouths, and at the time I thought it was just me. There was no air, there was nothing to breathe. In addition, there was a fire in the courtyard, and the smoke ... The smell of a person on fire ...

-Vladimir: One of the women said, "I need to go to the bathroom so bad¬ly." And I tell her, "Do it on the floor, standing ..." What could we do? It wasn't so much from having drunk anything as from fright, probably. For all of us.

-Marina: From fright.

-Vladimir: Don't think that those creeps were interested only in murder, beating, and rape. They stole Armenian property everywhere. Our place was no exception.

-Marina: In the basement I heard them say, "Look at this carpet! Come on, bring it!"

-Vladimir: My wife's coat had a collar of polar fox, they didn't even know what it was, one of them said, "Look at this coat, it's llama, take it!"

-Marina: They partied and stole. They played the piano. They were musi¬cians, simply professionals, they played so well. They played and broke everything in sight.

-Vladimir: They played "Jip, Jip, Jujalyarum" [a children's song] the whole time.

-Marina: And danced, too. They did everything that came into their heads, just to be making noise.

-Vladimir: The scum! It's nauseating to think about it... We know a guy in a boarding school, he says from a balcony he saw a naked girl being led around . . . They led her around naked and beat her, the whole mob . . . There was a streetlight, and nearby they stopped her, formed a circle around her, and started to clap, so that she would dance. They clapped and she lanced, and they were laughing and mocking her so. And showed, just look what they do to Armenians, what they were able to do.

-Marina: Incidentally, there were some adolescents among them, about

twelve years old. When they were beating Cherkez, he was already on the ground, completely beaten, and a boy comes up to him and says "Say fundukh." We are all listening. "Say fundukh," he says, "if you say fundukh correctly, it means you're a Muslim." Fundukh means "nut," Armenians and Azerbaijanis pronounce it differently.

-Vladimir: They knew that Cherkez was an Armenian, they were just making fun of him...

-Marina: Cherkez pronounces the word perfectly. The boy says, "Oh, so you're going to Armenia? We'll watch you go!"

-Vladimir: They said "Are you going to Yerevan? Are you going?" to Uncle Barmen. You could hear them beating him. We simply didn't want to think that it was him they were beating . . . Andrei, his son, kept saying "Papa, Papa, Papa, Papa ..." the whole time, and I said, "Still, be still..."

-Marina: His father didn't even make a sound so that we wouldn't become upset and give ourselves away. He knew that his son wouldn't be able to stand it, and would jump out of the basement. He was silent for all of our sakes. They tormented him in every possible way, and he was silent all the same.

-Vladimir: My mother was in the neighboring entryway the whole time, where her sister's family lived. When the crowed surged in, my mother and my sister's family hid at the neighbors' on the first floor. They kept them there for an hour, and then said, "We're afraid too, you have to leave. If they come they'll kill us along with you." My aunt said, "How can I leave?" Her son, my first cousin, had gone childless for ten years, and suddenly they had a baby; the child was but two months old at the time. My aunt says, "We have a child, how can we go outside, they'll kill us immediately . . . there are bandits in the yard, how can we go outside?!" And the neighbor answers, "I don't know what, do you want them to kill us too?" And threw them out. They went out into the entryway and ran up to the third floor. The neighbor was coming out of his apartment, had opened the door, and my aunt just flew right in there. They were told, "No, no, you can't come in here." But she simply raced in there with such force, everyone went in after her. Later my mother told me, "When I heard from the courtyard that they started to wreck Rima's place, and thought that they had stabbed all of you, I couldn't stand it, I wanted to run right to your place." But my aunt told her, "If they've killed them, you can't help them and you'll just give us away. Better stay here." So they wouldn't let my mother leave. If she had come over to where we were, they would have killed us all for sure. They would have gone after her and found us ...

-Marina: We were all saved at 2:30 in the morning. The soldiers came and evacuated all the Armenians.

-Vladimir: That was our fortune. Just think of it as though we were born a second time. The whole time we were in the basement I thought, "I wonder what time it is? If only it would get light soon, if only. Maybe when it gets light they will stop." And suddenly we hear military commands from the courtyard: "Detail, flank left, detail flank right! . . . And then they begin to call, "Are there any Armenians left alive? Are there? Come out!" I wanted to go out, but my mother-in-law holds me by the arm and says, "Don't go out don't go! They're probably saying it in Russian on purpose, trying to trick us." "No," I say, "I heard orders, those are soldiers." I served in the Army, I know all the orders. I am already opening the trap door. My mother-in-law keeps it up: "No, no, no, don't open it!" I hear the soldiers leaving, their voic-es getting weaker, and I just stand there, nervous. I can't stand it. "That's it, I can't stand it, I can't stand it!" I push open the trap door with all my strength, crawl out, and shout, "Soldiers, soldiers! We're here, we're here! Help, we've got children here! Children, children! Come and get them!" The soldiers hear me and come over .. . We're so frightened, in such a hurry, that I just hand the children over to the soldiers through the broken balcony win¬dows. The soldiers say, "Come on, come on." My mother-in-law says, "What's with you, let's go out through the door, why are you . . . ?" But the women are going right out through the windows. They cut their hands on the glass ...

-Marina: I cut my fingers too ...

-Vladimir: We were afraid, afraid to go out through the rooms.

-Marina: There were still people in there, I could feel it. The gang had left, but there was still someone in there. Because when the soldiers came, some¬one ran through into the bedroom, one person. In the basement we heard the person constantly rummaging around among the broken things and shards, going over them, searching for something . . . The troops put the Armenians onto a bus. There were many wounded, it was horrible to see—the faces were barely recognizable! I see a person, completely covered with wounds, mutilated ... I look closer, and it's Uncle Sasha! I didn't recog¬nize our neighbor from Building 6; her face was covered with blood. Later someone said that it was Sveta, Valodya's wife. They had dragged her stark naked through the street by the hair. We see Valya, Emma Grigorian's daughter-in-law, with her Kristina and with another child, also alive and unharmed. But Uncle Cherkez was nearly dead. In the bus Valya told us that they were going to throw her child out of the window. She rushed to plead with them, to kiss their hands: "You, my brothers, don't kill the children, don't kill us, don't kill, spare the children, don't leave orphans ..." All of the Avanesians were wounded. They had guests over that day. They had come from Baku to celebrate their daughter's birthday and couldn't get home, that's why the bus was already filled to overflowing. A girl who had come to the party had been raped and stabbed, grazing her kidneys, her heels were cut, and her earrings were torn out, taking the skin with them. They raped her right before her father's eyes. And they mocked and made fun of her. But they didn't kill the father. They said, "That's enough for him." What they did to his daughter was enough for him, they decided, just let him suffer.

-Vladimir: They broke his arm when he tried to defend his daughter.

-Manna: That girl was brought onto the bus as well. I tell her, "Sit down."

She says, "I can't sit down." Her heels had been cut, she had to stand on her toes, there was blood ... It was just hideous.

-Vladimir: It was a war, a war!

-Marina: What do you mean war? It was worse than war. There was a general who said, "I was in the war in Afghanistan but I didn't see anything

like this."

-Vladimir: The soldiers told us, "We thought we had landed in Afghanistan." When the alarm was sounded they were not told where they were being taken. But later, on the way to Nasosny, the soldiers told us: "How can you live with them? They are animals, not people." We said, "We just live and tolerate it. What can we do?"

April 21, 1988 Yerevan


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Born 1935 Carpenter Agropromstroy Self-Financing Construction Trust

Resident at Mir Street, Building 5/7, Apartment 8

Microdistrict No. 1, Sumgait

It was like this. I went to the hospital on February 18. They took x-rays. I was having pain in my right knee, and it seemed they had found some salt deposits. I was in bed for treatment from that day on. But the doctors didn't do any analyses; they were waiting for money from me, they wanted a hun¬dred rubles, and only then would they treat me. I didn't give them the mon¬ey, and they didn't start the treatment.

My khnami [daughter-in-law's mother], Rima Khalafian, was holding a karasunk for her husband on the 28th. And I thought what kind of relative I would be if I didn't go. I asked the doctor's permission. He told me, "I'll let you go, but you have to be back in the evening." I said, "Fine, I'll be back for sure." The hospital is two blocks away from Microdistrict 3, only 200 yards from Rima's house, but on the morning of the 28th I had to change clothes. So my son came by for me, took me home, and I bathed and changed. My son wanted to go to the karasunk in the car, and I said "Leave the car parked in the lot—the Devil plays funny jokes—or they'll up and set it on fire." The day before, on the 27th, from the hospital window I saw cars being burned. That was in the evening, about five, five-thirty. Entire streets were blocked with people. There was shouting and noise: "Down with the Armenians!" There were slogans and flags. Almost every car that came through was pelt¬ed with rocks, and buses and trolleybuses were damaged. "Drive the Armenians away from here! Get rid of any trace of them! Kill them any way you can!" This was the type of shouting that could be heard. A crowd was walking along the street; it had a leader. He had a bullhorn, and was walking in the front and commanding with the bullhorn: "Shout hurrah! March with strong voices so the Armenians run away! . . . Destroy the Armenians!" He was a stocky man of average height, dressed in black . . . All of Sumgait was mixed up in this. From Block 15 to Lenin Street itself, that whole dis¬tance of slightly better than a mile was filled with crowds, twenty to thirty thousand, no less. Then it all seemed to settle down. I go back to my ward and say, "You guys that was probably the end of the demonstrations." But the Azerbaijanis with whom I shared the ward, says "That's just for starters, just wait and see." I say, "What's going to happen?" One of them says, "All the Armenians are going to be killed." In disbelief I ask, "Listen, why are they going to kill the Armenians?," although with my own eyes I did see them stop a bus next to the hospital, shouting "Are there any Armenians on board? Any Armenians? Get off the bus!" A bit later they caught an Armenian; he broke away and started to run away. And the people who were in my ward—they were on the other side—I seem them zip! dash over to that window. I say, "What's going on? What?" They say, "The Armenian's getting away, they can't catch him." And one of them adds, "No big deal, he only has a day left to live, they'll finish him off tomorrow anyway." And the other, who was also in our ward, says, "Today all the Armenians are being beaten outside, their cars are being burned, and tomorrow," he says, "they'll get into their apartments and kill them all, and burn their apartments." I ask, "How do you know?" He answers, "I won't tell you, but I know that's what's going to happen.-"So in the morning, as I said, my son takes me home, and I change. My son says, "Let's take the car." I say, "No, we won't take the car. Leave the car on the lot." Well, he did what I said. At this time my wife returns home from the late shift and says, "Let me nap for an hour and we'll all go together." I say, "Lie down, we'll wake you." But she fell into such a sound sleep after the night shift that we didn't want to wake her up. We left her and quietly went out, the three of us: my son Andrei, his wife Stella, and I. So we set off along Mir Street and there at the intersection we see two people standing here, three people there, five people over there, and little groups standing in other places. And there are a lot of fire department and police vehicles; they're all there as well. And I say, "See, Andrei, something's probably going to happen again." He answers, "No, really? There are so many police and firemen, cer¬tainly they can stop them." And I say, "What will be, will be ... let's go."

We get to Rima Khalafian's place and see the tent. Everything's all ready, but the tables aren't set. I ask, "When are we going to the cemetery?" Someone tells me, "They've already gone to the cemetery, we're waiting for them to return." Stella's feelings are hurt: "Without me," she says, "they went to my father's grave?" Soon they're back from the cemetery. We set the tables very quickly. I didn't sit, of course; as a close relative I looked after the oth¬ers, helping out as I could. Well, the precinct policeman was there and five other policemen with him, to protect us. They even sat with us. Each drank a glass of tea, saying, now don't be afraid, nothing's going to happen, every¬thing will be all right, everything's going to be fine. The person at the head of the table, the master of the toasts, pronounced the first toast to the memo¬ry of Misha, the deceased, and was ready to say the second toast, and we see, from over there, from the Druzhba Street side, a huge mob coming! Like a black cloud. The policemen each quickly pull a spike out of the fence and set off toward the crowd at a run. So they run over there and stop the mob. think the police told them "Listen, as long as we're here don't come over, but we'll leave, and then you can do what you want." I'm sure that's how it was So the police return from the crowd and say, "Quickly, clear the tables, they be here soon." Quick-like, in 10 or 15 minutes, we clear everything off the tables, gather it all together and take it inside. Most of the guests from Sumgait did not come to the karasunk because they were afraid, but the relatives from Baku came. Everything was peaceful there. Seeing what was up they quickly left, seven to eight people in a car. As the close relatives we stayed at the apartment. Our dear Rima says that since we didn't eat any¬thing, let's at least set a table in the apartment. And indeed, I had had noth¬ing at all to eat. We set a small table in the apartment and I have a bite to eat. I think, "I'll go rest a bit, I'm tired from all that, I just got overly excited, and got tired out." I go off to lie down for a while. Then, when I get up, I look—they're just now drinking tea, they've poured me a cup too. And so there are 11 teacups on the table. I drink a cup of tea, watching. Then I see the same crowd, with the same racket, and the same cries: "Kill the Armenians! Destroy them! Burn them!"

And the black mob comes into the courtyard. Ours is Building 5, where we were holding the karasunk, and across from it is Building 6, and there are 30-35 yards between them. There isn't a free inch in that space. It's black with those Muslims. They ask the residents of Building 6, "Do any Armenians live in your building?" I guess they don't get an answer. In any case, the windows are closed and we don't hear anything. Then someone in the mob says "Armenians live on the third floor!" I look and see the whole gang go up to the third floor in our entryway. Not two or three minutes go by when I hear Sasha, the neighbor who lives on the third floor, being dragged down the stairs. He is shouting, and they are dragging him. They haul him right outside. This I see from the kitchen. Rima's second daughter, Irina, is there. She shouts, "They're killing Uncle Sasha! They're killing Uncle Sasha!" I say, "Listen, you be quiet or the same thing will happen to us! Be quiet!" Her mother drags her away from the window. They beat Sasha so that I thought that was it, he was already dead. They drag him around and throw him to one side just like a rag. And immediately I see them dragging his wife Lena by the hair. They also pull her outside and begin to beat her. So then they say that Armenians live on the fourth floor too. Yuri Avakian lived up there, I used to work with him. They killed him, they dragged him downstairs and burned him alive . ..

I forgot to say that before going into the house we took down the tent. We took down the tables and benches we had rented and stacked them on top of one another, and put the tent on top of them, but left the metal tent frame standing. And when they came into the courtyard, one of them said, "Should we burn it or not?" Another said, "What are you waiting for? Burn the Armenian tent!" And then—I don't know if they poured gas on it or started the fire with paper—I watched it go up! Irina says, "Maybe we should go out and tell them not to burn it?" "Listen," I say, "are you a fool or what? Why go out? So that they burn us up with it? Right there in the tent?" Now the flames reach all the way up to the fifth floor. They throw Yuri right into the fire ... When I saw them beating Sasha I knew that the same thing might happen to us. And I hear someone in the courtyard say, "Armenians live on the first floor, too." Another says, "Those aren't Armenians, they're Lezgin, we can leave them alone." At this point an Azerbaijani came from the neighboring apartment to use the phone, saying that they've killed Sasha, we need to call an ambulance, maybe he's still alive. She called all around, then she calls her brother and he says look what's going on here in the yard, get over here quick, maybe they're going to start killing us, too. I tell her, "You're Muslim, why would they kill you? It's us they're killing." She hangs up the phone and wants to leave. I won't let her. Now the first stone comes flying in the window. Rima says, "Let's go down into the basement." I say, "Right, all of you, quickly, go down into the basement." And my son, Andrei, says, "Look Papa, if we all go down in there, I'm going, but if someone stays, I'm staying too." I quarrel with him and say, "Get down there, quick." He obeys me, and all ten of the people who were in the apartment, I let them all down into the basement. There was an old doormat, an old rug. I cover the trap door with the mat and place the rented dishes on top of the rug and put it over the trap door, too, so that the door can't be seen.

I was all alone. And like a polar bear in the cage—have you ever seen one?—pacing from one side to the next, just like that I walk back and forth in the apartment. I see my death before my eyes, that's it... I think, they're young, let them live, and as for me, the hell with it! I've lived 52 years, let them kill me, it'll be OK. And when the first stone comes flying in the win¬dow I think that's it, they're upon us. I look, one stone after the next, one after the next, they break all the windows.

And the Muslim, the woman, after all of us have gone down into the basement, she stays in the apartment for a while. I wouldn't let her out. She wants to open the door, and—whoosh!—I pull her away from the door. She tries again, and—whoosh!—I pull her away again. And then her brother sees her from the courtyard, and shouts, "What, have you died in there? Come out!" She says, "They won't let me out, they won't let me come out." I let her out. They pulled her out of the kitchen window. I held her, I couldn't let her out the door, they would have come in immediately from the entry-way, they would have figured out it was an Armenian apartment. So they pull her out of the window. I look and through the window, through the door, through the veranda, they're pouring in on us from three different directions. And I go off into the bedroom, there was a chest of drawers in there. I move it up against the door. When they get into the living room they say, "Hey, there's a lot of stuff in here, everybody, come in here!" There was vodka left; they hadn't let us have our karasunk. I hear one of them giving out vodka. There was a crate of wine, 18 bottles. They broke all the bottles, right there in the room. It looked as though someone had poured it out of buckets. They broke up all the wine bottles, but they didn't break up the vodka. They were giving out a bottle to each person. And then someone says, "Here's a tape recorder—the tape recorder's mine!" Someone else says, "The rug is mine." "Hey," a third one cries, "they've got a piano!" They open up the piano, and apparently one of them has had a musical education, he played it so well, their melodies and songs. One is playing the piano, anoth¬er says, move over, let me play; he plays a while, and the next one says, move over, I want to play too. I think four people played the piano, and they all played extremely well.

They start pushing on the door to the bedroom, the chest of drawers moves, and they come in. I am pressed against the wall on the other side of the chest. They come toward me and see me. One of them says, "Ah, here you are, you son of a bitch. We found you!" Both rooms are dark, the apart¬ment is completely filled, they even climbed up on the beds. Young, healthy guys, 18 to 25 years old. And they weren't slobs, either, they weren't wearing work clothes. They were well dressed: One of them had a coat on, one had a fashionable leather trench coat with shoulder straps. When they were in the courtyard their hands were empty, but now, I look, they've got some sort of shiny iron rods, I don't know if they had them in their sleeves or if they had them hidden somewhere else, a foot or a foot and a half long, each one has one. They are glinting in their hands. I say, "Listen you guys, take what you want from the house, but leave me alone." "You son of a bitch, you still dare to speak?" And they start to beat me on the head. I feel blood streaming down from my head . . . They hit me about five times with the rods. I tell you those rods were specially turned on a lathe, I think they were pointed. That takes more than a day to do. They were all the same size, the size that would fit in your sleeve. Later I heard somewhere that those rods had had points put on them specially at the tube-rolling plant.

So they struck me about five times in the apartment, and one of them—he was standing on the bed—kicks me in the left eye, and I think, that's it, no more eye. Like an inner tube being pumped up, I feel my eye getting bigger and bigger. And I couldn't get the blood out of my right eye so that I could see. I had a ring on my third finger, that finger still won't bend: they beat on the ring with the metal rod and the ring flew off, and they took it. They took my watch. I had money in my pocket, which they took right away, even the change. I had my driver's license and my passport with me, and they took them. They took my coat off over my head ... I wipe the blood out of my eye and I see all their beastly faces through red. I recognized one of them. His name was Myarkyaz, which means "center." I don't know if they caught him or if he is still on the loose. He lives in temporary housing, and has lived that way a long time; he doesn't have an apartment. He's in his forties. I know that he works in the village of Khyrdalan, at PMK-18—that's what they used to call the place; now they call it MDMK-25. There are five broth¬ers; they all live there, in that temporary housing. One of the brothers, the younger one, they sent off to the country. It seems the mother and father live there, they're old. Now that Myarkyaz didn't beat me, he did not even come near me; he recognized me and turned away.

Now when they started beating me and put my eye out, they hit me in the teeth so hard that everything is still loose in there. One of them says, "If we kill him here, no one will see. Let's drag him outside and kill him there."

I was glad, I think, "That's good, they won't hear my cries in the basement. "But no matter how they beat me I didn't make a sound, because I think my son, he's young, he'll cry out from down there and they'll find out where they are. So when I hear they're going to drag me outside I become glad.

When they dragged me away from the wall, I fell over. I was nearly unconscious, as it turns out. But when they hauled me out of the main door and the fresh air hit me, I sort of came alive again. They dragged me out of the entryway. I look, there's a fire burning, and they say, "Let's throw him in the fire." And—how did I have that supernatural strength after all the blows?

I took two of them and slammed them into one another, I had the strength to do that. One fell one way, one fell the other. God gave me size and strength. And though I was in the hospital with a bad leg, probably no car would have been able to catch me, that's how fast I ran in terror. The young guys, 25 or 30 people, chased after me shouting "Catch him! Hold him! ..." And I ran. I ran some 100 to 150 yards, and see a police car, a Volga-GAZ model 24. It was coming slowly and stopped in front of me. I think, "Good, he's going to save me from them." I went for the door handle and wanted to open it, but the car took off with such a jerk that I nearly fell over. Vroom! And it was gone. Police, police . . . please! The car drove away, and I took off running again.

I can't see anything at all out of my left eye, and I only have enough time to wipe away the blood from the right so I can see where I'm running. When the police drove off I knew that there was no saving me, and I ran on. And they were after me. I was already losing speed, and they were shouting . . . Three people appeared in front of me, two men and an old woman. The old woman presses against the fence, so as not to fall under the feet of the mob and the two men . . . The mob is shouting, "Catch him, catch him! The Armenian is getting away! Catch him!" and those two bastards grab me. Then the ones following me catch up. So they catch up, and start beating me on the head again with those rods. Now they're only beating me from behind, on the back of the neck and head. You can still see the marks, and the stitches, you can still see everything on my head. I passed out and fell down. On the ground the only thing I can feel is that they are still beating me on my back. Like they are beating a log. I can't feel anything any more, I can't feel any pain, I can only hear the noise, the sound of them beating me. Kicks to my ribs. It still hurts when I cough, I have dizziness, and vomit blood. More than a month and a half has passed, and I am still vomiting blood.

I showed my son where they threw me down and told him, "I lost a buck¬etful of blood here." That was between the hospital and the Maternity Home buildings. They beat me and beat me and left me for dead. And said, "Let's go back." I heard it all as if in a dream.

When they left I couldn't feel anything. I don't know how long I lay there, if it was a long time or not. Then I can sense a person coming up to me, still as though I'm dreaming, I feel someone touch me, an old Russian woman, "My son, my son." I am not sure whether I am dreaming or not,... I come to and say, "Huh?" "Are you alive, my son?" I say, "Yes, I'm alive." "Get up," she says, "leave, those bastards will come back here." She helps me. She helps me up and leads me to a small park in front of the hospital. She leads me up to the park and says, "I'll come back, but if they see me helping you they kill me, too."

Somehow, thinking that I'll collapse any second, I make my way to the hospital to reception. I knock at the door, and a doctor comes right away. He sees me and immediately covers his face with his hands. So he wouldn't see me, that's how awful I looked. And the doctor keeps me there some three hours. Three hours. He doesn't do anything. When my fever starts, when I start to shake like I'm going to die, they get scared too. There's a nurse there, Polina, an Armenian I know well. The doctor says, "Come on, Polina, give him two shots." I say, "Polina, be careful what you put in that needle. Otherwise, heaven forbid, you might get the wrong thing in there . . . but the hell with it, I'm going to die anyway." She looks at the ampules, one has an analgesic, and the other has morphine or something like that. She says, "Uncle Barmen, don't be afraid, it's an anesthetic." She gives me the shots, and then I ask her for cigarettes. She brings me one from somewhere. I light up. They don't even help me wash up, wash the blood off myself. The doctor tells me, "Go wash up." I go and wash out my eyes, I don't have strength for anything else. Then they see that I am shaking all over. The doctor, a young man with a moustache, takes me into a small room with a little sofa and says, "Lie down on the sofa." I lay there about ten minutes, and then I was taken to the third floor. They took me up there in order to sew up my head, to put in the stitches. No shots, nothing . . . they don't even clean or wash my head. When he sticks the needle in and pulls the thread I come right up with the needle. I say, "Doctor, listen, I'm a person too, and as long as my heart is still beating, I still feel pain. Give me a shot." "You're fine and healthy, you can stand it," he says. So he put in the stitches, and he used some sort of rag—either they didn't have any gauze, or they didn't want to waste it on me. They wrapped up my head and put me in Ward 7, on the fourth floor.

I don't know what happened to the people in the basement. I kept think¬ing about them. I'm thinking, "Did they find them or not?" I spent the night in the hospital, and don't have any news about them. In the morning around ten o'clock I went down to the third floor, where surgery is, and say, "Listen, are you going to change the bandage or am I going to go on wearing this rag?' The nurse says, "It's too early, come back at twelve." The nurse is a Russian, and I say, "Hey, do you have a telephone I could use to call and see It my relatives are alive?" She tells me that there is a phone in the room where the doctors are. In the house surgeon's office. She says, "Go call from here." Well, I set off down the corridor—it's so hard to walk!—and find the house surgeon's office, where I see the doctor who sewed up my head and some woman in a white lab coat sitting there. I say, politely, "Excuse me, might I use the phone?" This woman—I don't know who she is, a doctor, or a nurse, or a nurse's aide—just flies at me: "Not good enough for you, huh? Your nation should be completely eliminated, so there wouldn't be any more of you left in the world!" "If I had the chance," she says, "I'd kill your whole Armenian nation with this needle!" This woman tells me all this. And I start

to cry... This I just can't take, and start to cry ...

She wouldn't let me call and I couldn't find out where my wife was, where my children were, and what became of our people in the basement Later it turned out that they were all alive and well, and they had told my wife that I had been killed.

Then the head of our department and some other doctor come in and say "Who here are wounded Armenians? They have to leave the hospital. There are cars waiting for you downstairs. You're being taken to Baku." I tell the department head, "Look, how can I go. My wife and children are here, I don't know where they are." "No," he says, "you have to leave here." And they forcibly removed me from the hospital. Because it's night, he said, the hospital will be attacked. "And we should suffer because of you Armenians?" he says, "Our hospital should be burned?" I say, "Listen, I helped build this hospital myself, with my own hands, and now you're throwing me out of here?" "We're not going to suffer because of you," he says, "there's an ambulance downstairs, go and get in it." What could I do? If they're throwing me out, I have to leave. I went downstairs and got in the ambulance. There are four people besides me, right on top of one another. All are Armenians, all are in serious condition. I know them—it's Sogomon's children and his granddaughter. The brothers Alexander and Yuri, their sis¬ter, Marietta, and her daughter of about ten. Marietta's last name is Sayants, but I don't know what Sogomon's sons' last name is. The three adults were badly beaten. Yuri and Marietta's condition is the worst. They were beaten horribly. They didn't touch the child, but she went dark from fear, and made herself into a ball between her mother's legs.

They rush the five of us into the ambulance and now we're supposed to go to Baku, but the city is still full of those mobs. And no sooner do we leave the hospital than they are after us, throwing stones at us. They break all the windows in the ambulance. There was a stretcher in there. I take the blanket and cover up the window so the stones won't hit us in the head. And we lay down right on the floor. The driver sees that he can't go anywhere—we were right next to the Emergency Hospital—he just turns and drives right into the building. We stood there for about four hours. The mob, which was throw¬ing stones at us, started to break down the hospital gates. Apparently they had to finish us off, so there wouldn't be any witnesses. But the gates there are iron, and they can't break them down. Then they take some kind of bus, toss out the driver and sit at the wheel themselves. The streets are narrow right there, there's nowhere to turn around—and start ramming the gates with the bus in reverse. The ambulance driver comes up and says, "I feel bad about my car, they're going to find us now and burn it." And I say, "You creep, should you feel bad about the car or the five people in it?!" "There," he says, "is a burned up Zhiguli. A family was trying to get away in it, and they burned them up." I look and see the car, but you can't tell if it was a Zhiguli or not. And inside, five people, blacker than black, burned up … Apparently the family had wanted to get away, and they caught them some-where and burned them. I saw it with my own eyes. The car was completely black, you couldn't tell if it was a Zhiguli or a Moskvich. There was no license plate, no glass, no wheels, nothing. They brought it to the Emergency Hospital into the building. I don't know if they pushed it in, or brought it in something, maybe they towed it in ... I don't know how the car ended here. And five corpses . . . You can see all the bones . . . You can see the skulls...

The ambulance driver says, "You see, five people were burned. Now the same thing's going to happen to my car." And we sat there around four hours, in that ambulance, like dead men. The driver would leave and then return, leave, and return. "Lie down," he says, "don't breathe." And then everything settles down. They open the gates, and an ambulance comes out of the Emergency Hospital and drives off. I don't know why it was going, but as soon as it starts off, the mob leaves. It seemed to become quieter in the Emergency Hospital building. Then I look and see that a Zhiguli has come in from the other side, and there are traffic cops in it. They tell our driver, "Come on, follow us." And the gates open. Off we go, with the traffic police leading our way. We don't take Baku Street. We go toward the sea, and then turn toward the village Jorat, and from there toward Microdistrict 17, then through the village Sarai, going a really roundabout way . . . And finally we come out onto the thoroughfare and I see a huge crowd of police¬men, troops, and tanks. I sighed quietly, thinking, Thank God, it looks like I'm going to survive. And they took us to Baku.

We were treated fine in Baku. The doctors in the republic hospital, there were Armenians, and Russians, and Jews, and Azerbaijanis — I'm honest about it, they all treated us well. Fine. My wife, son, and relatives found me in that hospital. They had searched the hospitals and morgues for me. Andrei said that they stood almost until dawn in that basement, neither dead nor alive. The military evacuated them.

On March 9, when I was discharged from the hospital, the investigators came to see me. I asked them straight away, "Where are you guys from?" They were Russians. "We're from the Committee," they say. "From what Committee?" I ask. "From Baku," they answer. I say, "I'm not giving you any testimony." "Why?" "Because it won't go any further than the paper you put it on." They forced me all the same, and I told them everything. I told them the same thing I told you. Later, they take me and two other victims back to Sumgait in an ambulance. We were wearing hospital clothes, flannel robes, that's what we wore to the City Council. We went up to the third floor and they told us that there was a General up there. I raced to him, to tell him everything, everything that happened to me, what they did to the Armenian people. But they wouldn't let us in to see him. Soldiers were guarding him.

We disobeyed them and forced our way in to see him. The General saw the three of us. "Where are they from?" he asks. I tell him, "We fled from the prison." He says, "Change their clothes and bring them back to me." They convinced us and then took us in the ambulance to the boarding house to change our clothes. They gave me this suit, the one I'm wearing now, changed my clothes, and told me, "There's some Minister or other here, Seidov, you can see him." I went up to the second floor, found Seidov, the Chairman of the Azerbaijani Council of Ministers, and talked with him face to face. I say, "So you're a minister?" "Yes, I'm a minister." "I have a favor to ask of you. I want to leave here in my car, for Stavropol, I want to get away from these beasts, and be closer to people. I want to go there, help me get away from here." Well, he says, aren't you a man? Can't you leave in your own car by yourself? You are supposed to have a man's heart . . . And that was it. In a word, he wasn't going to provide any assistance. If you want to go, go. Then I told him, "You're no minister, you're a herdsman." And then I felt something in my heart, and I fell down. He called some doctors, and they took me downstairs, gave me some shots, and I came to again ... That's how it all was.

Then on March 14 the whole family left Sumgait for Baku, and waited for the 24th. We had tickets for Yerevan on the 24th. And so we flew here. Our thanks to the Armenian people, who met us at the airport and put me in the hospital; now I'm being treated properly. Since I still need treatment my doc¬tor said, "You need to be in bed another two months. I'll discharge you, but you need rest. Go to a boarding house, spend some time with your family, rest. We have really sick people here," he says, "you don't need to see them."

April 24, 1988



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Born 1965


Sumgait Vtorsyr Directorate

Resident at Building 5/2, Apartment 42

Microdistrict No. 3


It was my birthday. Actually my birthday is February 26, but we were cel¬ebrating it on the 27th because our relatives could come only on Saturday and Sunday. I figured out what was going on in town when I went out on the 27th to buy a bottle of champagne for the celebration. When I was walk¬ing around town I saw crowds of policemen, and someone told me that young people had gathered near the Petroleum and Chemistry Institute, and that there was to be a demonstration, which greatly surprised me, since I couldn't imagine what people could be demonstrating about.

That evening we were celebrating my birthday. There were many guests, and somewhere around eleven o'clock we hear some shouts outside, some noise, breaking glass . . . We go out onto the balcony, there's a demonstra¬tion, and shouting: "Armenians out of Azerbaijan!" Well I get mad and shout "Azerbaijanis out of Azerbaijan!" After all I was born in Azerbaijan too. I have the same rights they do. We're all equal. We do all live in the Soviet Union. So I get carried away shouting, and say "You're little pigs . . . piglets you were, piglets you'll be, you'll never be people."

The guests leave. The only person left is my uncle, Rafik, his daughter Aida and his son Artur, who all came from Baku. Aida is 21, and Artur is 18.

The next day, February 28, was Uncle Misha Khalafian's karasunk, and a great many people came to our building. The Khalafian family lived in our part of the building on the first floor in Apartment 38. My mother went to bake bread for them that morning. She's a baker and wanted to bake her own bread for the karasunk. But Aunt Rima Khalafian, after coming back from the cemetery, said that they didn't need any bread, and I called Mamma to tell her about it and to tell her to come home. So the karasunk Wouldn't be interrupted Aunt Rima hired some police, she paid them 200 rubles so the demonstrators wouldn't interfere. Well. Mamma was con-vinced of the need. Soon her boss brought her home. They had gone by side streets so as not to encounter that brutal mob. People were already back from the cemetery. A big tent had been pitched in the courtyard, with tables set out under it, places already set, and the guests were sitting down. There were a lot of people because Uncle Misha was well liked, he was a good person. Everyone sat down at one o'clock. Then I look and see? Andrei, Aunt Rima's son-in-law, start bustling around.

Zhanna's there too, my sister. I see them run into the tent, grab things, run into the apartment, and then back into the tent and back to the apartment They're carrying everything on the run. I can't figure out what's going on. Then Zhanna comes and says, "Ira, a whole mob has come ..." I say, Listen, you don't think they'll break in here?" I don't know how people could just come into someone else's apartment. . . come in without knocking, let alone break in? What kind of behavior is that? And she says, "What's wrong with you, they're in such an aggressive mood there's no telling what will hap¬pen." Honestly, I never thought, I never imagined, that. . . And then comes a call from my mother's work telling us not to go anywhere, awful things are going on! Then Zhanna's friend Olya calls and says that when she came home from the night shift on Saturday she was stopped and grabbed by the throat, and they asked her if she was Armenian or Russian. Olya took quite a fright, but one of the guys said, "Can't you see that she's Russian? What are you bothering her for?" They let her go. She quickly ran home and called us to say not to go out under any circumstances. Honestly, this struck me as funny, not to go out of the house. You never know. It's my city, I was born here. Who has the right to forbid me to do anything? I couldn't understand it at all. All the same we did as we were told and didn't leave the apartment.

But our relatives, Uncle Rafik, Aida, and Artur wanted to go somewhere. Acquaintances from my mother's work came and said that they would take them to the bus station and put them on a bus to Baku. We saw them off, said our good-byes, and they left. They set off for the bus station, where there turned out to be a huge crowd, and the station was already completely surrounded. And people in the crowd looked at Aida very suspiciously, since even though you could mistake my Uncle and Artur for Azerbaijanis because of their dark complexions, Aida is a typical light-skinned Armenian. My relatives drove around once, and saw that the buses weren't running, and came back to our place. Aida told us of her experiences: "They had such horrible faces . . . you couldn't tell what was going on, they were all around us. What is going on in your Sumgait? How is this possible? When I go back to Baku I'm going to tell them what's going on in your town ... "We laughed, and said, "Nothing's going to happen, nothing will happen." Really, who could just burst into my apartment? We sat down and watched some show on television, I think it was a fairy tale. And suddenly, more shouts and cries. We run into the kitchen and look out the window. At that moment my mother shouts, "Get back, get back, they're throwing rocks!"

I forgot to say that on the 28th the crowd had been near our building before the karasunk began, at around ten or eleven in the morning police started chasing them away, and they ran and laughed. Among them was a short, stocky fellow. And then a neighbor from the adjacent entryway says from upstairs, "You should be ashamed of yourselves, what are you doing?" And that fellow answers "Just wait, well be back at six o'clock be a cemetery here." Well we just laughed at that.

And now they were back. It was around four thirty or so. Mama is yelling, "Get back, get back!" They're shouting something down in the courtyard, then they start pounding on the windows, and suddenly someone down there shouts, "Two pretty girls live in Apartment 42!" The whole frenzied mob races up to our place on the third floor. They're right there at our door. Mamma yells, "Open the door, they'll break it down anyway." We don't even have time to get to the door . . . They break it down, but for some reason stay out there in the stairwell. I go out there and tell them, "Aren't you shamed of yourselves! 1 was born here just like you. What have I ever done to you? If you're so strong, then go to Karabagh. Why are you flying around in flocks," I say, "like crows? Can't you do anything on your own?" And they tell me, "we couldn't get a bus to go there. To them." I turn around, there is a guy standing on my left. His face seems familiar, and 1 remember that we worked together once. I once had a job as a commodity researcher at the housing facility, and he and I had worked in the same warehouse. 1 think his name is Safar. So I address him, "Aren't you ashamed of yourself? I used to work with you. I never did anything to you." They were surprised that I knew him. And they just stood there. Everyone is standing there, looking at me. And just then a really tall guy comes out of the crowd. He has a gray, puffy trench coat and a gray pullover with a pink shirt sticking out from under it. I'm standing in front of them wearing a robe. He grabs the collar of my robe and says, "Come here, I'll show you what I want from you." Before that he must have been standing in the back, and suddenly grabs me and says come here. I became quite frightened and began to shout, calling my mother to help me . . . Then my parents simply carry me away from him, and he grabs my mother and drags her out. At the same time the others car¬ry my father out. I rush out toward the balcony, and Zhanna is standing without moving. "Run for the balcony," I shout to her, and we run out there. And down below men and women—Azerbaijanis—are walking by, looking at us and laughing. I call for help, shouting, "Help! Call the police!" Oh, I for¬got to say that when they first broke through to us I had dialed 02. I dialed 02 and said, "Someone has broken in here!" "What do you want us to do about it?" they ask me. That's something I'll never forget, what kind of police we have. Like they say, 'Cops are crooked.1 I'm convinced of this. I have no faith in our police at all. At least not in the Azerbaijani police.

Well, so they'd broken into our apartment and when they saw that I dialed 02, they ripped the phone out and hurled it at me. I just turned around and ran out onto the balcony. Zhanna ran after me. But Aida was so shocked that she didn't budge and stayed there in the room. And they were already smashing up dishes, the crystal; they were hitting the sideboard with a chair, breaking and overturning it. Aida says to them, "What are you doing? What are you doing?" One of them turns and slaps her in the face.

She slaps him right back. Then they grab her and pull her onto the bed. They pull her onto the bed, where my uncle had been all along, and he covered her with his body to protect her. We had some stainless steel pipes on the balcony. We had been planning to make some repairs. I grab one of the pipes and think, you never know.

And I had an awful lot of books, too. I loved to read. They overturn my bookcase, but in the deluge of books they can't rush out onto the balcony where Zhanna and I are. Only one of them manages to crawl through. I tell him, "It's no problem for me, I'll kill you and throw myself off the balcony What have I got to lose now?" He looks at me, he looks at the pipe—it was a heavy one—and turns around and strikes Zhanna. He hits her really hard in the stomach, and she doubled over and squatted down from the pain Meanwhile the others have started calling for them, and so they go upstairs I think to the fourth floor. Two Armenian families lived there, the Grigorians and the Avakians. Artur seized the opportunity and went down for my father. They probably thought that Artur was with them since he was young, too. They went down and brought my father in from the courtyard. My father was in a horrible state ... I can't even describe it... They tell me what happened to me at the time, maybe it was temporary insanity, maybe it was something else, because Aida and Artur said, "You started to dance and say, 'They've killed Papa.' " Artur slapped me so that I'd come out of it, and Zhanna shouted at me. Consciousness returned, 1 don't know what to call it ... I came to, but after I saw what was going on in the apartment, everything started spinning again. The whole apartment had been turned upside down, heaps of broken dishes, marks on the wall from our vases—I saw them throw the vases against the walls. Well it's just impossible to describe ... The broken chandelier, swinging from a single wire . ..

We thought that was the end, that nothing else would happen. As it turns out they had gone upstairs to destroy everything up there. Artur says, "You had better hide." We had a pantry. We kept suitcases in there. We three sis¬ters crawled in there: Aida, Zhanna, and I. We hid in there, closed the doors, and Uncle Rafik and Artur crawled under the beds in my parents' bedroom. That was the adjacent room. As it turns out, other people besides my parents used it as a hiding place. When they broke the door down they dragged them into the courtyard right away, and then later, after they had left the first time, Mamma came back into the apartment. She had nothing on. They had torn all of her clothes off, torn an earring out of her ear—the earring was not a clip-on, and as for the second one, one of them said, "Take it off, Mamma, or I'll take off your whole ear." Mamma took it off and said, "You're not good enough to be my son. Is this the way you treat your mother?" And when my mother came back upstairs after all that and Uncle Rafik gave her a robe, she started to scold us, saying that I was the one who had shouted from the balcony on Friday and that someone had probably remembered and then came back to our place. But my father, like I said, was in bad shape, they beat him severely, and knocked his teeth out. He was uncon¬scious. They kicked him, dragged him down the stairs by the feet, and beat his head against the steps. Later, when we were in the hospital Father remembered being asked, "Which of your arms is broken?" That means they knew that one of his arms was broken—he's handicapped, he crippled his arm on a construction site. It doesn't bend. So when they asked him about his arm he showed the other one, not the one that was broken, but the good one, wanting to protect his bad arm. And they threw him to the ground and started to stomp on that arm. In the full meaning of the word. He was in the hospital and his fingers were all swollen up, especially one, the thumb.

After they broke in the first time, Mamma ran upstairs to call because they had smashed our telephone. She told Valya, Aunt Emma's daughter-in-law [Emma Grigorian, who was killed]: "Valya, call. Don't you see what's going on here?" But Valya didn't open the door, she was crying, saying that she had two children and Nelya, Aunt Emma's other daughter-in-law, had just come to visit her mother-in-law for a rest, and she had two children, too. Valya was crying, and said, "Aunt Lena, we called, Aunt Lena, they said they were on their way." But for some reason they never arrived.

My sisters and I were hiding in the pantry, Artur and Uncle Rafik had crawled under the beds in my parents' bedroom. My father meanwhile lay unconscious in our room, and my mother had again left to try to call. That's when they came back the second time. There's another blow on the door, and it flies open. Flies open in the fullest sense of the word. It sails off the hinges. And they race into the bedroom. We had some candy in there, my birthday presents. One of them starts to shout, "Look, imported candy!" Well they flew upon the box. Someone grabbed the carpet, and then they wanted to take the blankets and mattresses—I see all this through the crack. When one of the bandits goes to get the blankets and mattresses he sees Uncle Rafik under the bed, is startled, and shouts out, "An Armenian!" He shouts and runs from the room. Then they came back into the room with an axe —that's what Artur said. They had just wound back to use the axe on Uncle Rafik when Artur jumps out and turns his bed over on them. The bandits run out again to get some help, and then return to the bedroom, take Uncle Rafik and Artur out, and start to beat them in the next room. Then one of them says, "There were some girls with them, look for the girls." They start looking around the apartment, looking under the beds, and then go for the handle of the pantry. And I, even naively, you know, am shaking my head, no, don't open it, don't open it. They tear the door off its hinges and say, "Come out." I say, "I'm not coming out." And Zhanna says, "Give us your word as men that you won't harm us. Then we'll come out." They say, "Yes, yes, you have our word." Well, Zhanna tells me, "Go out." Aida also tells me to go out. I say, "I'm afraid." Those guys say, "Come out." Well, we go out together. We go out. They start pushing us, and one of them says, "What did you do with our girls there. Do you really think you'll be forgiven for that?" Like that. They're going to do the same thing with us. They push Aida toward the door and want to drag her into the nursery. The others stand there ready, waiting for them to pull her in. Aida puts up a strong resistance, knocks them away and runs toward the door. She runs to the door to the outside, but they become furious and start to drag Zhanna and me toward the door, pushing us out of the apartment. They no sooner get us out of the apartment than they start to tear our clothes off. Then blows rain down on us. When they take me down the stairs they drag me by the hair. They push Zhanna ahead of me. And there, on the second floor, is Khanum, our neigh¬bor from the fourth floor, from No. 46, I think. Khanum Ismailova. She says, "Sacrifice Zhanna to me, give her to me." She liked Zhanna very much. But they say, "No. We're going to sacrifice her to the others." And drag her downstairs. They drag us downstairs—I don't remember any more. I must have lost consciousness ... or maybe I just blacked out for a minute or something ... I don't know what to call it, it's just not there in my memory. Artur said, "I was on the second floor, and pulled you toward the door of Apartment 41," but I don't remember that. They drag me out into the court¬yard. They were beating Aida out near the road. So I hear Sabirgyul's broth¬er, Vagif—he is from No. 36 on the first floor—I don't know his last name. Vagif, watching them beat Aida, says, "They -didn't beat her enough, it's bet¬ter to kill her." And just when he says this, just at that moment they push me out of the entryway. I turn upon hearing the voice saying, "It's better to kill her," and see Vagif. In the window. He looks at me, starts to laugh, smiles and immediately closes the window and goes into the room. And I. . . well, they're beating me. They hit my head with a stick, a 13-year old boy cut me with a knife, he had a pocketknife, a small one. When I was in the hospital I didn't even show the wound to them, I had treated it myself. They stitched my other wound. There was a knife wound on my chest, almost an inch deep, but I don't remember getting it, because I lost consciousness several times. But the picture of a large kitchen knife in their hands is burned into my memory. They beat me, I fell, got up, they went on beating me, I fell again . . . With my eyes I searched for Zhanna and Aida. I saw them beating Aida, but I couldn't see Zhanna, and kept looking for her. I didn't know what she was. Later she told me that they beat her, too. She called for help, but none of the neighbors responded. She got up and ran, but they tripped her, she fell, but then sprang up and took off again.

I know that the crowd drove girls ahead of it, whooping. It would appear a similar fate awaited her, too, but she managed to break away and run off. She ran into a neighboring building, we have a relative who lives there, an uncle. There, probably not having run up all the way, she lost consciousness. Then she came to from the cold in the entryway and started looking for her uncle on the various floors. But her uncle had been saved by his neighbor. So Zhanna wound up in the 18th apartment of the second building of our microdistrict, at the uncle's neighbors'.

But this I learned later. They continued to beat Aida and me constantly, and simply couldn't get enough. The guys were all under 25 years old. Most of them were 17 to 18. Most of them. For some reason they were all wearing black. Black and other dark colors. Perhaps so that they would all seem like an ominous dark hoard and it would be impossible to remember individual people. I don't know. They were 17 and 18, those guys. One group of them beat me, and another, Aida, but most of them were upstairs at that time. When they pushed me out into the courtyard I landed right in the crowd, and then someone struck me and I fell face down onto the ground. Someone kicked me quite hard in the chin. The blow was so strong that I just flew up, didn't even fall.. . Once on my feet I could feel blows coming from all sides, I just couldn't stand it... I was no longer in control of myself. I cursed them, called them little pigs, telling them they'd never be people, they would always remain just what they were. Not people! The whole time I was curs¬ing them, maybe they beat me all the more for that. But all the same now I reassure myself with the knowledge that I didn't bow down before them. At the time I was ready for anything, I don't know what I would have done with them, if ... there had been a chance.

Then someone called them for help again. Later we found out that they simply couldn't get into the Avakians' apartment, they couldn't break the door down, since Kamo Avakian had managed to electrify the door and they couldn't take hold of the doorknob, couldn't tear the door down. That's why they were calling for help. After shouting for help a group of them, the ones who were beating us, went upstairs. Up till then they had all been beating me; now just three or four remained. I push them back, break away, and run into the entryway. Despite everything it was unpleasant to stand out in broad daylight in that condition. I run into the entryway planning to go upstairs. If not into the apartment, then at least somewhere. I make it up one flight of stairs, go further, but then they strike me. They strike me so hard that I tumble back down the stairs. They grab me by the hair again and drag me out into the courtyard. I somehow manage to continue resisting; there aren't that many of them. Again I push off my attackers and run up the stairs. The ones who had struck me before are no longer there. Apparently they went further upstairs. Upon reaching the second floor, I start to knock at Sveta Mamedova's apartment; she and I were friends. I didn't know that she wasn't home, and I'm shouting "Sveta, open up, please, open up!" Sveta and her husband live in No. 41. Later I found out that they weren't home that day. They had gone to a funeral and left the keys with Khanum, our neighbor in 46. Khanum was already there. She opens the door, lets me in, and when they want to rush in after me. She slams the door and stands in front of it. They strike her for defending an Armenian. When I go into Sveta's apartment my mother is already there. Artur brought her. Where she was beaten and when, I don't know. She's there, covered with bruises. Something is wrong with her eye, she has broken ribs, but that we found out later. She didn't know that yet, she had only been searching for us. Besides me, Mamma, and Khanum, Artur is there, and then Uncle Rafik comes. He comes with Aida, after he had rescued her. She had been stabbed with a knife near the kidneys, and one of the people standing nearby had said, "That's not how to beat someone, let me do it." He took the knife and stabs her too, and tells Aida, "Show us what kind of blood Armenians have." And she wipes up some blood with the palm of her hand and puts it right up to his nose. And of course she received new blows for that, for her audac-ity—imagine, showing them the blood! Aida has three knife wounds. When they beat her, the whole time they demanded that she say she was an Azerbaijani, but she answered, "I'm an Armenian." They also ordered me to do that when they were beating me, and I said, "I will never renounce my faith or my people." So when they were beating Aida and demanding that she say she was an Azerbaijani, Uncle Rafik goes up to them and says, "She's my daughter, look at me." Uncle Rafik speaks Azerbaijani very well. He tells them, "I'm Azerbaijani, and this is my daughter." Well, they must have start¬ed feeling sorry for her or something . . . She was completely bloody. Blood was literally pouring out of her; the wounds were deep ones. Uncle Rafik says, "She's my daughter, she's Azerbaijani." Someone in the crowd says, "She doesn't look like an Azerbaijani, she's too light." Uncle Rafik answers, "My wife's an Armenian." Well, they started cursing him for marrying an Armenian, sarcastically cursing Armenians. That's when Uncle Rafik brought Aida up to where we were. I forgot to say that Artur and Uncle Rafik were beaten as well. Later they found something wrong with Artur's bones, there were some cracks, and Uncle Rafik's arm was broken. They had tried to hit Artur in the head with an axe but, with some difficulty he was able to fend them off. He's such a strong fellow, he was able to turn away from the blow. Uncle Rafik was beaten seriously. They were beaten while we were being dragged out of the pantry. They were yelling that there wasn't anyone in the pantry, they were trying to protect us. They were probably taken for Azerbaijanis, and were beaten for concealing and protecting us, and for lying.

So Khanum hides all of us. She had wanted to save Zhanna before that, when they were taking us downstairs. And meanwhile Artur was urging Zhanna to knock at Apartment 41, to hide her in there. That didn't work, evidently, and Khanum dragged Artur into Sveta's apartment. And then they found my mother somewhere. And I went to Sveta's place because I trusted those people. We had been friends with that family, it's a good fami¬ly, Sveta and Viktor Mamedov. I trusted them, I knew that Viktor was the kind of person that ... If Viktor had been there, or our other neighbor, Samvel, an Armenian from Building 6, they would have gone to fight for us, to defend us, and we all would have been cut up for sure.

When they dragged me into Sveta's apartment, at least one of the bandits knew that I was in there. He comes and says, "She went in here." He comes into the apartment and sees all of us, but is looking for me. He doesn't think to come in the bathroom, where they had hidden me. He goes through the room, then through the next room, looking for me, but I'm not there. Then he leaves, and a while later returns with two other guys. One of them has a huge knife. Mamma recognized the knife, it was hers. She's a baker, and she had large knives at home. This guy threatens everyone with the knife and keeps repeating, "This is going to end badly. It should never have been start¬ed in the first place, they're making everything worse." And all the while they continue looking for me: they leave, come back in again, and ask, "Where is she? Where is she? She was in here. She came in here." There were three of them.

So these three guys from the mob are in Sveta's apartment almost con¬stantly, but they didn't let others come into the apartment, standing next to the door the whole time and telling the others that their relatives lived in the apartment. They don't let anyone in. I hear all this. I hear them looking for me, and hear them not letting anyone in.

I don't know why they are looking for me. Maybe because I recognized one of them, the one who used to work with me. Or perhaps they wanted us all together in order to do something with all of us. I don't know . . . Maybe in fact they wanted to save the ones they could, since after a while—I hear this happen—Nelya, crying, comes with Suzanna from apartment 45, Nelya's the Grigorians' daughter-in-law. She comes in with her two kids, Suzanna, who is crying, and Artur Junior. Then Valya comes in with her two, Kristina and Erik. Kristina had been crying in the entryway, she just stood there, crying. I heard her crying and calling, "Mommy, Mommy."

When in the Grigorians' apartment that guy wanted to throw Suzanna off the fourth floor, Nelya fell down before him onto her knees, hugged him and pleaded, kissing his feet, "Please, I beg of you, don't throw my daugh¬ter! Don't throw her! Don't throw her!" And she also said, "I'm not from here, I'm from out of town." Maybe those words saved her daughter. The guy left the child alone and said, "So you're not an Armenian, you're a Russian?" But Nelya didn't renounce her faith either, and answered, "I'm an Armenian." She, too, said she was an Armenian, but from out of town, from Stavropol. After that they ended up in Apartment 41. The three guys brought them. I don't know what their intentions were, but one of them tells Nelya, "If this goes on, I'll come for you tomorrow, I'll get you out of here."I didn't know any of the three's names, and I didn't recognize them from anywhere. Mamma later saw one of them at the bus stop; that was two or three weeks after the pogrom. He went up to my mother and said, "They caught my brother, too, the younger one."

One of the three stays with us the whole time in Sveta's apartment. The whole time. But I don't see any of them. First he comes in, then goes out, asking where I am. This whole time I am standing completely undressed in the bathroom. I'm stiff with cold, but am afraid to even move, lest—God for¬bid—there'd be some rustle and they'd find me. They're looking for me, con¬stantly coming in and going out, asking. I am completely numb from cold and fear. And my mother is afraid. She's just terrified. That guy keeps repeating, "We saw her come in here. We saw her." My mamma says, "She's not here. She's not." And when he leaves one of those times—someone was calling him—my mother quickly pulls me out of the bathroom and hides me in Sveta's armoire.

So we're sitting in Sveta's apartment waiting to see what will become of us. Meanwhile there is a pogrom going on in the apartment under Sveta's, at the Khalafians'. You can hear everything: dishes being smashed, furniture being broken. One of them down there is a good musician, he's playing the folk song "Dary Khram" on the piano. Just then my mother starts sobbing ... no one knows where Zhanna is, we can't find her. He Plays that tune really well. Then someone starts to play with one finger. We hear the melody from the song "Tsup, Tsup, Moi Tsuplyatki," but it's clearly being played by someone else, the first one played really well, he obviously had studied music somewhere.

Around eight o'clock or so my mother pushes me into the armoire and I'm sitting in there, listening, and then one of those three guys comes back again and says, "They're still beating your father." Then he tells my mother, "They're still beating your husband." Then he says to Artur, "Come, let's go, let's bring him here."

The second time they beat my father was right in our apartment. When they started carrying out the suitcases, Papa said, "Aren't you ashamed of yourselves, what are you doing?" Then they put down the suitcases and said, "He's still alive?" And started to beat him. Soon my father is brought to Sveta's apartment.

Mamma saw them beating Uncle Cherkez. Cherkez Grigorian, Aunt Emma's husband. Those creeps took a bowl, a flat-bottomed one, and just beat his face with it, jumping and dancing on him. Nothing was left of his face, it was completely flattened out. There was no nose, nothing. He was in such a horrible state, you couldn't even recognize him. Valya's husband Geros, Cherkez' son, was in Sveta's apartment. And one of those three comes in again. I think it was the voice that I heard earlier, and says, "They're beat¬ing your father too." It seemed like it was the same voice. "Come on," he says, "let's go take him somewhere." First they carry Uncle Cherkez into Sveta's apartment, but because he was groaning so loud, somebody might hear him from downstairs. So they decide to carry Uncle Cherkez into our apartment. They put him on something, an old raincoat or something, and carry him to the apartment. Geros and two of the bandits carry him. They took him away to deflect the blow from us. While this was going on the piano was being played down at Khalafians'.

Uncle Cherkez' sister was seriously wounded that day too. She had come to visit from Kirovabad. Later she and I were in the hospital together. When Geros was trying to protect his father, they drew back to hit him with a crowbar, Cherkez' sister jumped out and managed to push Geros, her favorite nephew, out of the way and the blow fell on her head. She fell down unconscious, and then they hit her a few more times with the crowbar. The wounds on her head were just awful—I saw them when they were being treated; she lay next to me. There were a lot of us in Sveta's apartment: Valya and her two kids, Nelya with her two, Geros, my parents and I, Uncle Rafik and Artur, Aida, and Khanum. Then Khanum brings in a woman from Building 6. She lived on the first floor over there, I don't know her name. We were in intensive care together. She had six knife wounds, and that was only in her stomach. Somehow she managed to run away from there and come to Sveta's place, probably she knew Sveta and knew that Sveta would save her. But she did not know that Sveta wasn't home. Khanum told us later, "I was so frightened. She was standing there, covered with blood and saying," 'Let me in, too."

This whole time I'm in the armoire. Then those three come back and say, "We're leaving." That was at ten minutes to eleven, I remember well. I remember it because when I came out after they left, I automatically looked at the clock. But there were still more of them down in the entryway. By now real theft was under way.

My chest is drenched with blood, and my head hurts badly. Aida is quite ill, one of the three asks her, "You want me to take you to the hospital? Let me take you to the hospital and tell them you're my sister. Nothing bad will happen." But my mother says, "No, you never know . . . No. It will be better if she stays here." Mamma tolls him that there is a first-aid kid in our apart¬ment with bandages and iodine. Ho goes up to our apartment and finds both bandages and iodine in that awful wreckage. Ho brings thorn down, and Aida, she's a medical student, rebandaged herself and put herself in order. Wo don't oven imagine that Uncle Rafik's arm is broken and that my mother has broken ribs.

When I come out of the armoire wo at least try to lie down a bit, but nei¬ther Aida nor I can. It hurts when wo lie down. And that woman with the six stab wounds is lying motionless, pressing her lips together so her moan¬ing won't bo hoard. Wo put the kids in Sveta's big bod, and they're crying, constantly asking for things: "Mommy, I want this, I want that ..." And Valya and Nelya are whispering to them, "Bo quiet, bo quiet."

I try to lie quietly, but it just won't work—it hurts too much. Then I got up and walk on tiptoes so that—Heaven forbid—they won't hear anything downstairs. It would bo easy for thorn to come back upstairs. Even though there are a lot of us, we're all beaten, we're all weak, there's nothing wo can do. Suddenly 1 hear a noise. No car makes that kind of sound. It's armored personnel carriers. Geros says, "Soldiers have come." I say, "Let's go look." He says, "No, better not." I say, "Let's go look." And we go up to the window, Aida, Valya, and I. I see soldiers. They have caught a group of the bandits. The bandits were leaving with stolen things, the soldiers spotted them—they have truncheons in their hands—and ran after the pillagers. The bandits turned into a dark alley straight through the hospital grounds. The soldiers went after them. They caught some of them. They're leading one of them. He's struggling and cursing the soldiers, saying what did you come for. The other soldiers are walking around saying, "Where are the people? Where are the people? Maybe they're in the basements." I open the window, even though they fuss at me for it. Mamma's yelling at me, and Uncle Rafik says, "Be quiet, what are you doing?" I open the window and shout, "Hey you guys, help! We're up here!" They hear me and come upstairs to where we are.

I walk out of the apartment and my chest is all bloody, and my hair is stuck to my head with blood. I walk out, Aida after me, also covered with blood, all bandaged up. We have some kind of rags on us, they don't fit us. One soldier sees us and faints on the spot. They bring him water and give him a drink . . . The other soldier—he turned out to be an Azerbaijani—tells me, "I can't understand how something like this could happen. This can't be understood with human reason." And I say, "Well, they weren't humans at all." He says, "Maybe there was something wrong with them, maybe they Weren't responsible for their actions?" I say, "No, what do you mean, they were just fine."

I ask the soldiers, "Where were you all this time? Didn't you see the police weren't helping us?" They answer, "We didn't get the order until eight in the evening." Mamma starts to scold the soldiers, telling them, "Find me my daughter, what have you done with her? Find her!" They say, "We didn't have anything to do with this. We just got here, what could we have done?" And Mamma says, "I'm staying. I'm not going anywhere until I find Zhanna." And she stays with the soldiers.

I go upstairs to our apartment thinking at least I might find something of mine. When I'm going up the stairs four soldiers are carrying Uncle Cherkez. Big, strapping guys, they say, "Look away, you'll be frightened." Well, I turned away. Then they put us in the bus; Papa was all ... he just wasn't himself. Aida had only one boot on, the other had gotten lost some¬where.

We set out. On the way to the City Executive Committee there are a lot of broken windows. An awful lot. Very many cars are on fire. I see a Volga, it's overturned and burning. There are soldiers lining our route. We arrive at the City Executive Committee building. My dress is bloody, my hair is bloody. As soon as we arrive they carry out Father, and then we get out.

Then they take us to the hospital in an ambulance. They take Aida back to Baku that same day in an ambulance because she didn't want to stay in Sumgait no matter what. The next morning when I awaken a nurse comes and tells we that we will be taken away. I don't know if they're taking Father or not, or where they're taking me. I don't know anything at all. They put us in an ambulance, and again I hear that a crowd is wailing somewhere in the distance and wants to attack the hospital. Then they take us to Baku over back roads. We were lucky, if you can use the word in our situation.

Our convoy consisted of eight ambulances, and they didn't touch us; but later, when the ambulances returned to Sumgait to take another load of injured people, they were pelted with stones on the way, and the windows were broken. When I was in the hospital there were an ambulance driver and a nurse lying in the neighboring ward. They were in one of the ambulances and were beaten because they tried to help Armenians.

There was a girl from Stepanakert with me in the hospital, she was a stu¬dent at the pedagogical institute, in her fifth year of study. On February 28 she was going from Baku to Sumgait to get some notes. Her bus was stopped. Some rogues come onto the bus, look everyone over and say, "Her—she's an Armenian." Then someone says, "She looks like an Armenian." A fellow is sitting next to her, he asks her, "Are you afraid?" "Yes," she answers. He tried to hide her behind him, but those guys come up and say, "You're an Armenian!" They take her student's record book and read: Shakhbazian, Alvida. They drag her off the bus and beat her severely, she has an extremely serious concussion, extremely serious. After that they were going to burn her. They even poured gas all over her. They had wanted to burn my first cousin Aida too, by the way, but there wasn't any gas. They poured alcohol on her, but it didn't work . ..

Zhanna survived as the result of a tragic circumstance. Now she has a long scar across her whole stomach from the left side to the right. She survived only because they burned Artur, the fellow from Building 6. They put him on Samvel's motorcycle and burned him. They burned Artur, and half of the bandits ran over to watch a person burn. I don't know if you can be a human and stand by and watch a person burn. Beasts'. I don't know any oth¬er word for them. Beasts! Sadists! Worse than the fascists! Worse! And in those awful minutes while Artur was burning, Zhanna managed to run away ...

In Baku they asked me if we wouldn't like to return to Sumgait. No. I wouldn't like to. I will never want to. I don't want to. I can't. Even though I'm drawn to it, it's my home town. My everything was there . . . our every¬thing. Now we're here in Budennovsk, we're living under very difficult con¬ditions. I am a city girl, I'm used to having everything around ... All the conveniences, everything . . . Despite the fact that our new home is like this, I wouldn't like to go back. Never. Not for anything. No.

It's difficult to remember all this, of course, but I want to, I want everyone to know the truth. I want them to. I want the exact number of deaths in Sumgait to be made known. I don't believe it was 32. I don't believe it. I want our contemporaries and our descendants to know what happened in Sumgait. I will not be quiet about it. Now I'm very angry. Angry at that peo¬ple, although I had Azerbaijani friends. I respected those people, respected their poets and writers, and liked several of them very much, had their auto¬graphed books at home. Of course I understand, with my mind I under¬stand, that you can't turn your back on a whole people because of a handful of dregs,... but I can't take it. I've lost my trust in them. Although no matter how awful the horrors we endured were, the Armenians won't renounce the aid of honest people, of Azerbaijanis. No one will forget the people who helped us in those awful days. It was an Azerbaijani that saved us, too.

After all that I've seen I am no longer afraid of anything. If we're going to have glasnost, then let's have glasnost. I even told them that at the KGB. I said that if the Armenians rise up against the Azerbaijanis, that I'm in there with them. That's just what I told them.

I'm against the investigation being handled by the Azerbaijani investiga¬tive agencies. I saw how the police behaved, how the municipal authorities behaved. The investigation will cover up the facts. I want the mass media to finally have their say. But the mass media is guilty of much as well. They're guilty. Guilty. They should have . . . It's always "glasnost this," "glasnost that" with them. But in fact this glasnost isn't anywhere to be found. You have to call a spade a spade, they should have printed the truth.

I'm probably bitter now. Perhaps I'm angry, I may well be. But why could they burst into my home, do as they wished with me and my relatives, and then congratulate me and my relatives on surviving and say, well, go live! Go and live . . .

August 25,1988 City of Budennovsk


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Born 1963

Arc Welder

Polimer Production Association

Resident at Building 5/2, Apartment 47

Microdistrict No. 3


On Sunday, February 28, around six o'clock in the evening we hear noise out in the courtyard. I go to the window and see that a huge crowd of Azerbaijanis has formed. They're shouting, "Where are the Armenians?" This was no surprise for us, since earlier, that afternoon, they had already approached the building, but the police were there, and drove them off.

The demonstrations and rallies began on the 27th. We were at my sister's place, it was her birthday, and sometime around eight in the evening we hear people walking around the city and shouting, making noise . . . We could have expected all of this to be repeated on the 28th, too, but we didn't imagine that they could break into people's apartments and kill them. We thought they'd make some noise and go home.

I see them burn the tent in the courtyard, the one our neighbors, the Khalafians, were using for their karasunk . . . Then we hear the shouting and cries of our Azerbaijani neighbor, "What are you doing?!" She lives off our landing, this neighbor. Then we hear the shout of Sasha Avanesian. They live one floor down. Their daughter, Ira Avanesian, starts to shout, to cry for help, and now they're starting to come up to our floor. We live up a floor, on the fourth floor. They're standing around, trying to figure it out, they don't know where the Armenians live. Then one of them, we hear a voice indicat¬ing our apartment and that of the Grigorians, saying Armenians live there and there, but in between that's an Azerbaijani, a woman who lives alone.

That's the way it is. There are three apartments on our landing: in two of them, the ones opposite one another, Armenians live, the Grigorians and us, and in the middle is the Azerbaijani woman.

And they start breaking our door down. My father and I moved a table up against the door, chairs, various furniture, but the door gave all the same, came open a little, and just then I start throwing glasses and dishes at them. They flee from the shards, but in a while they bring back some sort of shield, close up the crack with it, and we can no longer throw anything at them. They leave our apartment and start breaking down the Grigorians' door. Through the crack we see that they are hitting the door with an axe. Soon the door gives way breaks, and you can her Valya's voice, she's pleading to be left alone . . . Valya is the daughter-in-law of Aunt Emma, the one they killed. We hear them let Valya, her husband Geros, and their kids go downstairs. We hear breaking dishes, and apparently, the axe being used to hack up the furniture. This goes on for about a half an hour, and then they return to our door. For a long time they can't make any headway with it because of flying pieces from the glasses. They're having some sort of argument. One of them says what they were saying earlier, they're going to do this, they're going to do that; another says we've scared some Armenians, time to leave. They have a pipe, that's what they use to break through the door. When the pipe breaks through, I grab for it, to try and pull it through, but I can't do it. They pull it back through and start to pound on the door again. I find an extension cord in my hand, a wire. I plug it in and put it under the door so that if they break through the door and come in they'll get shocked.

At some point we hear them talking among themselves. Fire fighters have come. We think that now they'll run off, because the firemen drove them off in the afternoon. But they don't leave, they stay. Mamma gets sick, I keep telling her to climb over to the neighbor's, I think that she's at home . . . but she's afraid. She doesn't want to, she thinks that she can't climb over there, it's the fourth floor, it's high up, then she's able to master herself, she crawls out the window on the back side of the building. My father and I are left in the apartment.

Mamma kept saying, "It's peace time . . . and no one is coming to help us ..." Our phone isn't working, the phones have been turned off, we can't get through to anybody. Earlier we asked our neighbor to call the police. She answered that she had tried, but she couldn't get through, the line was busy.

Once my mother crawls over, Father and I start throwing things at them again. We throw almost all the dishes at them . . . But it doesn't stop them. One of them lights a piece of plastic and throws it into the apartment in order to smoke us out. Papa pours water on it and puts it out. I realize that it is better to hook the electricity up to something metal, so that the area will be bigger, the voltage . . . Papa and I take the metal frame out from under the bed and put it right up against the door. When they pound on the door with the pipe, the door opens a bit, and obviously, they start getting shocked . . . we can hear shouts, we're getting shocked! They start cursing us. They take a mattress from the Grigorians' and throw it in front of the door, under their feet, so they won't get shocked. One of them cries, "Bring gasoline!" They don't bring gasoline though; they were just trying to scare us. One of them wants to break the light bulb on the landing, but the others are against it; how can we do anything without light? They want to steal things. When they figure out that the pipe is of no use, they take a homemade bench from next door and start using it to break down the door. They break the upper part of the door; we see their faces . . .

Earlier I had thought to put a turned-on television in the hall with the screen to the door, so that when they broke through the television would explode . . . Maybe we would be able to get away.... But Father wouldn't let me, because they might bring charges against us later. He didn't know that people would be slaughtered in the city for three days . . . That's when I got the idea of the bed frame. The television was my first idea, but my father wouldn't allow it. He didn't think it would come to anything like that. He kept waiting. The police should arrive any minute. But they didn't.

When they broke down the Grigorians' door, they started cursing. One of them called someone's name and told him that there were women there, if you want. I'll sell them to you. "If you want, I'll sell you one for 10 rubles." The other one said, "Young or old?" "Old." They went into the apartment, and I didn't hear any more of their conversation. The whole time I was imagining that the same thing would happen at our place when they came, that they would do the same thing with my mother.

When they were saying that an Azerbaijani lived in between the apart¬ments, I knew that they wouldn't harm her, and told my mother that she should crawl out the window over to her balcony. She was afraid she could not make it, even though it wasn't very far at all ... We managed to con¬vince her all the same. She crawled over, the neighbor's balcony is an open one, not glassed-in. But the neighbor wasn't home, as I later found out. She had gone down to the second floor, and there she managed to hide Valya and Geros and the kids, and then, from the third floor, they managed to hide one of the Avanesians ...

When they let them go downstairs, I thought that I wouldn't see Geros alive again, but as it turned out, the first moment when none of the bandits were on the second floor, that woman hid them at a neighbor's. They were saved. But Cherkez Grigorian was badly beaten, and his wife was killed on the street...

Father and I managed to hold out for an hour, maybe even an hour and a half. The whole time my father threw dishes at them I was looking out the window: maybe the firemen would come, they were right nearby. When they broke into the apartment, there was a crowd behind the building, there were passersby, and the bandits watched to make sure that no one jumped out the window. When it got dark, they probably got tired of standing there, and they went out to the front of the building.

Something was telling me that we wouldn't be able to hold out for very long, because the people who were on the landing started to call for help. To be sure, there were plenty of them out in front of the building.

We heard their conversation. Someone said that they could crawl in through our window from the neighbor's apartment. My mother was still with us then. Then they decided not to; I guess they didn't want to break into the Azerbaijani's apartment, they didn't. . . Before that, when they were cursing us in Azerbaijani, one stopped them, saying that Azerbaijanis live here too. They were looking after their own . . . After it was all over a rumor went around the city that everything had been done under the influence of drugs, that's why such things had gone on. They said that they were ban¬dits. What kind of bandits were they if they were concerned that other Azerbaijanis might hear them curse? Oh, I also forgot to say that . . . When they were discussing whether to crawl into our apartment from the neigh¬bor's, I told my mother that if they came back, she should throw herself out the window. Mother later told me that she herself didn't know how she managed to crawl over there ... If the neighbor had been at home, maybe my father would have been saved, she would have opened the door to the balcony, and would have hid them in her apartment. I don't know. But more than likely they would have guessed that they had crawled over to her place.

The moment they broke down the upper part of the door, the mob was going to crawl through the hole, but my father and I started to beat them off with glasses, and they moved back. Then they thought to take pillows from the Grigorians' apartment and shield themselves from the shards. When they were saying among themselves that they were getting shocked, I thought that it would be more effective if I poured water all over the bed frame, so they would be shocked harder, which is what I did. By this point the door had already come loose from its hinges, come open some, and they started pounding on the meter with a board in order to cut off the electricity. We knew that it was hopeless to stay in the apartment, and I told my father that he should crawl over to the neighbor's. When he crawled over I remained a little while in the apartment, then crawled out the window after him and started jumping down via the balconies ... At first down to the third floor, from the third to the second, and from there down to the ground.

At the time I noted that my father saw me going down, and probably decided that I had managed to save myself. I set off running in the direction of the Emergency Hospital, and a woman comes out toward me, a doctor, probably. I tell her what's going on, so we would go there, but she says I had better set out for Baku, or they'll kill me too. There's a fire station next to the Emergency Hospital. I go in there and tell the firemen what's happening in our building, and ask them to help res¬cue people, and they say that they don't have any vehicles, all the vehicles have been broken. About this time a vehicle drives up, the people in it say that they tried to drive up to the building, but stones were thrown at them, and they couldn't drive into the courtyard. When the firemen said that it was impossible to get near the building, I started thinking of who else I could call for help. Just then a police car drives by, a UAZ. I run out to meet it, but they drive by without stopping. There was a policeman seated next to the driver, and I realized that the situation was hopeless . . . They both saw we and didn't stop.

Then I returned to the building the crowd was there as before, and there was no way to go unnoticed. I went roundabout ways, across the hospital grounds, and stood near the building and saw a neighbor on her balcony, sweeping. I think either they've taken them outside, killed them, or the neighbor has hidden them and is sweeping to distract attention so they won't think that anyone is in her apartment. Then I see them carrying stolen things out of our apartment.

There are some shrubs near the hospital, and I hid in them. When they came closer, I ran toward the hospital, and knocked at reception, and they let me in. I spent the whole night sitting in reception. From the doctors' conversations I gathered that soldiers were being sent to the city. In the morning I went to my sister's house to see what happened to them. Their house was not attacked. My brother-in-law and I return to our apartment together. I find only my mother at the neighbor's house. She tells us what happened that night.

After I left they broke into our apartment and saw my mother and father on the balcony. The neighbor wasn't home, and the balcony door was locked. My father wanted to grab the one looking out of the window and throw him down, but my mother wouldn't let him. She thought if he killed someone that they wouldn't get out of there alive. If she hadn't done that, they would have torn her to shreds. As it was the neighbor came down for her and pleaded with them, laying down at their feet, and they left my mother alone. The neighbor's name is Khanum Ismailova, she's 35 years old.

My mother sat on the balcony, and my father stood, hunched over. From the open window they figured out where my parents had gone . . . They saw them on the balcony and started to shout—my mother told me about it lat¬er—that they were going to throw all of their possessions out the window and take them. They started to tear out the carpets and throw them down They called the neighbor. She was on the second floor, she came and opened the door.

One of them called himself the people's judge. He said, I'm the people's judge; your people in Armenia cut off our mothers' breasts, and we're going to do the same thing to you. My mother said that some fifteen of them had come into the apartment . . . They took my father out, my mother didn't see him again after that, she stayed at the neighbor's until morning. Until the soldiers arrived she heard them stealing things from the apartment, and Khanum went out and looked. Mother asked her to go see what they were doing. It was dark in the apartment, but they found our candles and were searching for money and valuables in the candlelight. Khanum saved my mother, but she couldn't save my father . . . She lay before them on the floor. When they broke in, they smashed either a window or some dishes, and she cut her leg on the shards, so that they would take pity on her. Among them, my mother said, was one who was almost a child, about fifteen years old. He was stubborn, he ran up to strike my mother. The one who called himself the people's judge wouldn't let him do it, pushed him away, and said that he would spare her life for the Azerbaijani's sake. When they left, before dawn, before the soldiers came, they pounded on the door, in order to frighten them, shouting, that there was an Armenian in there, but didn't break in. They wanted to torment my mother to the very end. When the soldiers appeared, Khanum started shouting so they would come up to the building, and the soldiers started leading the Armenians out, the ones who had been hiding at the neighbors' or in the basement. But Mother didn't go with the soldiers, she stayed to find out what had happened to me. She didn't know what had happened to Father, she didn't think she'd ever see him alive again. In the morning when we came, we went up to the neighbor's house and 1 saw my mother. When we went down into the courtyard, on our way to the hospital to find out if maybe my father was taken along with the other wounded people, we saw a group of people in the yard. I don't know where they were from, if they were from the City Executive Committee or what; they had some sort of lists, and said who was in Baku, and who was in the morgue. Then we went to find out what happened to our other relatives.

Father was killed in our yard. He . . . the neighbors told my mother about it they beat him and threw him into the fire . . . While they were beating him, the whole time they kept saying, over and over, "You want to go to Yerevan? We'll send you to Yerevan!"

He was buried in Baku. They wouldn't let anyone return their dead to their birthplaces, only to Baku or Sumgait. We had wanted to take him back out to the country. A burial commission was established, they wouldn't per¬mit it.

My father came from Karabagh, from the Hadrut District, in the village of Susalukh. We saw his body in the morgue only seven days after he was killed. In Baku. His body was burned all over . . .

Our building had four entryways, only ours was attacked. They killed Emma Grigorian and my father, Yuri Avakian, and beat Sasha Avanesian, but he was in the hospital. They also beat his wife, but not badly. Their daughter, Ira Avanesian, was wounded with a knife. Zhanna was stripped, but she managed to get away, and hid somewhere with her relatives. People also hid in the Khalafians' basement, only one of them was beaten, nearly to death.

In the second entryway, when they were trying to figure out if there were Armenians there or not, a neighbor who was an Azerbaijani came out and said that no Armenians lived there. And they didn't go in there. In the far entryway a Russian fellow also told them that there were no Armenians, and they didn't go in there, either.

After the fact I thought that if we had managed to defend ourselves some other way—we had some paint, we could have poured it on them—that perhaps we could have held out longer, and the soldiers would have come in enough time ... I can't get away from the thought that if father had let me nook up the TV like I had planned, it would have scared them, and that might have saved him . . . My mother couldn't believe that they had killed my father, she drove the thought away, telling herself that maybe it wasn't him . . . thinking he'd come back . . . Now I think that if it had been possible to outsmart them, to tie a rope made of sheets to the window frame and throw it down, that they would have thought that we had escaped that way, and they wouldn't have looked over at the neighbor's balcony . ..

By the way, that same day, February 28, was my birthday. I was 25 years old.

June 12, 1988 Stepanakert


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Born 1962

Chief Clerk

Sales Department

Sumgait Electric Grid Administration

Resident at Building 5/2, Apartment 45

Microdistrict No. 3, Sumgait

It's been five months since we left our city, Sumgait, and fled for Armenia. We lost our mother, my mother-in-law. Time hasn't softened any of it in my memory. We passed between life and death and were saved only by a miracle.

It happened on February 28, a Sunday. In the morning we saw them putting up a tent. Our neighbor, Rima Khalafian, was observing her hus¬band's karasunk. People got together about noon in order to go to the ceme¬tery, and mother—actually, my mother-in-law, but I call her my mother—was with them. Aunt Rima had summoned the police because she was afraid: there had been unrest in town on the 27th, and she feared for the safety of her guests. She asked the policemen, there were five of them, to accompany them to the cemetery. Around 12:30 they all left on a bus. Three policemen went with them, and two stayed. Not a half-hour goes by, and they come back. I'm surprised. I think. Why are they back so soon? Apparently the situation in town was awful. They come back, wash their hands in the courtyard according to Armenian custom, and sit down at the tables under the tent. Almost immediately the tent is surrounded by bandits, barbarians ... I don't know what else to call them. A large crowd, some 150 to 200, if not more. We're standing on the balcony watching. They were armed with knives, armature shafts, truncheons, each one had something different. There were even 10-to 12-year-old children among them, walking with the crowd, some out of curiosity, others, to show where the Armenians live. There were children like that in town, too, pointing out, there's an Armenian car, there's an Armenian motorcycle.

When the bandits had surrounded the tent, the police came up to them, one from the right and one from the left, told them something, and they dis¬persed. But later they would come back. A policeman goes into the tent and says, "If you can, clear out the tent, we can't stop the crowd, and it'll be back here soon." We see and hear all this from the balcony, from the fourth floor. Suddenly I see people gathering up all the hors d'oeuvres, the vodka bottles, everything on the tables. Only the tables and chairs are left, the ones Aunt Rima rented.

When the people came back from the cemetery, my mother immediately came back upstairs. I asked, "Why didn't you sit at the table?" She says, "Shouldn't I be ashamed to do that? I went to the cemetery out of respect, but I was uncomfortable." She was such a modest woman, she was always too shy to go anywhere. She was a very good woman. So here she's come home . . . even now I can't forgive myself for letting her die with an empty stomach ... I even have dreams about it; she says, "They're taking my clothes off, I'm going outside naked, and I keep eating a piece of bread, I'm eating and eating, walking with this piece of bread ..."

She and I are standing on the balcony, looking. And now they're pouring into our courtyard again. The guests have already run off to their homes, and the Khalafians are hiding in their apartment. The crowd swoops down and gets ready to burn the tent. They have something in bottles, oil or gaso¬line, and the tent immediately bursts into flame. It's terrible to watch, and we're looking and thinking that they don't know that we're Armenians, and aren't touching us. Who would have thought it? All the neighbors are watching from their balconies, we aren't the only ones. At that point it had not occurred to us that they might actually go into the apartments. Then they throw a motorcycle into the fire, and poured oil or gas on it for good measure, and it creates thick smoke. My father-in-law says, "Are we not under Soviet rule any longer? Are they just going to come into our homes?" I say, "Father, you see that even if you threw a needle from here it would hit someone on the head, there are so many people down there ..." When they were burning the tent and the motorcycle I noticed two or three Russian fel¬lows in the crowd of Azerbaijanis. I'm one hundred percent sure of this, I saw their faces. They were even shouting along with all the rest. The crowd was shouting, "If there are any Armenians here, come out! We're going to kill you!" They were swearing and cursing. And then, like flies, they fly into the entryway and immediately start pounding on Aunt Lena's door. Aunt Lena Avanesian lives under us, in Apartment 42. We can hear them breaking the buffet, smashing glass. The Avanesians took the first blow. It seems to me that Zhanna, the Avanesians' daughter, is shouting something from the window, sharply, indignantly. Later Aunt Lena said, "It was your tongue that did it all, you said something to them and they came up to our apart¬ment." But that was before the attack, when Nelly, my brother-in-law's wife, and I went out on the balcony, with the Azerbaijanis in the courtyard look-ing up at us with angry eyes. They knew that we were Armenians, even the policemen looked at us askance, with suspicion. And more: when the people were at the cemetery, Nelly's earring fell out, her child knocked it out unin¬tentionally. She went down after it and heard some guy in the entryway say-ing, "Look, she's an Armenian too." Nelly ran to the first floor neighbors, to Aunt Rima. She called us. Geros, my husband, answered the phone. She asked him to come down and get her, saying she was afraid of those Azerbaijani guys.

So the Avanesians received the first blow. There were four of them: hus¬band, wife, and two children. Uncle Sasha is around fifty. Everyone calls his wife Lena, but her real name is something else, something pure Armenian.

Her older daughter is named Marina, but we call her Ira, we've called her that since she was a girl. She's 24, and Zhanna is 22. We hear breaking dish¬es, shouts, and our apartment is simply shaking. My mother-in-law and I run out onto the balcony. She's also afraid for her younger son, his name is Engels. Not long before he had called to say he was on his way, bringing some glue. Aunt Maria, my father-in-law's sister, was over visiting; we had bought her some wallpaper, she had come from Kirovabad for two or three days. We were worried about Engels, since they had beaten a man right behind our building. They had truncheons, an armature shaft, and at the time it seemed to us that he had been beaten to death. A strange man of about forty years old. Engels told us later that the man did survive. They beat him right next to the hospital; it's right across the street from us, on Lermontov Street. It was a good thing that Engels didn't come right then. His wife wouldn't let him come, she said, we'll both go over there together tomorrow. And Mamma kept crying, "Oh, my son's on his way right now, they'll kill him, right out there on the street." We're standing on the balcony,. there's a pogrom going on one floor down, and right then Ira Avanesian pops out onto her balcony. She's got a knife in her hand, she's ragged, tat¬tered. "Don't come near me," she's shouting, "don't come near me!" We see this from up where we are; it looks like she's been in a fight, she's all ragged. And people are looking from the street, like in a movie, and no one says, "What are you doing, aren't you ashamed? Have you no conscience?" There are women and children standing there. It was just like a movie. As soon as we see Ira we run in the house instantly. We don't know what happened to her. We find this out later, when we all turn up at the neighbor's on the sec¬ond floor. Well, we go inside, and Aunt Lena knocks at the door: "Valya! Call an ambulance! Sasha's been stabbed!" We shut off the lights, everyone hides and we don't know, should we answer or not. Everyone feared for them¬selves. At that moment everyone was thinking about themselves and their families. I go out into the hall; I don't open the door, it's true. I say, "Aunt Lena, all three of the door locks are locked. We called an ambulance and we called the police, and they said, 'Were coming, we're coming,' but no one has come, what should we do?" Well, she goes back downstairs. They beat her, too, as we found out later.

There are ten of us in the apartment: Cherkez Grigorian, my father-in-law; his wife, Emma Grigorian; Geros, their son and my husband; me; our children, Kristina and Erik, Krishna's six years old, and Erik is four; Aunt Maria, who was visiting, she's my father-in-law's sister; and Nelly, my sister-in-law, my husband's brother Misha's wife, they live in Stavropol Territory—Misha brought them and left them, then he went home—their children, Artur, who's just four, and Suzanna, she had her first birthday on February 1. Exactly ten people, and only two of them are men. They stay out in the foyer, armed with an axe, a hammer, and a boot hook. Small tables, the couch, and a wardrobe have been pushed up against the door. And we four women and four children are hiding in the far room, in the bedroom. My mother-in-law and Aunt Maria are hiding under the bed. Aunt Maria picks up the bed a little and my mother starts to cry, "Maria, Maria, quick! Quick!" If she had not hidden under the bed, maybe all of us would have been saved . . . We have a large, good pantry in the bedroom, we stored things in there, like work clothes. Nelly and her two kids and my Kristina slip in there. Erik and I hide in the armoire and pull clothes over us. We give the children each a piece of bread. "Quiet!" we threaten, crying ourselves, "Quiet!" Suzanna is only a year old, she is capricious, all the more so since we haven't eaten. There is a pot going on the stove, Mother was making lunch, she had just put some water on ... We should have poured that boil¬ing water off the balcony right onto their heads, but we feared for the chil¬dren. If it had only been possible to defend ourselves . . . But they would have killed us all. That's why Geros and his father couldn't even resist when they broke down the door.

So we're hiding, and 1 hear them breaking down the door. It's like they took a log and are beating the door with it with all their might. Geros cries out, "Papa, hold it, hold it!" His entire back was covered with bruises; he held the door with his back. The mob breaks down the door and races into the apartment, immediately filling two rooms. As we found out later, at this point Aunt Maria couldn't stand it any longer, she threw herself out from under the bed and went to them, to her brother, he's her only brother, and wanted to protect him and Geros. I hear a woman's voice, and I think there is a woman in the mob. Aunt Maria is saying, "What have we done to you? I just came here from Kirovabad . . . don't touch my brother . . . I've worked with Azerbaijanis my whole life ..." She starts pleading with them in Azerbaijani. They say, "No, we have to kill you." They are stabbing her hus¬band, and Aunt Maria is covering him with her hands, and gets stabbed in the arm. It's Geros they're trying to kill. And Papa is saying, "Do what you want with us, but leave the children alone." I am able to make this out. Then Geros runs into our bedroom and closes the door and latches it. They start to break down the door to the bedroom. I can't hear Father and Aunt Maria any longer, and realize that either they have been taken away or that some¬thing has happened to them. We sit there, barely breathing, and hear shout¬ing: "Open up! Open the door! We won't hurt you!" Geros answers that he is afraid to open the door, there are women and children in here. When they say that they won't touch the children, I decide to go out. I think, it's better that I go out than if they smash open the armoire and find me in there. And Nelly, too, I latched the door to the pantry behind her, I tell her, "Come out," and open the door.

As soon as we are out of our hiding places Geros opens the door. There are beds in the corners, and in the middle, in front of the window, is an open space. We all run toward the window and they burst in, I even lose sight of Geros then, I can't see him. They fill up the room and get up on the beds, becoming so tall that you can't even make them out. Nelly, the children, and

I are standing at the window. They are surrounding us. My mother-in-law is under the bed. There are 60 to 70 of them. And that's only in the bedroom. They have knives in their hands, various knives, large and small; I see one with an iron crowbar. I have the impression that it was made especially for them. There are so many of them that I can't see them all, and I am pleading, "Please, just don't kill us ..." I can only see the ones in front; the ones behind aren't visible, there is a guy standing next to me, he's got a big knife in his hands. I forcibly grab his hand and kiss it, saying, "Help, don't kill us, don't make the children orphans!" They are trying to seize the child, Suzanna, from Nelly's hands. A young one is shouting, "Let's kill them." They were all age 17 to 30. There was only one adult, around 37; in a minute I'll tell how he saved us. Anyway this one, who's shouting, is an unpleasant type. His eyes are all bloodshot, either he had smoked way too many cigarettes or was really high on drugs; he looked awful, he's shouting, "The Armenians kill our sisters, cut their breasts off, we're going to kill the Armenians, too, why should we let them live?!" And the adult one, he's tall and skinny, holds up his hand and they are all silent, they all become quiet for a moment: apparently he's their leader, since they all obey him. He's the oldest of them, in any case. He's wearing a hat, and one of his eyes is crossed. His face seems very familiar to me. Sumgait is a small town, and I used to walk to work, and met the same people all the time. He says, "We promised not to touch the children." Just then I notice I've lost Kristina; how did she get out of the room?! The older one is holding up his hand and they make room for us, letting us through. They start leading us out of the apart¬ment. I am being hit and grabbed from behind. I think they're taking my clothes off, but I didn't even turn around. Let them do what they want, just as long as we can get out of here. Geros is first, followed by Nelly and her kids, and Erik and I are last. Someone grabs me from the side, but I keep going, and don't turn to look. Erik is in my arms, but I don't know where Kristina is. Kristina is lost! For the children's sake we would withstand any¬thing. In the hall the endtables were lying all over, upsidedown; the sofa was there ... I don't even remember how we got through it all ... or maybe they picked me up.

So we find ourselves on the landing, a floor higher; they have taken us up to the fifth floor, one flight of stairs, ten steps. I shout, "Kristina! Kristina!" and I am answered by the laughter of those beasts. We get up and the tall skinny one starts to beat my husband, slaps him in the face a couple of times, and starts cursing him: "You son of a bitch, why didn't you open the door? If you had opened the door this wouldn't be happening to you. I know you, after all." But my husband had never seen him before. He is silent. He had thrown his hammer down; when they came in, he threw it down . . . They're beating him, and his eyes are filled with tears. He's very hot-tempered, he's always in some squabble at work, quarreling. The Grigorian brothers are too hotheaded. Then I start to fear for him. Later he told me that he withstood it for our sake, that if he had started to fight they would have killed us all, and he didn't want to see them mock us. The tall skinny one is beating him, and he just stands there, silent. He only says, "What can I do? My wife and children are here. For their sakes I'll tolerate it." And that guy keeps saying, "If you had opened the door, nothing would have happened, I know your family." Then I thought, maybe he worked with my husband somewhere or knew him from town. And Kristina is still not around, she's nowhere to be seen.

The tall skinny one takes us up to the second floor, to apartment 41. There isn't anyone on the stairs. While we are standing on the landing, another 10 to 15 people burst into our apartment. As soon as that gang rushes in he says, "Come on, quickly, down to the second floor." We go down, and Khanum is coming up toward us. She is our neighbor from apartment 46, the one next to ours. She is about 35 years old. I owe her many favors. Everyone calls her "the streetwalker." I don't know why, but the Azerbaijanis, big, healthy guys, don't come to help us, this one lone woman is the only one who is ready to sacrifice herself to save us. They take all her gold off her, her wedding ring, they even threaten her with a knife. The tall skinny one is letting us go down. We meet Khanum on the third floor, and together we go down to the neighbors', who moved in three or four years ago. The husband is an Azerbaijani, a Talish, actually. We call him Vitya. We don't know his real name, he's originally from the Lenkoran District, and his wife Sveta is a mixture, her mother is Russian and her father is Azerbaijani. They live in apartment 41. I'm telling about them because they are good peo¬ple and would definitely have helped us. But they were out of town during those days. They went to Sveta's mother's funeral; they left their keys with Khanum. They had asked Khanum to water the plants. The apartment is right above the Khalafians', on the second floor, a one-bedroom apartment. We go in there, and there are already a lot of people in there. Two guys from the gang are sitting there. Aunt Lena and Uncle Sasha Avanesian are there. Later I find out that Ira is hiding in the bathroom so that those two guys won't see her. The Avanesians' guests from Baku are there too, the younger brother and sister and their father. But Zhanna is missing, they don't know anything about her. But most important in apartment 41 is my Kristina! Alive and well!

The last time I saw Ira she was on the balcony with a knife in her hand, and then, as her mother tells me, they took her and Zhanna out into the courtyard and started beating them. Aunt Lena kept telling the tall one, "Find Zhanna, find Zhanna!" Uncle Sasha was in awful condition. They had dragged him down the stairs by the legs. He was coughing up blood, was holding his hands on his kidneys, shouting and groaning, "Ow, ow ..." We say to him, "Uncle Sasha, quiet, the second floor, they can hear everything, they'll come down here and kill us." There were 13 of us rescued Armenians in the room. Then a fourteenth joined us, I'll tell about her in a minute. And Khanum is sitting with us, and those three. Two of them don't look like ban¬dits, they're well dressed, speak excellent Russian, and one of them even goes to get cotton and iodine . . . Aunt Lena, as I said, had guests: the girl got stabbed, they stabbed her twice. She was around twenty. They broke the arms of both her father and her brother. Exactly one month ago they had removed the boy's cast, his arm had been broken, and they went and broke that same arm again. Essentially all the Avanesians and their guests were victims. Aunt Lena was wearing tattered clothes, and her legs were bloody. She said that they had beaten her severely.

We hear constant noise coming from downstairs, from the Khalafians' apartment. The Azerbaijanis there are playing the piano, the walls are shak¬ing. They were playing "Tsup, Tsup, Moi Tsuplyatki," and drinking vodka, evidently, eating; everything was left from the funeral banquet, and they were carrying on. Judging by the noise and the voices, people were coming in and going out. One group after the next. It was quite a feast. I can't forget that in the midst of all this they were playing a cheery little children's song, "Jip, Jip, Jujalyarum ..."

It was around seven o'clock. It gets dark early in February. My husband had installed a floodlight in the courtyard. He's an electrician, and you could see everything just like in broad daylight. I still don't know anything about my father and his sister. Mamma was under the bed when we left. I ask the tall one, "Please, my mother-in-law was left in the apartment, would you please bring her here?" He says fine, he'll try. He goes upstairs and about fifteen minutes later comes back with a downcast look and starts com¬plaining: "Those beasts, those monsters! What can I do, they'll kill me ..." Khanum had gone upstairs too. I see her coming back, she gets on her knees and starts to cry. I ask her what happened, and through her tears she says, "They're taking Aunt Emma down the stairs naked. Emma says to me, 'Khanum, help me, stop them. I start to ask them but they hold a knife to my throat and say, 'Helping Armenians? You tired of living or what?!' " When she says that I run into the kitchen, with Aunt Lena after me. We turn back the curtains and see my mother-in-law naked, stark naked, and they're pushing her forward, and she's covering her breasts with her hands . . . She's completely gray-haired, the woman's 58 years old; she worked in a school for 20 years. Can it really be that in that gang there wasn't a single one of her old pupils who could say, "Don't touch that woman?!" She's not bleeding, they're just pushing her. I remember her last glance: she turns around, she has big, round, beautiful eyes, and she looks at them with this awful look . .. it was terrible . . . and that's it, I didn't see her anymore. I want to shout, "Geros, they've got Mamma" But one of the three guys, the short, fat one, says, "Don't say anything. If your husband goes to fight them, they'll kill him too. He can't help her anyway; he'll just be another victim." So I don't say anything. Geros is sitting in the corner, silent, completely pale, with the children on his lap.

Aunt Lena says again, "Geros, help, go find Zhanna." And I say, that if he could have, he would have gone to find his own mother. And the tall skinny one keeps going in and out. He has a big knife in his hands, he's playing with it, he keeps it in his hands constantly. Aunt Lena tells us it was her kitchen knife, he took it from her. Then the tall skinny guy says that there is a man lying in the courtyard groaning. Now I had knitted my husband and my father-in-law identical vests out of dark red yarn. He tells Geros that it looks like it's his father, since he's got on the same vest. He gives my hus¬band someone's raincoat and they go out together. Geros carries his father in on his shoulders and lays him down in the hall. His father is unconscious. You can see his brains, his eyes are all bloody, and there are very deep wounds on his head, two or three cuts. They beat him with an armature shaft. . . He doesn't have a face any more, no nose, no lips, no eyes, every¬thing's bloody, you can't see anything. I shout "Papa, Papa, Papa!" but he can't hear, he only groans. Those guys say that the gang has come back look¬ing for him. They say, that man was here, where did he go? Someone tells them that a fellow carried him away. And they say, "We beat him up and down, why'd they carry him off?" Just like the fascists during the war, they'd do their best killing people and then come back to finish off the ones that were half-alive. They came back to finish killing him. One of the three tells Geros that his father should be taken away. He's groaning, and they'll hear him. Geros asks if they will help him carry his father. They say that they don't want to get blood on themselves, carry him yourself. My father-in-law was a big man, strong, red-cheeked, and now there's nothing left of him but bones. Even the doctors were surprised that he lived. He was in intensive care for 18 days, then he came to, but he didn't recognize anyone for a long time. His arms were dead, his legs were dead, only his heart was beating. The doctors said that if he could hold on for ten days he would live.

Geros picks his father up on his shoulders and I help him. He takes him up to the Avanesians' apartment because looting was still going on in our apartment. Some people were breaking things, and others were carrying them away. But the Avanesians' apartment had already been robbed. Geros hides his father in the bedroom, covering him with blankets so that they won't notice him if they should suddenly come back. We were a bit calmed by the fact that we had found his father. But what became of his mother? I saw her, but Geros doesn't know this, he says, "Maybe I'll go look for Mamma." I say, "Where are you going to look for her?" I will never forgive myself that we were unable to save her.

We knew that death could be upon us at any second. Those three guys said, "Don't be afraid, tomorrow morning we'll come and hide you." Aunt Lena tells the tall skinny one, "You helped us, you saved us. What is your name, where do you live, tell me your address and I will come and thank you." He says, "My name is Eiyub, I live in Microdistrict 12." That's how she found out his name.

When the investigator asked me the name of the man who saved us, he did so as though I knew that person's name, and didn't want to give it. I said I heard the name when Aunt Lena had asked for it. Imagine, the man told the truth, he didn't lie to us. His name really is Eiyub and he does live in Microdistrict 12. Before leaving for Yerevan, on June 23, I went to see the investigator again, and he showed me his photograph and said, "No matter Where he is, we'll find him. The main thing is that you recognize him." That means they didn't find him. I told the investigator everything. The investigaton is still going on. They tell me, "You don't have any witnesses, you have to find the people who helped you, we can find the criminals through hem"—the people who dealt Father those blows, killed Mother, and injured the rest.

It was nine, and then ten o'clock. How many hours must we go on sitting here, hungry, cold . . . the residents of the house were gone, there was noth¬ing to eat. Khanum went up to her place and brought the children some bread, I remember; it was black bread, Suzanna was playing with the toys in Sveta's apartment. She's still tiny, she doesn't understand what's happening, and we calm the older children so they won't shout: "Bandits, bandits ..." My Kristina still isn't back to being herself, she keeps asking, "Where's my grandma?" She accuses me herself, "You ran away, and didn't save Grandma." She saw it all, she remembers. When we lost Kristina, I started calling her, shouting, "Kristina, Kristina!" From the fifth floor landing and downstairs the Azerbaijanis were laughing, making fun of me, saying, she's still looking for Kristina. Then Father, already beaten up, hears my voice. When he regained consciousness in the hospital he immediately asked, "Tell me, honestly, though, where's Kristina? If you don't bring her to me it means they killed her. I still remember Valya's voice; she's calling Kristina, it means something happened to the child." Engels reassured him everyone's alive and well, they just won't let us into the hospital.

Thanks to Khanum, Khanum Ismailova. A very, very warm-hearted woman. We owe her our lives. She saved so many people. She sat with us till the end.

Later, at eleven o'clock, Khanum went up to her apartment because her neighbor from the same landing, Elmira Avakian, was hiding there. And came back with Sveta Grigorian, who ran wounded into our entryway. She lived in the building across the way, Building 6/2A. Khanum saw her and brought her to us. She was completely undressed, wearing nothing but her underwear. They beat her and burned her hair. I couldn't recognize her. Could it really be her? She can't get back to normal. I say, "Sveta, what's with you?" And she says, "Mamma, Mamma, Mamma!" It turns out that they killed her mother, Ersile Movsesova, and she was calling her.

We lay down to sleep just a little, on the floor, on the bed; every spot was taken, there wasn't any space left at all. Sveta can't even lie down, her whole body hurts. She and the girl they stabbed, the Avanesians' guest, groaned continually. And Ira, as I said before, was hiding in the bathroom. Kristina asked to go to the bathroom, and I took her there and pulled on the door, but it wouldn't open. Khanum said, "Quiet, Ira's hiding in there, they're looking for her."

Only a miracle saved Ira. That Eiyub said that there was a girl, a heavy-set one, we beat her. We were surprised that she was able to get up and leave, anyone else would have died in her position, but she got up and went and hid somewhere, and they still couldn't find her. As it turns out, when they took her out of the entryway, she, seizing the opportunity, returned into the entryway. At that moment they were running after her younger sister Zhanna. They were fighting because of her, arguing, Eiyub told Aunt Lena about it: they were chasing Zhanna, but she ran into the entry of another building and into the basement. It was February, and cold, and there was water up to your knees, and she was naked—they had stripped both sisters, both Ira and Zhanna. The bandits didn't follow her into the basement. They figured she was going to die anyway, why should they get themselves dirty going after her? So they came back. That's how Aunt Lena found out that Zhanna was in the basement. She implored him to show her the basement, to find Zhanna. As it turned out later, Zhanna came out of the basement and knocked on someone's door, and they saved her. And Ira went up to the sec¬ond floor, to Apartment 41, and hid in the bathroom. Khanum probably helped her, too. When those three guys left the apartment for a while we quickly got Ira out of the bathroom and hid her in the armoire. I locked her in there myself. The poor girl, she got sick in there; it was stuffy, there wasn't any air, and she sat in there for the two hours plus that those guys were in the apartment. They came back. Then one left, and the second one says, "My mother's at work, I'm supposed to meet her after the shift, I can't stay with you ..." So the three left, saying that they would come back in the morning and help us, hide us with their relatives.

So we sit there, half alive, until three o'clock in the morning. We can't sleep. Each of us is thinking about their own fate. I say, "What if they come back tomorrow and kill us? Who knows what they're thinking? What was their purpose in saving us? Maybe they've got their own plans. We're wom¬en in here, young ones, good-looking. Maybe they're going to do something with us tomorrow."

I haven't yet talked about Aunt Maria. They took her outside along with Papa, and stripped her naked. They beat her in the courtyard, she told me about it later. They beat her and her brother at the same time. On the stair¬way they ordered them to put their hands behind their heads and go down¬stairs. Suddenly at the entryway they start beating both of them on the head with armature shafts. Papa and Aunt Maria fell down and the attackers start beating them with whatever they can find, kicking them in the stomach, in the sides, every way possible. She saw Uncle Yuri Avakian, the neighbor from our landing; she saw them beating him. When they were beating Papa he was groaning, and suddenly he was still. "I decided," said Maria, "that that was it, that they had killed my brother." I open my eyes and see that they are forcing Yuri to undress. He took everything off except his drawers. They tried to make him take those off, too, but he didn't do it. Then they poured something all over him and burned him. He struggled and contorted on the ground, groaned, cried in a terrible voice, and burned alive . . . And at this point Aunt Maria lost consciousness. She was all bloody. Later, when she came to, it was already quiet. She started making her way up the stairs on all fours. She got up to the third floor, but came across four Azerbaijanis from that gang. "Look," one of them says, "she's still alive." Aunt Maria has gold teeth, she covered her mouth with her palm so they wouldn't notice them and pull them out, and said, "What's left of me? I'm dead as it is." She Was there naked in front of them. And they let her through. She came up into our apartment, crawled the rest of the way there and saw that every¬thing was smashed and that there was blood everywhere . . . we had Armenian cognac in our apartment, they smashed the bottles to smithereens, and cognac is of course reddish, and it seemed to her that they had killed all of us, that she was the only one left alive. Then she lost con¬sciousness again. Later, when we had already been sitting on the second floor for a long time, Geros came up to our apartment and saw her. He said, "Let me carry you away and hide you." And she merely waved her hand, "No, you hide, save yourself." He covered her with mattresses; that tall skin¬ny guy, Eiyub, was with him. He covered her, hiding her. And later when four of the gang came back, they asked Aunt Maria, "Where are those two daughters-in-law of yours?" Apparently they regretted having let Nelly and me go. Aunt Maria pointed with her hand, saying everyone had left. And they didn't touch her, she was half-dead as it was .. .

Then they saved us. The students from the military academy arrived. In black sailors' uniforms, with truncheons. They came in armored personnel carriers and buses. At first we were afraid to call them, but then we opened the window and started to shout: "Boys, help us, help!" Their senior officer, a captain, commanded: "Quick into the entryway, second floor!" When the stu¬dents saw the condition we were in one of them became ill. They gave him some water. He drank it and said, "Don't be afraid. They can't do anything to you. We're here now." I was barefoot, wearing only a robe. Suzanna didn't have her tights on, so we had torn a blanket in two to wrap up the child. We went and got on a bus. It was winter, the windows in the entryway were covered with frost, and we were walking with the children . . .

People were coming out of our building, Building 5, and out of Building 6, and getting onto two buses. There were many people. The Khalafians came out of the basement. Ten people had been hiding in there the entire time. Only Aunt Elmira Avakian was not there. She stayed with Khanum. Khanum saved her. They tore Uncle Yuri right out of her arms, she had tried to save him, too. And they had called her "streetwalker". . .

So many people suffered! And as though on purpose, everyone had guests. If they hadn't been there we wouldn't have suffered as much. Aunt Lena, Aunt Rima Khalafian, and we all had guests. And it happened on Sunday, when everyone was at home. It feels like they chased everyone home and came to cut and slaughter them, like sheep. That's the way it works out, because they told us not to go to work, and we sat at home, we didn't take the children to kindergarten, they had us scared . ..

Two died from our part of the building: my mother-in-law and Yuri Avakian. It's a pity that Armenians lived in all the entryways of our build¬ing; and in all of them, except ours, the Azerbaijanis helped by not letting the attackers into the entryway, but we didn't have someone like that. It hurts, about our part of the building. They're all grown-ups, aksakal [of an age to have a white beard], as the Azerbaijanis say. If they had only come out and said, "Don't do that!" In the next entryway there were three Armenian families—Aunt Larisa's family, Aunt Tamara's family and Aunt Emma's; I don't know their last names. An older man stood in front of their entryway and said, "Don't come in here, there are no Armenians in here. But we didn't have anyone with a good heart. After that I came to hate them. So many wounded! The whole Avanesian family: Uncle Sasha, Aunt Lena, Ira, Zhanna, their three guests—all beaten and wounded. Later we found out that Uncle Barmen, the man who hid the Khalafians in the base¬ment, was very seriously injured. He was tall, a very strong man. Kamo, Yuri Avakian's son, came down from the fourth floor by the balconies! Before that he had taken the frame from the bed and hooked electricity up to it. But then they came to our apartment and got a mattress and put it down under their feet so they wouldn't get shocked. Later, when we returned home with the soldiers, I found our mattress in their apartment. Kamo threw cups at the murderers, and an iron, and mugs—everything he could lay his hands on. He was great.

It was good that Engels didn't come. We were praying. If he had come, they would have just killed him. Before, on the 27th, Engels and his wife were at our place. We heard the demonstration, we heard them shouting "Down with Armenians!" and "We're not giving up Karabagh!" We saw policemen in the courtyard. One of them, he had a limp, said, "Look at them killing themselves. It would be better to kill Armenians." That's exactly what he said. What kind of authorities can say something like that? The Azerbaijanis were warned, there was a signal. . . It's good that Engels didn't come. My mother-in-law cried so. She was also upset for Nelly, saying she brought her here as a guest, they had asked her to come, and now they were killing everyone. Misha would be left alone as heir to carry on the Grigorian name.

My mother-in-law was a golden woman, you can ask anyone from Sumgait. I lived with them for nearly ten years, and we never had any quar¬rels, never argued, and I was closer to her than I was to my own mother. And she was like a mother to Kristina. She was a sick woman; she fainted so many times, we would call ambulances, we held her tongue. It would have been better if she had died from illness. It wouldn't have been so painful, and we would have buried her according to our customs. But instead people came and murdered her savagely. We weren't even able to bury her in a way befitting a human. They wouldn't let us. We couldn't mourn her properly. It's very painful. She was murdered so horribly. They stabbed her with knives, burned her with cigarettes . . . And toward the end, the investigator told me, one of them came up and saw that she was breathing, and got frightened. "Look," he says, "she's still alive, and tomorrow she'll come to and identify us, maybe." So they took a metal rod and stuck it up into her genitalia and moved it around to tear up everything in her abdomen. When you read her death certificate your hair stands on end.

The investigators—one was from Baku and the other was from the inves¬tigative group from the USSR Procuracy—drew on paper and told me where and how she was killed. The last blow was struck in front of Building 6/2A, that's across from ours. There, in the first entryway, is where they were fight-ing, where Rafik Tovmasian, Grant Adamian, Ishkhan Trdatov and his father were defending themselves. They held them off for eight full hours. But they took Mamma and left her in front of the entryway. They wanted to show what they were going to do to them next. They wanted to break them ... So they tortured Mamma to death in front of Building 6.

Even now I can't strike or scold Kristina. If I just raise my voice at her she says, "Grandma, my dear Grandma, where are you, come to me!" We've been in Armenia for a month now, and she tells me all the time, "Go get Grandma, bring her so we can visit her grave, water the flowers, and tend to it ... " This is a child talking. Her hair has started turning gray. Can you imagine, my six-year old Kristina's hair is going grey?! From the horror of those days, from the suffering. We Grigorians go gray young anyway, but at six years! I guess other people wouldn't even believe it...

July 25,1988

Shushan Boarding House

near Arzakan Village

Hrazdan District, Armenian SSR


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Born 1957 Duty Electrician

First Sulfuric Acid Shop (SKTs-1) Sumgait Super phosphate Plant

Resident at Building 5A, Apartment 8 Block 1 Sumgait

On February 21, 1988, from one of my colleagues, SKTs-1 Senior Machinist Ilgam Gummetov, I learned of an anti-Armenian demonstration planned for the 28th. Well at the time of course I took it as a joke, although I did know of the events at Karabagh. I couldn't imagine that the events in Karabagh could turn against the Sumgait Armenians. My wife is an Armenian, her name is Naira.

So at the time I thought it was a joke. I hoped that our police would protect us, that the authorities would keep the peace. Myself, I was a warrant officer in the Soviet Army, served three years in Hungary, and so I knew that they always keep the peace, the way I kept the peace for the peaceful population. Well, so I just didn't take it seriously. The next incident occurred on the 26th: I worked the last day of the week, the first shift, and left work at around four o'clock in the afternoon. I was returning from work through the square, the central one, Lenin Square. I see a crowd shouting something, people near the podium are upset about something. They have microphones, there are 40 to 50 people near the podium. They are shouting and are all stirred up. They were government microphones, given out by the government; they had to be, because that's the only place you can get them. Well naturally when you go by you start to listen. And of course after 30 years I have learned some of the Azerbaijani language, I understand a little. I was born in Sumgait. I start listening to find out what they want.

They're shouting, "Ka-ra-bagh! Ka-ra-bagh! We won't give Karabagh to the Armenians." And on the 26th at work they had just read Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev's speech in which he says that Karabagh would not be transferred to Armenia, that all politically conscious Soviet citizens should take an intelligent attitude on the subject, and correspondingly, not disturb the peace, not create panic . . .

So the situation at the square was so wild that I even laughed about it with some Azerbaijani friends who were there: what are they after, they're going to put a stop to this, give them 15 days in jail, and they'll be pretty careful for a long time after that. I laughed at it. It was so crazy, so unacceptable to my way of thinking, that I just couldn't take it seriously. And I didn't even think of what Iglam Gummetov had told me on the 21st because it was all so farfetched, so unheard of in our lives, that it was just impossible to take it seriously. I went home. Everything was fine, everyone was resting. My wife had not yet used up her vacation time, my father is retired, and my child is young; now he's thirteen months old. So I sit with them and eat after work. And then I think I'll go and see what's happening on the square.

It was probably around five o'clock. I go to the square and stand there, listening. Among those speaking is one who definitely describes himself as the "leader." He's speaking Azerbaijani. The idea of what he is saying is: Fellow Muslims, I came here from Kafan, and my compatriots have come with me. In Kafan they sliced up my wife's brother, my wife's husband, my mother, and several of my relatives and friends. And he was listing something or other. I won't try to say the things I didn't understand, because if I didn't understand it myself I can't translate it. He said comrades, we were left without shelter, without a roof over our heads. From his speech you were to conclude, "Armenians off Azerbaijani soil! They should vacate their apartments. We need places to live, he says, we have to drive the Armenians away so we can live here." He says, "We fled from Kafan." That was on the first day. February 26.

The Leader's appearance. He had a longish face, if you can say that, a long face, and he had a beard and a narrow moustache. He had an expensive hat (I don't know, I've never suffered from an excess of money. I've never worn expensive hats, I don't even know what kinds they all are, I don't know if his is mink or nutria), and it's brown, furniture brown. He has an Eskimo dogskin coat, I distinctly remember noticing that. So he was about 5' 11" tall. I immediately noticed that since he was taller than me, a little taller, and probably a little stronger, too. He was strong, lean, and had high cheekbones. Despite the fact that he was strong, he was very lean, all the same.

On the 26th I stood there until six-thirty or seven. At around seven o'clock the crowd set off toward Druzhba street. It was about that same number, 40 to 50, that set off. I could tell it was 40 to 50 because I served in a battery with 40-50 men in it, and I know there were about that many the first day.

On the second day, on February 27, I got up at around ten o'clock, washed, shaved, put myself in order, and ate breakfast. When I got up, they were already at it with the public address system. Block 1 is quite close to Lenin Square, and since you can hear the public address [PA] system halfway across town, you can pick out individual phrases if you're where we live. So we could hear the PA system, we could hear shouting again, and more speeches and demands. I tell my wife that I'm going to see what's going on. I run into some acquaintances on the square. They tell me you better not hang around. They're starting to break up Armenian booths here, the booths where Armenians work; they're breaking windows in house where Armenians live, and you better leave; you may be a Georgian, but your wife's an Armenian. I joke and say if you don't tell them no one will know, and if you tell them it means you're tired of living, because I'll pay you back in my own way. If I'm still alive. So that's how I'm joking with them. It was all in jest. So when I leave—I leave at around eleven o'clock—there were already some 200 to 300 people on the square. Near the podium. There were other people all over the square, individuals standing there, people who were curious, watching it like it was a theater performance—at that time there was no other way to look at the whole demonstration, that rally, that witches' sabbath. That's the best word for it, witches' sabbath. There was simply no other way to view it at the time. Just like a theater performance. Well there were fairly many people who were just curious. I was one myself.

That day I notice the exact same Leader. The second day he was repeating the same things: that his wife's relatives had been killed, and some of his relatives had been killed. But—and there was a "but"—he added that in Kafan there is a dorm for Azerbaijani girls, and Armenians broke in there and raped all the girls and cut their breasts off, which I didn't believe, of course, because that's a purely Muslim thing to do, to cut the breasts off women who are loose. That's why the whole thing seemed like a performance. The Leader closed his speech with "Armenians off Azerbaijani soil! Death to the Armenians!" In his speech he also trotted out the phrase "Blood for blood." I also remember that vividly.

Then sometime around one o'clock in the afternoon, maybe it was before two, Bayramova, the Second Secretary of the City Party Committee, gave a speech. She said, "My Muslim brothers! (Gardashlar musulmanlar!) There is no need to kill the Armenians. Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev said that no one is taking Karabagh away, no one is going to encroach upon the territory of Karabagh, the territory was and will remain Azerbaijani." And at the end of her speech she said, "Let the Armenians leave Azerbaijani soil freely, give them the chance to leave." That's just how she said it, "Let the Armenians leave Azerbaijani soil freely." I already gave my testimony at the Moscow Procuracy, to the Moscow KGB, and I'm repeating here the same thing I said there. An investigator came from the Azerbaijani Procuracy, and I gave the same testimony on Bayramova's speech to him.

After Bayramova several regular Azerbaijanis gave speeches, if you can call them regular, if you can call them just plain Azerbaijanis, people. Really they were witches in the sabbath, that's what you'd have to call them, because that's what it was. I can't think of any other word to describe what was happening there. Several of the rank-and-file people from the crowd gave speeches and appealed to the crowd with calls for "Death to the Armenians!"

Around three o'clock I was absent for about half an hour in order to eat lunch. I ate lunch with my family and returned to the square. Bayramova was on the podium, and the Leader and five others were there. They were all dressed pretty well, like educated, intelligent Azerbaijanis.

Around four o'clock Muslimzade shows up. Maybe it was just after four when he appeared. It's not true that he was out of town on the 27th. As soon as he came, Bayramova left. They met on the staircase to the podium. So Muslimzade appeared and stood around for 15 to 20 minutes. While he was there the Leader gave the same speech as the first time: again he said that his relatives were killed, that the girls in the dormitory were raped, that their breasts were cut off, and that all of that took place in Kafan; he said that he was from Kafan, but he didn't introduce himself, he didn't say his first or last name. So he said all that when Muslimzade was there. Muslimzade spoke next. He spoke and said almost the same things that Bayramova said He said, "Brothers, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev spoke and said that Karabagh would never, never be Armenian." And here he made a large pause. The crowd, of course, was jubilant. They started shouting again, "Ka-ra-bagh! Ka-ra-bagh!" This went on for two or three minutes. Then he said, "Brothers, we need to let the Armenians leave the city freely; once this kind of feud has started, once national issues have been opened up, strengths awakened, we need to let the Armenians leave." He also said, "Since ancient times there has been a law between the Azerbaijanis and the Armenians: blood for blood. And there was a time—he mentioned 1915—when there was a bloody slaughter, when many Armenians died, and many Azerbaijanis as well." He tried to calm that crowd down, he tried for about ten minutes. But! But I think—and this is just my personal opinion, and should be taken as such—he only incited the crowd with his speech. Why do I think that? 1 will try to explain. He ended his speech with the words, "Brothers, let the Armenians leave the city freely; the only thing I ask you, as brothers, as fellow countrymen, and as a Muslim . . . I'm a Muslim myself," he says, "is to let the Armenians leave." The crowd is rejoicing—why is it rejoicing? More than likely, because when he appeared they had probably expected him to shut down the demonstration, which he didn't do. Which he didn't do. I realized that the Azerbaijanis were afraid that would happen. And by trying to placate the crowd, by asking things of them, he merely further incited them. That's why I concluded he was trying to prod them on. What is "let them leave freely" supposed to mean? He was clearly giving them to understand that he would take no measures against the Azerbaijanis if they started killing. That's the only way I can read it.

That rally at the square lasted until six or six-thirty. So the crowd set off at about six-thirty in the evening. Muslimzade himself came down from the podium, walked around it on the left and blended into the crowd. When they left the square they set off along Lenin Street and intersected Nizami Street, and here I see them—the crowd is far from the square now, probably 300 yards already—I see them catch two guys. One of them, in all probability, is an adult. He was a solid man, with a bit of a belly, that's why I figured that he was older. The other was skinny. I concluded that he was young, all the same, 16 or 17 years old—if you can make out someone's build from 300 yards away—because he was agile. I'll explain why I decided he was agile. They crowded around these guys for two or three minutes, I don't know what was going on, I couldn't see it. I only know one thing: Muslimzade was in the crowd.

After two or three minutes I notice the skinny one spring out of the crowd. I should say that Lenin Square is a little higher up than Nizami Street. Nizami Street lies down a little, that's why I could see, not like it was right in front of my face, but I could see pretty well all the same. He jumps away from the crowd and takes off running down Lenin Street and runs into an entryway on Block 4.

The second one, when the crowd disperses (they milled around for another two or three minutes). . . the crowd disperses and an old man is left lying on the ground. This is all so bizarre for me that I turn and leave. I don't go any closer, I don't go over there at all because this is all so unacceptable that I just turn and go home.

An hour or hour and a half later someone calls us and says that they're breaking store windows in town, breaking into stores, bursting into homes and killing Armenians. Although this was hard to fathom, people don't joke about things like that all the same, and I didn't take it like I had taken everything at first. As I am remembering the details I start to regret that I didn't get my family out in time, the chance was there. We started to call the police, and the City Executive Committee. The police said measures were being undertaken, and not to call again. The City Executive Committee advised us to leave town. Well I said, leave town how? You help us, comrades. They said, whatever you want, just go, how can we help you? I say, with whom am I speaking, you could at least introduce yourself. It was the regular City Executive Committee number. The person tells me to hang up the phone and stop fouling the circuits. I hung up.

The next day, February 28, I wake up at around ten o'clock with every intention of going to the square. No longer out of curiosity, but in order to reconnoiter, and maybe remember something. So I get to the square by around eleven o'clock. There are about 600 to 700 people there. On the second day, in case I didn't say, there were 200 to 300.

So on the third day there are 600 to 700 people on the square alone. I see some colleagues from my shop. Well I go up to one of them. His name is Kyamran; I don't know his last name. I go up to him and say, "Kyamran, listen, what are you doing?" "Uh-huh," he says, "that's what those Armenians deserve. Yesterday," he says, "we went into an apartment and threw the grandfather out the window," he says, "Gummetov was there too."

This hits me like an electric shock. If I were shocked by 380 volts it would have been less powerful. As I said, I'm a duty electrician, I've been shocked by 380 volts before, and I lived, and I have to say that it was less of a shock than what he told me. It was so insane that he may have said something else, but I simply don't remember anything after that. I say it was just like an electric shock. The only thing that I remember from that Sunday is that I didn't see the Leader. The Leader wasn't there. He didn't give a speech.

So on Sunday I take my family to a friend's. We have been friends a long time, eight years already. Adil Alizade, an Azerbaijani, his mother is a Russian. A wonderful guy. I take my family to his place. We have one child, a boy, Misha, he's thirteen months old. Then Adil gets a warning, when peo-ple find out that Armenians are hiding at his place, "Watch out, we'll take your head off!"

On Monday, the 29th, Adil Alizade and I arm ourselves correspondingly, with sidearms, well, specifically, I have a small dagger, and nunchuks, karate nunchuks. Adil has an axe. He also has a dagger and a gun-cleaning rod, specially bent, on a chain, as if for karate. So we arm ourselves and go out. We go out and go to his work—he went there to ask for time off. Besides ours he, is hiding one other family. So no one will deny the fact that Azerbaijanis hid Armenians, it would be senseless to deny it. Nor can all Azerbaijanis be called scum.

The city's mass transit wasn't running. We went on foot and along the road to the plant noticed some details that indicated that the action was


The first thing I'd like to point out is that there was river rock on the streets, smooth and round, it was specifically river rock which had to be brought there or be from some iron and concrete structures. They lay there on the street the way they were thrown, that was the first detail.

Then, near the bus station (the road we took was past the BTZ plant), Adil Alizade and 1 see a burned Ikarus, then a second Ikarus, also burned, and overturned. As we go on we see a burned van, and further, a burned Zhiguli. The road continued on to the electric commuter train. We reach the old train station and turn toward the airline ticket office; there we see a pile of metal that doesn't resemble much of anything. We don't see police, nothing; we don't see any sort of guard or soldiers. We have already seen soldiers, we know they're in town, they were guarding the area around the bus station. And there isn't anyone near the airline ticket office, and there is a heap of metal lying in the street. I say, Adil, let's go look, just to see, what that is over there, formless, ball-shaped, a roundish pile of metal. We go up to it: Urals-brand motorcycles have kind of a ladder-shaped pattern stamped on the exhaust pipe. From this pattern we determine that at one time this was a police motorcycle. Then we turn and go further down Mir Street . . . yes . .. sorry, I'm going too fast. The second thing that confirms that this was planned: when we went by there it was 7:15; Adil had his watch on, his watch keeps perfect time (I've always envied him), it was 7:15 local time, and already then on Mir Street, in the building next to the airline ticket office, they were already plastering and renovating the buildings. This is at 7:15 in the morning. They are renovating apartments, putting in window frames . .. tearing out the burned ones and putting in new ones.

The third point. From Sunday morning until Monday, somewhere around noon, not a single telephone in the city worked. And the night of the 28th was Bartholomew's Night, that's what they call it in Sumgait, Bartholomew's


We went further away from the airline office, I return to the way we're going and continue. Further along is a burned Zhiguli. When we are five yards away from the Zhiguli we smell the strong smell of shish kabobs. I immediately say, "It smells like shish kabobs." Again, no guards, nothing; we go up there and all the seats were burned out, everything in the Zhiguli was burned out, and there were bones in there. Bones. They couldn't be dog bones in there, and so we don't stare too closely. We realize immediately that those are the bones of a person who was burned to death in the car. The car was completely scorched, both inside and outside. It was completely charred, nothing but the frame was left. From the frame we could tell it was a Zhiguli and not a Moskvich. And there was another burned car further along, in the reeds, along the trail of our investigation.

So we went to the plant and asked Adil's boss for time off. I don't have to go to work for three days, but that's the way it worked out: Saturday was my day off, but on Sunday I was supposed to go in. Sunday is when the butchering began, and I was warned, better not go out—they're stabbing, killing, and raping, and so on.

We returned from the plant and went to some acquaintances' for lunch. One of them is named Ilgar, and the other, a Tatar, is named Ruslan. Ruslan said that in the SK movie theater, which is across from the City Executive Committee, on the square, they are handling refugees. They have set up a sort of evacuee processing center where all the Armenians are going. If necessary they can summon guards.

Well, it should be said that Ruslan himself is a healthy guy, and the two of us can stick up for ourselves, and of course Ilgar is still with us (he's a Russian, why his name is Ilgar, I don't know). So the four of us take two families to the evacuation point, my family and the family of the Alizades' neighbors.

When we return (we have to go back to the first micro district for a girl and bring her, too), we see a picture that is burned into my memory. A soldier is walking toward the evacuation point carrying a girl of about 14 to 16. The insides of her legs, if you can put it that way, are covered with blood. She was unconscious, the girl. Well, following them was a woman of about 50, and she was literally tearing her hair out and screaming hysterically. This is in the literal sense of the word, tearing her hair out, she was throwing handfuls of hair away from herself...

So we take the girl from microdistict 1 to the evacuation point. The troops, the military, came with orders to put a halt to the genocide, this was clear enough. I talked with a sergeant who was protecting the Maternity Home, a sergeant from the Dzerzhinsky Division of the Military Police. He was telling me what had happened. After the incident at the Maternity Home, according to him, the order to shoot without warning was given. Before that, before March 2, the soldiers didn't have orders to shoot.

What is published in our press does not correspond to reality. Why? Because they are writing that the participants in the organized murders, Wefts, rapes, and arsons were basically all arrested. More than 80 people were arrested. And I think they should be. But according to Lieutenant General Krayev, there were 10,000 soldiers in the city at that time! Specialized troops, too: the Dzerzhinsky Division, the Marines, the Military police, the airborne troops, there was a fighter detachment there . . . And I just can't imagine, of course it hurts to imagine 18,000 Armenians hiding from a hundred frenzied Muslims. And these 18,000 Armenians were defended by 4,000 soldiers on the square. How can this be? Defended from whom? From a hundred frenzied Azerbaijanis? From a hundred raging hooligans? Where is the truth in our press? Where is the glasnost? Where is the justice?

Besides the troops I mentioned I should add the military medical; I forgot to say that right off. The guys from the internal forces were in a tight spot. The people from Sumgait who were in the neighborhood of the central square, Lenin Square, were ready to kiss the boots of the soldiers for what they did for us.

I saw one clash between the soldiers and the witches. I use the term witches because that's what it was, a sabbath, not a bandits' fight, but a witches' sabbath in its purest form. Near the bus station, when Adil Alizade and I returned, this was on Monday, the 29th, we see the following picture: The troops are standing there, and frenzied bandits are throwing stones at them. They do not yet have orders to shoot, I said that already; they were standing there and protecting themselves with shields. When people would approach them carelessly sometimes they would let them have it with the truncheons, but that was so rare! A lot of soldiers, of course, got hit in the face. In that clash two or three soldiers went down before my eyes.

On TV, by the way, they showed soldiers in bulletproof vests, but they didn't say why they were wearing bulletproof vests. And I, being in the square near the evacuation point, became curious, "Hey guys, how come you're wearing bulletproof vests?" They tell me, "Because we've already confiscated three TTSs." Well, anyone who is familiar with that kind of pistol knows that that weapon is classified "secret." When I was a warrant officer in the Army it was classified "top secret." That pistol is an enhanced mauzer. Where did they get classified pistols from? This also bespeaks the fact that the action was planned, confirming the genocide. The action was conceived and executed. It was an action directed against the Armenians. And for some reason this is not being mentioned in the press either.

I just remembered something else. The sergeant spoke of the Maternity Home. They were planning a pogrom of the Maternity Home. But it's a fact that when the soldiers came running in, they didn't have orders to shoot, they only had shields and truncheons. A fact that can't be denied: the soldiers faced armed bandits empty-handed. So according to the sergeant, 15 of those blockheads and around 30 soldiers were on the ground. At the clash at the Maternity Home. When they fought for the Maternity Home. I don't know if the ones on the ground were dead or injured, but they say that 15 of them and nearly 30 soldiers from the Military Police didn't get up again.

I mentioned several points which indicate that this was a planned action-Here is another: the police took part in all of it and assisted those marauders, those murderers. This is testified to by something I myself witnessed on Lenin Square. A major led one of the bandits by the scruff of the neck, this was on March 2. He took him to the local police and said, "Honestly," he says, "this is the third time I've caught this guy and this is the third time he's been armed." What can this mean? The military was catching them, and the police were letting them go. The police were helping those bandits. By the way, the local police disappeared somewhere on the 2nd. After the 2nd we didn't see them anymore, maybe they were transferred them somewhere, or maybe they abolished the force . . .

We were in the SK. I should describe the conditions there, it's interesting, too, from a historical point of view. For six days this club, which was designed to hold 450 people, held 4,000 Armenians. In the SK club alone. Some people were sleeping on the concrete in the foyer, or on the marble tiles, the people who could find a place to lie down. Those who couldn't find a place were in the balconies. And everyone else was sitting, they sat for six days inside the hall on the seats. They slept there, too, and ate there. We ate what the authorities gave us to eat, the authorities in the person of the military. We ate what the military gave us. For some reason I can't discuss this calmly.

We talked with the adjutant of the City Commandant, Lieutenant General Krayev's adjutant, during those days. At one point he said, "You guys, well in principle I myself am a witness to the fact that a panel truck drove up and distributed hashish, disposable syringes, and cases of vodka near the bus station. I saw that with my own eyes. He defended Lieutenant General Krayev himself when he tried to restrain that crowd, the crowd that was taking all those drugs. One of the bandits jumped him with a knife, and the adjutant protected him. I became convinced of the little guy's strength later on—he was about 5' 6" tall, a short little guy. He was in field uniform, so you couldn't see his rank. He didn't have any shoulder-boards on. He had camouflage on, with the leaves on it, like the reconnaissance patrol wears, with spots. That's why I couldn't tell what rank he was, even though I was a military man myself. In all probability he was no lower than lieutenant. Well anyway, I became convinced of his strength on the 7th. Lieutenant General Krayev's adjutant was taking one of the "comrades" somewhere. I was on the way to the City Executive Committee to give information to the KGB about two attacks of which I knew: the ones by Gummetov and that Kyamran. The Moscow and republic-level KGB were housed there in the City Executive Committee. Well, I see the adjutant taking the "comrade," who was about six feet tall and about twice as strong as he was. He was leading him with a pistol. Well I was surprised, of course. When the bandit turned to the side the adjutant returned him to his place and forced him to move with one movement of his arm. And he said to the person on duty: "This is the one who attacked Lieutenant General Krayev."

Perhaps all this information is a bit uncoordinated, but if you put it all together you end up with a previously planned action directed toward the destruction of the Armenians. Maybe within the confines of a single city, maybe, as they were shouting from the podium, maybe all the Azerbaijanis in Baku and all over the republic were to rise up and slaughter the Armenians. One of the regular people appealed to the crowd for this. This Was stated on the podium either on the 27th or the 28th, I don't remember. But there were calls for things like that, to incite Azerbaijanis throughout the republic and butcher all the Armenians. So what I want to say is that it was Purposeful destruction of the Armenian nationality.

I can add that despite the appeals that were heard, "Russian brothers, let's go kill the Armenians!," which I heard myself, despite this, the Russians would have suffered right after the Armenians. By the way, no one responded to that appeal, and probably no one would have.

When we were at the evacuation center a delegation of Sumgait Russian teachers came—we witnessed it. The delegation came with some signatures. I don't know how many they had, but there were probably 20 pages of signatures. They wrote that if the authorities gave Armenians the opportunity to leave the city, then the Russians would follow after them. We have a great many schools, and all the schools have Russian and Azerbaijani sections. And the Russian teachers signed that declaration. More than likely it wasn't only teachers' signatures, because there were 20 sheets there, a good-sized packet of them. If the Armenians leave, they said, there's no reason for us to be here, either.

In principle we're all peoples of the Caucasus, the Azerbaijanis, the Georgians, and the Armenians. We're all hot-blooded. Before all these events the Armenians could challenge the Azerbaijanis one on one. Challenge them one on one, and may the best man win. I've had to do that several times myself. We could do this at a time when the Russians were no longer able to. The Russians lost any voice in town a long time ago. It's easy to imagine what would have happened if all the Armenians had left the city: the Russians would have followed them into the other world. That's not only my opinion, that's the opinion the Russians themselves hold as well, and all the Armenians. I don't think I'm mistaken in voicing that opinion.

I would once again like to draw attention to the facts that even the investigators could not disprove. When I told them about the facts, they said, "Yes, yes, those things of course did happen, we're investigating them," and all the rest. Yes, and there's one fact that was confirmed by USSR Deputy Procurator General Katusev, the existence of lists of Armenians that they had with them. The woman who provided those lists has been arrested, that's what Katusev himself said. He was in Agveran, in the Ararat boarding house. And I'd like to note one more thing: the slaughter started immediately after the speech of Deputy Procurator General Katusev. It was right then. Right after that the slaughter began. On the 26th they weren't planning to kill, to stab, but after Katusev's speech on the 27th the stabbing started. And so naturally this all has to be summed up: it was only the pretext, the killings of the two Azerbaijanis. By whom and when they were killed the Deputy Procurator General has not yet reported.

Well, that's about all I have to say on the subject. I'd like to hope that the truth will be reconstructed.

May 10, 1988 Yerevan


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Born 1932


Construction Directorate #8,

Division for the Mechanization of Industrial Construction

His sons


Born 1964 Ambulance Driver.

Residents at Building 53/10, Apartment 43

Microdistrict No. 34



Born 1961


Construction Directorate of Stepanakert

Resident at 52 Komsomol St Stepanakert

-Melsik: On the 26th of February I decided to go see my parents in Sumgait. At that time, my wife and children were living in Sumgait. The sec¬ond child had just recently been born. I was not working then—and indeed, the entire city was not working, because demonstrations were going on in Stepanakert. The question of rendering justice had been raised, the question of Karabagh's removal from the republic of Azerbaijan. This was, as they say, the burning question of the day; the people wanted to resolve this ques¬tion with justice and be united with Armenia. I bought a ticket and went by train to Baku, and from there I went by bus to Sumgait, where I saw all my relatives. When I arrived, the city was quiet. At any rate, I did not notice anything out of the ordinary.

-Artur: On the 26th of February, at five o'clock in the evening, I dropped my car off at the garage and returned home. I saw a crowd on Lenin Square, a crowd covering the entire square. My brother could not have known about any of this. On that very day I was getting ready to go to Baku and meet him. I walked past the square and saw that people were gathering there. In the words of my comrade, they were milling around, stirring up the people, They had already prepared everything. Nearly everything that took place in Sumgait occurred in accordance with their plans. They were inciting the crowd, and making false statements to the effect that, supposedly, Armenians were raping their women. There were also speakers from Baku.

On the 27th of February, I was standing behind our house, near the restaurant "Jeiran." I looked up and saw a crowd approaching a trolley car. I saw them stop the car, break the front window and shout: "Armenians, get out, we're going to kill you!" No one got out. Maybe there was no one inside, 1 don't know. Half an hour later they tried to stop a taxi in approximately the same way, but the taxi driver did not stop. He struck down the leader of the crowd and drove away. At that point, I walked home and told my father what had taken place, I said that it was a bad situation when such things happened. My father had already heard about what had happened.

-Melsik: On the evening of the 27th, at around seven or eight o'clock, a crowd of young people—around 250-300 of them, I can't say exactly how many, because you can't see everything from a window—began breaking the windows of the bakery that is located underneath the restaurant "Jeiran." They beat someone quite badly there. Things that were altogether strange were taking place in town. True, the police was there, but no one did any¬thing to stop the crowd. The policemen just stood there like ordinary passers-by and watched; they did not become involved in anything that happened, even though they were in uniform and armed. They didn't even ask: "What are you doing?" And the crowd was simply on a rampage—words cannot describe it.

-Artur: I understood that all of this could turn against us as well. I even expected that to happen. I said to my father, "We must leave while there is time." But he refused point-blank.

-Aleksandr: I refused because there was no possibility of leaving—at home there was my newly-born grandson, my granddaughter, my wife, my son's wife, my daughter and two sons. I thought that we would never be able to leave unnoticed, there were eight of us ...

-Melsik: These wild crowds were already brazenly rushing into apart¬ments. They were openly stealing and looting. We saw all of this through the window, since it was going on in the building next door. From where we were, we got the impression that they already knew who lived where, since the hooligans never asked anyone for any information and simply burst into the homes of Armenians.

-Aleksandr: I told my sons that we should protect ourselves in case they were to attack us. First I closed and locked the hatch in the roof, so that they couldn't attack us from above. Our building has four floors, and we were living on the uppermost one. I had sulfuric acid at home, three or four liters of it. I kept the acid at home since I am in the field, I use it for soldering and other work. Seeing what was going on, I knew that death awaited us as well. We were one hundred percent convinced that we would all be killed. And we decided to defend ourselves right up to the end. I poured all of this acid into a basin and carried it out into the stairwell. At home I had kerosene for the lamps, in case there was ever a power failure. I poured the kerosene into the tub we use for doing laundry, soaked some rags in kerosene and carried them out into the stairwell too. I thought, if they attack us I will pour the acid down onto them, and then throw burning, kerosene-soaked rags. We also took up axes . . .

-Melsik: While my father was preparing the acid, the tub filled with kerosene and the rags, my brother and I got the axes. We had three axes at home, not too big, not too small. We all took an axe and went out into the stairwell. Two sets of neighbors from across the hallway took care of our women and children. They are Azeris, they actually came over and said, at least let us look after the children. We hid my mother and sister with one family, and my wife and children with the other.

We had no hope of surviving. We did what we could, and then decided to go out into the stairwell in front of the entrance of the apartment. It would be much easier for us to confront our attackers there. Meeting them at the threshold of the apartment, from behind the narrow door—three people can¬not even turn around-would have been awkward, but our stairwell is wide.

-Artur: I had documents which my father had given me, saying that I should give them to our neighbors in the event that something were to hap¬pen with us. Axe in hand, I began to descend the stairway. I saw that the crowd was already on the second floor of our entryway. It was climbing the stairs. I quickly turned back: "They're coming!"

-Melsik: At the same time, we heard voices saying in Azeri: "Armenians live here." I cannot say exactly how many of them there were. They climbed up to the third floor, and the three of us were in the stairwell. We held axes in our hands, the tub filled with kerosene and the containers of acid were on the floor ... I could see only the front part of the crowd, and the end of it was somewhere down on the first floor. I couldn't see where it ended, but judging by the voices-although there is an echo in our entryway—I guessed that there was no end to it all, that the entryway was crammed with people.

-Aleksandr: They were armed with steel rods which had been sharpened at one end like a spear. These steel rods were twenty-five millimeters thick and one and a half meters long. They were also holding knives and pipes ...

-Melsik: The crowd reached the third floor and abruptly stopped. As I understood the situation, it was their leader who had stopped them, a bearded man who appeared to be no more than twenty-six. He was wearing a black leather jacket; he had black hair and was of middle height. He was walking in front, and stopped the crowd. This leader saw us first and, making a sharp sideways gesture with his hands, called out, "Stop!" And the crowd did in fact come to a dead stop. He stopped them with one word, and so I understood at once that he was their leader.

-Artur: His word was law to them.

-Melsik: Since the railings of the stairwell are a kind of metal grate, we could see everything. The leader said, "Stop, they have benzine. They are waiting with axes."

-Artur: The crowd began to swear at us and at Armenians in general. My brother started swearing back at them.

-Melsik: When we saw from the window what they were doing to our neighbors, we became more afraid. We began to shake, our bodies were somehow shaking of their own accord. But when they reached the fourth floor, all of that had somehow been forgotten. The fear had essentially disap¬peared, and the trembling had stopped: we had already decided what had to be done. We were thinking of only one thing—we had to defend ourselves. Our fear had disappeared.

When the crowd stopped, they began screaming and swearing, they were exchanging ideas as to how to proceed further. We were up on the fourth floor, they were standing down below, trying to decide. One of them shout¬ed: "Let's go through the roof, there's a hatch in the ceiling." Another one said: "What's the point, they're already watching the hatch." Then they start¬ed threatening us: "Come down, we're going to do such-and-such with you. You should be hanged!''

They swore very crudely, and this bothered me most of all. I swore back at them the whole time. The bearded one said: "Come down, don't be diffi¬cult. We're going to get you anyway." Well, I said in reply: "Come on, you half-breeds, I'll kill every single one of you." At that very moment, from behind the neighbors' door I heard my two year-old daughter crying out of fear, and at that I became completely enraged. I yelled down to them: "I promise you, you bastards, that I'll bury at least six of you right on the spot! We won't owe you a thing! So come on up!"

-Artur: 1 also called out: "I believe you were about to come up here. What are you waiting for?"

-Melsik: At that, the crowd fell silent.

-Artur: I was in a rage, I could only think—"Please God, no!" If they killed my father and brother right before my very eyes—that would have been unbearable for me. There was still some hope that they would not touch the women and children, since they were with our neighbors. Maybe they would not even go into our neighbors' apartments—after all, they were Azeris. I was only thinking of my father and brother. I was not afraid of the Azeris or of anyone else. The most important thing was to not see them killing my father and brother. I was certain that we would die—but not right away, of course. They would have their own dead, many more than we would have. We hated them so intensely that... words do not express it.

-Melsik: You're right, our defensive position was such that even though there were many of them, they would have lost many people just in trying to reach us. They understood this and were afraid, but did not keep silent—like dogs that bark but don't approach. For a long time I had been yelling—listen, go on, come up here, come on, why are you wasting time?—and always with very vulgar bad language. In Azeri these words always sound savage, and it's impossible to translate them. They answered-"But you still can't live here." And I said: "Listen, get up here and then will settle this matter. I have nothing to lose, we have nothing to lose. At least six of you will be nicely laid out..."

-Aleksandr: Death was awaiting our whole family, of course. They were coming up those stairs with the idea of killing us. That's why they were armed. But I thought, it is better for me to die at home.

-Artur: So, my brother began to swear back at them, just as they were swearing at Armenians—or even worse. It was humiliating to them that they couldn't come up. This exchange of curses continued for about five minutes. And just when we were ready to start fighting ourselves, they qui¬eted down.

-Melsik: This leader of theirs, the bearded one, said that we were raping their sisters in Stepanakert. I had just come from Stepanakert and I knew what the actual situation was, I had been an eyewitness—but it was impos¬sible to explain this to that idiot. I went down several steps and said: "Come up and we'll talk, why talk from a distance?" But the crowd wouldn't let him come up, saying: "Don't go, he has an axe!" I said: "I'm not like you, I'm not evil. But still, your chances are better than ours. Let him come up, I want to talk to him face to face." So they let him go—or rather, he broke away from them, because they were trying to pull him back, saying "Don't, who knows what he's thinking, he's crazy, he might do anything." I explained to him: "Listen, come up, I only want to speak with you like a normal person, even though you don't deserve it."

He broke away from the crowd and came up to meet me. I started saying to him: "Why do you think you have to kill us? I was born and raised among animals like you, I graduated from the same school as you, and now you burst into my father's apartment and swear at him like that . . . Why? Why do you believe absurd rumors? Go to Stepanakert and you will see that nothing of the sort is going on. After all, it's not far, only five hundred kilo¬meters. Go look and you will see that no one has touched your sisters in Karabagh, and that they are alive and well."

-Artur: When my brother went down there to have a talk with them one on one—and the conversation had probably already started—my father sud¬denly picked up the basin of acid. His nerves were obviously not holding up, and in any case he didn't want to make an agreement with them or any¬thing, he just wanted to get them . . . He was already completely furious. I stopped him from throwing the acid, saying: "Wait, Melsik is down there, let's wait and see ..." I stopped him and went down the stairs myself to stand behind my brother, holding my axe ready. One unnecessary move¬ment on their part and I would have struck their leader right on the fore¬head. In my mind's eye, I had already done so ...

-Melsik: This guy, their leader, said: "You're alright, we shall meet again, if God is willing, not here but behind a nice little table." "But you understand," he said, "I'm powerless here, there are very many of us, I can't do anything." I said: "But if another crowd comes after you leave, whoever they are, we shall stand right to the very end ..."

-Artur: I heard their leader say that too. He also said: "We're leaving, so you go on home, turn off the lights and just sit there."

-Melsik: When I went down to speak with their leader, I noticed that my father was already ready to start fighting, he could barely control himself, he wanted to pour the whole tub of acid down on them but my brother would not let him. I heard my father call out: "We have nothing to lose, I'll set this entire entryway on fire, with all of our neighbors, if you take even one step." Hearing his words, our neighbors became afraid. Even before this, they had heard my father's voice constantly calling out and had emerged from their apartments. My father actually could have set the entryway on fire, and the neighbors knew that. Here, as they say, the shirt was close to the body: the neighbors, who were Azeris themselves, came out and went into the crowd. The women began to entreat the crowd to leave, saying "We have children in our apartments, think of us too, you see, he is about to set the entryway on fire." The women mixed in with the crowd, saying, "Don't do it, we have children, we won't let you . . ." And at this point, the crowd began to retreat, little by little. One of them said: "But still, we're not alone, others will come when we leave."

-Artur: They were obviously ashamed that they had been unable to break us down. They would have killed us, of course, but they just didn't get a chance to do so. Then—in order to put a good front on leaving, as I saw it—they said to my brother: "You're alright, you're a good guy, we'll meet and talk if God allows it." My brother also said: "Yes, if God allows it, we'll meet." But he said it with malice. We were all malicious—words can't describe it, you had to be there. I couldn't see myself, but I did see my father and brother, I saw the kind of state they were in. My brother was clearly very tense, but he was in control of himself. We couldn't restrain my father, he was simply furious.

-Aleksandr. Then we saw a second crowd approaching. The first crowd had realized that they had to leave. But our neighbor on the first floor—we recognized him by his voice—had started saying: "They were deceiving you when they told you that Armenians don't live here, they were deceiving you, there were Armenians living on the fourth floor here." And the second crowd also started up the stairs. This neighbor's name is Azhdar.

-Melsik: About five minutes passed between the first and second crowds. When we heard the words "Why didn't you deal with them?" we knew that Azhdar was speaking, we recognized him by his voice and were certain that it was he. After the second crowd came up the stairs, the neighbors became actively involved in what was going on. After my father said that he would set the entryway on fire, the neighbors began standing forcefully in the entrance, so that no one could get through. The neighbors began to quiet this second crowd, saying—they're not here, they ran away.

All of this started between 9:30 and 10:00 at night, and lasted until 12:30. When you describe it in words, it somehow goes by rather quickly ... So it lasted until 12:30. Then a terrible howl resounded through the courtyard . .. The crowd began looting other entryways—there are four Armenian fami¬lies living in our building. There were screams and crashes ... I heard our neighbor screaming, she is twenty-three. She was lucky—she remained alive. She was just a girl . . . she lived with her mother. The crowd burned their building, and they just barely got out . . . True, I didn't actually see all of this, I only heard her screaming "Mama!" We couldn't help them, the crowd in the doorway was too large . . .

-Aleksandr: We wouldn't have been able to get out the door . . .

-Melsik: If we had gone down the stairs and out into the street, we would have been finished. We were helpless, we might have lost our entire family—wife, children, mother, sister. We did not have the right to go down the stairs. Even if, God forbid, one of our relatives had been out there, we would not have been able to help him. Suddenly we heard the rumbling of tanks. Troops were arriving in the city. Our building is located in such a place that the road to Baku is visible. And we saw tanks there, making a great rumbling sound. An entire column of tanks ... I was so happy, I said to my father: "Tanks are coming!" As if it were something wonderful for me . . . True, when the tanks arrived, the troops didn't actually take any concrete measures, but the crowd began to disperse just hearing the sound of the tanks . . . Someone from the crowd yelled: "Tanks are coming!" One of them was clearly acting as a guard, he stood on the steps and called out. At that, the crowd began to disband, people were running in all directions . . . Only then did we calm down a little bit even though, of course, we didn't sleep at all that night.

-Aleksandr: The women were still alive, my wife, my son's bride, my daughter . . .

-Melsik: At first the soldiers didn't catch anyone. They were obviously planning to surround the city. I saw that when the tanks entered the city, they immediately split up, some went left and others went right. The column of tanks was very long, I couldn't even count them all. They were beyond counting . . . There were so many tanks that the rumbling noise they made was audible all night, and we didn't sleep at all that night. The tanks just kept on coming, and the noise lingered on even after they had left. In the morning we were visited by a group of soldiers with a list, they were armed with machine guns. They started questioning us, asking us what our names were and how many of us there were . . . We introduced ourselves. The soldiers said: "Come out of the building." My father asked: "Where are we going?" The officer answered: "We are evacuating all Armenians, we are taking them into the center of town, to the club on Lenin Square." My father refused point-blank. He said: "We have a newborn baby, there are no facilities in the club, it's cold, we can't leave the apartment. We didn't leave before in difficult times, and so you want drag us out of here now with a tank."

-Artur: On the 29th of February my father said: "Go to my brother's house." He was talking about his brother, our uncle Artsvik Babaian. He lived in district 41-A, near the milk factory. My brother and I went there and saw that everything was burning in the courtyard—sofas, furniture ... It was clear that all of this was from Armenian families' apartments. We went into the entryway where our uncle lived, and on the threshold lay a photo-graph of him . . . Then we found out that our uncle had escaped death. A circle of people had gathered around our uncle on the street and begun to beat him. The armored vehicle just happened to be going by, the group dispersed every which way, and our uncle managed to run away. The armored vehicle, in passing, never even thought of helping our uncle.

-Melsik: Uncle was lying there and they didn't even stop to pick him up, they weren't interested ...

-Artur: After all of this, my brother with his wife and children went to Stepanakert, followed by father with mother and sister. I stayed in Sumgait by myself, for about a month. I worked with the emergency aid team. My work consisted of carting away the bodies after this tragedy. I was basically transporting bodies out of the Sumgait morgue. There were also times when strangers would come and say: "Help us, we found a body, let's get rid of it." It later turned out that these were the bodies of the hooligans in the crowd. They found them in the school building. The hooligans were boys from the countryside, and they had used narcotics in large doses. They didn't even know how much to use or how to shoot it, and so they died. Maybe these were the kind of Azerbaijani youths who needed to be charged up with alco¬hol or narcotics before they could be made to loot and kill. They smoked anashah in large groups, and went on a rampage in large groups. The doctor at the Sumgait morgue—he is Russian, but I don't remember his name—did the autopsy, and it was he who told me they died from narcotics. According to him there were sixteen or seventeen of them, but I myself carted off only one young man. They were all young. No one besides us had the right to take the bodies away, since only the emergency aid team should have been doing that. A new decree was passed stating that other kinds of vehicles did not have the right to pick bodies up from the morgue.

At one point, a bearded young man came up to me and said: "Doctor Sadukhov (the head doctor) knows of a body to be disposed of." I replied: "Please, that's my work." As 1 understood it, the bearded man was a relative of the deceased. But he did not give his name. There were other people with him. They had wrapped the body up in cloth just as if it were not even a person, but some kind of thing. They carried the deceased like a thing, when we arrived at the house in the Microdistrict No. 10.1 was even surprised that no one was crying, it was unusual. I had the feeling that they were trying to cover up the death of this man as much as possible. Of course, they had the doctor's statement that the cause of death was narcotics. They probably sold the body of the deceased for money, so that it would be buried without any¬one noticing...

12 June, 1988 Sumgait


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Born 1964


Azsantekmontazh Trust

Sumgait Construction and Installation Administration

Secretary of the SMU Komsomol Organization

Resident at Building 17/33B, Apartment 15

Microdistrict No. 3


On the 27th my sister Marina and I went to the movies, the seven o'clock show, at the theater that is across from the City Party Committee, about 50 yards away. The SK theater. They were showing an Argentinian film, "The Abyss." Before the film we noticed about 60 to 70 people standing near the podium at the City Party Committee, but they were silent, there's no conver¬sation whatsoever, and we couldn't figure out what was going on. That is, we knew it was about Karabagh, but what it was exactly, what they were talking about, if someone gave a speech or not, we didn't know. We bought our tickets. There were 30 or 40 people in the theater. This was a very small number for that large movie theater. The film started. About 30 minutes later they stopped the film. A crowd burst in. About 60 people. They came up onto the stage. Well mostly they were young people, from 16 to 23 years old. They demanded that an Armenian woman come up onto the stage. They used foul language and said that they were going to show what Azerbaijanis were capable of, what they could do to Armenian girls. I thought that's what they meant because they had demanded a girl specifically. Marina and I were sitting together. I told her to move over, there were some Russian girls sitting nearby. So that if someone recognized me or if something happened, they would take me, and not Marina. It got quiet, 2 or 3 girls jumped up to run out, but the door was closed—it's only opened at the end of the show—and they returned to their seats. Everyone in the theater was looking at one another, Russians, Azerbaijanis, people of various nationalities. But no one reacted at all, no one in the auditorium made a sound. They were silent, looking at one another, and gradually started to leave. Some guy, a really fat one, says, "OK, we've scared them enough, let's leave." They leave slowly, pompously. It seemed to me that those people were not themselves. Either they had smoked a bunch of anasha, or had taken something else, because they all looked beastly, like they were ready to tear anyone apart. Then it was all over, as though nothing had happened at all. The film started up again, it was one of those cheerful films which should have only brought Pleasure, made you happy to be alive. We could barely sit to the end. So it had started at seven, it was over by nine, and it was dark . . .

Marina and I were walking home, Lenin Street, that's the center of town. Lenin Street was packed, just packed with young people. They were shout¬ing, something about Karabagh and something about Armenians. We weren't especially listening, because the way we were feeling we didn't know if we were going to make it home or not, and just what had happened, anyway? Public transportation wasn't running. Incidentally, when we came out of the theater we saw police, policemen standing there. The director of the movie theater was looking at the doors, because when they were leaving they had broken the glass, the doors there are basically all glass. Everything was broken. He stood there grief-stricken, but looking as though nothing really big had happened, like some naughty boys had just broken them quite by accident, with a slingshot. Well, since he looked more or less calm I decided that, nothing all that super serious had happened. We went out very slowly; we wanted to catch a bus, we live literally one stop away. We didn't want to go on foot, not because it was dark, but because something might happen. We flagged down a cab, but the driver didn't want to take us. We told him we live near the bus station, and he said he'd take us to the bus station and not a yard farther. I said, well, OK ...

So we got into the cab and managed to get there. Something incredible was happening at the bus station. There was a traffic jam. Public transporta¬tion was at a standstill and everyone was shouting "Ka-ra-bagh," they're not going to give up Karabagh. I go home and tell my family what's going on, and there's immediate panic in the house. Mamma says, what should we do? Like the end had come, they were going to come, kill us, that's it ... Somehow we managed to cheer ourselves up: Nothing that bad could hap¬pen. Where are we living anyway, just what kind of social order do we have? Somehow we manage to calm Mamma down. And we went to bed. But no one could sleep. Everyone made as though nothing had happened.

That was on Saturday. In short, the day went by. We didn't go anywhere and didn't call our relatives. No one did anything. Because . . . life goes on. That day I realized something was approaching, but what exactly, I couldn't guess.

On the 28th everything was like it was supposed to be, we lived like we always had. There were five of us at home: Mamma, Papa and us, three sis¬ters: Lyuda, Marina, and I. My sister Lyuba was in Yerevan at the time. We sat at home and no one went out. Later we learned that a demonstration had started that morning. It all started . . . They were smashing up stores. We were sitting at home and didn't know anything about it. Then a girlfriend or mine, Lyuda Zimogliad, came by at around three o'clock I think. We worked together, we did our apprenticeships together, she's a Russian girl. She said that something awful was happening in town. I asked, "Don't they wan Armenians? Well what are they after, if they're already in that state?" She says, no, nothing like that, it's just a demonstration, but it's awful to watch it Somehow, it feels like a war has broken out. Public transportation has been stopped ... The cabs, the buses, well it's just a nightmare.

Then Papa decides to go to the drugstore, my mother was having allergy problems at the time . . . He left the house and our neighbor, Aunt Vera, asked him, "Where are you going? Stop! There are such terrible things going on in the courtyard; aren't you afraid to go out?" Papa didn't know what she was talking about. She simply pushed him back into the entryway. He came home and told Mamma. Mamma said, "Well, if Aunt Vera was talking like that it means that something is really going on." But we didn't go see her, she's a Russian, she lives across from us. I had to see my friend out. Around five o'clock I tell Lyuda, "Ok, look, it's time for you to go, it's late already, I'll see you out." Mamma says, "You don't need to go, it's too late already, you can see what the situation in town is." So we decided to stay home. Dinner was ready. Mamma says, "Let her eat with us, then she can go." We sat down at the table. But no one was hungry, no one was in the mood, we just put everything out on the table to calm ourselves down, and make it appear that we're eating. We turned on the television, and the show "In Fairy-Tale Land" was coming on. We cleared the table.

We hear some noise out in the courtyard. I go out on the balcony, but I can't see what's going on, because the noise is coming from the direction of the bus station, and there is a 9-story building in the way. There is mob of people ... I can't figure out what's happening. They're shouting something, looking somewhere, I can't make out what is going on. I go down to a neigh¬bor, she's an Azerbaijani; we've been friends of her family for about 25 years. I go down to look from their place. I see people shouting, looking at the 5-and 9-story buildings near the bus station. Just then soldiers set upon them, about 20 people, with clubs. The mob runs off in different directions. I even see several people from our building. They are looking and laughing ... I decide that means it's not all that bad if they are laughing: it means they're not killing anyone. But now the crowd suddenly dashes toward the soldiers. One of the soldiers cannot manage to get away, they start stomping on him with their feet, everyone's kicking him ... I become ill and go home, and explain in general terms that horrible things are going on out there ... I can't speak . . . Well, they've probably killed that soldier, the way that crowd is ... If each of them kicked him just once . . . They took his club away from him and started to beat him with it. But it was far away and I couldn't see if he got up and left or not.

I become terrified and go home and say, "Lyuda, don't go anywhere, stay at our place, because if you go out they could kill you or ..." Then the crowd runs over closer toward our building and stands at the 12-story building and starts shouting something. We go out onto the balcony. All of our neighbors are also out on theirs, too. Everyone is standing, staring. The mob is shouting and about 5 minutes later comes running toward our build¬ing. As it turns out, at the 12-story building the Azerbaijani neighbors went down and kept them from coming in. There's only one entryway there, they could stop them.

They all run up to our building. Mamma immediately starts closing the windows, afraid that they might throw stones. They have stones and they break the windows, all of them. There are very many people. We have a large courtyard, and it's packed with people. They spill up to the first floor so they don't crush each other. They crawl up on trees, posts, and garages. It's just a huge cloud of people. They break and burn the motorcycle of the Armenian Sergey Sargisian, from our building. We close the windows and immediately hear tramping in our entryway. They come up to our fifth floor with a tremendous din and roar. It's incomprehensible. Mamma told me lat¬er that they were shouting Father's name, "Grisha, open the door, we've come to kill you!," or something like that. I don't remember that, I was spaced out, kind of. Mamma says, "Into the bedroom, quickly!" In the bed¬room we have two tall beds, part of our dowry; Mamma says, "Hide there, they probably won't come in there, they'll ask something, say something, and leave." She says, "We'll tell them that we live alone here." I can't imagine that my parents will stand out in the hall alone talking with some sort of beasts ... I go to them and say that I'll stand together with them, I'll talk with them if they come, maybe I can find a common language with them, all the more so if they know me: I speak Azerbaijani more or less, and I can find out what they want. I told Marina and Lyuda to hide under the bed, and my sister Lyuda, I can't remember if I told her anything or not.

Then . . . they open the door: it's like they blew on it and it broke and fell right into the hall. The crows bursts in and starts to shout: Get out of here, leave, vacate the apartment and go back to your Armenia; things like that. I tell them, "What has happened, speak calmly. One of you, tell me, calmly, what has happened." In Azerbaijani, they say, "Get out of the apartment, leave." I say, "OK. Go downstairs. We'll gather everything we need and leave the apartment." I realize that it is senseless to discuss any sort of rights with them, these are animals. They must be stopped. The ones standing in the doorway, the young guys, say, "There are old people and one girl with them. Too bad!" They take two or three steps back. It seems as though I have paci¬fied them with our exchange. Then someone in the courtyard shouts, com¬manding them: "Don't you understand what you are saying? Kill them?"

And that was it! That was all it took. They grab Papa, carry him into one room, and Mamma and me into another. They put Mamma on the bed and start undressing her, beating her legs. They start tearing my clothes, right there, in front of Mamma. I don't remember where they went, what they did, or how much time passed. I had the feeling that they beat me on the head, on my body, and tore my clothes, all at the same time, I don't even know what I said. The atrocities started. I was savagely raped in that room. They argued among themselves who would go first.

Later, I remember, I came to. I don't know if I'm dead or alive. Someone comes in, someone tall, I think, clean-shaven, in an Eskimo dogskin coat, balding. He looks around at what's happening. At that instant everything stops. It seems to me that he is either their commander or ... that somehow everything depends on him. He looks and says, "Well, we're done here. They are beating Mamma on the head. They break up the chairs and beat her with the chair legs . . . She loses consciousness, and they decide that she's dead. Papa . . . was out cold. They want to throw Lyuda off the balcony, but they can't get the window open. Apparently the window frames are stuck after the rain and the windows can't be opened. They leave her next to the window. She was thinking about being thrown out the window and passed out. She's not a real strong person anyway . . . He looks at me and sees that I'm saying something, that I'm still twitching. Well, I start say¬ing the opposite of what I should be, which is humbling myself and plead¬ing. I start shouting, cursing . . . they don't get any entreaty out of me. I already know that I'm dead, why would I humble myself before anyone? And he says that if that's what I think, since my tongue is so long . . . maybe he thinks that I still look quite appealing ... In short, he commands that I be taken outside.

I no longer saw or remembered what was happening to Marina and Lyuda, I don't know if they are alive or not.

They take me outside. They are dragging me by my arms, by my legs. They are hitting me against the wall, the railings, something metal. . . While they are carrying me someone is biting me, someone else is pinching me I don't even know. I think, my God, when will death come? If only it were sooner . . . Then . . . they carry me out, throw me near the entryway . . . and start kicking me. I lose consciousness . . . What happened after that, how many people there were, I don't remember.

I come to after a while, I don't remember how long. A neighbor is bring¬ing me clothing. I'm entirely covered with blood, she puts a dress on me. I remember that I said the same words over and over again: "Mamma, what happened, Mamma, what have they done to us, where are we, whose house are we at?" I can't make sense out of anything. There is a guy standing over me, I sort of know him, he served in Afghanistan, his name is Igor, he brought me indoors. When they all went to the third entryway and killed a person there, Igor gathered his courage, took me into his arms, and brought me to the neighbors', even though he's small-minded, he put himself at risk. Igor Agayev is Azerbaijani; he served in Afghanistan. There are three broth¬ers. The older brother also served there, I think; now he's stationed here, on the border, in Armenia. Igor brought me to the neighbors', and then helped me come to my senses, saying, "Karina, I know you, calm down, I'm not one of them." How do I know who's who and what's what? I come to, and they clean me up. I was covered in blood. Then Papa ... I saw Papa, I saw Mamma. And Marina, too . . . Igor was there when they dragged Marina and Lyuda out from under the bed . . . Marina . . . Lyuda said that she was Russian, they said, we'll let you go, we aren't touching the Russians, go. And While they are dragging Marina out she decides she's going to tell them she's Azerbaijani. Igor immediately grabs Marina's and Lyuda's hands, because he knows Marina, and knows that she is Armenian and is our sister, and takes her to the second floor to a neighbor's and starts pounding on the door so she will open up. She opens the door and Igor pushes them in there. So they survived.

My sister Lyuda lost consciousness after the bandits started stealing things. While they were going downstairs, taking things downstairs, then coming back up again, Lyuda seized the opportunity and crawled under the bed and stayed there. Then, when she was herself again, she found a torn night shirt and put it on, and some sort of robe and went to a neighbor's on the fourth floor, the one whose apartment I had watched the crowd from, the friend of ours, and knocked on the door. The neighbor opened and said, "I'm not going to let you in the apartment because I'm afraid of them. But I'll give you some stockings and we'll leave the building." Lyuda says, "I'll stay at your place because of what's going on, they keep going up and down the stairs." It was just for a moment, just a moment in life, but the neighbor wouldn't consent. Lyuda came back to our place and lay under the bed . . .

I came to. Mother was there. I can't remember my supervisor's telephone number, but something had to be done. Somehow I remembered and called, and he came to get us. He didn't have any idea what was going on. He thought we were simply afraid, he didn't know that they were killing us and that we had passed between life and death. He came and got us and took us to the police precinct. There they looked us over. I was having trouble walk¬ing, my lungs hurt badly, it was hard to breathe . ..

My supervisor's name is Urshan Feyruzovich Mamedov. He's the head of our administration. They took us there. When we were leaving, I saw a great number of buses full of soldiers at the entrance to town. The buses were ordinary passenger buses. There were very many soldiers. We left around eleven, right after eleven. If these people could stop what was happening, they could save a great many lives . . . Because the crowd was moving on, toward the school, and what was going on there ... I think everyone knows, not only in Sumgait, not only in Yerevan. Because there they murdered them all one after the next, without stopping. After us.

I think 14 people died in Microdistrict No. 3, and 10 to 12 of them were from Buildings 4, 5, and 6. In our building one person died, and one old woman died from Building 16, that's the building in front of ours. There young Azerbaijani men stopped the mob and wouldn't let it into their build¬ing. Incidentally, when we were at the neighbors', Marina called our rela¬tives to warn them, so they would all know what was happening. 1 called an aunt in Microdistrict No. 5. They have three neighbors who are Armenians. I said, "Run quickly, I can't explain what's going on; hide, do what you can, just stay alive. Hide at Azerbaijanis', ones who won't give you away" At that moment three people came in, policemen. I think they were Azerbaijanis. I was in such awful condition, my face was completely distorted, my lips were puffed up, there was blood, my eye was swollen, no one thought I would ever see anything out of that eye again . . . my forehead was badly cut, and one-half of my face was pushed out forward. No one would have thought that I would survive, get my normal appearance back, and be able to grasp anything at all. I started to scream at those people, why did you come, who sent you here, no one wants you here, haven't you killed enough people yet, what are you doing here? One of the soldiers said, "Don't scream at us. We're Muslims, but we're not from the Sumgait police. They called us in from Daghestan.' So at that point the Daghestan police were there.

When we got to the police precinct there were an awful lot of police there, there were soldiers, police with dogs, ambulances, firemen ... I don't know, maybe they were waiting for people to bring them the goners and the seri¬ously injured to treat them there in the police precinct. I don't know what they were there for. There were also doctors from Baku there. They exam¬ined Lyuda and me and said, "These women need to go to the Maternity Home, but we don't know what to do with the rest."

So they took us, and I lost contact with my parents, my boss, everyone. My boss said, "Don't worry, I'll find you, no matter where you are, no matter what happens." We went to the hospital. There we were examined by a department head from the Sumgait Maternity Home, Pashayeva, I think her name was. She examined us. The ambulance was from Baku; 1 figured out that the Sumgait ambulances hadn't done anything, they didn't respond to any calls. People called and neither the police nor the ambulances showed any signs of life.

That doctor looked me over and I could tell from her behavior that some¬thing very good had happened, for she became quite glad. I even thought to myself, "God, can it be that nothing all that bad is wrong?" She looks me over and says, "Now why are you suffering so? You don't know what your people have been doing, your people did even worse things." And I think, great, I have to deal with her .. . And I felt so bad, I thought, why don't I just die so as not to have to hear more stuff like this from people like her? Here I am in this condition and being told about something that our people did. I just didn't have the energy to say, "How could our people possibly be smart enough to think of something that yours haven't already done?" I stayed there. Then they brought in another woman, Ira B., she was married, and she was raped in her own apartment, too. There were three of us, Ira, Lyuda, and I. The next morning they took Lyuda and Ira away. They didn't do any¬thing to help us. This was in the old Maternity Home, in the combined block. They didn't do anything more than examine me, that was it. I didn't want any shots or tranquilizer, nothing. What shots could have calmed me down? I didn't even want to look at them.

I lay in the ward. Either it just worked out that way or they did it on pur¬pose, but I was alone. I was alone even though the wards were packed. That same evening a woman came by and asked me what was wrong with me, that my face was disfigured. She asked what had happened to me, and I said, "Better to ask your brother what happened, there's no point in asking me, your brother can better explain what happened." She fell into a faint. All the doctors threw themselves at her, and the doctor categorically forbade anyone to come into my ward.

Then people from work came to see me, my boss, his daughter; they brought me clothing, because I was literally naked. The only thing I had on was a dress, but the woman who gave it to me was very short, and the dress Was way up above my knees, and the woman orderly said, "I can't believe you put on such a short dress, who are you showing off your legs to here?" I Went back to my ward thinking, just one more thing from someone. People from work came and brought me something in a sack, apples, I think, three or four pounds, but I couldn't take them. I had become so weak that it was just embarrassing. I said that I couldn't take the apples, and really didn't have any appetite. No one had to bring me anything. Some woman took the sack . . . And, oh yes! . . . Then I heard that the head doctor tell a nurse that my medical history should be hidden or torn up completely so that no one would know that I was an Armenian, maybe they wouldn't figure it out from looking at me. So they must have been thinking that there would be some kind of attack, that something else would happen. That it would be worse. Or, perhaps, someone was outside on the street, I don't know. In any case, I didn't sleep a wink that night.

The next morning they picked me up, a whole police detail, put me in a bus, and off we went. I didn't even know where they were taking me. They took me to the club where the troops were, the very one I was in that ill-fat¬ed evening. I got off the bus. Near the City Party Committee there were a great many troops, tanks, armored personnel carriers; the whole scene was terrible. I saw a few people I knew there, and that calmed me a little. I had already thought that I was the only one left. So there were five or six of us left in Sumgait after that night. I still didn't know what happened to my par¬ents, they didn't come to see me in the hospital, and my boss told me that everything was fine. I didn't know whether to believe him or not. Maybe he was just trying to calm me down, maybe something happened on the way. Then I went to the club and saw a lot of people I knew. They all knew one another, they were all kissing each other and asking, "What happened, what went on?" Two days later they came to see me from work. They were there all the time. Each day they came, showed interest, and were constantly bringing me money. They did everything they could. Of course I'm most thankful to my boss, the only one of my colleagues who didn't lose his pres¬ence of mind and who didn't change his opinions, neither before, nor after, nor in the heat of the moment, no matter what happened. He constantly took an interest. A sincere interest, from the heart . . .

Then, about two days later, the secretary of the Party Committee came, not from our Party organi¬zation, but from the First Trust, which ours is part of, Comrade Kerimov, a very important figure in our town. He made arrangements with the emer¬gency medical personnel to take me away, because if I sat down by myself I couldn't get up or lie down again. There was something wrong with my lungs, it was hard to breathe. They examined me there several times, there were several doctors, they all thought that . . . that it must just be from all the blows, I don't know. They didn't diagnose anything in particular. When 1 was in the Maternity Home I even asked ... I made it a point of insisting that they take me to the trauma section because I felt so awful. There was no way something inside wasn't broken, my ribs . . . Well they took me there and took x-rays and said that everything was fine. There were emergency medical workers on duty in the club. The mother of one of Marina's friends was there. She was the head doctor at the Sumgait Children's Clinic. They had every kind of antifever agent in the world, which was exactly what I needed at that moment, I thought. I said that I was having great difficulty breathing, I couldn't seem to get enough air, something was wrong with me. They put tight bandages around my chest and waist. Later I overheard some people saying that I had been cut all over. I think they just saw me being all bandaged up and decided that my breasts and face had been cut . . . But I wasn't cut.

They took us to the Khimik boarding house. We lived there a long time. Soon appeared representatives . . . They were agitating. At first people would not talk to them, and drove them off. One of the Armenian women shouted, "We demand that Seidov come!" The response was, "It's Seidov who sent us." Seidov is the Chairman of the Azerbaijani Council of Ministers. The woman said, "We'll only see Seidov's daughter, have her come here, we'll do the same things to her that they did to our daughters, and then we'll deal with you agitators." And so on. More of them said, "Have Seidov himself come." This went on day in, day out. The agitators kept coming and coming, this drove us out of our wits. Then people gradu¬ally started departing for Yerevan because they realized it was senseless to stay. Everything got on our nerves: The smell, the small children. There were children at the SK club, children who had literally just come out of the Maternity Home. What were they doing in a club that didn't even have run¬ning water all the time? At first we had to pay to eat there. They even over¬charged us, as it turned out. On the second day someone told us that they would bring us food for free. The children were ill. Everything stank there. Well imagine about 3,000 people in a small movie theater with seating for no more than 500. You couldn't sit or lie down, it was impossible to even move. The stench was awful. Even the smallest infants took ill overnight there. I heard that they were arriving seriously ill in Yerevan, the infants. They have to be washed, they have to be bathed, not to mention that we, the adults, were ill and needed care. People were fainting right and left. I just don't know, everyone was crying, everyone . . . Only the young people, the men, somehow managed to keep it together. But the women were in a constant state of panic. It seemed to everyone that they would come any minute and kill and stab. It seemed clear that we had been gathered together purposely, like during the war, so that they could burn the movie theater and there wouldn't be a single Armenian left. Then people went up to the attic. I didn't see them, I only heard them, because I was lying down and couldn't get up. I lay right on the stage, we had some room there. Apparently they caught two people with either oil or gas. I think they wanted to burn the theater. Maybe someone saw them, I didn't. I was in no condition to open my eyes.

Everyone was suspicious of everyone else. They would ask, "Aren't you an Azerbaijani? I think I saw you somewhere, I think you're an Azerbaijani." They led out all the men and started letting them back in by checking their passports, relatives might be covering for each other. Half of the people did not have any documents. There were people who had run out of their homes in nothing but a pair of pants and slippers, or wearing just a shirt, not like they should have, with their IDs.

So on the 28th, on Sunday, I think, the police did nothing to help us. On Monday everything resumed where it had left off on Block 41A. They didn't spare a soul there: not children, not pregnant women, nobody. They killed, they burned, they hacked with axes, just everything possible. They mur¬dered the Melkumian family whom I knew, my mother worked with them. Their daughter-in-law went to school with my older sister. They were bru¬tally murdered. Only the two daughters-in-law survived. By a miracle one was able to save herself, she ran away, the neighbors wouldn't take her in, so she ran about the building until she found refuge. She was pregnant and had two small children. This all continued on Monday in Block 41A, on the 29th, when the troops were already in the city.

They murdered people, they overturned automobiles, and they burned entire families. They say they didn't even know for sure if the people were Armenians or not. I heard that the Lezgins suffered, too. I'm not sure myself, I didn't see any Lezgins who had been injured. They burned cars so it's very difficult now to say exactly who died and who didn't. It was very difficult to identify the corpses, or rather, what remained of the corpses after they were doused in gasoline and burned . . . it's all very hard to imagine, of course. I heard that many people disappeared without a trace, from the BTZ plant two people, including a woman who worked the night shift, Aunt Razmella, who also lived in Microdistrict 3.

They were stopping buses between Baku and Sumgait. In the evening people who had been visiting Baku were returning to Sumgait, and people from Baku were going home from Sumgait, and there were students, too. They were simply savagely murdered. They were stopping the buses, the drivers immediately did what they were told because there was just no oth¬er way to deal with that hoard of brutally minded people. They stopped the buses, dragged the Armenians out and killed them on the spot. I didn't see it myself, but I heard that they put them all in a pile so as to burn them. Later it was hard to discern from the corpses, well you can't call them corpses, you had to figure out from the ashes who it was. I heard that two fellows saved two women, one a student, Ira G., if I'm not mistaken. She was in the hospi¬tal a long time after that, and she still can't figure out who saved her. She was also brutally raped and beaten and thrown onto a pile of corpses. The fellow pulled her out of that whole pile of corpses, put his coat on her, took her into his arms, and carried her to the city. I still can't imagine how he managed to do that.

I heard that from Engels Grigorian. He knows her, apparently. Well a lot of people went to that hospital anyway. She was in the hospital and singing a song in Armenian, and they wrote the words down, and, I think he still has that piece of paper, because he says that a lot of people now have that song, the one she sang in the hospital where she lay in such bad shape. They couldn't find the guy who saved her. He left her in someone's apartment and called the ambulance, she was in such awful shape that, probably, like me, she couldn't remember anyone's face.

I think that I knew one of the people who broke into our house, maybe I had talked with him once. But I received so many blows everything was just knocked out of my head. I can't remember to this day who he was. Then, it seems, I saw the Secretary of the Directorate's Party organization, where Marina works. She goes to school and works, she goes to night school at AZI, and works by day at the Khimzashchita Construction and Installation Administration. I'm the Secretary of the Komsomol organization at our administration and often met with the secretaries of Party and Komsomol organizations. We had joint meetings. I know them all, I've even talked with them, and he, I know, is from Armenia. An Azerbaijani, but from Armenia. It became obvious that many of those people were Azerbaijanis born in Armenia.

They took me to various police stations, to the police precinct, and to the Procuracy because the USSR Procuracy got involved in the case, and I iden¬tified the photographs of people who I could more or less recognize. They showed me the people who were in our apartment, they're working on our case, but I can't even recognize them, although it was proved that they were the ones, they're processing it somehow. They tell me that they know that someone held me by the arm and someone else held me by the leg when they were dragging me. There was someone else in our apartment who did not even touch me, he just stole a blanket and an earring or something like that. All these people, all of them, as much as I've heard about them and seen them, they were all from Kafan.

The Secretary of the Party organization is named Najaf, Najaf Rzayev. He was there when everything started. It must have been him because I didn't recognize anyone else in the crowd whom I knew besides him. All the more since I told him, "Listen, you do something, because you know me." He turned away and went toward the bedroom, where Marina was. Well you couldn't see Marina anyway. There was such a noisy confusion of people that you couldn't make out anyone. All of it flew right out of my head, and then gradually I became myself again, at the City Party Committee ... There were military people there. I told them what went on, and they wrote it all down. I told them his name. On March 8 the Secretary of our First Trust Party organization, the one we're part of, came to see us, his name is Najaf Rzayev. I tell Mamma, "If he's here despite the fact that I gave his name, it means that either his alibi has been confirmed or, probably, that they think I'm crazy, not responsible for my words." He said, "What did they do to you, how awful, myself, I hid an Armenian family." Then after some time goes by he comes back again and says something entirely different: "I wasn't at home, my family and I went to Baku." I said, "Marina, what is he saying? He said something totally different before." After that I didn't go to see our Procurator, our case is being handled by a procurator from Voronezh, Fedorov by name. Federov told me that Rzayev's case had just gotten to him, and there were so names involved. What are they doing with Rzayev? Did he prove his alibi or not? They just think that since I was hit in the head I can't say anything for sure, whether it was him or not. It will be an insult if he was in our apartment and doesn't have to pay for it, but at the same time I'm afraid to say I'm a hundred percent sure that it was he. Because no mat¬ter who I name, they tell me, no, you're wrong, he didn't do that, that one wasn't there. All the faces have gotten mixed up in my mind. Who did what exactly I can't say.

When they took me outside there was a whole crowd there, but I didn't see it, because I had my eyes closed all the time. It seemed to me that I always got it because of my eyes, people were always hassling me, for some reason it always seemed to me that my eyes are responsible. When they were beating my face I thought they were trying to put my eyes out. So I had my eyes closed, they took me outside and started to beat me. A young guy, 22, held my arms, he works at the BTZ plant. And right nearby, across the road from us, Block 41, is where all this was going on. Right across the road from us. The BTZ dormitory is over there, that's where he lives. Now he's in custody, they even have proved, as far as I know, that it was he who killed Shurik Gambarian, the clarinet player from the third entryway of our building. One person in our building was killed, it was that man.

A guy comes by who shared a room with the guy who was holding me. He saw that he was holding me by the arms and that he was beating me, but he didn't come over, he just looked and then went into the dormitory. A while after it was all over, people started making announcements in town saying that investigators had been summoned. That guy went and told them everything. Now they've caught him, everything's been proved. Now, evi¬dently, they've been beating him, I don't know what they're doing with them over there, but he himself said that he was working the night shift at the plant. Some young guy came to the plant and said, "Everyone who wants to kill Armenians come to the bus station on Saturday at ten." That was it. He said, the ones who wanted to, went. This was at the BTZ plant, during the night shift, probably, late Friday night. It was at night, they were at the sauna together. And he said, what do you mean, do you understand what you are saying? The others were silent, probably, in their hearts they were thinking, I'm going to go. But they didn't say anything to one another. He said that he thought it important to to go, because he had heard a lot about what had happened in Kafan, that they had killed their Azerbaijani sisters. their mothers, burned villages, and all of that. That guy was also born in Kafan. That is certain. And Marina says that the Secretary of the Party orga¬nization is from Armenia, too.

I've participated in the investigation a couple of times. I'm satisfied with them thus far. They summoned us and asked about what happened, and every word I said was recorded. I met some guy there ... By the way, he was an Armenian. I said that he was in our apartment, but what he did, I don't know. His last name was Grigorian, Eduard Grigorian. He's from Sumgait, from Microdistrict 1. He was sentenced I think, to five years, not his first time. His mother is Russian. I met with him at the KGB in Baku, at the Azerbaijani KGB. They took us there and showed me photographs. There were so many photographs, I think they even photographed those people who were caught at curfew, and I've got them all confused. I say, the face was about like this, the guy in the white coat with the red clasps. But he could take that coat off and burn it somewhere, and it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Well. This guy, Grigorian, I said, he was in our apartment, but he is so light-complected that he looks like a Lezgin. I don't know what he did, I can't remember. Maybe he beat me or raped me. But he was in our apartment. At the KGB he started asking me, pleading with me, there's no need for this, all this stuff, look me in the eyes, you're like a sister to me. I took a look at him and thought, "My God, Heaven forbid that I should have a brother like you." But they were satisfied with my responses, because I said everything without great certainty. I was there with Mamma. Then Lyuda came in, but when she came in she got sick immediately. She wanted to kill him, she crawled over the table at him. She recognized him. When she came to, Lyuda was lying on the balcony, the mob threw her there and all of them ran into the bedroom. We had all kinds of boxes with dishes in them, the dowries for all three sisters. They stole everything in the apart¬ment, leaving only small things. At that moment Lyuda came to and started remembering everything. Well, seeing the faces, hearing the voices . . . Two people were saying they could burn the apartment. Another says, why burn the apartment when I've got three kids and no place to live. So this guy was in temporary housing, he didn't have anywhere to live, he was from Sumgait. They were sure that they would get the apartment. Besides, the neighbors were Azerbaijani. Why should they burn the apartment, they might burn Azerbaijanis. That's what they said. How did they know there were Azerbaijanis there, if they just picked a place, thinking that Armenians lived there? We have a list of the residents for our part of the building, our name is in there, but how could they know that Azerbaijanis lived on the other side of the wall from us? So they didn't set fire to our apartment.

I don't know, I was in such bad shape that if all of it had come to a halt when I was outside, if someone had asked me what was happening, I would have said that a civil war was going on. Well, maybe not civil.. . but proba¬bly civil, because when they were beating me I opened my eyes and saw that all the neighbors were standing on their balconies and watching, like at a free horror film. So a civil war was going on, and only the Armenians were being fought. If it were a world war or something like that, they would have been fighting everyone. But they only fought us. Then I met some women from our building, some Azerbaijanis. They are crying, they tell me, "Karina, we saw all of it, how could it happen?" They're asking me! Well I just don't know what to call it if a normal girl can stand there and watch what hap¬pened to me. I think that if it were the other way around either I wouldn't have been able to take it, or I would have tried to avert it, like that one Azerbaijani woman did in front of our building. A woman lives there, an awful, dissipated woman, if you can call her a woman, the dissipated life she leads. Two Armenian families live there, in her part of the building. She came out on the balcony and saw what was happening to me and started to scream and curse. She came down to the entryway and said, "You'll come in this entryway over my dead body." So not one of them took it in his head to go in that entryway. Some folks were saying that those people were so out of control that they didn't even know what they were doing. I don't think that's true. They knew very well what they were doing if they didn't even lift a hand against that woman. They couldn't have cared less about her, but the fact that she was an Azerbaijani stopped them.

They were just beasts, they had smoked so much. When they came to our place they were all chewing something. I noticed: Everyone who came into the apartment was chewing something. I think, my God, maybe I just think that? Maybe I'm losing my mind? But no, they're all chewing something. Maybe it is some kind of drug, it must be, because ... At first glance they all seemed to be such normal people, young, clean-shaven, looking exactly as if they had come to some sort of celebration. But they were shouting some¬thing. The didn't talk, they shouted, as though there were deaf people there. They screamed and screamed: "Yeah, killing, killing, we're killing the Armenians!" Only they didn't shout "kill," they shouted "gurun ermianlary." Gurun literally means "kill," or "destroy."

That's how it was! I'll continue. We hid in a captain's apartment, he's an Azerbaijani, his wife is a Tatar. We were sitting in their apartment, their kids were out in the yard. Their kids knew a whole lot. This was in our part of the building, on the third floor. When Mamma came to and couldn't find Lyuda she took Papa's hand, this was while the looters were stealing things, but they didn't pay attention because they were stealing things. Apparently they had already ceased killing and switched to stealing. Mamma found the courage to...

A boy said to my mother, "Where's the gold?" Mamma said he must have been 12 to 14 years old. He even looked Russian, he was so fair-skinned. But the Azerbaijanis from Armenia are fair-skinned. I noticed they were all on the fair side. He shouted, they were all smashing things, and he asks Mamma where the gold is. We kept our gold in the wardrobe with our important papers. In a little black bag, we kept everything in there. Mamma doesn't really like to wear gold. She probably never even wore those things from the time they were bought for her. They took everything that was lying on the cheval glass. Mamma thinks that the gold saved us. Because they threw themselves at the gold, and Mamma grabbed Papa, who was trying to breathe. They had closed his mouth, bound his hands, and put a pillow and a chair on his face . . . They had shoved something into his mouth so he would suffocate. Mamma grabbed him and tore all that stuff off ... He had something in his mouth, he was having trouble breathing, his nose was filled with blood. Mamma grabbed him and started running from the fifth down to the first floor because no one wanted to open their doors to them. Mamma said that by accident, completely by accident that person opened his door, he was sleeping, and said, half-awake, "What's happened?" He sees that they are bloody. Mamma said, "At least go and find out what's happen¬ing to my daughters, even if they've burned them or murdered them, at least bring the corpses." He went looking for us. At that moment Lyuda was under the bed. She says that after they left it seemed that someone was calling her name. When he quietly called her she couldn't get out from under the bed. She wanted to get out and was calling softly. She thought she was shouting, but in fact she was either silent or was only talking to herself, it just seemed to her that she was shouting. When she got out from under the bed everyone was gone. And again.

She thought that she had lost her mind. I'll never leave here, never! To hell with it! It just seems that way to me, I'll come to eventually. But then, when everything had settled down, stopped, that man brought Lyuda down, and Igor carried me in from out¬side. Or first I was brought in, then Lyuda, I don't remember what order it happened in.

And Mamma said, "Listen, they're all running around down there, shout¬ing something or other, and running toward the other building." It had more or less calmed down where we were. Who's dead, who's alive, we don't know. I tried to call my girlfriend. I had basically come to. Mamma says, "Listen, let's go upstairs, at least get a mattress or something. We don't know how long we'll be here. Maybe they didn't burn everything." I don't get it, all women have that feeling, they want to get something from their homes, maybe not everything was taken? I tell Mamma, "Mamma, what do you need any of that for? To hell with it! We're alive, forget the rest of it, all of it!" She says, "No, let's go get at least something. Maybe we'll leave here, spend the night at someone else's." Mamma went upstairs, and their little boy, their son Alik, was standing on the lookout. He was standing there to see if they were coming. They only managed to run up there and grab something one time. He shouts, "Come back, they're coming!" They didn't have enough time to get a lot, mattresses from one apartment, a blanket from another . . . Mamma got my knitting . . . Someone managed to grab our old things, the ones we never wore, out of the hall. . . Someone took Father's old coveralls. The neighbor, his wife, Mamma and Papa . . . Marina went with them. I was in no condition to leave. Neither was Lyuda. We just sat. They ran out and we closed the door and just then we hear that the mob is on its way toward our place upstairs, they're dragging something again. They were going toward the other building, maybe over by the school, or ... There was an unfinished building over there, people said they were going toward the basement or the unfinished building, they could gradually carry everything over there. Then things more or less calmed down. I tried to call my boss.

Later there was more noise. We were on the third floor, in a one-bedroom apartment, and a woman lives in the one-bedroom place on the second floor, Asya Dallakian. She's an old woman, retired. She wasn't at home, at that time she was usually in the country, she has a married daughter there, and her grandson is in the army. She is only very rarely in town; she gets her retirement money and the apartment is essentially vacant. They started Pounding on her door and broke it down. She had two or three beds in there, something like that, she's a 60-to 70-year-old woman who really does not even live there. Probably she had some pots, a couple of metal bed frames and mattresses, and a television. When her grandson came she bought a television. They started wrecking everything. I started getting sick again. I think, "My God, what is going on around here? When will this end?" We turned off the lights and sat. As it turns out the people who weren't afraid, the ones who knew what was going on, knew not to turn off the lights. We didn't know, but they didn't come to where we were all the same. They all knew very well that he was a captain. He went out and closed the door, and we sat in his apartment. His last name was Kasumov. He's an ex-serviceman, retired, works up at the fire station at some plant or other. He went out and stood at his door. They tell him, "Comrade Captain, don't wor¬ry, we won't harm you, you're one of us." He went upstairs, and they say, "Aren't you taking anything from this apartment?" He says, "I don't need anything." And the women who were standing in the yard . . . we have a basement, full of water . . . the women who were standing in the yard saw. Those guys, they left everything they stole on the first floor and ran upstairs again. The women threw everything they had time to into the basement, to save our property. Some things were left: dirty pillows, two or three other things and a rug. A guy came downstairs, really mad, and he says, "Where's the rug? I just put it right here!" They tell him, "Some guy came and took it and went off toward the school." He ran off in that direction.

Oh! I forgot the most important point. When Igor picked me up in his arms, there were women standing there who saw everything that was going on. They just didn't tell me about it for a long time. The wife of that military man, she didn't want to kill my spirit, I was already dead enough. Later she told me, that after they murdered Uncle Shurik in the third entryway one of them, the ringleader, apparently a young man, said, "Where's the girl who was here?" And he became furious. The woman tells him, "She came to ..." She didn't know what to say: Think something up? Someone carried her off? Then they would comb the whole house and find me and our whole family. So the woman says, "She came to and went to the basement." Now, our base¬ment is full of water. So the whole mob dashes off to the basement to look for me or my corpse. They took flashlights; they were up to their waists in water, water which had been standing there for years, and soot, and fuel oil. They climbed down in there to get me. Then one of them said, "There's so much water down there, she probably walked and walked and then passed out and died. She met her death in the basement. That's it, we can leave, no problem!" I didn't know that, and when I was told, I felt worse. Two times worse. A lot worse! So they didn't just want to pound me flat, something more awful was awaiting me . . .

After that we of course didn't want to live in Sumgait any longer. We real¬ly didn't want to go back to our apartment. When we moved, I went up there and started to quiver and shake all over, because I started remember¬ing it all. Although the neighbors all sobbed, it was all ... so cheap . . . The people who sat in their apartments and didn't help us at a time like that. I think that they could have helped! I don't think that they were obligated to, but they could have helped us! Because that one woman was able to stop that whole brutal crowd by herself. That means they could have, too. It would have been enough for one man or woman to say, "What do you think you're doing?" That's all! That would have done it. There were 60 apart¬ments in our building. Not one person said it! When I was lying on the ground and all those people were standing on their balconies I didn't hear anyone's voice, no one said what are you doing, leave her alone . . . Mamma even told one of the neighbor women that if it had been an Azerbaijani woman in my place they would have dropped a bomb if it would have killed even one Armenian. They would have stood up for one of their own. True, they say that our neighbor from the fourth entryway, an old, sick woman tried to stop the pogrom. The Azerbaijanis have a custom: if a wom¬an takes her scarf and throws it on the ground, the men are supposed to stop immediately. The old woman from the fourth entryway did that, but they stomped her scarf into the ground, pushed her off to the side, and said, "If you want to go on living, you'll disappear into your apartment." So she left. That trick didn't work on them.

Even the neighbors who helped us move told me, OK, fine, calm down, forget that it happened. I said I'd only forget it if I told them right then that it had happened to their daughter—and if that didn't have any effect on them, then I would forget everything, too. Imagine that it happened to your sister. And no one did anything. Anything.

April 25,1988 Yerevan


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Born 1936

House Painter

Retired for reasons of health shortly prior to the events

Resident at Building 17/33B, Apartment 15

Micro district No. 3


On the 28th my husband came home and said that he was walking near the Sputnik and there were cars burning there. He didn't stop, he didn't ask anyone, but some Russians went by and said that the Azerbaijanis were burning Armenian cars; he didn't stand there looking, he came home. He explained it to me like that and I said, "Who cares what's burning, we don't have a car anyway. How come the Azerbaijanis can burn Armenian cars? "

We hadn't even managed to sit down at the table when we heard noise. It was either 4:10 or 5:10. We went out on the balcony and looked: on the street there were two Azerbaijani Zhigulis and one Armenian motorcycle with a sidecar. We see probably about 300 to 400 people attack the motorcycle and tear it up, but as soon as they set fire to it we ran in from the balcony. When we get back in the apartment we get the axe. We look, they're already break¬ing down our door. They come into the entryway and shout my husband’s name: "Grisha, open the door!" and "We're coming." While they were break¬ing down the door I had just enough time to take the axe from my husband and hide it under the couch.

They broke down the door and came in. As they came in they told us, "Give us the apartment, you go wherever you want. Go to your Armenia." I was pleading with them, I said, "I'll give you everything, the whole apart¬ment and everything in it, just don't harm us, don't harm my girls." A guy with a moustache said, "They did a good job renovating this apartment. We don't have to burn it, let them leave and we'll take it." Another guy is speak¬ing Armenian, he's an Azerbaijani, but he speaks Armenian. You can see he's an Azerbaijani, but we can't speak Yerevan Armenian like these guys did, the three or four guys who spoke Armenian, and they are saying, "No, we didn't come here to leave them alive. We came here to burn or kill them all. We won't let them out of here."

I started crying again. A Russian girl, Lyudmila, was visiting us at the time. Lyudmila and my Marina had gone into the bedroom and hid under the bed, but I had no idea where my other daughters were hiding. I didn't know where my husband or my daughters were. I wasn't feeling well that day: my skin was red all over, in fact we had called an ambulance, and they had given me a shot. And I was lying down, excuse me for saying this, in my nightshirt, when they came in. I didn't have a chance to put on a dress or anything. I jumped up and stood on the bed. When they carried my Lyuda out on the balcony naked and raped her, my older daughter, and lay my oth¬er daughter near the bed and 10 to 20 guys—grown-ups, young ones, even 15-year olds—raped my Karina, well I just...

We had some small chairs, twelve of them, they broke all of their legs off on me and cut my head in five or six places, and all the bedspreads were bloody, I still have them. The investigator wanted to take them to Moscow, but I wouldn't give them up, I said, "As long as I live I'm going to keep these bedspreads that have my blood on them. The Azerbaijanis did this."

I only heard how they picked up my daughter, naked, and carried her outside like a coffin. They were saying, "The motorcycle is burning, let's take her and throw her in the fire, let her burn along with it. Let your mother hear your screams." I heard all that.

Then I see one of them take the axe that I had hidden. He takes the axe and goes out on the balcony and says, "I'm going to chop Lyuda's head off now." And another says, "No, why cut her up, let's open the balcony win¬dows and throw her out." They couldn't get the windows open because it had rained recently and the window frames had swollen, one of the shutters would open but the other wouldn't. They couldn't get them open, so they were unable to throw Lyuda out.

When they got the axe to chop her head off one man, who was standing near the door, where I was on the bed, that man made a sign with his hands and stopped them. "Enough, don't chop her head off, what you've done is enough, they're already dead anyway. Let's take everything in the apartment and leave."

Then a boy of 13 or 14, a pale one, kind of puffy, I still can't figure out if he was a Russian or if he had mixed blood, or if he was an Azerbaijani or what his nationality was. He beat my legs very hard five or six times with the legs from a chair and said, "Lady, where's the gold? Where's the money? Show me where they are."

I said, "Over there in the wardrobe, there's a black bag, everything's in there. Take whatever you want. Just don't kill my children."

The boy took the black bag and turned it inside out, and they all threw themselves upon the contents. There was a thousand rubles in there and bonds for another thousand, and my gold jewelry, the jewelry my husband and his relatives gave me when we were married.

The people who beat me threw themselves on the money, and just then I practically fly through them, open the other door, and see my husband: gagged, his hands bound, a pillow over his mouth, held down by the seat of a chair, my husband is asphyxiating. I didn't even notice that I was bleeding myself, or what shape I was in, that I was only wearing a nightshirt and that there were so many men in there ... I still can't figure out how I managed. I just took myself in hand, grabbed my husband and jumped out into the entryway and ran up and down the stairs five times asking to be let in. One of them, holding Lyuda's and my fur coat, Lyuda's and my coats, and Karina's raincoat, all those four things and a pair of boots, watched to see where we were hiding. He saw that a man on the third floor opened his door, an Azerbaijani, Sabir. My husband and I, covered in blood, went into his apartment. I said, "Sabir, I don't know where my children are, I know that Lyuda is on the balcony, they are going to chop her up. Go and get her bones so they won't throw them off the balcony?"

Sabir went upstairs and 10 or 15 minutes passed. The guy who saw us go into Sabir's apartment started knocking on the door. I asked, "Who's there?" He answered, "It's the neighbor." I didn't open the door because I knew that that guy wanted to come in and kill us. The one who saw where we hid.

Sabir came downstairs an hour later, crying. I look, he's come down with¬out Lyuda. I'm crying and I say, "Sabir, you probably didn't want to bring my dead Lyuda into your place. Why did you come without Lyuda?" And he started to cry too, and said, "I'm afraid, there are a lot of them ... Don't be afraid, I wouldn't let them kill Lyuda, Lyuda's alive." Two or three hours went by, and Sabir went up there three times ...

Marina and that Russian girl had been under the bed. I didn't know where they were. And Karina, I saw her myself as they carried her naked outside, holding her up in the air with their arms, like a coffin, they picked her up in their hands and carried her outside.

Igor came in with Sabir. Igor lives in front of our building. He served in Afghanistan, he received a medal, and lives across from our building, he knows the girls. And his face is familiar to me. I look and say, "Who are you?" He says, "I know your girls." I start to cry and kiss him and say, "What is your name?" He says, "Igor." I say, "Yes, I remember you standing and talking with Lyuda." He says, "I have never been to your apartment, but I know your girls well." He had known Lyuda before. When he found out what was going on in the yard he wanted to come to our place and help, to do something. He came in with Sabir into Sabir's apartment. I ask, "Are the girls alive? Did you see anyone, do you know if anyone has hidden or has run off somewhere? We're in such awful shape ..."

He starts to cry and to deceive me, he says, "Aunt Roza, don't cry, I already hid Lyuda, and I hid Marina and that Russian girl on the second floor at Salima's place. Salima opened the door," he says, "and hid her and Marina. I hid Marina and the Russian girl, Lyuda, on the second floor." And I ask, "And where are Lyuda and Karina?" He doesn't know, he says, "It's true that I hid Lyuda, but I don't know exactly on which floor, in what apart¬ment. But there are still a lot of people out in the yard," he says, "when they disperse we'll go looking." And starts to cry. And I say, "No, Sabir is deceiv¬ing me, and you're deceiving me too. Lyuda is probably dead, and you don't want to tell me the truth."

A half an hour later they go out and in another half an hour they return. I look and see that Igor is holding Karina by the hand, she's all bloody, com¬pletely beaten up. There isn't a speck of white left on her face, everything's bloody. They came in. Karina didn't know what she was saying, she talked like she was crazy. She couldn't walk by herself for an hour.

Then Sabir says, "No, Lyuda's coming." Igor went looking for her. It turns out that she was hidden on the fourth floor. He found Lyuda and brought her to Sabir's. Half an hour later I look and Marina has come. Marina doesn't have any traces of blows. I ask, "Where did you hide?" Marina starts to cry, "When they started pulling the suitcases and boxes out from under the beds, Lyuda and I came out. They saw that Lyuda was a Russian and said, "We aren't harming the Russian girls. Why did you come here?" She said, "I work with them." Then Marina got out from under the bed, and they asked her, "Who are you?" She said, I'm not an Armenian, I'm an Azerbaijani." Then they asked, "How come you're here with an Armenian family?" They tell them, "We go to school together." When Marina and Lyuda went through the door to run away, Igor saw them and hid them at Salima's. And so we all found one another.

We stayed in Sabir's apartment until 11:00. But Sabir was afraid to keep us overnight. He says, "They saw you hiding here, I'm afraid that they'll come back and kill us. I have two sons, and they'll kill my sons. What can I do? Chase you out? I have too much conscience for that. I don't know what to do."

Karina can't remember her boss's telephone number, Mamedov's, to call him up, maybe he'll help us. Marina gets the number from Karina and calls him up. She called Mamedov. Mamedov, the head of Santekhmontazh. He wasn't home. His wife, a Russian, answers the phone, "What's happened?" We tell her what has taken place. She says, "I'm alone here, my husband's gone, and I'm afraid to come by myself. As soon as my husband comes back I'll tell him."

We called again in a half an hour, I don't know, it seems like it's 12:30 or 1:00 at night. Mamedov answers the phone. Karina starts to cry because we're in such horrible shape and there's nowhere for us to stay. "Help us, Mamedov." He gets his daughter and a couple of other people with a car. I don't know if they were from the Sumgait OBKhSS [The Department of Combatting the Embezzlement of Socialist Property and Speculation] or from the Procuracy or where, and they all drive up to our yard. Sabir goes out and checks the license plate to be sure it's them. They came upstairs and saw the shape we were in. Mamedov starts to cry himself. He nearly had a heart attack when he saw us like that, all bloody. He says, "No, there's no way I'm leaving you here, I'm taking you away this instant."

We go outside and there are two cars and two men, who say, "We're from the Procuracy. They say that Gambarian was killed here in your courtyard. Do you know anything about this?" We thought that they had killed Sasha, the son. Because when we were at Sabir's, Sabir's son said that they had killed Sasha. But when we went to Mamedov's place, the official said, "No, they didn't kill Sasha, they killed his father."

They took us past the station on the way. When we arrived at their place that night there was a gang there, a lot of people. The bandits wanted to stop the car. One guy from the Procuracy went ahead, and the other one followed behind our car. There were five cars there that night, all sailors, at the spot where the commuter train used to stop. We went into Mamedov's place, his wife gave us things to eat and drink. But we couldn't eat anything. We only spent the night there. We stayed with them for more than 24 hours.

Then they learned that the bandits were planning to go to the apartments of Azerbaijanis who were hiding Armenians. Mamedov got frightened, too. He says, "What should we do?"

We were at his place for more than 24 hours. Then, in the early morning, around five o'clock, he put us in his car and took us away . . . No, from our house they took us to the police station. There were about 100 to 150 police¬men there. I shouted, I screamed, "You dogs! You bastards! Who are you pro¬tecting? Why aren't you going anywhere? They're killing people!" They all lowered their heads and did not respond. There were a hundred people there, and I was covered with blood. My husband couldn't hear anything. His ribs were broken, and he was covered with blood too. They ignored my husband and me and said, "You're standing on your own two feet, so you're alive and well." They took my two daughters to the Maternity Home. Marina stayed with us.

Then Mamedov took us to his place. We stayed there for more than 24 hours, then he took us and hid us in the archives at work, where he's the boss. We stayed there from morning till night, till six in the evening. He wanted to take us to Khachmas to put us on a train, but we didn't have any identification with us, nothing. He said that with no ID we probably could not go. At around six he went to the City Party Committee and made some inquiries. He said, "I'm hiding Armenians, I need to take them somewhere, it's already been so many days, I don't know what to do." As it turns out they had been hiding Armenians for two or three days at the SK and at the City Party Committee. He put us in his car and took us to the City Party Committee.

Sixty or 70 people broke into our apartment, no less. Our apartment was full of them. When we ran through the entryway, a lot of them were stand¬ing in there, too. And outside we couldn't even see how many there were. Marina saw them when she was hiding at Salima's, through the kitchen win¬dow. She said, "Salima looks and says, Marina, don't look, they'll see that you're here." Marina says, "Mamma, there are three or four hundred people in the courtyard."

We didn't see any faces of people we knew, but it seemed to us that they were people from our town. Later they showed us their photographs and the people themselves. Lyuda recognized a lot of them, Karina identified one or two, because they hit her in the head a lot and she lost consciousness. What they took, what they brought, what they did—she doesn't remember any of that. She doesn't remember a thing. Lyuda recognized many of them, and I recognized two.

The day before yesterday Marina called from Baku and said that Lyuda had been summoned to the Procuracy. She went. It turns out they found that guy who got the bag with the gold and money out of the wardrobe. Now I'm supposed to go to the Procuracy and identify him. They're holding him there. Is it him or not? I don't know his name ...

My husband talks to himself now, he's gone deaf, he doesn't hear. I'm doing poorly myself: I have problems with my blood pressure, my heart, and my nerves . . . How much can you think about it all and be nervous ... I brought up my children ... I worked for 40 years, 20 years as a house painter with men. And I don't have a thing except for beds. We're even lucky that Sabir's wife brought a couple of our beds down to her place in the after¬noon or at night, but we don't have anything else. The government gave us 3,000 rubles.

We lived in this city for 40 years and nothing bad ever happened to us. I worked with them, the Azerbaijanis. For 20 years I was the only Armenian in our work brigade. They always told me, "You're an Azerbaijani, you don't even speak Yerevan Armenian." I worked with them my whole life, broke bread with them, shared everything fifty-fifty. And no one ever said, you're an Armenian, you're an Azerbaijani, they never said who anyone was. And the same with my girls. They went to school in Baku; they graduated from the Institute, my older daughter is a teacher, the middle one is a teacher, and the youngest is Secretary of a Party organization. Thanks go to her boss, who helped us so much: he brought us food at the medical facility, and his wife, and our friends, and Marina's organization, too. I wasn't given any assistance, I'm retired. I called from Baku, and said that I'm not retired yet, I'm not receiving any retirement money, and I worked 20 years for that office. Then they gave me assistance in the amount of 100 rubles.

We always lived peacefully with them, we had neighborly relations. We didn't know the meaning of the words Azerbaijani or Armenian. We always lived peacefully. Up till then . . .

There were strangers there. They started finding out that 3, 4, 5, 6 of them, more, were from Kafan, or Masis or somewhere, born somewhere else, I don't know. Three who I recognized came from Kafan and lived in the dor¬mitory. Originally from Kafan, but living in the dormitory. That's the ones I recognized. Lyuda identified ten people. Where they were from I don't know.

We arrived in Baku from Sumgait. Eleven families. We live in one build¬ing. They put in a pole outside and hooked up all 11 apartments, they put phones in, all of us have phones. There wasn't a floor, they put one in. Some people painted the walls, others didn't. They just left things the way they were.

Of the ones I know, they haven't given anyone work yet. To be sure, we haven't officially registered as living here yet, I don't know about anyone else. The Gambarians, for example, registered a long time ago, but haven't gotten any work yet. They don't even ask us, "Do you have any money? Do you have anything to eat?"

We went from ministry to ministry for a whole month. They reassured us that we would get work, as would our children. A month has already passed. A couple of days ago I called Baku again and told them that none of us has any work, we haven't registered. We need jobs, but no one is telling us anything. All of us are out of work. Only my husband is working, because he had had work in Baku before. And he's working in Baku now. We've already been here 15 days, and he doesn't have any work. We don't know what will happen...

We came to Armenia to get an apartment. But we haven't been able to find one yet. We've got plane tickets, we're leaving, but Karina will stay. There are a lot of possibilities in Masis. There are government buildings there, but the Azerbaijanis are asking too much money, and we don't have any money. Ten thousand, 20,000, up to 30,000 rubles they're asking, they say we've got the land, you've got a state apartment. But we don't have any money to pay with.

We don't want to stay there. Even our daughters, who don't know how to write Armenian, they never learned, and now they don't want to stay in Baku after living though that kind of misfortune. They don't want to, not even a single day!

I'm not sorry that they beat me and did those things to me, I'm not sorry that they made me a Class 2 invalid, that I lie there the whole night shaking, that I can't sleep, that I take medicine. I'm sorry for my daughters. I raised them among Azerbaijanis, and they raped two of my daughters. And they turned into . . . neither girls nor women. No one wants them. They don't have jobs, they don't have anything. They sleep day and night or talk like crazy people. They didn't do anything to anyone! They never did anything to anyone. And in exchange they got that done to them. For two and a half days in peacetime there was a slaughter in Sumgait, and not a single ambu¬lance, not a single policeman, not a single fireman, not a single acquaintance, not a single telephone worked or did anything! Who came to help? No, the central authorities didn't help. If they had, for two and a half days ... I have never been in a war, but I always told my daughters that that's what war was like. And this was worse! The Germans didn't do this! They led around so many naked girls in the city, all their breasts were cut... In Building 6 in Microdistrict 3 they killed so many men and a woman, they threw them into a rubbish heap. But no one wants to hear about things like that...

Eighteen thousand Armenians live in Sumgait. Lived there, before it all happened. I didn't know that so many Armenians lived there. When there was a meeting in the SK club, a general spoke and said that 18,000 Armenians lived there.

For sure, when they gathered everyone together in the SK and at the City Party Committee we saw that there were a lot of Armenians. And if there hadn't been Azerbaijanis, if they hadn't protected us, then in three days' time not a single one of those 18,000 Armenians would have been left alive. There are a lot of good Azerbaijanis, why hide it. If Sabir hadn't opened his door to us, neither we nor our children would be alive now. Our rooms were full of those bandits: one who's going to do the killing, one who's looking for gold, a third demanding money, one takes the coats, another takes the fur coat, another takes the boots—each had his own job, it was decided in advance who would do what. If Sabir hadn't let us in, if he hadn't hidden us, if Karina's boss hadn't come to get us at two o'clock in the morning, us, Armenians—he's an Azerbaijani from Lenkoran, himself—to take us Armenians to his home and keep us there for two days, we wouldn't be alive today.

June 7,1988 Yerevan


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Born 1959


Sumgait Secondary School No. 10

Secretary of the Komsomol Organization at School No. 10

Member of the Sumgait City Komsomol Committee Office

Resident at Building 17/33B, Apartment 15

Microdistrict No. 3


I'm thinking about the price the Sumgait Armenians paid to be living in Armenia now. We paid for it in human casualties and crippled fates—the price was too great! Now, after the Sumgait tragedy, we, the victims, divide our lives into "before" and "after." We talk like that: that was before the war. Like the people who went through World War II and considered it a whole epoch, a fate. No matter how many years go by, no matter how long we live, it will never be forgotten. On the contrary, some of the moments become even sharper: in our rage, in our sorrow, we saw everything differently, but now . . . They say that you can see more with distance, and we can see those inhuman events with more clarity now . . . we more acutely perceive our losses and everything that happened.

Nineteen eighty-eight was a leap year. Everyone fears a leap year and wants it to pass as quickly as possible. Yet we never thought that that leap year would be such a black one for every Sumgait Armenian: those who lost someone and those who didn't.

That second to last day of winter was ordinary for our family, although you could already smell danger in the air. But we didn't think that the dan¬ger was near and possible, so we didn't take any steps to save ourselves. At least, as my parents say, at least we should have done something to save the children. My parents themselves are not that old, 52 and 53 years. But then they thought that they had already lived enough, and did everything they could to save us.

In our apartment the tragedy started on February 28, around five in the afternoon. I call it a tragedy, and I repeat: it was a tragedy even though all our family survived. When I recall how they broke down our door my skin crawls; even now, among Armenians, among people who wish me only well, 1 feel like it's all starting over again. I remember how that mob broke into our apartment. . . My parents were standing in the hall. My father had an axe in his hands and had immediately locked both of the doors. Our door was rarely locked since friends and neighbors often dropped by. We're known as a hospitable family, and we just never really thought about whether the people who were coming to see us were Azerbaijanis, Jews, or Russians. We had friends of many nationalities, even a Turkmen woman.

My parents were in the hall, my father with an axe. I remember him telling my mother, "Run to the kitchen for a knife." But Mother was detached, pale, as though she had decided to sell her life a bit dearer. To be honest I never expected it of her, she's afraid of getting shot and afraid of the dark. A girlfriend was at the house that day, a Russian girl, Lyuda, and Mamma said, "No matter what happens, no matter what they do to us, you're not to come out of the bedroom. We're going to tell them that we're alone in the apartment."

We went into the bedroom. There were four of us. Marina and the Russian girl crawled under the bed, and we covered them up with a rug, boxes of dishes, and Karina and I are standing there and looking at one another. The idea that perhaps we were seeing each other for the last time flashed somewhere inside me. I'm an emotional person and I express my emotions immediately. I wanted to embrace her and kiss her, as though it were the last second. And maybe Karina was thinking the same thing, but she's quite reserved. We didn't have time to say anything to each other because we immediately heard Mamma raise a shout. There was so much noise from the tramping of feet, from the shouting, and from excited voices. I couldn't figure what was going on out there because the door to the bed¬room was only open a crack. But when Mamma shouted the second time Karina ran out of the bedroom. I ran after her, I had wanted to hold her back, but when she opened the door and ran out into the hall they saw us immediately. The only thing I managed to do was close the door behind me, at least so as to save Marina and her friend. The mob was shouting, all of their eyes were shining, all red, like from insomnia. At first about 40 people burst in, but later I was standing with my back to the door and couldn't see. They came into the hall, into the kitchen, and dragged my father into the other room. He didn't utter a word, he just raised the axe to hit them, but Mamma snatched the axe from behind and said, "Tell them not to touch the children. Tell them they can do as they want with us, but not to harm the children." She said this to Father in Armenian.

There were Azerbaijanis from Armenia among the mob who broke in. They understood Armenian perfectly. The local Azerbaijanis don't know Armenian, they don't need to speak it. And one of them responded in Armenian: "You and your children both . . . we're going to do the same thing to you and your children that you Armenians did in Kafan. They killed our women, our girls, our mothers, they cut their breasts off, and burned our houses . . . ," and so on and so forth, "and we came to do the same thing to you." This whole time some of them are destroying the house and the others are shouting at us. They were mostly young people, under 30. At first there weren't any older people among them. And all of their faces were unfamil¬iar. Sumgait is a small town, all the same, and we know a lot of people by their faces, especially me, I'm a teacher.

So they dragged my father into the other room. They twisted his arms and took him in there, no they didn't take him in there, they dragged him in there, because he was already unable to walk. They closed the door to that room all but a crack. We couldn't see what was happening to Father, what they were doing to him. Then a young man, about 26 years old, started to tear off Mamma's sarafan, and Mamma shouted at him in Azerbaijani: "I'm old enough to be your mother! What are you doing?!" He struck her. Now he's being held, Mamma identified him. I hope he's convicted.

Then they went after Karina, who's been talking to them like a Komsomol leader, as though she were trying to lead them down a different path, as they say, to influence their consciousness. She told them that what they were doing was wrong, that they mustn't do it. She said, "Come on, let's straight¬en this out, without emotions. What do you want? Who are you? Why did you come here? What did we ever do to you?" Someone tried to explain who they were and why they had come into our home, but then the ones in the back—more of them kept coming and coming—said, "What are you talking to them for? You should kill them. We came here to kill them."

They pushed Karina, struck her, and she fell down. They beat her, but she didn't cry out. Even when they tore her clothes off, she kept repeating, "What did we do to you? What did we do to you?" And even later, when she came to, she said, "Mamma, what did we do to them? Why did they do that to us?"

That group was prepared, I know this because I noticed that some of them only broke up furniture, and others only dealt with us. I remember that when they were beating me, when they were tearing my clothes off, I felt neither pain nor shame because my entire attention was riveted to Karina. All I could do was watch how much they beat her and how painful it was for her, and what they did to her. That's why I felt no pain. Later, when they carried Karina off, they beat her savagely . . . It's really amazing that she not only lived, but didn't lose her mind . . . She is very beautiful and they did everything they could to destroy her beauty. Mostly they beat her face, with their fists, kicking her, using anything they could find.

Mamma, Karina, and I were all in one room. And again I didn't feel any pain, just didn't feel any, no matter how much they beat me, no matter what they did. Then one of those creeps said that there wasn't enough room in the apartment. They broke up the beds and the desk and moved everything into the corners so there would be more room. Then someone suggested, "Let's take her outside."

Those beasts were in Heaven. They did what they would do every day if they weren't afraid of the authorities. Those were their true colors. At the time I thought that in fact they would always behave that way if they weren't afraid of what would happen to them.

When they carried Karina out and beat Mamma-her face was completely covered with blood—that's when I started to feel the pain. I blacked out sev¬eral times from the pain, but each moment that I had my eyes open it was as though I were, recording it all on film. I think I'm a kind person by nature, but I'm vengeful, especially if someone is mean to me, and I don't deserve it. I hold a grudge a long time if someone intentionally causes me pain. And every time I would come to and see one of those animals on top of me, I'd remember them, and I'll remember them for the rest of my life, even though people tell me "forget," you have to forget, you have to go on living.

At some point I remember that they stood me up and told me something, and despite the fact that I hurt all over—I had been beaten terribly—I found the strength in myself to interfere with their tortures. I realized that I had to do something: resist them or just let them kill me to bring my suffering to an end. I pushed one of them away, he was a real horse. I remember now that he's being held, too. As though they were all waiting for it, they seized me and took me out onto the balcony. I had long hair, and it was stuck all over me. One of the veranda shutters to the balcony was open, and I realized that they planned to throw me out the window, because they had already picked me up with their hands, I was up in the air. As though for the last time I took a really deep breath and closed my eyes, and somehow braced myself inside, I suddenly became cold, as though my heart had sunk into my feet. And suddenly I felt myself flying. I couldn't figure out if I was really flying or if I just imagined it. When I came to I thought now I'm going to smash on the ground. And when it didn't happen I opened my eyes and realized that I was still lying on the floor. And since I didn't scream, didn't beg them at all, they became all the more wild, like wolves. They started to trample me with their feet. Shoes with heels on them, and iron horseshoes, like they had spe¬cially put them on. Then I lost consciousness.

I came to a couple of times and waited for death, summoned it, beseeched it. Some people ask for good health, life, happiness, but at that moment I didn't need any of those things. I was sure that none of us would survive, and I had even forgotten about Marina; and if none of us was alive, it wasn't worth living.

There was a moment when the pain was especially great. I withstood inhuman pain, and realized that they were going to torment me for a long time to come because I had showed myself to be so tenacious. I started to strangle myself, and when I started to wheeze they realized that with my death I was going to put an end to their pleasures, and they pulled my hands from my throat.

The person who injured and insulted me most painfully I remember him very well, because he was the oldest in the group. He looked around 48. I know that he has four children and that he considers himself an ideal father and person, one who would never do such a thing. Something came over him then, you see, even during the investigation he almost called me "daughter," he apologized, although, of course, he knew that I'd never for¬give him. Something like that I can never forgive. I have never injured any¬one with my behavior, with my words, or with my deeds, I have always put myself in the other person's shoes, but then, in a matter of hours, they tram¬pled me entirely. I shall never forget it.

I wanted to do myself in then, because I had nothing to lose, because no one could protect me. My father, who tried to do something against that hoard of beasts all by himself, could do nothing and wouldn't be able to do anything, I knew that. I was even sure that he was no longer alive. And Ira Melkumian, my acquaintance—I knew her and had been to see her family a couple of times—her brother tried to save her and couldn't, so he tried to kill her, his very own sister. He threw an axe at her to kill her and put an end to her suffering. When they stripped her clothes off and carried her into the other room, her brother knew what awaited her. I don't know which one it was, Edik or Igor. Both of them were in the room from which the axe was thrown. But the axe hit one of the people carrying her and so they killed her and made her death even more excruciating, maybe the most excruciating of all the deaths of those days in Sumgait. I heard about it all from the neighbor from the Melkumians' landing. His name is Makhaddin, he knows my family a little. He came to see how we had gotten settled in the new apartment in Baku, how we were feeling, and if we needed anything. He's a good person. He said, "You should praise God that you all survived. But what I saw with my own eyes, I, a man, who has seen so many people die, who has lived a whole life, I," he says, "nearly lost my mind that day. I had never seen the likes of it and think I never shall again." The door to his apartment was open and he saw everything. One of the brothers threw the axe, because they had already taken the father and mother out of the apart¬ment. Igor, Edik, and Ira remained. He saw Ira, naked, being carried into the other room in the hands of six or seven people. He told us about it and said he would never forget it. He heard the brothers shouting something, inartic¬ulate from pain, rage, and the fact that they were powerless to do anything. But all the same they tried to do something. The guy who got hit with the axe lived.

After I had been unsuccessful at killing myself I saw them taking Marina and Lyuda out of the bedroom. I was in such a state that I couldn't even remember my sister's name. I wanted to cry "Marina!" out to her, but could not. I looked at her and knew that it was a familiar, dear face, but couldn't for the life of me remember what her name was and who she was. And thus I saved her, because when they were taking her out, she, as it turns out, had told them that she had just been visiting and that she and Lyuda were both there by chance, that they weren't Armenians. Lyuda's a Russian, you can tell right away, and Marina speaks Azerbaijani wonderfully and she told them that she was an Azerbaijani. And I almost gave her away and doomed her. I'm glad that at least Marina came out of this all in good physical health .. . although her spirit was murdered . . .

At some point I came to and saw Igor, Igor Agayev, my acquaintance, in that mob. He lives in the neighboring building. For some reason I remem¬bered his name, maybe I sensed my defense in him. I called out to him in Russian, "Igor, help!" But he turned away and went into the bedroom. Just then they were taking Marina and Lyuda out of the bedroom. Igor said he knew Marina and Lyuda, that Marina in fact was Azerbaijani, and he took both of them to the neighbors.

And the idea stole through me that maybe Igor had led them to our apartment, something like that, but if he was my friend, he was supposed to save me.

Then they were striking me very hard—we have an Indian vase, a metal one, they were hitting me on the back with it and I blacked out—they took me out onto the balcony a second time to throw me out the window. They were already sure that I was dead because I didn't react at all to the new blows. Someone said, "She's already dead, let's throw her out." When they carried me out onto the balcony for the second time, when I was about to die the second time, I heard someone say in Azerbaijani: "Don't kill her, I know her, she's a teacher." I can still hear that voice ringing in my ears, but I can't remember whose voice it was. It wasn't Igor, because he speaks Azerbaijani with an accent: his mother is Russian and they speak Russian at home. He speaks Azerbaijani worse than our Marina does. I remember when they car¬ried me in and threw me on the bed he came up to me, that person, and I, having opened my eyes, saw and recognized that person, but immediately passed out cold. I had been beaten so much that I didn't have the strength to remember him. I only remember that this person was older and he had a high position. Unfortunately I can't remember anything more.

What should I say about Igor? He didn't treat me badly. I had heard a lot about him, that he wasn't that good a person, that he sometimes drank too much. Once he boasted to me that he had served in Afghanistan. He knew that women usually like bravery in a man. Especially if a man was in Afghanistan, if he was wounded, then it's about eighty percent sure that he will be treated very sympathetically, with respect. Later I found out that he had served in Ufa, and was injured, but that's not in Afghanistan, of course. I found that all out later.

Among the people who were in our apartment, my Karina also saw the Secretary of the Party organization. I don't know his last name, his first name is Najaf, he is an Armenian-born Azerbaijani. But later Karina wasn't so sure, she was no longer a hundred percent sure that it was he she saw, and she didn't want to endanger him. She said, "He was there," and a little while later, "Maybe they beat me so much that I am confusing him with someone else. No, it seems like it was he." I am sure it was he because when he came to see us the first time he said one thing, and the next time he said something entirely different. The investigators haven't summoned him yet. He came to see us in the Khimik boarding house where we were living at the time. He brought groceries and flowers, this was right before March 8th; he almost started crying, he was so upset to see our condition. I don't know if he was putting us on or not, but later, after we had told the investigator and they summoned him to the Procuracy, he said that he had been in Baku, he wasn't in Sumgait. The fact that he changed his testimony leads me to believe that Karina is right, that in fact it was he who was in our apartment. I don't know how the investigators are now treating him. At one point I wondered and asked, and was told that he had an alibi and was not in our apartment. Couldn't he have gone to Baku and arranged an alibi? I'm not ruling out that possibility.

I'll now return to our apartment. Mamma had come to. You could say that she bought them off with the gold Father gave her when they were married: her wedding band and her watch were gold. She bought her own and her husband's lives with them. She gave the gold to a 14-year old boy. Vadim Vorobyev. A Russian boy, he speaks Azerbaijani perfectly. He's an orphan who was raised by his grandfather and who lives in Sumgait on Nizami Street. He goes to a special school, one for mentally handicapped children. But I'll say this—I'm a teacher all the same and in a matter of min¬utes I can form an opinion—that boy is not at all mentally handicapped. He's healthy, he can think just fine, and analyze, too . . . policemen should be so lucky. And he's cunning, too. After that he went home and tore all of the pictures out of his photo album.

He beat Mamma and demanded gold, saying, "Lady, if you give us all the gold and money in your apartment we'll let you live." And Mamma told them where the gold was. He brought in the bag and opened it, shook out the contents, and everyone who was in the apartment jumped on it, started knocking each other over and taking the gold from one another. I'm sur¬prised they didn't kill one another right then.

Mamma was still in control of herself. She had been beaten up, her face was black and blue from the blows, and her eyes were filled with blood, and she ran into the other room. Father was lying there, tied up, with a gag in his mouth and a pillow over his face. There was a broken table on top of the pil¬low. Mamma grabbed Father and he couldn't walk; like me, he was half-dead, halfway into the other world. He couldn't comprehend anything, couldn't see, and was covered with black and blue. Mamma pulled the gag out of his mouth, it was some sort of cloth, I think it was a slipcover from an armchair.

The bandits were still in our apartment, even in the room Mamma pulled Father out of, led him out of, carried him out of. We had two armchairs in that room, a small magazine table, a couch, a television, and a screen. Three people were standing next to that screen, and into their shirts, their pants, everywhere imaginable, they were shoving shot glasses and cups from the coffee service—Mamma saw them out of the corner of her eye. She said, "I was afraid to turn around, I just seized Father and started pulling him, but at the threshold I couldn't hold him up, he fell down, and I picked him up again and dragged him down the stairs to the neighbors'." Mamma remem¬bered one of the criminals, the one who had watched her with his face half-turned toward her, out of one eye. She says, "I realized that my death would come from that person. I looked him in the eyes and he recoiled from fear and went stealing." Later they caught that scoundrel. Meanwhile, Mamma grabbed Father and left.

I was alone. Igor had taken Marina away, Mamma and Father were gone, Karina was already outside, I didn't know what they were doing to her. I was left all alone, and at that moment ... I became someone else, do you understand? Even though I knew that neither Mother and Father in the oth¬er room, nor Marina and Lyuda under the bed could save me, all the same I somehow managed to hold out. I went on fighting them, I bit someone, I remember, and I scratched another. But when I was left alone I realized what kind of people they were, the ones I had observed, the ones who beat Karina, what kind of people they were, the ones who beat me, that it was all unnecessary, that I was about to die and that all of that would die with me.

At some point I took heart when I saw the young man from the next building. I didn't know his name, but we would greet one another when we met, we knew that we were from the same microdistrict. When I saw him I said, "Neighbor, is that you?" In so doing I placed myself in great danger. He realized that if I lived I would remember him. That's when he grabbed the axe. The axe that had been taken from my father. I automatically fell to my knees and raised my hands to take the blow of the axe, although at the time it would have been better if he had struck me in the head with the axe and put me out of my misery. When he started getting ready to wind back for the blow, someone came into the room. The newcomer had such an impact on everyone that my neighbor's axe froze in the air. Everyone stood at attention for this guy, like soldiers in the presence of a general. Everyone waited for his word: continue the atrocities or not. He said, "Enough, let's go to the third entryway." In the third entryway they killed Uncle Shurik, Aleksandr Gambarian. This confirms once again that they had prepared in advance. Almost all of them left with him, as they went picking up pillows, blankets, whatever they needed, whatever they found, all the way up to worn out slippers and one boot, someone else had already taken the other.

Four people remained in the room, soldiers who didn't obey their general. They had to have come recently, because other faces had flashed in front of me over those 2 to 3 hours, but I had never seen those three. One of them, Kuliyev (I identified him later), a native of the Sisian District of Armenia, an Azerbaijani, had moved to Azerbaijan a year before. He told me in Armenian: "Sister, don't be afraid, I'll drive those three Azerbaijanis out of here." That's just what he said, "those Azerbaijanis," as though he himself were not Azerbaijani, but some other nationality, he said with such hatred, "I'll drive them out of here now, and you put your clothes on, and find a hammer and nails and nail the door shut, because they'll be coming back from Apartment 41." That's when I found out that they had gone to Apartment 41. Before that, the person in the Eskimo dogskin coat, the one who came in and whom they listened to, the "general," said that they were going to the third entryway.

Kuliyev helped me get some clothes on, because I couldn't do it by myself. Marina's old fur coat was lying on the floor. He threw it over my shoulders, I was racked with shivers, and he asked where he could find nails and a hammer. He wanted to give them to me so that when he left I could nail the door shut. But the door was lying on the floor in the hall. I went out onto the balcony. There were broken windows, and flowers and dirt from flowerpots were scattered on the floor. It was impossible to find anything. He told me, "Well, fine, I won't leave you here. Would any of the neighbors let you in? They'll be back, they won't calm down, they know you're alive." He told me all this in Armenian. Then he returned to the others and said, "What are you waiting for? Leave!" They said, "Ah, you just want to chase us out of here and do it with her yourself. No, we want to do it to." He urged them on, but gently, not coarsely, because he was alone against them, although they were still just boys, not old enough to be drafted. He led them out of the room, and went down to the third floor with them himself, and said, "Leave. What's the mat¬ter, aren't you men? Go fight with the men. What do you want of her?" And he came back upstairs. They wanted to come up after him and he realized that he couldn't hold them off forever. Then he asked me where he could hide me. I told him at the neighbors' on the fourth floor, Apartment 10, we were on really good terms with them.

We knocked on the door, and he explained in Azerbaijani. The neighbor woman opened the door and immediately said, "I'm an Azerbaijani." He said, "I know. Let her sit at your place a while. Don't open the door to any¬one, no one knows about this, I won't tell anyone. Let her stay at your place." She says, "Fine, have her come in." I went in. She cried a bit and gave me some stockings, I had gone entirely numb and was racked with nervous shudders. I burst into tears. Even though I was wearing Marina's old fur coat, it's a short one, a half-length, I was cold all the same. I asked, "Do you know where my family is, what happened to them?" She says, "No, I don't know anything. I'm afraid to go out of the apartment, now they're so wild that they don't look to see who's Azerbaijani and who's Armenian." Kuliyev left. Ten minutes later my neighbor says, "You know, Lyuda, I don't want to lose my life because of you, or my son and his wife. Go stay with someone else." During the butchery in our apartment one of the scum, a sadist, took my earring in his mouth—I had pearl earrings on—and ripped it out, tear¬ing the earlobe. The other earring was still there. When I'm nervous I fix my hair constantly, and then, when I touched my ear, I noticed that I had one earring on. I took it out and gave it to her. She took the earring, but she led me out of the apartment.

I went out and didn't know where to go. I heard someone going upstairs. I don't know who it was but assumed it was them. With tremendous diffi¬culty I went up to our apartment, I wanted to die in my own home. I go into the apartment and hear that they are coming up to our place, to the fifth floor. I had to do something. I went into the bedroom where Marina and Lyuda had hidden and saw that the bed was overturned. Instead of hiding I squatted near some broken Christmas ornaments, found an unbroken one, and started sobbing. Then they came in. Someone said that there were still some things to take. I think that someone pushed me under the bed. I lay on the floor, and there were broken ornaments on it, under my head and legs. I got all cut up, but I lay there without moving. My heart was beating so hard it seemed the whole town could hear it. There were no lights on. Maybe that's what saved me. They were burning matches, and toward the end they brought in a candle. They started picking out the clothes that could still be worn. They took Father's sport jacket and a bedspread, the end of which was under my head. They pulled on the one end, and it felt like they were pulling my hair out. I almost cried out. And again I realized that I wasn't getting out of there alive, and I started to strangle myself again. I took my throat in one hand, and pressed the other on my mouth, so as not to wheeze, so that I would die and they would only find me afterward. They were throwing the burned matches under the bed, and I got burned, but I with¬stood it. Something inside of me held on, someone's hand was protecting me to the end. I knew that I was going to die, but I didn't know how. I knew that if I survived I would walk out of that apartment, but if I found out that one of my family had died, I would die for sure, because I had never been so close to death and couldn't imagine how you could go on living without your mother or father, or without your sister. Marina, I thought, was still alive: she went to Lyuda's place or someone is hiding her. I tried to think that Igor wouldn't let them be killed. He served in Afghanistan, he should protect her.

While I was strangling myself I said my good-byes to everyone. And then I thought, how could Marina survive alone. If they killed all of us, how would she live all by herself? There were six people in the room. They talked among themselves and smoked. One talked about his daughter, saying that there was no children's footwear in our apartment that he could take for his daughter. Another said that he liked the apartment—recently we had done a really good job fixing everything up—and that he would live there after everything was all over. They started to argue. A third one says, "How come you get it? 1 have four children, and there are three rooms here, that's just what I need. All these years I've been living in God-awful places." Another one says, "Neither of you gets it. We'll set fire to it and leave." Then someone said that Azerbaijanis live right next door, the fire could move over to their place. And they, to my good fortune, didn't set fire to the apartment, and left.

Oh yes, I just remembered. While they were raping me they repeated quite frequently, "Let the Armenian women have babies for us, Muslim babies, let them bear Azerbaijanis for the struggle against the Armenians." Then they said, "Those Muslims can carry on our holy cause. Heroes!" They repeated it very often.

The six of them left. They left and I had an attack. I realized that the dan¬ger was past, and stopped controlling myself. I relaxed for a moment and the physical pain immediately made itself felt. My heart and kidneys hurt. I had an awful kidney attack. I rolled back and forth on top of those Christmas ornaments, howling and howling. I didn't know where I was or how long this went on. When we figured out the time, later it turned out that I howled and was in pain for around an hour. Then all my strength was gone and I burst into tears, I started feeling sorry for myself, and so on and so forth .. .

Then someone came into the room. I think I hear someone calling my name. I want to respond and restrain myself, I think that I'm hallucinating. I am silent, and then it continues: it seems that first a man's voice is calling me, then a woman's. Later I found out that Mamma had sent our neighbor, the one whose apartment she was hiding in, Uncle Sabir Kasumov, to our place, telling him, "I know that they've killed Lyuda. Go there and at least bring her corpse to me so they don't violate her corpse." He went and returned empty handed, but Mamma thought he just didn't want to carry the corpse into his apartment. She sent him another time, and then sent his wife, and they were walking through the rooms looking for me, but I didn't answer their calls. There was no light, they had smashed the chandeliers and lamps.

They started the pogrom in our apartment around five o'clock, and at 9:30 I went down to the Kasumovs'. I went down the stairs myself. I walked out of the apartment: how long can you wait for your own death, how long can you be cowardly, afraid? Come what will. I walked out and started knocking on the doors one after the next. No one, not on the fifth floor, not on the fourth, opened the door. On the third floor, on the landing of the stairway, Uncle Sabir's son started to shout, "Aunt Roza, don't cry, Lyuda's alive!" He knocked on his own door and out came Aunt Tanya, Igor, and after them, Mamma. Aunt Tanya, Uncle Sabir's wife, is an Urdmurt. All of us were in their apartment. I didn't see Karina, but she was in their home, too, lying delirious, she had a fever. Marina was there too, and my father and mother. All of my family had gathered there.

At the door I lost consciousness. Igor and Aunt Tanya carried me into the apartment. Later I found out what they had done to our Karina. Mamma said, "Lyuda, Karina's in really serious condition, she's probably dying. If she rec¬ognizes you, don't cry, don't tell her that her face looks so awful." It was as though her whole face was paralyzed, you know, everything was pushed over to one side, her eye was all swollen, and everything flowed together, her lips, her cheeks ... It was as though they had dragged her right side around the whole microdistrict, that's how disfigured her face was. I said, "Fine." Mamma was afraid to go into the room, because she went in and hugged Karina and started to cry. I went in. As soon as I saw her my legs gave way. I fell down near the bed, hugged her legs and started kissing them and crying. She opened the eye that was intact, looked at me, and said, "Who is it?" But I could barely talk, my whole face was so badly beaten. I didn't say, but rather muttered something tender, something incomprehensi¬ble, but tender, "My Karochka, my Karina, my little golden one ..." She understood me.

Then Igor brought me some water, I drank it down and moistened Karina's lips. She started to groan. She was saying something to me, but I couldn't understand it. Then I made out, "It hurts, I hurt all over." Her hair was glued down with blood. I stroked her forehead, her head, she had grit on her forehead, and on her lips . . . She was groaning again, and I don't know how to help her. She calls me over with her hand, come closer. I go to her. She's saying something to me, but I can't understand her. Igor brings her a pencil and paper and says, "Write it down." She shakes her head as if to say, no, I can't write. I can't understand what she's saying. She wanted to tell me something, but she couldn't. I say, "Karina, just lie there a little while, then maybe you'll feel better and you can tell me then." And then she says, "Maybe it'll be too late." And I completely . . . just broke down, I couldn't control myself.

Then I moistened my hand in the water and wiped her forehead and eye. I dipped a handkerchief into the water and squeezed a little water onto her lips. She says, "Lyuda, we're not saved yet, we have to go somewhere else. Out of this damned house. They want to kill us, I know. They'll find us here, too. We need to call Urshan." She repeated this to me for almost a whole hour, until I understood her every word. I ask, "What's his number?" Urshan Feyruzovich, that's the head of the administration where she works. "We have to call him." But I didn't know his home number. I say, "Karina, what's his number?" She says, "I can't remember." I say, "Who knows his number? Who can I call?" She says, "I don't know anything, leave me alone."

I went out of the room. Igor stayed to watch over her and sat there, he was crying, too. I say, "Mamma, Karina says that we have to call Urshan. How can we call him? Who knows his telephone number?" 1 tell Marina, "Think, think, who can we call to find out?" She started calling; several peo¬ple didn't answer. She called a girlfriend, her girlfriend called another girl¬friend and found out the number and called us back. The boss's wife answered and said he was at the dacha. My voice keeps cracking, I can't talk normally. She says, "Lyuda, don't panic, get a hold of yourself, go out to those hooligans and tell them that they just can't do that." She still didn't know what was really going on. I said, "It's easy for you to say that, you don't understand what's happening. They are killing people here. I don't think there is a single Armenian left in the building, they've cut them all up. I'm even surprised that we managed to save ourselves. "She says, "Well, OK, if it's that serious ..." And all the same she's thinking that my emotions are all churned up and that I'm fearing for my life, that in fact it's not all that bad. "OK, fine, fine," she says, "if you're afraid, OK, as soon as Urshan comes back I'll send him over."

We called again because they had just started robbing the apartment directly under Aunt Tanya's, on the second floor, Asya Dallakian's apart¬ment. She wasn't home, she was staying with her daughter in Karabagh. They destroyed everything there . . . We realized that they still might come back. We kept on trying to get through to Aunt Tanya—Urshan's wife is named Tanya too—and finally we get through. She says, "Yes, he's come home, he's leaving for your place now." He came. Of course he didn't know what was happening, either, because he brought two of his daughters with him. He came over in his jeep with his two daughters, like he was going on an outing. He came and saw what shape we were in and what was going on in town and got frightened. He has grown up daughters, they're almost my age.

The three of us carried out Karina, tossed a coat on her and a warm scarf, and went down to his car. He took Karina and me to the Maternity Home. . .

No, first they took us to the police precinct. They had stretchers ready. As soon as we got out of the car they put Karina and me on stretchers and said that we were in serious condition and that we mustn't move, we might have fractures. From the stretcher I saw about 30 soldiers sitting and lying on the first floor, bandaged, on the concrete floor, groaning . . . This was around eleven o'clock at night. We had left the house somewhere around 10:30. When I saw those soldiers I realized that a war was going on: soldiers, ene¬mies ... everything just like a war.

They carried me into some office on the stretcher. The emergency medical people from Baku were there. The medical attendant there was an older Armenian. Urshan told him what they had done to Karina because she's so proud she would never have told. And this aging Armenian . . . his name was Uncle Arkady, I think, because someone said "Arkady, get an injection ready," he started to fill a syringe, and turned around so as to give Karina a shot. But when he looked at her face he became ill. And he was an old man, in his sixties, his hair was all grey, and his moustache, too. He hugged Karina and started to cry: "What have they done to you?!" He was speaking Armenian. "What have they done to you?!" Karina didn't say anything. Mamma came in then, and she started to cry, too. The man tried to calm her: "I'll give you a shot." Mamma tells him, "I don't need any shot. Where is the government? Just what are they doing? Look what they've done to my chil¬dren! They're killing people, and you're just sitting here!" Some teacups were standing on the table in there. "You're sitting here drinking tea! Look what they've done to my daughters! Look what they've turned them into!" They gave her something to drink, some heart medicine, I think. They gave Karina an injection and the doctor said that she had to be taken to the Maternity Home immediately. Papa and Urshan, I think, even though Papa was in bad shape, helped carry Karina out. When they put her on the stretcher, none of the medics got near her. I don't know, maybe there weren't any orderlies. Then they came to me: "What's the matter with you?" Their tone was so official that I wrapped myself tighter in the half-length coat. I had a blanket on, too, an orange one, Aunt Tanya's. I said, "I'm fine." Uncle Arkady came over and was soothing me, and then told the doctor, "You leave, let a woman examine her." A woman came, an Azerbaijani, I believe, and said, "What's wrong with you?" I was wearing my sister Lyuba's night¬shirt, the sister who at this time was in Yerevan. When she was nursing her infant she had cut out a big hole in it so that it would be easier to breast feed the baby. I tore the night shirt some more and showed her. I took it off my shoulders and turned my back to her. There was a huge wound, about the size of a hand, on my back, from the Indian vase. She said something to them and they gave me two shots. She said that it should be dressed with something, but that they'd do that in the hospital.

They put me on a stretcher, too. They started looking for people to carry me. I raised up my head a little and wanted to sit up, and this woman, I don't know if she was a doctor or a nurse, said, "Lie still, you mustn't move." When I was lying back down I saw two policemen leading a man. His pro¬file seemed very familiar to me. I shouted, "Stop!" One of the policemen turned and says, "What do you want?" I say, "Bring him to me, I want to look at him." They brought him over and I said, "That person was just in our apartment and he just raped me and my sister. I recognize him, note it down." They said, "Fine," but didn't write it down and led him on. I don't know where they were taking him.

Then they put my stretcher near where the injured and beaten soldiers were sitting. They went to look for the ambulance driver so he would bring the car up closer. One of the soldiers started talking to me, "Sister ..." I don't remember the conversation exactly, but he asked me were we lived and what they did to us. I asked him, "Where are you from?" He said that he was from Ufa. Apparently they were the first that were brought in. The Ufa police. Later I learned that they suffered most of all. He says, "OK, you're Armenians, they didn't get along with you, but I'm a Russian," he says, "what are they trying to kill me for?" Oh, I remembered something else. When I went out onto the balcony with Kuliyev for a hammer and nails I looked out the window and saw two Azerbaijanis beating a soldier near the kindergarten. He was pressed against the fence and he covered his head with his arms, they were beating him with his own club. The way he cried "Mamma" made my skin crawl. I don't know what they did to him, if he's still alive or not. And something else. Before the attack on our house we saw sheets, clothes, and some dishes flying from the third or fourth floor of the neighboring building, but I didn't think it was Azerbaijanis attacking Armenians. I thought that something was on fire or they were throwing something they didn't need out, or someone was fighting with someone. It was only later, when they were burning a passenger car in the yard, when the neighbors said that they were doing that to the Armenians, that I real¬ized that this was serious, that it was anti-Armenian.

They took Karina and me to the Sumgait Maternity Home. Mamma went to them too and said, "I've been beaten too, help me." But they just ignored her. My father went to them and said in a guilty voice, as though it was his fault that he'd been beaten, and says, "My ribs hurt so much, those creeps have probably broken my ribs. Please look at them." The doctor says, "That's not my job." Urshan said, "Fine, I'll take you to my place and if we need a doctor, I'll find you one. I'll bring one and have him look at you. And he drove them to his apartment.

Marina and I stayed there. They examined us. I was more struck by what the doctor said than by what those Azerbaijanis in our apartment did to us. I wasn't surprised when they beat us they wanted to beat us, but I was very surprised that in a Soviet medical facility a woman who had taken the Hippocratic Oath could talk to victims like that. By happy—or unhappy—coincidence we were seen by the doctor that had delivered our Karina. And she, having examined Karina, said, "No problem, you got off Pretty good. Not like they did in Kafan, when you Armenians were killing and raping our women." Karina was in such terrible condition that she couldn't say anything—she would certainly have had something to say! Then they examined me. The same story. They put us in a separate ward. No shots, no medicinal powders, no drugs. Absolutely none! They didn't even give us tea. All the women there soon found out that in ward such and such were Armenians who had been raped. And they started coming and peering through the keyhole, the way people look at zoo animals. Karina didn't see this, she was lying there, and I kept her from seeing it.

They put Ira B. in our ward. She had also been raped. True, she didn't have any serious bodily injuries, but when she told me what had happened at their place, I felt worse for them than I did for us. Because when they raped Ira her daughter was in the room, she was under the bed on which it happened. And Ira was holding her daughter's hand, the one who was hid¬ing under the bed. When they were beating Ira or taking her earrings off, gold, when she involuntarily let go of her daughter's hand, her daughter took her hand again. Her daughter is in the fourth grade, she's 11 years old. I felt really awful when I heard that. Ira asked them not to harm her daughter, she said, "Do what you want with me, just leave my daughter alone." Well, they did what they wanted. They threatened to kill her daughter if she got in their way. Now I would be surprised if the criminals had behaved any other way that night. It was simply Bartholomew's Night, I say, they did what they would love to do every day: steal, kill, rape . . .

Many are surprised that those animals didn't harm the children. The beasts explained it like this: this would be repeated in 15 to 20 years, and those children would be grown, and then, as they put it, "we'll come take the pleasure out of their lives, those children." This was about the girls that would be young women in 15 years. They were thinking about their tomor¬row because they were sure that there would be no trial and no investiga¬tion, just as there was no trial or investigation in 1915, and that those girls could be of some use in 15 years. This I heard from the investigators; one of the victims testified to it. That's how they described their own natures, that they would still be bloodthirsty in 15 to 20 years, and in 100 years—they themselves said that.

And this, too. Everyone is surprised that they didn't harm our Marina. Many people say that they either were drunk or had smoked too much. I don't know why their eyes were red. Maybe because they hadn't slept the night before, maybe for some other reason, I don't know. But they hadn't been smoking and they weren't drunk, I'm positive, because someone who has smoked will stop at nothing he has the urge to do. And they spoke in a cultured fashion with Marina: "Little sister, don't be afraid, we won't harm you, don't look over there [where I was], you might be frightened. You're a Muslim, a Muslim woman shouldn't see such things." So they were really quite sober .. .

So we came out of that story alive. But every day we have lived since it all happened bears the mark of that day. It wasn't even a day, of those sever¬al hours. Father still can't look us in the eyes. He still feels guilty for what happened to Karina, Mother, and me. Because of his nerves he's started talk¬ing to himself, I've heard him argue with himself several times when he thought no one is listening: "Listen," he'll say, "what could I do? What could I do alone, how could I protect them?" I don't know where to find the words, it's not that I'm happy, but I am glad that he didn't see it all happen. That's the only thing they spared us ... or maybe it happened by chance. Of course he knows it all, but there's no way you could imagine every last detail of what happened. And there were so many conversations: Karina and I spoke together in private, and we talked with Mamma, too. But Father was never present at those conversations. We spare him that, if you can say that. And when the investigator comes to the house, we don't speak with Father pre¬sent.

On February 29, the next day, Karina and I were discharged from the hos¬pital. First they released me, but since martial law had been declared in the city, the soldiers took me to the police precinct in an armored personnel car¬rier. There were many people there, Armenian victims. I met the Tovmasian family there. From them I learned that Rafik and their Uncle Grant had died. They were sure that both had died. They were talking to me and Raya, Rafik's wife and Grant's daughter, and her mother, were both crying.

Then they took us all out of the office on the first floor into the yard. There's a little one-room house outside there, a recreation and reading area. They took us in there. The women were afraid to go because they thought that they were shooing us out of the police precinct because it had become so dangerous that even the people working at the precinct wanted to hide. The women were shouting. They explained to them: "We want to hide you better because it's possible there will be an attack on the police precinct."

We went into the little house. There were no chairs or tables in there. We had children with us and they were hungry; we even had infants who need¬ed to have their diapers changed. No one had anything with them. It was just awful. They kept us there for 24 hours. From the window of the one-room house you could see that there were Azerbaijanis standing on the fences around the police precinct, as though they were spying on us. The police precinct is surrounded by a wall, like a fence, and it's electrified, but if they were standing on the wall, it means the electricity was shut off. This brought great psychological pressure to bear on us, particularly on those who hadn't just walked out of their apartments, but who hadn't slept for 24 hours, or 48, or those who had suffered physically and spiritually, the ones who had lost family members. For us it was another ordeal. We were espe¬cially frightened when all the precinct employees suddenly disappeared. We couldn't see a single person, not in the courtyard and not in the windows. We thought that they must have already been hiding under the building, that they must have some secret room down there. People were panicking: they started throwing themselves at one another . . . That's the way it is on a sinking ship. We heard those people, mainly young people, whistling and whooping on the walls. We felt that the end was approaching. I was com¬pletely terrified: I had left Karina in the hospital and didn't know where my parents were. I was sort of calm about my parents, I was thinking only about Karina, if, Heaven forbid, they should attack the hospital, they would imme¬diately tell them that there was an Armenian in there, and something terri¬ble would happen to Karina again, and she wouldn't be able to take it.

Then soldiers with dogs appeared. When they saw the dogs some of the people climbed down off the fence. Then they brought in about another 30 soldiers. They all had machine guns in readiness, their fingers on the trig¬gers. We calmed down a little. They brought us chairs and brought the chil¬dren some little cots and showed us where we could wash our hands, and took the children to the toilet. But we all sat there hungry, but to be honest, it would never have occurred to any of us that we hadn't eaten for two days and that people do eat.

Then, closer to nightfall, they brought a group of detained criminals. They were being watched by soldiers with guard dogs. One of the men came back from the courtyard and told us about it. Raya Tovmasian ... it was like a different woman had been substituted. Earlier she had been crying, wail¬ing, and calling out: "Oh, Rafik!," but when she heard about this such a rage came over her! She jumped up, she had a coat on, and she started to roll up her sleeves like she was getting ready to beat someone. And suddenly there were soldiers, and dogs, and lots of people. She ran over to them. The ban¬dits were standing there with their hands above their heads facing the wall. She went up to one of them and grabbed him by the collar and started to shake and thrash him! Then, on to a second, and a third. Everyone was root¬ed to the spot. Not one of the soldiers moved, no one went up to her or made her stop her from doing it. And the bandits fell down and covered their heads with their hands, muttering something. She came back and sat down, and something akin to a smile appeared on her face. She became so quiet: no tears, no cries. Then that round was over and she went back to beat them again. She was walking and cursing terribly: take that, and that, they killed my husband, the bastards, the creeps, and so on. Then she came back again and sat down. She probably did this the whole night through, well, it wasn't really night, no one slept. She went five or six times and beat them and returned. And she told the women, "What are you sitting there for? They killed your husbands and children, they raped, and you're just sitting there. You're sitting and talking as though nothing had happened. Aren't you Armenians?" She appealed to everyone, but no one got up. I was just numb, I didn't have the strength to beat anyone, I could barely hold myself up, all the more so since I had been standing for so many hours—I was released at eleven o'clock in the morning and it was already after ten at night—because there weren't enough chairs, really it was the elderly and women with children who sat. I was on my feet the whole time. There was nothing to breathe, the door was closed, and the men were smoking. The sit¬uation was deplorable.

At eleven o'clock at night policemen came for us, local policemen, Azerbaijanis. They said, "Get up. They've brought mattresses, you can wash up and put the children to bed." Now the women didn't want to leave this place, either. The place had become like home, it was safe, there were sol¬diers with dogs. If anyone went outside, the soldiers would say, "Oh, it's our little family," and things like that. The soldiers felt this love, and probably, for the first time in their lives perceived themselves as defenders. Everyone spoke from the heart, cried, and hugged them, and they, with their loaded machine guns in their hands, said, "Grandmother, you mustn't approach me, I'm on guard." Our people would say, "Oh, that's all right." They hugged them, one woman even kissed one of the machine guns. This was all terribly moving for me. And the small children kept wanting to pet the dogs.

They took us up to the second floor and said, "You can undress and sleep in here. Don't be afraid, the precinct is on guard, and it's quiet in the city." This was the 29th, when the killing was going on in Block 41A and in other places. Then we were told that all the Armenians were being gathered at the SK club and at the City Party Committee. They took us there. On the way I asked them to stop at the Maternity Home: I wanted to take Karina with me. I didn't know what was happening there. They told me, "Don't worry, the Maternity Home is full of soldiers, more than mothers-to-be. So you can rest assured. I say, "Well, I won't rest assured regardless, because the staff in there is capable of anything."

When I arrived at the City Party Committee it turned out that Karina had already been brought there. They had seen fit to release her from the hospi¬tal, deciding that she felt fine and was no longer in need of any care. Once we were in the City Party Committee we gave free reign to our tears. We met acquaintances, but everyone was somehow divided into two groups, those who hadn't been injured, who were clothed, who had brought a pot of food with them, and so on, and those, like me, like Raya, who were wearing whatever had come their way. There were even people who were all made up, dolled up like they had come from a wedding. There were people with¬out shoes, naked people, hungry people, those who were crying, and those who had lost someone. And of course the stories and the talk were flying: "Oh, I heard that they killed him!" "What do you mean they killed him!" "He stayed at work!" "Do you know what's happening at this and such a plant?" Talk like that.

And then I met Aleksandr Mikhailovich Gukasian, the teacher. I know him very well and respect him highly. I've known him for a long time. They had a small room, well really it was more like a study-room. We spent a whole night talking in that study once. On March 1 we heard that Bagirov [First Secretary of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan SSR] had arrived. Everyone ran to see Bagirov, what news he had brought with him and how this was all being viewed from outside. He arrived and everyone went up to him to talk to him and ask him things. Everyone was in a tremendous rage. But he was protected by soldiers, and he went up to the second floor and didn't deign to speak with the people. Apparently he had more important things to do.

Several hours passed. Gukasian called me and says, "Lyudochka, find another two or three. We're going to make up lists, they asked for them upstairs, lists of the dead, those whose whereabouts are unknown, and lists of people who had pogroms of their apartments and of those whose cars Were burned." I had about 50 people in my list when they called me and said, "Lyuda, your Mamma has arrived, she's looking for you, she doesn't believe that you are alive and well and that you're here." I gave the lists to someone and asked them to continue what I was doing and went off.

The list was imprecise, of course. It included Grant Adamian, Raya Tovmasian's father, who was alive, but at the time they thought him dead. There was Engels Grigorian's father and aunt, Cherkez and Maria. The list also included the name of my girlfriend and neighbor, Zhanna Agabekian. One of the guys said that he had been told that they chopped her head off in the courtyard in front of the Kosmos movie theater. We put her on the list too, and cried, but later it turned out that that was just a rumor, that in fact an hour earlier she had somehow left Sumgait for the marina and from there had set sail for Krasnovodsk, where, thank God, she was alive and well. I should also say that in addition to those who died that list contained people who were rumored missing or who were so badly wounded that they were given up for dead.

to be continued...


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continuation of LYUDMILA GRIGOREVNA M. witness:

All the lists were taken to Bagirov. I don't remember how many dead were contained in the list, but it's a fact that when Gukasian came in a couple of minutes later he was cursing and was terribly irate. I asked, "What's going on?" He said, "Lyuda, can you imagine what animals, what scoundrels they are! They say that they lost the list of the dead. Piotr Demichev has just arrived, and we were supposed to submit the list to him, so that he'd see the scope of the slaughter, of the tragedy, whether it was one or fifty." They told him that the list had disappeared and they should ask everyone who hadn't left for the Khimik boarding house all over again. There were 26 people on our second list. I think that the number 26 was the one that got into the press and onto television and the radio, because that's the list that Demichev got. I remember exactly that there were 26 people on the list, I had even told Aleksandr Mikhailovich that that was only a half of those that were on the first list. He said, "Lyuda, please, try to remember at least one more." But I couldn't remember anyone else. But there were more than 30 dead. Of that I am certain. The government and the Procuracy don't count the people who died of fright, like sick people and old people whose lives are threatened by any shock. They weren't registered as victims of the Sumgait tragedy. And then there may be people we didn't know. So many people left Sumgait between March 1 and 8! Most of them left for smaller towns in Russia, and especially to the Northern Caucasus, to Stavropol, and the Krasnodarsk Territory. We don't have any information on them. I know that there are people who set out for parts around Moscow. In the periodical Krestyanka [Woman Farmer] there was a call for people who know how to milk cows, and for mechanics, and drivers, and I know a whole group of people went to help out. Also clearly not on our list are those people who died entering the city, who were burned in their cars. No one knows about them, except the Azerbaijanis, who are hardly likely to say anything about it. And there's more. A great many of the people who were raped were not included in the list drawn up at the Procuracy. I know of three instances for sure, and I of course don't know them all. I'm thinking of three women whose parents chose not to publicize what had happened, that is they didn't take the matter to court, they simply left. But in so doing they didn't cease being victims. One of them is the first cousin of my classmate Kocharian. She lived in Microdistrict No. 8, on the fifth floor. I can't tell you the building number and I don't know her name. Then comes the neighbor of one of my relatives, she lived in Microdistrict 1 near the gift shop. I don't know her name, she lives on the same landing as the Sumgait procurator. They beat her father, he was holding the door while his daughter hid, but he couldn't hold the door forever, and when she climbed over the balcony to the neighbors' they seized her by her braid. Like the Azerbaijanis were say¬ing, it was a very cultured mob, because they didn't kill anyone, they only raped them and left. And the third one ... I don't remember who the third one was anymore.

They transferred us on March 1. Karina still wasn't herself. Yes, we lived for days in the SK, in the cultural facility, and at the Khimik. They lived there and I lived at the City Party Committee because I couldn't stay with Karina; it was too difficult for me, but I was at peace: she had survived. I could already walk, but really it was honest words that held me up. Thanks to the social work I did there, I managed to persevere. Aleksandr Mikhailovich said, "If it weren't for the work I would go insane." He and I put ourselves in gear and took everything upon ourselves: someone had an infant and needed diapers and free food, and we went to get them. The first days we bought everything, although we should have received it for free. They were supposed to have been dispensed free of charge, and they sold it to us. Then, when we found out it was free, we went to Krayev. At the time, fortunately, you could still drop by to see him like a neighbor, all the more so since everything was still clearly visible on our faces. Krayev sent a captain down and he resolved the issue.

On March 2 they sent two investigators to see us: Andrei Shirokov and Vladimir Fedorovich Bibishev. The way it worked out, in our family they had considered only Karina and me victims, maybe because she and I wound up in the hospital. Mother and Father are considered witnesses, but not victims.

Shirokov was involved with Karina's case, and Bibishev, with mine. After I told him everything, he and I planned to sit down with the identikit and record everyone I could remember while everything was still fresh in my mind. We didn't work with the identikit until the very last day because the conditions weren't there. The investigative group worked slowly and did poor quality work solely because the situation wasn't conducive to working: there weren't enough automobiles, especially during the time when there was a curfew, and there were no typewriters for typing transcripts, and no still or video cameras. I think that this was done on purpose. We're not so poor that we can't supply our investigators with all that stuff. It was done especially to draw out the investigation, all the more so since the local authorities saw that the Armenians were leaving at the speed of light, never to return to Sumgait. And the Armenians had a lot to say. I came to an agreement with Bibishev, I told him myself, "Don't you worry, if it takes us a month or two months, I'll be here. I'm not afraid, I looked death in the eyes five times in those two days, I'll help you conduct the investigation."

He and I worked together a great deal, and I used this to shelter Karina, I gave them so much to do that for a while they didn't have the time to get to her, so that she would at least have a week or two to get back to being her¬self. She was having difficulty breathing so we looked for a doctor to take x-rays. She couldn't eat or drink for nine days, she was nauseous. I didn't eat and drank virtually nothing for five days. Then, on the fifth day, when we were in Baku already, the investigator told me, "How long can you go on like this? Well fine, so you don't want to eat, you don't love yourself, you're not taking care of yourself, but you gave your word that you would see this investigation through. We need you." Then I started eating, because in fact I was exhausted. It wasn't enough that I kept seeing those faces in our apart¬ment in my mind, every day I went to the investigative solitary confinement cells and prisons. I don't know . . . we were just everywhere! Probably in every prison in the city of Baku and in all the solitary confinement cells of Sumgait. At that time they had even turned the drunk tank into solitary con¬finement.

Thus far I have identified 31 of the people who were in our apartment. Mamma identified three, and Karina, two. The total is 36. Marina didn't identify anyone, she remembers the faces of two or three, but they weren't among the photographs of those detained. I told of the neighbor I recog¬nized. The one who went after the axe. He still hasn't been detained, he's still on the loose. He's gone, and it's not clear if he will be found or not. I don't know his first or last name. I know which building he lived in and I know his sisters' faces. But he's not in the city. The investigators informed me that even if the investigation is closed and even if the trial is over they will continue looking for him.

The 31 people I identified are largely blue-collar workers from various plants, without education, and of the very lowest level in every respect. Mostly their ages range from 20 to 30 years; there was one who was 48. Only one of them was a student. He was attending the Azerbaijan Petroleum and Chemical Institute in Sumgait, his mother kept trying to bribe the investiga¬tor. Once, thinking that I was an employee and not a victim, she said in front of me, "I'll set you up a restaurant worth 500 rubles and give you 600 in cash simply for keeping him out of Armenia," that is, to keep him from landing in a prison on Armenian soil. They're all terribly afraid of that, because if the investigator is talking with a criminal and the criminal doesn't confess even though we identified him, they tell him—in order to apply psychological pressure—they say, "Fine, don't confess, just keep silent. When you're in an Armenian prison, when they find out who you are, they'll take care of you in short order." That somehow gets to them. Many give in and start to talk.

The investigators and I were in our apartment and videotaped the entire pogrom of our apartment, as an investigative experiment. It was only then that I saw the way they had left our apartment. Even without knowing who was in our apartment, you could guess. They stole, for example, all the mon-ey and all the valuables, but didn't take a single book. They tore them up, burned them, poured water on them, and hacked them with axes. Only the Materials from the 27th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans. Oh yes, lunch was ready, we were boiling a chicken, and there were lemons for tea on the table. After they had been in our apartment, both the chicken and the lemons were gone. That's enough to tell you what kind of people were in our apartment, people who don't even know anything about books. They didn't take a single book, but they did take worn clothing, food, and even the cheapest of the cheap, worn-out slippers.

Of those whom I identified, four were Kafan Azerbaijanis living in Sumgait. Basically, the group that went seeking "revenge"—let's use their word for it—was joined by people seeking easy gain and thrill-seekers. I talked with one of them. He had gray eyes, and somehow against the back¬drop of all that black I remembered him specifically because of his eyes. Besides taking part in the pogrom of our apartment, he was also involved in the murder of Tamara Mekhtiyeva from Building 16. She was an older Armenian who had recently arrived from Georgia, she lived alone and did not have anyone in Sumgait. I don't know why she had a last name like that, maybe she was married to an Azerbaijani. I had laid eyes on this woman only once or twice, and know nothing about her. I do know that they mur¬dered her in her apartment with an axe. Murdering her wasn't enough for them. They hacked her into pieces and threw them into the tub with water.

I remember another guy really well too, he was also rather fair-skinned. You know, all the people who were in our apartment were darker than dark, both their hair and their skin. And in contrast with them, in addition to the gray-eyed one, I remember this one fellow, the one I took to be a Lezgin. I identified him. As it turned out he was Eduard Robertovich Grigorian, born in the city of Sumgait, and he had been convicted twice. One of our own. How did I remember him? The name Rita was tattooed on his left or right hand. I kept thinking, is that Rita or "puma," which it would be if you read the word as Latin characters instead of Cyrillic, because the Cyrillic "T" was the one that looks like a Latin "M." When they led him in he sat with his hands behind his back. This was at the confrontation. He swore on every holy book, tried to put in an Armenian word here and there to try and spark my compassion, and told me that I was making a mistake, and called me "dear sister." He said, "You're wrong, how could I, an Armenian, raise my hand against my own, an Armenian," and so on. He spoke so convincingly that even the investigator asked me, "Lyuda, are you sure it was he?" I told him, "I'll tell you one more identifying mark. If I'm wrong I shall apologize and say I was mistaken. The name Rita is tattooed on his left or right hand." He went rigid and became pale. They told him, "Put your hands on the table." He put his hands on the table with the palms up. I said, "Now turn your hands over," but he didn't turn his hands over. Now this infuriated me. If he had from the very start acknowledged his guilt and said that he hadn't wanted to do it, that they forced him or something else, I would have treat¬ed him somewhat differently. But he insolently stuck to his story, "No, I did not do anything, it wasn't me." When they turned his hands over the name Rita was in fact tattooed on his hand. His face distorted and he whispered something wicked. I immediately flew into a rage. There was an ashtray on the table, a really heavy one, made out of granite or something, very large, and it had ashes and butts in it. Catching myself quite by surprise, I hurled that ashtray at him. But he ducked and the ashtray hit the wall, and ashes and butts rained down on his head and back. And he smiled. When he smiled it provoked me further. I don't know how, but I jumped over the table between us and started either pounding him or strangling him; I no longer remember which. When I jumped I caught the microphone cord. The investigator was there, Tolya ... I no longer recall his last name, and he says, "Lyudochka, it's a Japanese microphone! Please ..." And shut off all the equipment on the spot, it was all being video taped. They took him away. I stayed, and they talked to me a little to calm me down, because we needed to go on working, I only remember Tolya telling me, "You're some actress! What a performance!" I said, "Tolya, honestly ..." Beforehand they would always tell me, "Lyuda, more emotion. You speak as calmly as if nothing had happened to you." I say, "I don't have any more strength or emotion. All my emotions are behind me now, 1 no longer have the strength ... I don't have the strength to do anything." And he says, "Lyuda, how were you able to do that?" And when I returned to normal, drinking tea and watching the tape, I said, "Can I really have jumped over that table? I never jumped that high in gym class."

So you could say the gang that took over our apartment was internation¬al. Of the 36 we identified there was an Armenian, a Russian, Vadim Vorobyev, who beat Mamma, and 34 Azerbaijanis.

At the second meeting with Grigorian, when he had completely con¬fessed his guilt, he told of how on February 27 the Azerbaijanis had come knocking. Among them were guys—if you can call them guys—he knew from prison. They said, "Tomorrow we're going after the Armenians. Meet us at the bus station at three o'clock." He said, "No, I'm not coming." They told him, "If you don't come we'll kill you." He said, "Alright, I'll come." And he went.

They also went to visit my classmate from our microdistrict, Kamo Pogosian. He had also been in prison; I think that together they had either stolen a motorcycle or dismantled one to get some parts they needed. They called him out of his apartment and told him the same thing: "Tomorrow we're going to get the Armenians. Be there." He said, "No." They-pulled a knife on him. He said, "I'm not going all the same." And in the courtyard on the 27th they stabbed him several times, in the stomach. He was taken to the hospital. I know he was in the hospital in Baku, in the Republic hospital. If we had known about that we would have had some idea of what was to come on the 28th.

I'll return to Grigorian, what he did in our apartment. I remember that he beat me along with all the rest. He spoke Azerbaijani extremely well. But he was very fair-skinned, maybe that led me to think that they had it out for him, too. But later it was proved that he took part in the beating and burning of Shagen Sargisian. I don't know if he participated in the rapes in our apart¬ment; I didn't see, I don't remember. But the people who were in our apart¬ment who didn't yet know that he was an Armenian said that he did. I don't know if he confessed or not, and I myself don't recall because I blacked out very often. But I think that he didn't participate in the rape of Karina because he was in the apartment the whole time. When they carried her into the courtyard, he remained in the apartment.

At one point I was talking with an acquaintance about Edik Grigorian. From her I learned that his wife was a dressmaker, his mother is Russian, he doesn't have a father, and that he's been convicted twice. Well this will be his third and, I hope, last sentence. He beat his wife, she was eternally coming to work with bruises. His wife was an Armenian by the name of Rita.

The others who were detained . . . well they're little beasts. You really can't call them beasts, they're just little beasts. They were robots carrying out someone else's will, because at the investigation they all said, "I don't under¬stand how I could have done that, I was out of my head." But we know that they were won around to it and prepared for it, that's why they did it. In the name of Allah, in the name of the Koran, in the name of propagating Islam—that's holy to them—that's why they did everything they were com¬manded to do. Because I saw they didn't have minds of their own, I'm not talking about their level of cultural sophistication or any higher values. No education, they work, have a slew of children without the means to raise them properly, they crowd them in, like at the temporary housing, and apparently, they were promised that if they slaughtered the Armenians they would receive apartments. So off they went. Many of them explained their participation saying, "they promised us apartments."

Among them was one who genuinely repented. I am sure that he repent¬ed from the heart and that he just despised himself after the incident. He worked at a children's home, an Azerbaijani, he has two children, and his wife works at the children's home too. Everything that they acquired, every¬thing that they have they earned by their own labor, and wasn't inherited from parents or grandparents. And he said, "I didn't need anything, I just don't know . . . how I ended up in that; it was like some hand was guiding We. I had no will of my own, I had no strength, no masculine dignity, noth-ing." And the whole time I kept repeating, "Now you imagine that someone did the same to your young wife right before your own eyes." He sat there and just wailed.

But that leader in the Eskimo dogskin coat was not detained. He per¬formed a marvelous disappearing act, but I think that they'll get onto him, they just have to work a little, because that Vadim, that boy, according to his grandfather, is in touch with the young person who taught him what to do, how to cover his tracks. He was constantly exchanging jackets with other boys he knew and those he didn't, either, and other things as well, and changed himself like a chameleon so they wouldn't get onto him, but he was detained.

That one in the Eskimo dogskin coat was at the Gambarians' after Aleksandr Gambarian was murdered. He came in and said, "Let's go, enough, you've spilled enough blood here."

Maybe Karina doesn't know this but the reason they didn't finish her off was that they were hoping to take her home with them. I heard this from Aunt Tanya and her sons, the Kasumovs, who were in the courtyard near the entryway. They liked her very much, and they had decided to take her to home with them. When Karina came to at one point—she doesn't remember this yet, this the neighbors told me—and she saw that there was no one around her, she started crawling to the entryway. They saw that she was still alive and came back, they were already at the third entryway, on their way to the Gambarians'. They came back and started beating her to finish her. If she had not come to she would have sustained lesser bodily injuries, they would have beat her less. An older woman from our building, Aunt Nazan, an Azerbaijani, all but lay on top of Karina, crying and pleading that they leave her alone, but they flung her off. The woman's grown sons were right nearby; they picked her up in their hands and led her home. She howled and cried out loudly and swore: God is on Earth, he sees everything, and He won't forgive this.

There was another woman, too, Aunt Fatima, a sick, aging woman from the first floor, she's already retired. Mountain dwellers, and Azerbaijanis, too, have a custom: If men are fighting, they throw a scarf under their feet to stop them. But they trampled her scarf and sent her home. To trample a scarf is tantamount to trampling a woman's honor.

Now that the investigation is going on, now that a lot is behind us and we have gotten back to being ourselves a little, I think about how could these events that are now called the Sumgait tragedy happen? How did they come about? How did it start? Could it have been avoided? Well, it's clear that without a signal, without permission from the top leadership, it would not have happened. All the same, I'm not afraid to say this, the Azerbaijanis, let other worthy people take no offense, the better representatives of their nations, let them take no offense, but the Azerbaijanis in their majority are a people who are kept in line only by fear of the law, fear of retribution for what they have done. And when the law said that they could do all that, like unleashed dogs who were afraid they wouldn't have time to do everything, they threw themselves from one thing to the next so as to be able to get more done, to snatch a bit more. The smell of the danger was already in the air on February 27. You could tell that something was going to happen. And every¬one who had figured it out took steps to avoid running into those gangs. Many left for their dachas, got plane tickets for the other end of the country, just got as far away as their legs would carry them.

February 27 was a Saturday. I was teaching my third class. The director came into my classroom and said that I should let the children out, that there had been a call from the City Party Committee asking that all teachers gather for a meeting at Lenin Square. Well, I excused the children, and there were few teachers left at school, altogether three women, the director, and six or seven men. The rest had already gone home. We got to Lenin Square and there were a great many people there. This was around five-thirty or six jn the evening, no later. They were saying all kinds of rubbish up on the podium and the crowd below was supporting them stormily, roaring. They spoke over the microphone about what had happened in Kafan a few days earlier and that the driver of a bus going to some district had recently thrown a small Azerbaijani child off the bus. The speaker affirmed that he was an eyewitness, that he had seen it himself.. The crowd started to rage: "Death to the Armenians! They must be killed!" Then a woman went up on stage. I didn't see the woman because people were clinging to the podium like flies. I could only hear her. The woman introduced herself as coming from Kafan, and said that the Armenians cut her daughters' breasts off, and called, "Sons, avenge my daughters!" That was enough. A portion of the people on the square took off running in the direction of the factories, toward the beginning of Lenin Street.

We stood there about an hour. Then the director of School 25 spoke, he gave a very nationalist speech. He said, "Brother Muslims, kill the Armenians!" This he repeated every other sentence. When he said this the crowd supported him stormily, whistling and shouting "Karabagh!" He said, "Karabagh has been our territory my whole life long, Karabagh is my soul. How can you tear out my heart?" As though an Azerbaijani would die with¬out Karabagh. "It's our territory, the Armenians will never see it. The Armenians must be eliminated. From time immemorial Muslims have cleansed the land of infidel Armenians, from time immemorial, that's the way nature created it, that every 20 to 30 years the Azerbaijanis should cleanse the land of filth." By filth he meant Armenians.

I heard this. Before that I hadn't been listening to the speeches closely. Many people spoke and I stood with my back to the podium, talking shop with the other teachers, and somehow it all went right by, it didn't penetrate, that in fact something serious was taking place. Then, when one of our teachers said, "Listen to what he's saying, listen to what idiocy he's spout-ing," we listened. That was the speech of that director. Before that we lis¬tened to the woman's speech.

Right then in our group—there were nine of us—the mood changed, and the subject of conversation and all school matters were forgotten. Our direc¬tor of studies, for whom I had great respect, he's an Azerbaijani . . . Before that I had considered him an upstanding and worthy person, if there was a need to obtain leave we had asked him, he seemed like a good person. So he tells me, "Lyuda, you know that besides you there are no Armenians on the square? If they find out that you're an Armenian they'll tear you to pieces. Should I tell them you're an Armenian? Should I tell them you're an Armenian?" When he said it the first time I pretended not to hear it, and then he asked me a second time. I turned to the director, Khudurova, and said that it was already after eight, I was expected at home, and I should be leaving. She answered, "No, they said that women should stay here until ten o'clock, and men, until twelve. Stay here." There was a young teacher with us, her children were in kindergarten and her husband worked shifts. She asked to leave: "I left my children at the kindergarten." The director excused her. When she let her go I turned around, said, "Good-bye," and left with the young teacher, the Azerbaijani. I didn't see them after that.

When we were walking the buses weren't running, and a crowd from the rally ran nearby us. They had apparently gotten all fired up. It must have become too much for them, and they wanted to seek vengeance immediate¬ly, so they rushed off. I wasn't afraid this time because I was sure that the other teacher wouldn't say that I was an Armenian.

To make it short, we reached home. Then Karina told of how she had been at the movies and what had happened there. I started telling of my experience and again my parents didn't understand that we were in danger. We watched television as usual, and didn't even imagine that tomorrow would be our last day. That's how it all was.

At the City Party Committee I met an acquaintance, we went to school together, Zhanna, I don't remember her last name, she lives above the house-wares store on Narimanov Street. She was there with her father, for some reason she doesn't have a mother. The two of them were at home alone. While her father held the door she jumped from the third floor, and she was lucky that the ground was wet and that there wasn't anyone behind the building when she went out on the balcony, there was no one there, they were all standing near the entryway. That building was also a lucky one in that there were no murders there. She jumped. She jumped and didn't feel any pain in the heat of the moment. A few days later I found out that she couldn't stand up, she had been injured somehow. That's how people in Sumgait saved their lives, their honor, and their children: any way they could.

Where it was possible, the Armenians fought back. My father's first cousin, Armen M., lives in Block 30. They found out by phone from one of the victims what was going on in town. The Armenians in that building all called one another immediately and all of them armed themselves with axes, knives, even with muskets and went up to the roof. They took their infants with them, and their old women who had been in bed for God knows how many months, they got them right out of their beds and took everyone upstairs. They hooked electricity up to the trap door to the roof and waited, ready to fight. Then they took the daughter of the school board director hostage, she's an Azerbaijani who lived in their building. They called the school board director and told her that if she didn't help them, the 17 Armenians on the roof, to escape alive and unharmed, she'd never see her daughter again. I'm sure, of course, that Armenians would never lay a hand on a woman, it was just the only thing that could have saved them at the time. She called the police. The Armenians made a deal with the local police to go into town. Two armored personnel carriers and soldiers were sum¬moned. They surrounded the entryway and led everyone down from the roof, and off to the side from the armored personnel carriers was a crowd that was on its way to the building at that very moment, into Block 30. That's how they defended themselves.

I heard that our neighbors, Roman and Sasha Gambarian, resisted. They're big, strong guys. Their father was killed. And I heard that the broth¬ers put up a strong defense and lost their father, but were able to save their mother.

One of the neighbors told me that after it happened, when they were looking for the criminals on March 1 to 2 and detaining everyone they sus¬pected, people hid people in our entryway, maybe people who were injured or perhaps dead. The neighbors themselves were afraid to go there, and when they went with the soldiers into our basement they are supposed to have found Azerbaijani corpses. I don't know how many. Even if they had been wounded and put down there, after two days they would have died from loss of blood or infection—that basement was filled with water. I heard this from the neighbors. And later when I was talking with the investigators the subject came up and they confirmed it. I know, too, that for several hours the basement was used to store objects stolen from our apartment. And our neighbor carried out our carpet, along with the rest: he stole it for himself, posing as one of the criminals. Everyone was taking his own share, and the neighbor took his, too, and carried it home. And when we came back, when everything seemed to have calmed down, he returned it, saying that it was the only thing of ours he had managed to "save."

Raya's husband and father defended themselves. The Trdatovs defended themselves, and so did other Armenian families. To be sure there were Azerbaijani victims, although we'll never hear anything about them. For some reason our government doesn't want to say that the Armenians were not just victims, but that they defended the honor of their sisters and moth¬ers, too. In the TV show "Pozitsiya" [Viewpoint] a military man, an officer, said that the Armenians did virtually nothing to defend themselves. But that's not important, the truth will come out regardless.

So that's the price we paid those three days. For three days our courage, our bravery, and our humanity was tested. It was those three days, and not the years and dozens of years we had lived before them, that showed what we've become, what we grew up to be. Those three days showed who was who.

On that I will conclude my narrative on the Sumgait tragedy. It should be said that it's not over yet, the trials are still ahead of us, and the punishments received by those who so violated us, who wanted to make us into nonhu-mians, will depend on our position and on the work of the investigators, the Procuracy, and literally of every person who lent his hand to the investiga¬tion. That's the price we paid to live in Armenia, to not fear going out on the street at night, to not be afraid to say we're Armenians, and to not fear speaking our native tongue.

October 15, 1988 Yerevan


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We've lived in Sumgait since 1954. We raised three sons. My husband, Aleksandr Gambarian, worked up until retirement in Trust No. 2 as a mechanization specialist, he was a musician, too, and I worked in a kindergarten. In all those years, from 1954 to 1988, we didn't see anything bad. The people were good and the city was young, it was built by Armenians, Russians, and Azerbaijanis, working as brothers, they built it together. After all those days of good I don't want to say that the people of Sumgait are bad people. That I won't say. But I will always hold those who organized it responsible. We were brothers with the Azerbaijani people. There were many Azerbaijanis among the guests in my house and among my husband's friends. Let everyone hear it, and know that Shura Gambarian, the musician, brought happiness into all homes, always and everywhere. Weddings, birthdays—he was always there, made everyone happy, and was kind to all. The Azerbaijanis know it, the Russians know it, and the Armenians know it.

Then that day came: February 28, 1988. A day I don't even want to remember, such a hard day. We had the day off. We ate lunch and sat down to watch television. And suddenly there was a crowd on the street, a lot of people. Before that day my son Sasha had told me that they were stopping cars on the street, looking for Armenians, and breaking glass. We didn't pay all that much attention to it, we thought, they're people . . . how can that be possible? We didn't think that after 70 years, when our Soviet Union, our people, and our Party are helping the poor, in Afghanistan and other states, suddenly, during peacetime in our Sumgait and in our apartment there would be such a tragic day.

First the crowd was at the Kosmos movie theater, and then came closer and closer ... to our home. They asked someone, "Who's motorcycle is that?" They found out it belonged to an Armenian and burned it. A crowd of 500 or 600 people all gathered around the burning motorcycle. In their language they were all screaming, "Armenians, come out, we're going to roast you in the fire!" And it wasn't one or two people doing the yelling, it was all of them, the whole crowd. But then, we didn't imagine that it could happen and suddenly—the whole mob started up our entryway.

We closed the windows and the balcony. They came to our door. They had crowbars, weapons, they had everything with them, everything! They were ready to wreck, and kill, and destroy. They started breaking the door with a crowbar: "Open up, we know that there are four of you in there, open up you Armenians! We're going to kill you, come out of there!" And the four of us held the door on the inside: my husband and I and our two sons. We had an axe and some hammers in our apartment. And we held them off, we held the door for half an hour. No one helped us. No one. They broke both of the locks, they put a huge hole in the door. My husband stood in front. They hit my husband with the crowbar. On the head. But he stood true. And after that he helped us. He brought us skewers. He gave them to our sons so they could use them to fend them off: "Don't let them in the house!" And I made out one of them through the hole in the door. I asked him, "What do you want, do you want gold or money, stop—I'll give you everything. Don't kill us!" And then they hit me with the crowbar right in the face . . . My eyes ... It was as though I went blind. They hadn't even broken down the door yet and had managed to hit my husband and me in the doorway. Then my son Sasha tore the crowbar out of their hands. We kept it in our apartment—it was over six feet long. Now they have it at the Procuracy, that crowbar. They want to catch the murderer by his fingerprints.

I started screaming. They tore off the front door. It fell down and covered the entrance to the two rooms where we had gone, almost as though it was supposed to close the rooms off, and they ran into the main room and started to chop, and break, and throw out everything that was in there.

Then one man came in. I started to shout at him, "Help, help, help us! Help, they've killed my husband!" My husband's nose was bleeding, and then it ran down his throat, he tried to back up, and fell down. He fell down and I screamed, and my sons went on fighting them. My sons drove the ones in the hall out of the apartment. But those who were in the other room closed the door behind them and started to break everything and steal, doing as they pleased. My husband and I stayed in the two rooms and our sons fought with them a long time. Then they left, not coming into the other two rooms. And we were without a father. Defenseless. My son Roman started asking the neighbors—the neighbors were there, they saw that my husband had been killed—to call an ambulance. There was no ambulance. And no police. We sat there the whole night of the 28th. We were afraid: the door was open, broken down. It was cold, it was February. My husband was in front of us, and the three of us sat home, guarding his body.

Early in the morning, at six o'clock, our Azerbaijani neighbors all got together, all of them, of course, and the women were crying: "What could we do, we were afraid, we couldn't help you, you must forgive us, we're not guilty. We don't know who did it. There were many people, it was a large mob, we were frightened ourselves. Excuse us for not being able to help you." An hour later the upstairs neighbor came and said, "They're coming for you again! Leave the building!" And we waited for the ambulance and for the police, for someone, to help us.

There was no one. The city was dead. The whole government was dead. There were no leaders. No one wanted to help us.

And in that condition—my husband lying at home dead—we went up to the fifth floor. Each of us had a knife in our hands. If they attacked us again we would fight with them to the finish, to the last drop of blood. And we took cover up there, on the fifth floor.

We sat there and the mob was driving the soldiers out of town with rocks. We saw it all. They beat the soldiers. And after that the crowd again, for the second time, ran into our apartment, directly up to the fourth floor, shouting, "Two Armenians, the sons, are still there. We must kill them!" And they came up to our apartment, but we were on the fifth floor. They burst into our apartment without regard for the fact that there was a murdered person lying on the floor, and they started to steal everything in the two rooms, and they even threw the oil tanks off the balcony, and broke the windows in the bedroom and started throwing the beds and everything in there out the window, down to the very last thing, they threw it outside and burned it all. We heard them throw something heavy out—I don't know if it was my sewing machine or if it was a bed—something really heavy fell, and they were all laughing, "Ha, ha, ha," and started to scream and shout "Hurray!" My younger son, Sasha, said, "I'm leaving, I can't stay here! They've probably thrown Father into the fire. I'm leaving, I can't take it!" I fell down before him crying out, and said, "My son, don't leave, endure, endure, my son!" And he obeyed me, and withstood it.

They left. And the father of our Azerbaijani neighbor came in and shouted at his son, "Why did you let them in here?! They're Armenians! Those mobs are looking for Azerbaijanis that are protecting Armenians, and they're killing us because of the Armenians. Make the Armenians leave!" And then another neighbor came in. I told her, "Will you let us come to your place?" She—her name is Nazan—says, "No, no, no, no! I'm afraid. I won't let you in." Then I told our neighbor, "Alesker, please, you have been kind to us, please finish it. Go to the first floor and look to see if they're there. We will go to another apartment." He went downstairs, and there was no one there. My sons and I went down to the third floor. We lived on the fourth floor. Our door was open but we couldn't even go in there to see if my husband was there or not. We went down to the third floor. Rafik Sadraddinov's father said, "No, I can't let you in. I like your sons very much and I respect you, but I am afraid. I don't know what to do." And his son, Rafik, goes over to his father and says, "Father, let Roman and Sasha come here. Whatever comes—we'll meet it together. Don't insult them." And we went into their apartment. They hid us at night in their home, gave us tea, and told us to be quiet. We were quiet. Three hours later they ask, "Are you sleeping?" We say, "What do you mean, sleep, how can we sleep?" They say, "We see from the balcony—our balcony and theirs both face the street that runs from Baku to Sumgait—that a lot of armored personnel carriers are coming into town and there are a lot of soldiers. They're taking the Armenians somewhere—you should go." They turned off the light in the entryway and saw us out, put a loaf of bread in a bag for us and saw us out. We go outside, it's raining, and our belongings are all over the ground. I couldn't look at it all, and we left. I had slippers on my feet, and they were wet. We went out to the street There were armored personnel carriers going by, and my son held up his arm to stop them, but no one stopped. We went to the bus station. There were a lot of soldiers, cars, and buses there.

They immediately put us in a bus, and I tell the soldier, "Son, couldn't you at least have come yesterday and helped us. We had it so bad." He answers me, "Mother, don't be afraid, everything will be fine. Get in, we'll take you away from here. Don't be afraid, everything will be fine." And they took us on the bus, the soldiers covered the windows with shields, they all had guns, there was almost one soldier for each of us, protecting us. So that night, at one o'clock in the morning, they took us to the City Party Committee. There were people there, our Armenian people, they're all calling out and crying: some have lost their husbands, some their sisters, and some their fathers; some have their heads cracked open, and all of them are crying out, and me along with them. My son Roman had some friends at the City Party Committee, good friends, Azerbaijanis. They arranged a car for him, asked General Krayev, and he gave them soldiers. And they went back to our home. They brought Father.

We went to the City Party Committee the night of the 29th, and on the evening of March 1 Comrades Demichev and Bagirov [First Secretary of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan SSR] arrived. I told them everything that had happened to us. My eyes were closed, my face was all black from being beaten. I told them of my hardship, I laid it all out for them and then said that we had been there for two days and hadn't even been given a glass of hot water. Comrade Demichev said, "I believe you and will continue to believe you because 1 saw it all with my own eyes."

One day passed, and then a second. On March 3 they told us, "You must leave the City Party Committee. We're taking you to Nasosny, to the military unit." And they put us on buses and took us to the village of Nasosny, where the soldiers live, under guard. They took the poor soldiers out of their barracks and put them in tents—it was cold—and put us in the barracks. And all Armenians. There were so many people, a whole crowd, so many victims, we were all there. They settled us all in there and ... we were hidden. Some people needed medical attention, some needed other things, some needed shoes, some people got them, others didn't. One got a pair, they wrote down ten; another got ten cans, they wrote down 100. We personally didn't receive anything. The soldiers fed us. They have a hospital there, they gave me a compress for my face.

When we were in Nasosny, Investigator Akhundov handled our case. He asked us about everything in great detail, what happened, how it happened. We told him all about it. He told us, "We'll find them. We won't just leave it like this." He often came to see us and asked questions, and then started saying, we can't find the ones who were in your apartment, because those murderers, no one is confessing. So we can't find them. You will have to find them."

How are we supposed to find them? My eyes were filled with blood, what could I see? I do remember the face of one who was standing near the door. They showed us books of photographs and said, "Look, are any of the ones who were in your apartment here?", and I recognized that one. They detained him. He had on a light brown coat, and there was blood on it. But they took him in custody only on March 8. I don't know on what specific charges. His name was Nizami, I don't remember his last name. Now he's in prison. There is a village called Bail in Baku, and it has a prison. That Nizami is now in that prison. But I wanted to talk about something else.

Well, after March 9 in Nasosny they told us: "You have to leave the barracks. Can't you see what shape the soldiers are in? How long can they live in tents, it's cold and uncomfortable, and the soldiers are getting sick. Go back to Sumgait: Those of you who didn't have casualties, whose belongings they didn't destroy, return to your homes." They were selling plane tickets right there, wherever you wanted to go. The Armenians started leaving for Krasnodar, Yerevan, Karabagh . . .

But we couldn't leave because our father was killed. We asked them to allow us to take him to Karabagh and bury him in the Mardakert District, in the village of Upper Chaylu. At his birthplace. Each person, when he dies—I think, not only Armenians, but Russians and Azerbaijanis, and people of all nationalities—each wants to rest in his own soil. My sons, all of us fought for this but no one would give us a positive answer. They told us that it's bad in Stepanakert, the road is dangerous, they'd shoot at us ... They told us that there would be a common grave. We thought it over and decided against it. Why should he be in a common grave? In 1943 he was drafted into the Army, he was young, my husband, he fought in the war with Japan, he served in Sakhalin, he was a pilot... Why all of a sudden should he be in a common grave? Let him have a place of his own. And I said, "Let's bury him where soldiers are buried instead, here, in Nasosny, let's bury him near them." And we buried him in Nasosny in the cemetery where soldiers and military men are buried. They have a cemetery there, a military cemetery. And now he's there. It would be better if he were in his native soil, of course. But we weren't able to do that.

They gave us an apartment in Baku. On April 5 my son Roman and I were at the Central Committee of the Azerbaijani Communist Party, we had a meeting with Akhundov. He's the Chairman of the Republic's Party Control Committee. I told Comrade Akhundov, "They gave us an apartment, thank you. But that's not what I need. I would like permission to bury my husband in his homeland." When I said, "He's buried in foreign soil," Akhundov was slightly offended. But he received us very well and said, "I will accept your petition when everything in Stepanakert is fine, I will permit it and I will assist you."

When we went to the cemetery at Nasosny there were soldiers there. And they said, "Look, we're burying him, nobody better dig him up." Who needs it, his remains, who needs them, I don't know! What did he do?! The man was sixty one years old, he fought in the war, served in the Army, returned, started a family, raised three sons, educated them, my son Roman went to school in Baku and graduated from the Institute. No one, never, and nowhere, did anyone stop us, not a single Azerbaijani, and say, "What are you doing here?" Our children played outdoors until late evening, our sons, and their pals were all Azerbaijanis. They were together, they went to each other's weddings, they were all friends. Until that day. Until that day . . .

Once two people came to see us from the Moscow Procuracy, Valery and Yevgeny, and said that they were replacing Investigator Akhundov. They say, "Valena Aramovna, you must accompany us to the Bail prison today. You'll have a conversation with the person you identified." I had seen that person once since the events. It was on March 20; we were going back to the apartment. Well there was nothing left in the apartment besides Roman's books. We went to get his books. There was nothing left. Everything had been broken. While my sons were collecting the books I went out of the room: there were a couple of things there, I took them to throw them out, not to leave them in the apartment, everything was all torn, why leave it like that? I took them and threw them out. On the way back I look, and the two Russians from Moscow and two policemen are holding someone. They were right at out entryway, photographing him. Suddenly I do a double take: that's the person who was standing near our door! I started to shout at him. I was shouting at him all different ways, in Russian, in Azerbaijani, and in Armenian. I couldn't bear it and I cursed him in different languages. I told him, "Even if the Armenians had done something to you, have you no courage? You go fight them if they have done something to you! Why did you come and kill my husband, he was sixty years old? Why did you kill him?!" They calmed me down and held me. My sons came running up, "What happened? Did someone offend you?" So I went with Valery and Yevgeny to the prison. My son, Roman, was with me. They led in that Nizami, that scum, that scoundrel. I told him, "You should be ashamed of yourself! I'm old enough to be your mother. Why did you come to my door?! Did you know my husband?!" He says no. "Did you know me?" "No." "Were you a friend of my sons?!" "No." Then this Investigator Valery asks him, You scum, who are you? Are you a policeman? A division inspector?" He says no. "Who are you? Why did you go up there?" And he says, "I heard this woman screaming. I wanted to tell my buddy to stop, I felt sorry for the Woman, she was shouting." Talk like that. He says, "No, lady, I wasn't at your door. I only went as far as the third floor. They wouldn't let me come up to your floor." I say, "No. When they broke the lock you were standing at my door. I saw you. I saw—and that's why you hit me in the eyes, so that I would go blind, and never see again." He and I argued and they wrote everything down. He also said, "It wasn't I who hit you, Musa hit you, he's a welder at the tube-rolling plant, his foreman's name is Maksim. Go ask him.

He lives in Jeyranbatan, he lives in a private home, he's a tenant, and the other one lives in Sumgait in a 14-story building, there's a store downstairs, and people live upstairs, he has an apartment there." Well, he told us the first and last name and everything, and now I can't remember any of it, nothing at all. He knew them all, and Valery wrote it all down himself.

On May 16 my son was again summoned to the Procuracy in Sumgait. Roman went and returned, I look, and he's in a bad mood. I went to him and said, "What's happened, son? What did they tell you?" He says, "The showed me someone there, but I didn't identify him, it wasn't him. He was not the one." And later he says that things are bad again, the rallies have started again, things are bad. He says, "In Baku, in Stepanakert, it's really bad everywhere." Well, I thought, what can we do? I called my second son and said, "Sasha, come here quickly and we'll figure out what to do. We won't wait until Sumgait happens all over again. Let's think of what to do. Either run home, to Karabagh, or somewhere else." We all got together and went for the airport. We arrived at the airport and yesterday we flew in to Yerevan.

I ask my people, our Armenian people, our Party, and our government to help us with one thing—first, with the apartment problem, and then, and most important, to help me bury my husband where he was born.

May 18,1988 Yerevan


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Born 1940


Baku Spetsmontazh Administration (UMSMR-1)

Resident at Building 36/7, Apartment 9

Block 14


During the first couple of days of the events, February 27-28th, I was away on a business trip. On the 10th I had got my crew, finished the paper¬work, and left for the Zhdanov District. That's in Azerbaijan, near the Nagorno Karabagh region.

After the 14th, rumors began circulating that in Karabagh, specifically in Stepanakert, an uprising had taken place. They said "uprising" in Azerbaijani, but I don't think it was really an uprising, just a peaceful demonstration. After that the unrests began. Several Armenians living in the Zhdanov District were assaulted and injured. How exactly were they injured? They were beaten severely, even wom¬en; they were accused of participating in the demonstrations, but they live here, and went all the way to Karabagh to demonstrate? After that I started feeling uneasy. Here and there one could overhear conversations of the local folks discussing us: the Armenians had done this, the Armenians had done that. I was attacked a couple of times by school kids. Thanks to the guys from my crew who wouldn't let them come at me with cables and knives. After that I began feeling really scared. I didn't know where to go, what to do. I called home and my chil¬dren told me, "There's violence everywhere, be careful." Well I had a project going on. I told the Second Secretary of the District Party Committee about things that were going on and said I wanted to take my crew off the site. They wouldn't allow it, they said, "Nothing's going to happen to you, we've entrusted this matter to the police, we've warned everyone in the district, nothing will happen to you." Well, in fact they did assign a policeman to look after me as he knew all the locals and would protect me if something were to happen. This man wouldn’t leave me alone for five minutes: he was at work with us the whole time and afterwards he would spend the nights with us, too.

Still, the sense of the impending doom would not leave me and I phoned my wife who told me, "The situation is very tense, be extra careful."

We finished the job at the site, and I left for Sumgait first thing on the morning of the 29th. Before we left the guys warned me that I shouldn't tell anyone on the way that I was an Armenian. I took someone else's business travel documents, in the name of Zardali, and hid my own. I hid my passport in my socks. We boarded a bus leaving for Baku. The guys were on the sat behind, and I took the front seat. In Baku they approached me and said they had to collect all of our travel documents just in case. As it turns out they knew exactly what was happening in Sumgait. I arrived at the bus station as there they told me that the city of Sumgait is closed, and that there is no way to get there. The entire city is closed off and the buses aren't running. Usually, the buses would run between Baku and Sumgait every few minutes. And all of a sudden – no buses at all! Well, we tried to get there by a private vehicle. One man, an Azerbaijani, said, "Let's go find some other way to get to Sumgait." They found a car and arranged for the driver to take us to Sumgait.

He was the only one who agreed to take us there. The other drivers would say, "I wouldn't set my foot in Sumgait now even if you paid me a thousand rubles." "Why?", we asked. "Because they're setting the city on fire and murdering the Armenians. There isn't a single Armenian left." Needless to say I was shocked and nearly fainted but somehow I pulled myself together so I could remain standing. So the deal was done, the four of us got in the car, and we set off for Sumgait. On the way the driver told us, "In fact there aren't any Armenians left. They burned them all, beat them all, and stabbed them." I remained silent. The whole way—20-odd miles—I remained silent. The driver asked me, "How old are you, old man?" He was suspicious of me being that quiet, not saying anything. Perhaps, he thought, it means I'm an Armenian. "How old are you?" he asked me again. "I'm 47", I replied. He goes, "I'm 47 too, but I call you 'old man'." I said, "It’s all in God’s hands, each person's life in this world is different." I do look much older than my years, and that's why he called me an old man. Well after that he was silent, too and did not ask any more questions.

We were approaching the city as I looked around and saw military tanks, and a cordon. Before we reached the “Kavkaz” store, the driver started waving his hand. In fact, we all started waving our hands. Suddenly, I realized that this was a sign indicating there were no Armenians with us in the car.

I could not recognize the city. There were crowds of angry people walking down the middle of the street, you know, and there was no traffic, almost no cars. They signaled to the driver to stop the car. People were standing along the sidewalk. They were carrying arma¬ture shafts, and stones.

Along the way the driver told us how they would find out who's an Armenian and who's not. For example, I'm an Armenian, and I speak their language very well. Well Armenians usually pronounce the Azeri word for "nut," or "little nut," as "pundukh," but the correct version is actually "fundukh". The pronunciations are different. Anyone who says "pundukh," even if they're not Armenian, get taken out and beaten. Another one said, "There was a car there, with five people inside it. They started smashing the side of it with an axe and set it on fire. And they wouldn’t let the people out," he said, "they wouldn't let them get out of the car." I only saw the vandalized car, but the driver says that he witnessed the entire thing. Well he often drives from Baku to Sumgait and back.

When they stopped us we all got out of the car. I looked and there was a short guy, his eyes gleaming, he had an armature shaft in one hand and a stone in the other and asked us what nationality we were one-by-one. "We're Azerbaijani," we told him, "no Armenians here." He did come up to me when we were pulling our things out and says, "Perhaps you're an Armenian, old man?" But I replied in Azerbaijani, I say, "You should be ashamed of yourself!" And then he left. Turned around and left. That was all that happened. What was I to do? I realized the city was on fire, but I had to somehow get my children out of my own home.

They stopped us at the entrance to Mir Street, that's where the Kavkaz store and three large, 12-story buildings are. That's the beginning of down¬town. I saw that burned vehicle there, completely burned, with only the metal frame remaining. I couldn't figure out if it was a Zhiguli or a Zaporozhets. Later I was told it was a Zhiguli. And the passengers of that car were completely inciner¬ated. Nothing was left of them, not even any traces. That driver had told me about it, and now I saw the car myself. The metallic carcass of the car was right in front of my eyes, about 30 to 40 yards from the Kavkaz store.

Then I saw a military transport, an armored personnel carrier. The hatches were closed. And people were throwing armature shafts and pieces of iron at it, the crowd is. And I several heard shots, not machine gun fire, but pistol shots. There were Azerbaijanis gathered around that personnel carri¬er. Someone in the crowd was shooting. Apparently they either wanted to kill the soldiers or get a machine gun or something. At that point there was only one armored personnel carrier. And all the tanks were outside the city, cordoning off Sumgait.

I walked on. I saw two Azerbaijanis going home from the plant. I could tell by their gait that they were not bandits; they're just ordinary people, walking home. I joined them so in case something happened, in case someone came up to us and asked questions, either of us would be in a position to answer, you see. But I avoided the large groups because I'm a local and might be quickly rec¬ognized. I tried to keep at a distance, and walked where there were fewer people. So I walked into Microdistrict 2, which is across from our block. I couldn't get into our block, but I walked where there were fewer people, so as to get around. Well there I saw a tall guy and 25 to 30 people were walk¬ing behind him. And he was shouting into a megaphone: "Comrades, the Armenian-Azerbaijani war has begun!"

The police have megaphones like that. So they were walking around the second microdistrict and shouting. I saw that they were coming my way, and turned off behind a building. I noticed that they walked around the build¬ings; there were also about 5 or 6 people standing on every corner, and at the middles of the buildings. I couldn’t see what exactly they were doing, because I couldn't get up close to them. I was too scared. But the most important thing was to get away from there, to get home, and at least try to find out if my children were alive or not...

April 20,1988 Yerevan


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Born 1954

Senior Engineer

Sumgait Automotive Transport Production Association

Resident at Building 17/33B, Apartment 40

Micro district No. 3


What happened in Sumgait was a great tragedy, an awful tragedy for us, the Armenian people, and for all of mankind. A genocide of Armenians took place during peacetime.

And it was a great tragedy for me personally, because I lost my father in those days. He was still young. Born in 1926.

On that day, February 28, we were at home. Of course we had heard that there was unrest in town, my younger brother Aleksander had told us about it. But we didn't think ... we thought that everything would happen out¬doors, that they wouldn't go into people's apartments. About five o'clock we saw a large crowd near the Kosmos movie theater in our micro district. We were sitting at home watching television. We go out on the balcony and see the crowd pour into Mir Street. This is right near downtown, next to the air¬line ticket office, our house is right nearby. That day there was a group of policeman with shields there. They threw rocks at those policemen. Then they moved off in the direction of our building. They burned a motorcycle in our courtyard and started shouting for Armenians to come out of the build¬ing. We switched off the light. As it turns out, their signal was just the oppo¬site: to turn on the light. That meant that it was an Azerbaijani home. We, of course, didn't know and thought that if they saw lights on they would come to our apartment.

Suddenly there's pounding on the door. We go to the door, all four of us: there were four of us in the apartment. Father, Mother, my younger brother Aleksandr, and I. He was born in 1959. My father was a veteran of World War II and had fought in China and in the Soviet Far East; he was a pilot.

We went to the door and they started pounding on it harder, breaking it down with axes. We start to talk to them in Azerbaijani, "What's going on? What's happened?" They say, "Armenians, get out of here!" We don't open the door, we say, "If we have to leave, we'll leave, we'll leave tomorrow." They say, "No, leave now, get out of here, Armenian dogs, get out of here!" By now they've broken the door both on the lock and the hinge sides. We hold them off as best we can, my father and I on one side, and my mother and brother on the other. We had prepared ourselves: we had several ham¬mers and an axe in the apartment, and grabbed what we could find to defend ourselves. They broke in the door and when the door gave way, we held it for another half-hour. No neighbors, no police, and no one from the city government came to our aid the whole time. We held the door. They started to smash the door on the lock side, first with an axe, and then with a crowbar.

When the door gave way—they tore it off its hinges—Sasha hit one of them with the axe. The axe flew out of his hands. They also had axes, crow¬bars, pipes, and special rods made from armature shafts. One of them hit my father in the head. The pressure from the mob was immense. When we retreated into the room, one of them hit my mother, too, in the left part of her face. My brother Sasha and I fought back, of course. Sasha is quite strong and hot-tempered, he was the judo champion of Sumgait. We had hammers in our hands, and we injured several of the bandits—in the heads and in the eyes, all that went on. But they, the injured ones, fell back, and others came to take their places, there were many of them.

The door fell down at an angle. The mob tried to remove the door, so as to go into the second room and to continue ... to finish us off. Father brought skewers and gave them to Sasha and me—we flew at them when we saw Father bleeding: his face was covered with blood, he had been wounded in the head, and his whole face was bloody. We just threw our¬selves on them when we saw that. We threw ourselves at the mob and drove back the ones in the hall, drove them down to the third floor. We came out on the landing, but a group of the bandits remained in one of the rooms, they were smashing all the furniture in there, having closed the door behind them. We started tearing the door off to chase away the remaining ones or finish them. Then a man, an imposing man of about 40, an Azerbaijani, came in. When he was coming in, Father fell down and Mother flew to him, and started to cry out. I jumped out onto the balcony and started calling an ambulance, but then the mob started throwing stones through the windows of our veranda and kitchen. We live on the fourth floor. And no one came. I went into the room. It seemed to me that this man was the leader of the group. He was respectably dressed in a hat and a trench coat with a fur col¬lar. And he addressed my mother in Azerbaijani: "What's with you, woman, why are you shouting? What happened? Why are you shouting like that?" She says, "What do you mean, what happened? You killed somebody!" My father was a musician, he played the clarinet, he played at many weddings, Armenian and Azerbaijani, he played for many years. Everyone knew him. Mother says, "The person who you killed played at thousands of Azerbaijani weddings, he brought so much joy to people, and you killed that person." He says, "You don't need to shout, stop shouting." And when they heard the voice of this man, the 15 to 18 people who were in the other room opened the door and started running out. We chased after them, but they ran away-That man left, too. As we were later told, downstairs one of them told the others, I don't know if it was from fright or what, told them that we had firearms, even though we only fought with hammers and an axe.

We raced to Father and started to massage his heart, but it was already too late. We asked the neighbors to call an ambulance. The ambulance never came, although we waited for it all evening and all through the night. Somewhere around midnight about 15 policemen came. They informed us they were from Khachmas. They said, "We heard that a group was here at your place, you have our condolences." They told us not to touch anything and left. Father lay in the room.

So we stayed home. Each of us took a hammer and a knife. We sat at home. Well, we say, if they descend on us again we'll defend ourselves. Somewhere around one o'clock in the morning two people came from the Sumgait Procuracy, investigators. They say, "Leave everything just how it is, we're coming back here soon and will bring an expert who will record and photograph everything." Then people came from the Republic Procuracy too, but no one helped us take Father away. The morning came and the neighbors arrived. We wanted to take Father away somehow. We called the Procuracy and the police a couple of times, but no one came. We called an ambulance, and nobody came. Then one of the neighbors said that the ban¬dits were coming to our place again and we should hide. We secured the door somehow or other. We left Father in the room and went up to the neighbor's.

The excesses began again in the morning. The bandits came in several vehicles, ZIL panel trucks, and threw themselves out of the vehicles like . . . a landing force near the center of town. Our building was located right there. A crowd formed. Then they started fighting with the soldiers. Then, in Buildings 19 and 20, that's next to the airline ticket office, they started break¬ing into Armenian apartments, destroying property, and stealing. The Armenians weren't at home, they had managed to flee and hide somewhere. And again they poured in the direction of our building. They were shouting that there were some Armenians left on the fourth floor, meaning us. "They're up there, still, up there. Let's go kill them!" They broke up all the furniture remaining in the two rooms, threw it outside, and burned it in large fires. We were hiding one floor up. Something heavy fell. Sasha threw himself toward the door shouting that it was probably Father, they had thrown Father, were defiling the corpse, probably throwing it in the fire, going to burn it. I heard it, and the sound was kind of hollow, and I said, No, that's from some of the furniture." Mother and I pounced on Sasha and stopped him somehow, and calmed him down.

The mob left somewhere around eight o'clock. They smashed open the door and went into the apartment of the neighbors across from us. They were also Armenians, they had left for another city.

The father of the neighbor who was concealing us came and said, "Are you crazy? Why are you hiding Armenians? Don't you now they're checking all the apartments? They could kill you and them!" And to us :".. . Come on, leave this apartment!" We went down to the third floor, to some other neigh¬bors'. At first the man didn't want to let us in, but then one of his sons asked him and he relented. We stayed there until eleven o'clock at night. We heard the sound of motors. The neighbors said that it was armored personnel car¬riers. We went downstairs. There was a light on in the room where we left Father. In the other rooms, as we found out later, all the chandeliers had been torn down. They left only one bulb. The bulb was burning, which probably was a signal they had agreed on because there was a light burning in every apartment in our Micro district 3 where there had been a pogrom.

With the help of the soldiers we made it to the City Party Committee and were saved. Our salvation—my mother's, my brother's, and mine,—was purely accidental, because, as we later found out from the neighbors, some-one in the crowd shouted that we had firearms up there. Well, we fought but we were only able to save Mother. We couldn't save Father. We inflicted many injuries on the bandits, some of them serious. But others came to take their places. We were also wounded, there was blood, and we were scratched all over—we got our share. It was a miracle we survived. We were saved by a miracle and the troops. And if troops hadn't come to Sumgait, the slaughter would have been even greater: probably all the Armenians would have been victims of the genocide.

Through an acquaintance at the City Party Committee I was able to con¬tact the leadership of the military unit that was brought into the city, and at their orders we were assigned special people to accompany us, experts. We went to pick up Father's corpse. We took it to the morgue. This was about two o'clock in the morning, it was already March 1, it was raining very hard and it was quite cold, and we were wearing only our suits. When my broth¬er and I carried Father into the morgue we saw the burned and disfigured corpses. There were about six burned people in there, and the small corpse of a burned child. It was gruesome. I suffered a tremendous shock. There were about ten people there, but the doctor on duty said that because of the numbers they were being taken to Baku. There was a woman's corpse there too, she had been . . . well, there was part of a body there ... a hacked-off part of a woman's body. It was something terrible. The morgue was guarded by the landing force . . . The child that had been killed was only ten or twelve years old. It was impossible to tell if it was a boy or a girl because the corpse was burned. There was a man there, too, several men. You couldn’t tell anything because their faces were disfigured, they were in such awful condition ...

Now two and a half months have passed. Every day I recall with horror what happened in the city of Sumgait. Every day: my father, and the death of my father, and how we fought, and the people's sorrow, and especially the morgue.

I still want to say that 70 years have passed since Soviet power was estab¬lished, and up to the very last minute we could not conceive of what happened in Sumgait. It will go down in history.

I'm particularly surprised that the mob wasn't even afraid of the troops. They even fought the soldiers. Many soldiers were wounded. The mob threw fuel mixtures onto the armored personnel carriers, setting them on fire. They weren't afraid. They were so sure of their impunity that they attacked our troops. I saw the clashes on February 29 near the airline ticket office, right across from our building. And that mob was fighting with the soldiers. The inhabitants of some of the buildings, also Azerbaijanis, threw rocks at the soldiers from windows and balconies, even cinder blocks and glass tanks. They weren't afraid of them. I say they were sure of their impunity. When we were at the neighbors' and when they were robbing homes near the airline ticket office I called the police at number 3-20-02 and said that they were robbing Armenian apartments and burning homes. And they told me that they knew that they were being burned. During those days no one from the police department came to anyone's aid. No one came to help us, either, to our home, even though perhaps they could have come and saved us.

As we later found out the mob was given free vodka and drugs, near the bus station. Rocks were distributed in all parts of town to be thrown and used in fighting. So I think all of it was arranged in advance. They even knew in which buildings and apartments the Armenians lived, on which floors—they had lists, the bandits. You can tell that the "operation" was planned in advance.

Thanks, of course, to our troops, to the country's leadership, and to the leadership of the Ministry of Defense for helping us, thanks to the Russian people, because the majority of the troops were Russians, and the troops suf¬fered losses, too. I want to express this gratitude in the name of my family and in the name of all Armenians, and in the name of all Sumgait Armenians. For coming in time and averting terrible things: worse would have happened if that mob had not been stopped on time.

At present an investigation is being conducted on the part of the USSR Procuracy. I want to say that those bandits should receive the severest possi¬ble punishment, because if they don't, the tragedy, the genocide, could hap¬pen again. Everyone should see that the most severe punishment is meted out for such deeds.

Very many bandits and hardened hooligans took part in the unrest, in the mass disturbances. The mobs were huge. At present not all of them have been caught, very few of them have been, I think, judging by the newspaper reports. There were around 80 people near our building alone, that's how many people took part in the pogrom of our building all in all.

They should all receive the most severe punishment so that others see hat retribution awaits those who perform such acts.

May 18,1988 Yerevan


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Born 1940


Baku Spetsmontazh Administration (UMSMR-1)

Resident at Building 36/7, Apartment 9

Block 14


During the first days of the events, the 27th and the 28th [of February], I was away on a business trip. On the 10th I had got my crew, done the paper¬work, and left for the Zhdanov District. That's in Azerbaijan, near the Nagorno Karabagh region.

After the 14th, rumors started to the effect that in Karabagh, specifically in Stepanakert, an uprising had taken place. They said "uprising" in Azerbaijani, but I don't think it was really an uprising, just a demonstration. After that the unrest started. Several Armenians living in the Zhdanov District were injured. How were they injured? They were beaten, even wom¬en; it was said that they were at the demonstrations, but they live here, and went from here to Karabagh to demonstrate. After that I felt uneasy. There were some conversations about Armenians among the local population: the Armenians had done this, the Armenians had done that. Right there at the site. I was attacked a couple of times by kids. Well true, the guys from my crew wouldn't let them come at me with cables and knives. After that I felt really bad. I didn't know where to go. I up and called home. And my chil¬dren tell me, "There's unrest everywhere, be careful." Well I had a project going on. I told the Second Secretary of the District Party Committee what had been going on and said I wanted to take my crew off the site. They wouldn't allow it, they said, "Nothing's going to happen to you, we've entrusted the matter to the police, we've warned everyone in the district, nothing will happen to you." Well, in fact they did especially detail us a policeman to look after me, he knows all the local people and would protect me if something happened. This man didn't leave me alone for five minutes: he was at work the whole time and afterward he spent the night with us, too.

I sense some disquiet and call home; my wife also tells me, "The situation is very tense, be careful."

We finished the job at the site, and I left for Sumgait first thing on the morning of the 29th. When we left the guys warned me, they told me that I shouldn't tell anyone on the way that I was an Armenian. I took someone else's business travel documents, in the name of Zardali, and hid my own. I hid it and my passport in my socks. We set out for Baku. Our guys were on the bus, they sat behind, and I sat up front. In Baku they had come to me and said that they had to collect all of our travel documents just in case. As it turns out they knew what was happening in Sumgait. I arrive at the bus station and there they tell me that the city of Sumgait is closed, there is no way to get there. That the city is closed off and the buses aren't running. Buses normally leave Baku for Sumgait almost every two minutes. And suddenly—no buses. Well, we tried to get there via private drivers. One man, an Azerbaijani, said, "Let's go find some other way to get there." They found a light transport vehicle and arranged for the driver to take us to Sumgait.

He took us there. But the others had said, "I wouldn't go if you gave me a thousand rubles." "Why?" "Because they're burning the city and killing the Armenians. There isn't an Armenian left." Well I got hold of myself so I could still stand up. So we squared it away, the four of us got in the car, and we set off for Sumgait. On the way the driver says, "In fact there aren't any Armenians left. They burned them all, beat them all, and stabbed them." Well I was silent. The whole way—20-odd miles—I was silent. The driver asks me, "How old are you, old man?" He wants to know: if I'm being that quiet, not saying anything, maybe it means I'm an Armenian. "How old are you?" he asks me. I say, "I'm 47." "I'm 47 too, but I call you 'old man'." I say, "It depends on God, each person's life in this world is different." I look much older than my years, that's why he called me old man. Well after that he was silent, too.

We're approaching the city, I look and see tanks all around, and a cordon. Before we get to the Kavkaz store the driver starts to wave his hand. Well, he was waving his hand, we all start waving our hands. I'm sitting there with them, I start waving my hand, too. I realized that this was a sign that meant there were no Armenians with us.

I look at the city—there is a crowd of people walking down the middle of the street, you know, and there's no traffic. Well probably I was scared. They stopped our car. People were standing on the sidewalks. They have arma¬ture shafts, and stones .. . And they stopped us ...

Along the way the driver tells us how they know who's an Armenian and who's not. The Armenians usually . . . For example, I'm an Armenian, but I speak their language very well. Well Armenians usually pronounce the Azeri word for "nut," or "little nut," as "pundukh," but "fundukh" is actually correct. The pronunciations are different. Anyone who says "pundukh," even if they're not Armenian, they immediately take out and start to slash. Another one says, "There was a car there, with five people inside it," he says. "They started hitting the side of it with an axe and lit it on fire. And they didn't let the people out," he says, "they wouldn't let them get out of the car." I only saw the car, but the driver says that he saw everything. Well he often drives from Baku to Sumgait and back . . .

When they stop us we all get out of the car. I look and there's a short guy, his eyes are gleaming, he has an armature shaft in one hand and a stone in the other and asks the guys what nationality they are one by one. "We're Azerbaijani," they tell him, "no Armenians here." He did come up to me when we were pulling our things out and says, "Maybe you're an Armenian, old man?" But in Azerbaijani I say, "You should be ashamed of yourself!" And ... he left. Turned and left. That was all that happened. What was I to do? I had to ... the city was on fire, but I had to steal my children out of my own home.

They stopped us at the entrance to Mir Street, that's where the Kavkaz store and three large, 12-story buildings are. That's the beginning of down¬town. I saw that burned automobile there, completely burned, only metal remained. I couldn't figure out if it was a Zhiguli or a Zaporozhets. Later I was told it was a Zhiguli. And the people in there were completely inciner¬ated. Nothing remained of them, not even any traces. That driver had told me about it, and I saw the car myself. The car was there. The skeleton, a metallic carcass. About 30 to 40 yards from the Kavkaz store.

I see a military transport, an armored personnel carrier. The hatches are closed. And people are throwing armature shafts and pieces of iron at it, the crowd is. And I hear shots, not automatic fire, it's true, but pistol shots. Several shots. There were Azerbaijanis crowded around that personnel carri¬er. Someone in the crowd was shooting. Apparently they either wanted to kill the soldiers or get a machine gun or something. At that point there was only one armored personnel carrier. And all the tanks were outside the city, cordoning off Sumgait.

I walked on. I see two Azerbaijanis going home from the plant. I can tell by their gait that they're not bandits, they're just people, walking home. I joined them so in case something happened, in case someone came up to us and asked questions, either of us would be in a position to answer, you see. But I avoided the large groups because I'm a local and might be quickly rec¬ognized. I tried to keep at a distance, and walked where there were fewer people. Well so I walked into Microdistrict 2, which is across from our block. I can't get into our block, but I walked where there were fewer people, so as to get around. Well there I see a tall guy and 25 to 30 people are walk¬ing behind him. And he's shouting into a megaphone: "Comrades, the Armenian-Azerbaijani war has begun!"

The police have megaphones like that. So they're talking and walking around the second microdistrict. I see that they're coming my way, and turn off behind a building. I noticed that they walked around the outside build¬ings, and inside the microdistricts there were about 5 or 6 people standing on every corner, and at the middles of the buildings, and at the edges. What they were doing I can't say, because I couldn't get up close to them, I was afraid. But the most important thing was to get away from there, to get home, and at least find out if my children were alive or not...

April 20,1988 Yerevan


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Born 1953

Line Electrician

Sumgait Streetcar and Trolleybus Administration

Resident at Building 4/21, Apartment 29 Block 14,

Narimanov Street Sumgait

I spent almost all of February doing overhaul. The 27th was a short day at work, we worked until eleven or eleven-thirty and left for home. I decided to go for a short walk. I went to Primorsky Park. I walked past the Eternal Flame and saw a group of about 8 to 10 people standing there. When I had walked another 15 to 20 yards I heard the screech of automobile brakes behind me. I turned my head toward the sound. It was a light blue GAZ-24 Volga. I see that the people who were standing there have gone over to the car. A man and a woman get out. The man is expensively dressed, in a suit, and the woman has a raincoat on. She doesn't have anything on her head, and her hair is let down, slightly reddish hair, a heavy-set woman. They're 40 to 45 years old. They get something out of the trunk. The people start to help them. I become curious: just what are they pulling out of there?

When I got up close I heard them turn something on. I didn't see what it was, but it was probably a tape recorder. They put it on the ground near the Eternal Flame honoring the 26 Baku Commissars and formed a tight circle around it. I ask, "What's going on?" Someone tells me, "Come listen." Well they were Azerbaijanis, I had asked in Azerbaijani. I hear appeals: "Brother Muslims, our time has come ..." and something else along that line. I didn't understand what it was all about. I walked around the group trying to get a look at the owner of the tape recorder. But the circle drew in tighter. New people started coming from various directions, five here, seven there. And the comments started: "Right, we should slaughter the Armenians!" and "There's no need to be afraid, all of Moscow is behind us." I even heard that: All Moscow is behind us." Well I watched and listened in and realized that this was no joke. I quietly left and went home.

Now before that at work I had heard that something was going on in Karabagh, that there were demonstrations there. Well, people were saying all kinds of things, but I didn't have any idea what was really going on.

My wife and son were at home, but my daughter was at my aunt's house in Baku. I didn't say anything to my wife. We sat and drank tea. Sometime around two o'clock right behind our house suddenly there is noise, whistling, and shouting. I looked out the window and saw a crowd. The crowd is moving slowly, like they show on TV when blacks in South Africa are striking or having a demonstration and move slowly.

My wife asks what's going on out there. I say I don't know. I put on some outdoor clothes and went out to find out what it was all about. In the crowd people are shouting "Down with the Armenians!" and "Death to the Armenians!" I waited for the entire crowd to pass. At first they went down Narimanov Street on the side with the SK club and the City Party Committee; then they turned and went against the traffic—it's one way there—down the Street of the 26 Baku Commissars toward the streetcar line. I went home and told my wife there was a demonstration going on. In fact I thought that we were having the same kind of demonstrations that they had had in Yerevan and in Karabagh. Aside from the things they were shouting, I was surprised that there were only young people in the crowd. And they were minors, under draft age.

My wife and son wanted to go upstairs to visit a friend, but I was kind of uneasy and said, "No, let's stay at home instead." An hour went by, or maybe an hour and a half. Well, I wasn't keeping track of the time, I can't say exactly how long it was. I look and see another crowd on Narimanov, but now on the side with the microdistricts, the bazaar, and the Rossiya movie theater.

I put outside clothes on and went out again. There's noise, an uproar out¬side, and the crowd has grown. There are more people. And whereas the first time there were individual shouts, this time they are more focused, more aggressive. No, I think, something's wrong here, this isn't any demon¬stration. They would run, stop, then walk quickly and make sharp dashes, and then run again. I was walking along the sidewalk and they were in the street. I followed them. I was thinking I'd just watch and see. Who knew where this was leading? We came out on Lenin Square. At the square the SK club is on one side, and the City Party Committee is on the other. I went toward the square and heard noise and shouting, as though the whole town had turned out. There was some sort of a rally going on. I go closer and hear exclamations, appeals. I heard both anti-Armenian and anti-Soviet appeals. "We don't need perestroika, we want to go on living like we have been." Now what did they mean by "living like we have been?" The Azerbaijanis work like everyone else. But too many people live at the expense of the gov¬ernment and at the expense of others. Speculation, theft, and cheating go on all the time. And not just in Azerbaijan, everywhere, in all the republics, but I've never seen it anywhere else like I have in Azerbaijan.

Now at this rally someone says that they should go around to the Armenians' apartments and drive them out, beat them and drive them out-True, I didn't hear them say "kill them" over the microphone, I only heard "beat them and drive them out." I stayed at the square a few minutes longer First one, then another are going up onto the stage, and no one tries to stop the crowd. Off to the side of the crowd there were small groups of three or four people, and I think they were MVD [Ministry of Internal Affairs] or State Security KGB. There were also uniformed policemen there, but I didn't see any of them try to pacify the crowd. New people kept coming up onto the stage.

Well I had finally decided that this could end badly: This was no demon¬stration, and I had to protect my family.

I left the Square to return home and suddenly noticed a truck. It was next to the City Party Committee, on Narimanov Street, it stood next to the tai¬lor's shop there, a low truck, and it had low, wooden panels. I see that some¬thing is being unloaded, crates of some sort. I decided to go look because after all those appeals I was apprehensive and thought there might be weapons in there. They pulled the crates out onto the square, not toward the City Party Committee, but toward the SK club. And when I went right up to them I saw that they were cases of vodka. There were two people handing down the cases from the bed of the truck, and on the ground there were many people, 15 to 20. They were handing them down from the truck and each case was carried off by two people. Two people, one case of vodka. And there was a man standing right next to the truck and he was handing out round black lumps, maybe about the size of a fist, maybe a little big¬ger or smaller. It was anasha. When I passed next to that person, he stood with his side to me. There was about a yard and a half between us, and two people were standing near him. He has a package in his hand, and he's pulling out anasha and handing it out. I have never smoked it myself. Once I tried it for fun, but I've seen a lot of people smoke it, I've seen it many times, and I know what it is. I strolled around and no one asked me who I was or what I was doing there.

Before I got to the Glass Bazaar I heard more howling, more warlike shouting. I turned around and saw them running. Well I'll just keep on going like I am, I thought. When they caught up with me I saw that they were carrying flags. And I recognized the person who was carrying the flag on my side of the street. He's a young guy, 21 or 22 years old. He was carry¬ing a red flag, which had "Ermeni oryum" written on it in Azerbaijani, that means "Death to Armenians!" That guy used to live off the same courtyard as us. I don't really know what his name is, but I know his father very well. His father's name is Rafik; he used to be a cook, and then became head chef. He used to have a dark blue Zhiguli van, then he sold it and now he has a white Zhiguli 06. His family, as I said, lived on the same courtyard as we did. Our building was on Narimanov Street, and theirs was on the Street of the 26 Baku Commissars; their apartment was in the far entryway, on the fifth floor, the door on the left. Now Rafik's little brother lives there, and he, Rafik, I heard, got a new apartment either in the forth or eighth microdistrict. In a word, his son was carrying a flag that said "Death to Armenians!" I was surprised because before this I had gotten the impression that all of this nonsense was being done not by people from Sumgait, but by Azerbaijanis from Agdam and Kafan.

Well anyway I went home. My wife was upset. I told her, "It's OK, it'll pass, they're young kids, they've just gotten all whooped up." Naturally I didn't want her to get overly upset. After a while a new surge of crowd went by. And this time they were breaking glass. I could hear it breaking, but I couldn't see where. Well I think, here we go, the machine's in motion. They weren't handing out that vodka and anasha for nothing. I didn't see people drinking and smoking on the spot, but they certainly hadn't unloaded the vodka and hashish to put in a store window! So the thought flashed through my head that the machine was running, no one would stop them now, they weren't even trying, although, I'll say it again, the police were there, I saw them. And it's not just that the police weren't breaking them up, they were joking with them, they were having a good time. True, at the time I couldn't even imagine that under our govern¬ment, our much-vaunted leadership—and I'm not afraid to say these words: so many people died, so many women were abused, and how many abomi¬nations there were!—I couldn't imagine that under our much-vaunted authorities, and if I were to be specific, I would say under the much-touted authorities in our city of Sumgait, I couldn't imagine that such things could take place.

When they started breaking glass I told my wife and son: "Let's go upstairs." We went to our neighbors, the Grigorians, on the fourth floor. And in the evening, when those crowds started going past again, I went outside once more. I stopped at "The Corner," a place called that right next to the bazaar. I look and see a crowd on the run. And there, a few yards from the entrance to the bazaar, are three respectable-looking men of around, say, 50 years old. The crowd was running and one of the three waved with his arm and pointed toward the bazaar. And then the whole crowd, as though it were one person, wheeled and raced toward the bazaar. And not a soul went past those three, as though it were off limits! Well everything got all churned up, there was more noise, and the glass was flying again.

We spent the night at the neighbors'. My apartment was on the first floor, there was really no way to defend yourself there.

In the morning I went out to buy bread and to see what was happening in town. On the way I saw someone hunched up, still. I never found out who it was or what happened to him. There were 10 to 15 people standing near him. I got the bread and on my way back, they had gathered around the per¬son who was lying there hunched up, sort of enclosing him; because of the way they were standing you couldn't even see him.

That was on the morning of February 28. Everyone knows the rest.

May 17, 1988 Yerevan


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Born 1932 Train Conductor Azerbaijani Railroad

Resident at Building 13/15, Apartment 27

Microdistrict No. 3


I hadn't lived very long in Sumgait, only eight years. I moved there from Novosibirsk. My son entered the Baku Nautical School, and so I transferred to Azerbaijan. Later I met someone and married him, and now my name is Arutunian, my husband's name . . .

That there would be a massacre was not discussed openly, but there were hints and gibes, so to speak, at the Armenian people, and they were mock¬ing the Russians, too. I was constantly aware of it at work, and not just this past year. I couldn't find a definite place for myself in the pool at work because I, I'll just say it, couldn't steal, couldn't deceive, and couldn't be involved in bribe-taking. And when I asked for decent working conditions they told me, "Leave, don't keep the others from working, you aren't cut out for this kind of work." And at work and around all the time I would hear gibes at the Armenians, like "The Turks had it right, they killed them all—the way they've multiplied here they're making it hard for us to live," and "Things will be just fine if we get rid of them all." "No problem, the Turks will help," they say, "if we ask them, they'll rid Armenia of Armenians in half an hour." Well that's the way it all was, but I never thought, of course, that it would spill over into a bloody tragedy, because you just couldn't imagine it. Here we've been living under the Soviet government for 70 years, and no one even considered such an idea possible.

But I had been forming my own opinions, and in the presence of authori¬tative people I would often ask, "Where is this all leading, do people really not see what kind of situation is emerging here. The Russians are fleeing Sumgait, there are very few of them left. Why is no one dealing with this, what's going on?" And when it all happened on the 27th and 28th, it became clear that everything had been arranged by someone, because what else are you to make of it if the First Secretary of the City Party Committee is marching ahead of the demonstration with an Azerbaijani flag? I wouldn't be saying this now if I hadn't received personal confirmation from him later. Because when we were under guard in the SK club on the 1st, he came to the club, that Muslimzade. The women told me, "There he is, there he is, that's Muslimzade." I didn't believe the rumors that he had carried an Azerbaijani flag. I thought that they were just false rumors. I went over to him and said, "Are you the First Secretary of our City Party Committee?" He answers me, "Yes." And I ask him, "Tell me, did you really inarch ahead of that gang car¬rying an Azerbaijani flag, and behind you they were carrying denigrating signs, I don't know exactly what they said, but there was mention of Armenian blood?" And he tells me, "Yes, I was there, but I tried to dissuade them from it." Then I asked him another question: "And where were you when they were burning and slaughtering us? And he said, "I ... We didn't know what to do, we didn't know, we didn't anticipate that that would hap¬pen in Sumgait."

Comrade Mamedov, the First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Azerbaijani SSR, answered the same question for me: "No, we actually didn't anticipate the slaughter in Sumgait. At that time we were trying to contain the crowd of 45,000 in Baku that was preparing for a mas¬sacre." Those are his exact words, the ones he said in the office of the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR.

And now, about the events themselves. Of course it's painful to discuss them, because it may seem that it's not true to someone else. Various rumors concerning what happened are making the rounds: some are true, others aren't. But unfortunately there are more true ones than false, because it was so horrible: in our age, here in the space age, the age of science, the age of progress, I don't know, if someone had told me this story, if I were living in or around Moscow, I wouldn't have believed it. Why not? Because it was really a genocide, it was a massacre. That's genuinely what it was.

For example, on that day, the 28th—I didn't know about the 27th because my husband and I were both sick, both of us had the flu, and we were in bed—on the 28th our neighbor comes to our place and says, "You're in bed? You don't know anything about it? There was a demonstration in town, and after it they were overturning Armenian cars and burning them. They were looking into cars and asking, 'Are you an Armenian?' If they answered in Armenian, then they turned the car over and burned it." This isn't made up, the wife of the Senior Investigator of the Baku Ministry of Internal Affairs told us. He was returning home from his dacha with his wife, Raisa Sevastyanova, she's my neighbor. She immediately came and told us that they had landed right in the middle of it, I don't know what to call it, the cavalcade of automobiles they were stopping. He answered in Azerbaijani, they let them go, but they made him honk the horn, they were kicking up a fracas. We didn't even believe it, and I said, "Certainly that didn't happen, how can that be?" And she said, "Muslimzade was leading the crowd, and the Sputnik store was completely smashed because most of the salespeople there are Armenians. And when he saw that they had started breaking the glass in that store, he said, "Don't break the shop windows, don't destroy state property, but do whatever else you want." I didn't hear this with my own two ears, but it is a fact that the store was torn up and the director of the store was beaten for employing Armenians although he's an Azerbaijani-While we were talking, all of a sudden right across from us . .. Sevastyanova is the first to look out the window and say, "Look, there's a crowd out there." And sure enough, when we looked out there we saw that the crowd had already started wrecking the neighboring building. There was an Armenian family there, a woman and two girls. They lived across from us. I'm sorry, I don't know the building number or the people's names, since we were in my husband's apartment, in Microdistrict 8, and I lived in Microdistrict No. 3. There was awful looting going on there at the time, the most hideous things were going on there then. One building there, ours, was Hacked twice, once wasn't enough for them. They returned to the places where they hadn't finished the Armenians off. If an Azerbaijani family dared to conceal Armenians, they beat the Azerbaijanis too. They also beat Russians, if it was Russians doing the hiding. Because there were Russians among them, they said so on television, there were people of various nation¬alities. But they didn't tell us why there were people of different nationali¬ties. Because they wouldn't have touched the Azerbaijanis if they hadn't dared to stick up for the Armenians and give them temporary shelter in their homes.

At the time I saw this from the window I was there, Sevastyanova was there, and so was my husband. We went out onto the balcony and saw a television fly off a balcony. All kinds of things, even a sofa. Then, when it was all down there, they burned it up. Then we saw the crowd, and they were all shouting. At first I couldn't figure out what was happening. And later I told my husband, "Lendrush, I think they're beating someone out there." And he answered, "I don't know, could be." Suddenly the crowd separated for a moment, and I saw it, and Raisa Sevastyanova saw it too. My husband had turned the other way, he didn't see it. I saw a naked girl with her hair down. They were dragging her. She kept falling because they were pushing her and kicking her. She fell down, it was muddy there, and later other wit¬nesses who saw it from their balconies told us, they seized her by the hair and dragged her a couple of blocks, as far as the mortgage bank, that's a good block and a half or two from here. I know this for sure because I saw it myself.

Then the crowd rushed toward our building. We were standing there, and you can of course imagine what we were feeling. Were they going to kill us or not? And I also had the awful thought that they might torment me the way they tormented that woman, because I had just seen that.

I asked my husband. I gave him an axe and said, "You kill me first, and then let them do what they want with the corpse." But our neighbors, it's true, defended us, they said, "There aren't any Armenians in our entryway, go away, only Muslims live here." Disaster missed us that time.

But at two o'clock in the morning a crowd of about 15 people, approxi¬mately, came back to our place. My husband was already asleep. He can sleep when he's upset about something, but I can't. I was standing, running from balcony to balcony. Our power was out, I don't remember for how long, but it was as though it had been deliberately turned off. There were no lights whatsoever, and I was glad, of course. I thought it was better that way. But then I look and the crowd is at our balcony. This was at 2:15 in the morning. The first time they were at our building it was 6:30, and now it was 2:15 in the morning. But I never thought that that old woman on the first floor, the Azerbaijani, was awake and watching out, there were human beings among them too. So she goes out with a pail of garbage, as though she need¬ed to be taking garbage out at two o'clock in the morning. She used it as a pretext and went toward those young people. They really were youngsters from my balcony you could see perfectly that they were young Azerbaijani boys. They spoke Azerbaijani. And when they came up to her she said "What do you want?" And they answered, "We want the Armenian family that lives here" [pointing toward the second floor with their hands]. She says, "I already told you, we don't have any Armenians here, now leave, do you hear, this is an old Muslim woman talking to you," and grabbed the hand of one boy who was trying to walk around her and enter the building anyway and started pushing him away. And so they seemed to listen to her. They were all very young, they started apologizing and left. That was the second time death was at our door.

I forgot to mention about one other apartment, a man named Rubik lives there, I don't know him really, I knew his daughter, I mean I saw her around, but we really didn't know them. But I do know that that guy who lives on the fourth floor across from our entryway went to Chernobyl and worked there for eight months, to earn money. Can you imagine what that means? He risked his life to earn X amount of money in order to better his family. He bought new furniture and was getting ready to give his daughter's hand in marriage, but, alas, everything was ruined by those creeps and scoundrels. They threw everything out the windows, and the rest we saw from our balcony: how the neighbors on the left and right ran into the apart¬ment and carried off everything that hadn't already been smashed or taken. What is one to think of that? It means that the parents in those families were in on it too. Unfortunately I came to be of the opinion that it was all orga¬nized and that everything had been foreseen in advance: both the beating of the Armenians and the stripping of apartments. Something on the order of "We'll move the Armenians out and take over their apartments."

I have worked honestly my whole life, you can check everything about me. I came as a patriot from China, waited for nights on end in front of the Consulate General of the USSR, I came to my homeland as a patriot because I knew that the Party and the Komsomol were holy things. But when I saw in Sumgait that there wasn't anything holy about them, that Party member¬ship was bought, that Komsomol members joined only for personal gain, that there were no ideals, no ideas, God save me, everything was being bought and sold, I saw all of it and understood how they could allow that crap to go on like it did.

I can't talk any more about it ... the image of that beating . . . When I went out of my own apartment—they picked us up under Soviet Army guard, they had arrived from all over to suppress that gang—not only Armenians, but some Russian families and their children, too, came out of their apartments and joined us, because no normal person who had seen that could stay there with the situation the way it was. And what's interesting is that when we left on the buses I rode and thought that at least one group of people, for sure people would basically rise to the situation, would have some compassion for the Armenians, would somehow understand the injustice of what was done. But having analyzed and weighed the whole thing, once I calmed down, having thought it all through, I came to a conclusion that is shared by many people. If a lot of Azerbaijanis didn't want their Armenian neighbors to be killed, and that basically depended on that Muslimzade—he said that he had wanted to calm them down—then is it possible that he didn't have people at hand to whom he could whisper at the last minute, "Go and announce it on television: Citizens of Sumgait! Take what you can into your hands, let's protect our neighbors from this mas¬sacre?" Those crowds weren't such that there was no controlling them. Basically they were unarmed. They didn't have firearms, mostly they had knives, they had all kinds of metal parts, like armature shafts, sharpened at the ends, special rocks, different to a degree that we noticed them: there aren't rocks like those in Sumgait soils, they were brought from somewhere, as though it were all specially planned. So as I was saying, I weighed it all out and if any of our neighbors had wanted to defend us, why wasn't it arranged? It means that the government didn't want to do it. When the crowd was moving from the City Party Committee to the Sputnik, what, there was no way of informing Baku? No, there was no way, it turns out! The crowd was doing violence in our microdistrict. I won't mention the things I didn't see myself, I'll only talk about the things I myself witnessed. They were in Microdistrict 8 beginning at 6 o'clock in the evening, when I saw them from the other building, and they were somewhere else until mid¬night or one o'clock in the morning, because at 2:15 they came back to our building. They hadn't completely finished making their predatory rounds of Microdistrict 8. When they returned to our building I told my husband, "Lendrush, now the police are probably going to come, my God, now the authorities are probably going to find out and come to our aid." Well, alas, no, there were to be no authorities, not a single policeman, not a single fire¬man, not a single ambulance came while they were raging, as it turns out, as we later found out, beginning on the night of the 27th. There were dead people, ruined apartments, and burned autos: one car near the bus station, it was burned and overturned, it was probably there about four days, every¬one saw it and what went on in Block 45! Those who live there know, they saw from their balconies how they attacked the soldiers in the buses, how they beat those poor, unarmed soldiers, and how on that square, I can't remember the name of it, where there is that fork coming from the bus station, that intersection, now I'm upset and I can't think of the name . . . there's a tall building there, a 9-story, and from the balconies there people saw that butchery, when the poor soldiers, wearing only helmets, with shields and those unfortunate clubs, moved against that mob. And when they fell, those 12-to 14-year-old boys ran up and using stones, big heavy stones, beat them to death on their heads. Who could have guessed that something like that could happen in the Soviet Union and under the Soviet government? The upshot is that this republic has not been under Soviet control for a long time, but no one wanted to pay any attention or get involved.

If you were to go and ask at my work many people would confirm that I tell the truth, I've been struggling for truth for five years there already, the five years that I worked at the Azerbaijani railroad. Some people there con¬sidered me a demagogue, others who knows what; some think I'm an adventure seeker, and some, a prankster. But I wanted everything to be right, I would become outraged: how can this be, why is it people treat one another this way on a Soviet railroad, as though the Azerbaijani railroad were Azerbaijani property, or the property of some magnate, or some "mafia": If I want to, I'll get you out of here; If I want to, I'll get rid of you; If I want to, I'll do something else? And there's a black market price for every¬thing, in the most brazen way: a coach to Moscow costs so much, a coach on a local train costs so much. Once when I was complaining to the head of the conductor's pool, he had the nerve to tell me, maybe you won't even believe this, but this, I'm afraid, I heard with my own ears: "Tatyana, just how long can you fight for something that you know will never have any effect? You're alone against everyone, so instead why don't you give more money to the chief conductor, and everything will go fine for you." I started to cry, turned, and left. What else could I do, where else could I go to complain? I realized that everything was useless. And the root of the whole thing is that it all goes on and no one wants to see it. I filed a written complaint, and they ground it into dust, they destroyed it, I still have a copy, but what's the use? When the General Procuracy got involved with the investigation of the bloody Sumgait affair, in addition to the information about what I saw, what I was a witness to, I gave testimony about the mafia at the railroad. They accepted my petition, but I don't know if they're going to pursue it or not. Because, you'll excuse me, I no longer believe in the things I aspired to, the things I believed in before: It's all dead. They just spit on my soul, stomped on everything, physically, and most important, spiritually, because you can lose belongings, that's nonsense, that all comes with time, but when your soul is spit upon and when the best in you—your beliefs—are destroyed, it can be very difficult to restore them .. .

I want to tell of one incident. I just don't know, at the time I was in such a state that I didn't even take minor things into account. Here is an example. Of course, it's not a minor one. My neighbor, Raisa Sevastyanova, she has a son, Valery, who is in the 9th grade in a school in Microdistrict 8. A boy, Vitaly [Danielian], I don't know his last name, goes to school with him, or rather, went to school with him. I was just sitting in an apartment trying to make a phone call to Moscow . . . Oh yes, and there's one important detail: When the massacre began, for two to three hours the phones weren't work¬ing in Armenian apartments, and later, in several Russian and Azerbaijani apartments. But the fact of the matter is that service was shut off, you could not call anywhere. Why? Again, it means it was all planned. How come ser¬vice is cut off for no reason? And the lights went off. And those brats were raging as they liked. They weren't afraid, they ran about freely, they knew that no one would slap their hands and no one would dare to stop them. They knew it.

Now I'm going to tell about the incident. So this little Vitaly, Vitalik, an Armenian boy, went to school with Valery; they were in the same class. According to what Valery and his neighbor pal said—at the time I was in the me apartment as they were, I sat at the phone waiting for the call to be put through—a mob attacked the building where Vitalik lived. So Valery ran to (us mother and said, "Mamma, please let me go to Vitalik's, what if they kill him? Maybe he's still alive, maybe we can bring him here and save him somehow . . . He's a nice guy, we all like him, he's a good person, he's smart." His mother wouldn't let him go. In tears, she says, "Valery, you can't go because I am afraid." He says, "Mamma, we can get around the crowd. We'll just watch, just have a look." They made it through. I don't know, I think Vitalik's parents lived in Microdistrict No. 1, and when they got there, they made a superficial deduction. Knowing that balconies and doors were being broken everywhere, that you could see from the street which were the Armenian apartments in the building, they went here and there and looked, and saw that the windows were intact, and so they calmed down. But even though the windows in that apartment were not broken, everything inside was totally smashed, and Vitalik lay there with a broken skull, and his moth¬er and father had already been murdered. Little Vitalik didn't even know they were dead. So two weeks ago, I don't know, he was in critical condition, no, maybe it was longer: we left Sumgait on March 20, spent some time in Moscow, and then we came to Yerevan. So it's been about a month already; it's so hard to keep all this straight. So Valery, the next day, when he found out that Vitalik's family has been killed and Vitalik was lying in the Semashko Hospital in Baku, Valery and his classmates got together and went to visit him. But they wouldn't admit them, telling them that he was in critical condition and that he was still in a coma. They cried and left, having also found out that the girl I saw being kicked and dragged was in that hos¬pital too. As it turns out she was brought there in serious condition, but at least she was alive at the time ...

When we got to the SK club we would see first one friend and then another, throw ourselves into their arms and kiss them, because you had Wondered if these friends were alive or not, if those friends were alive or not ...And when you saw them you were so glad to find out that the family had lived! When you saw people you heard things that made your hair stand on end.

If you publish everything that happened it will be a hideous book. A book of things it is even difficult to believe. And those two girls who were raped were entirely black and blue, the ones at the SK, they know I'm not lying, that girlfriend came up to one of them and said, "What happened?" and she bared her breasts, and they were completely covered in cigarette burns ... those rogues had put cigarettes out on her breasts. After something like that I don't know how you can live in a city and look at the people in it.

Now . . . When we stayed at the military unit for a while, they provided well, basic conditions for us there. The military unit is located in Nasosny some six miles from Sumgait. And living there we met with a larger group of people. There were about 1,600 people at the unit. You know, there was a point when I couldn't even go outside because if you went outside you saw so much heartbreak around you. And when you hear the false rumors . ..

Yes, by the way, false rumors were spread in Sumgait saying that the Armenians around Yerevan had destroyed Azerbaijani villages and razed them to the ground with bulldozers. I didn't know whether to believe it or not. And people who don't know any better get the idea that it was all done in revenge. But when I arrived in Armenia and was in Spitak, and in Spitak all those villages are not only intact, but at that time had even been protect¬ed just in case, they were guarded, they got better food than did the inhabi¬tants of Spitak. Not a single person there died, and no one is planning to harm them. Around Yerevan all the villages are safe and unharmed, and the Armenians didn't attack anyone. But actually, after an evil of the magnitude suffered in Sumgait there could have been a feeling of vengefulness, but no one acted on it. And I don't know why you sometimes hear accusations to the effect that the Armenians are guilty, that it is they who organized it. Rumors like that are being spread in Azerbaijan. And if one old person says it and ten young ones hear it, they not only perceive it with their minds, but with their hearts, too. To them it seems that the older person is telling the truth. For example, one says; "Did you know that out of 31 people killed (by the way, originally they said 31 people, but later they found a 32nd), 30 were Azerbaijani and one was an Armenian?"

Of course I'm upset, but it's utterly impossible to discuss such things and not become upset. Sometimes I forget things, but I know I want to return to the time when we were in the SK club across from the City Party Committee. When I saw Muslimzade in the SK club building I went to him to ask because I couldn't believe that he had marched in the front carrying a ban¬ner. I already mentioned this, and if I repeat anything, please excuse me. I asked him, "Why did you do that and why are you here now, why did you come here? To laugh at these women who are strewn about on the floor?" The overcrowding there was tremendous, it was completely unsanitary, and several of the children were already sick. It's true the troops tried to make it livable for us. They cooked for us on their field stoves and provided us with wonderful food, but the thing is that their main job was to ferret out the gang that was still at it everywhere, that was continuing its sordid affairs everywhere. Plus they were never given any direct orders, they didn't know what they were authorized to do and not to do. And it was only on March 8 at five o'clock in the evening that Krayev himself, the Lieutenant General the City Commandant of Sumgait, was given full authority and told every¬one over a microphone from an armored personnel carrier that now he could do what he wanted to do, as his heart advised him, and relocate people to the military unit.

But that's not what I want to talk about now. Muslimzade, characteristically, tried to get me out of the SK building and take me to the City Party Committee, which is across the square from the club. He took me by the hand and said, "Citizen, don't worry, we'll go and have a talk in my office." I told him, "No, after everything you've done, I don't believe one iota of what you say. If I go to the City Party Committee I'll disappear, and the traces of me will disappear too. Because you can't stand it when ..." Oh yes, and there was another interesting detail from that meeting. It was even very fun¬ny, although at the time I wasn't up to laughing. He was in a nice, expensive hat, and so as to put him to shame, so to speak, I said, "Oh, why did you come here all duded up like a London dandy, you smell of good perfume, you're in your starched shirt, and you have your expensive hat on. You came to ridicule the poor women and children who are lying on the floor, who are already getting sick, whose relatives have died. Did you come to laugh at them?" And the one who was accompanying him, an Azerbaijani, I don't know who he was or what his title was, he quickly snatched the hat off Muslimzade's head and hid it. Then I said, "My God! We're not marauders. We're not you! We didn't come to you with the intention of stealing!" "Well kill me, kill me!" Muslimzade says to me, "But I'm not guilty . . . kill me, kill me, but I'm not guilty." And I say, "OK, fine, you're not guilty, have it your way. But give us an answer, we're asking you: Where were you when they were torturing and raping those poor women, when they were killing the children, burning things, carrying on outrageously, and wrecking all those apartments? Where were you then?" "You know, we didn't expect it, we did not know what to do, we didn't anticipate that something like that would happen in Sumgait." I started laughing and said, "It's truly funny." He says, "What could I do? We didn't know what to do." And I say, "I'm sorry, but it'll be ridiculous if I tell you: The First Secretary of the City Party Committee shouldn't march out in front with a banner; he should fall down so that the gang would have to cross over his dead body. That's what you should have done. That's the way it was during the war. Not a single Party committee secretary compromised himself; either he died or he led people into battle. And what did you do? You ran away, you left, you hid, you marched with a flag, because you were afraid, excuse my language, you feared for your own damned hide. And when we ask you, you tell us that you got confused and you ask me what you could have done? That's right," I told him, "the City party committee got confused, all the party committees got confused, the police got confused, Baku got confused, they all lay in a faint for two weeks, and the gang ran the show with impunity. And if it weren't for the troops it wouldn't have been just two days, there wouldn't be a single Armenian left in Sumgait for sure, they would have finished their bloody affair, because 'hey brazenly went up to some Russians, too, the ones who tried to say something to them, and they told them, 'As soon as we finish with the Armenians we'll come after you, too.'"

And by the way, there was a colonel, who took us to the military unit. He's the one with the light blue collar tabs who flew in and two hours later arrived on an armored personnel carrier when we were at the SK and took us to the military unit and who later started moving us from the military unit. We asked him, "What? How? What will come of us?" He openly said, "You know, for us the main thing now is to catch that gang. We'll finish that quickly. You'll stay at the military unit for the time being, and we'll decide later." The General Procuracy of the USSR arrived, it consists of investigators from all cities. There were some from Stavropol, from everywhere, just everywhere, because the affair was truly frightful. About this, by the way, Comrade Katusev spoke; as everyone knows, he's the First Deputy General Procurator of the USSR. When he gave us a speech from the armored per¬sonnel carrier at the military unit, by the way, he told us the honest truth, because he couldn't not say it, because he was still experiencing his first impressions of what he had seen, and he said, "There was Afghanistan, and it was bad, but Sumgait—it's horrible! And the people who dared to do such a thing will be severely punished, in accordance with our laws." And that's a quote. Then one mother throws herself at him—her two sons had died before her very eyes—and says, "Who will return my sons? Who is going to punish the [culprits]?" They tried to calm her down, and he said, "In order for us to conduct a proper investigation, in order that not a single scoundrel avoid responsibility, you must help us, because we don't know, maybe there was someone else in the gang who is now being concealed in homes, and maybe the neighbors know, maybe someone saw something. Don't be afraid, write about it in detail. So that you're not afraid . . . Everyone knows that many of you are afraid, having lived through such horrors, they think that if they write the whole truth about, let's say, their neighbor or someone else, that they will seek revenge later. We're going to do it like this: We're going to set up an urn and you can throw what you write in there. We don't need to know who wrote it. The names of the people who write won't be made pub¬lic, but we need all the information. Let each and every one not be afraid, let each write what is necessary, who they saw in that gang, who made threats or shouted threatening gibes about the Armenians .. . You must describe all of these people and put the information into the urn."

Two soldiers and a major guarded the urn. And, sure enough, many peo¬ple, people who didn't even want to write ... I know one woman who asked me, she came up and said, "You, as a Russian, the same thing won't happen to you as will happen to me. So please . . . I'll give you the information, and you please write it down for me." So she was afraid, and there were a lot like her . . . But later, after Katusev made his speech, she sat and wrote down everything she knew. And we threw it all into the urn. Now we don't know if it will be of any use. For a factual picture will emerge from all that infor¬mation. One person can lie, but thousands can't lie, thousands simply can't lie. You have to agree with that, a fact is a fact. Why, for example, should someone say that black is white if it is really black?

The First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Azerbaijani SSR, Mamedov, as I said, was in Yerevan. My husband and I were at the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR and found out that Mamedov was present, the one who had come to convince the people of Sumgait to return to their previous dwellings, to their old apartments. We asked for a meeting with him, and it was granted. When we went to see him he tried to behave properly, very politely, delicately, but. . . when the truth was told right to his face and when I asked him some of the same questions I had asked Muslimzade, "Where were you personally when they were beating us? Now you're trying to convince us to return, why didn't you think at the time that they were slaughtering us where it was all leading?" he says, "You're telling the truth. Let's not mince words. You've told me right to my face, and I'll tell you straight. I'll tell you the pure truth. I was gotten out of bed in the evening, the whole government was up, including me, and we were restraining a crowd of about 45,000 in Baku. But we never expected that in a city like Sumgait, with its fine international record, such a thing could hap¬pen. We expected it in Baku." I say, "So that means you expected it all the same? Why were you expecting it?" And he says, "You know, it just hap¬pened that way. We were expecting it in Baku, we were trying to restrain it, but in Sumgait ..." I say, "Fine, you didn't know for the first three or four hours, but then you should have known. Why did no one help us?" And he says, "Well, OK, we didn't know what to do" and things like that. Basically it was the same story I got from Muslimzade. Later, when he said, "You go on back, the situation in Sumgait is favorable now, everything is fine, the Armenians are friendly with the Azerbaijanis ..." To this I answered, "You know what. .. I'm speaking with you as a neutral nation ... I have never argued with Armenians or with Azerbaijanis and I was an eye¬witness . . . You tell me, please, Comrade Mamedov, " I asked him, "What would you say about this honestly, if you were being completely frank with us?" Then he said, "Yes, I admit that I am honestly ashamed, shame on the entire Azerbaijani nation, we have disgraced ourselves not only before the entire Soviet Union, but before the whole world. Because now the Voice of America and all the other foreign radio stations of various hues are branding us with all kinds of rumors, too." And I say, "There's nothing to add to what really happened. I don't think it's possible to add anything more awful." He says, "Yes, I agree with you, I understand your pain, it is truly an unfortu¬nate occurrence." I repeat that he said "unfortunate occurrence." And then he suddenly remembered himself, what he was saying—he had a pen in his hands, he was fidgeting with it nervously—and said, "Oh, excuse me, a tragedy, really ..." I take this to mean that he really thinks it's an "unfortu¬nate occurrence." "And of course," he says, "I understand that having gone through all this you can't return to Sumgait, but it's necessary to cool down and realize that all those people are being tried." And he even gave a detail, which, I don't know if it matters or not, that 160 policemen were being tried. Specifically in relation to that bloody affair.

Yes, by the way, there is another good detail, how I was set up at work in Baku after the events. I went to an undergarment plant, there was an Azerbaijani working there, and suddenly she tells me, "What, they didn't nail your husband? They screwed up." I was floored, I hadn't imagined that anyone in Baku, too, could say something like that. Well after that I went up to see ... to my office, I needed to find out about those days, what was going to happen with them, how they were going to put down those days from February 29 to March 10 ... and the administrator told me, "I don't know, Tatyana, go to the head of the conductors' pool. Be grateful if they don't put it down as unexcused absence." I was really discouraged by this. They all know that we were but a hair away from death and barely sur¬vived, and here they're telling me that I was skipping work, as though I was off enjoying myself somewhere. I went to the office of the chief of the pool, his last name is Rasulov, and he's had that position for many years. Incidentally, he's a Party member, and is a big man in town. And suddenly, when I went to him and said, "Comrade Rasulov, this is the way it was ..." He looked at me askance and said, "And why are you"—he knows me by my previous last name—"why did you get wrapped up in this mess?" I say, "What do you mean, why did I get wrapped up in this mess? My husband's an Armenian," I tell him, "I have an Armenian last name." And he screwed up his face, made a kind of a grimace, as though he had eaten something sour, and said, "I didn't expect that you would ..." What did he mean by that? And "how" should he behave, the chief of the pool, a man who super¬vises 1,700 workers? Now, it's true, there was a reduction, but for sure there are still 1,200 conductors working for him. And if someone who supervises a staff that size says things like that, then what can you expect from a simple, uneducated, politically unsophisticated person?! He's going to believe any and all rumors, that the Armenians are like this, the Armenians are like that, and so on...

By the way, that Mamedov—now I'm going back to Mamedov's office—when I asked him "Are you really going to guarantee the safety of our lives if we return to Sumgait?" he answered, "Yes, you know, I would guarantee them ... I don't want to take on too much, I would guarantee them firmly for 50 years. But I won't guarantee them for longer than 50 years." I say, "So you've got another thing like that planned for 50 years from now? So they'll be quiet and then in another 50 years it'll happen again?!" I couldn't contain myself any more, and I also told him, "And how did it get to that point, certainly you knew about it, how they were treating the Russians, for example, in Baku and in Sumgait, how they were hounded from their jobs? Certainly you received complaints, I wrote some myself. Why did no one respond to them? Why did everyone ignore what was going on? Didn't you prepare people for this by the way you treated them? And he says, "You know, you're finally starting to insult me!" He threw his pen on the desk. "Maybe now you'll say I'm a scoundrel too?" I say, "You know, I'm not talking about you because I don't know. But about the ones who I do know I can say with conviction, yes, that comrade was involved in this, that, and that, because I know for certain." Well anyway he assured us that here, in Yerevan, there were false rumors, that 3,000 Sumgait Armenians were here, and 15,000 were in Sumgait and had gotten back to work. Everyone was working, he said, and life was very good. "We drove about town ourselves, Comrade Arutunian [First Secretary of the Communist Party of Armenia SSR] came from the Council of Ministers of Armenian, he came and brought information showing that everything was fine in Sumgait." When I asked Mamedov how he had reached that conclusion he said, "Well, I walked down the street." And I said, "Walking down the street in any city, even if I were to go to New York, I would never understand the situation because I would be a guest, I don't have any contact with people, but if you spend 10 days among some blue-collar workers in such a way that they didn't know you were the First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers, you'd hear something quite different." I told him, for example, that I drew my conclusion when we left the military unit to look at our apartments. They took us all in turns to pick things up, since people had fled to the military unit; they got on the bus just to save themselves as soon as possible. How are the neighbors in the microdistrict, how will they view us, what do they think? I thought maybe that in fact it wasn't something gener¬al, of a mass nature, some anti-national something. And when that bus took us to our building, because it was the same bus, while we were going up to our apartment, an armed soldier accompanied us. What does that say? It speaks of the fact that if everything there were fine, why do we need to have soldiers go there and come back with us, going from apartment to apart¬ment? And in fact, especially with the young people, you could sense the delight at our misfortune, the grins, and they were making comments, too. And that was in the presence of troops, when police detachments were in the microdistricts and armored personnel carriers and tanks were passing by. And if people are taking such malicious delight when the situation is like that, then what is it going to be like when they withdraw protection from the city altogether? There will be more outrages, of course, perhaps not organized, but in the alleys ...

April 20, 1988 Yerevan


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Born 1933


Sumgait Emergency Hospital

Resident at Building 16/13, Apartment 14

Block 5, Sumgait

To this day I can't understand why my husband, an older man, was killed. What was he killed for. He hadn't hurt anyone, hadn't said any word he oughtn’t to have. Why did they kill him? I want to find out—from here, from there, from the government—why my husband was killed.

On the 27th, when I returned from work—it was a Saturday—my son was at home. He doesn't work. I went straight to the kitchen, and he called me, "Mamma, is there a soccer game?" There were shouts from Lenin Street. That's where we lived. I say, "I don't know, Igor, I haven't turned on the TV." He looked again and said, "Mamma, what's going on in the courtyard?!" I look and see so many people, it's awful, marching, marching, there are hun¬dreds, thousands, you can't even tell how many there are. They're shouting, "Down with the Armenians! Kill the Armenians! Tear the Armenians to pieces!" My God, why is that happening, what for? I had known nothing at that point. We lived together well, in friendship, and suddenly something like this. It was completely unexpected. And they were shouting, "Long live Turkey!" And they had flags, and they were shouting. There was a man walking in front, well dressed, he's around 40 or 45, in a gray raincoat. He is walking and saying something, I can't make it out through the vent window. He is walking and saying something, and the children behind him are shouting, "Tear the Armenians to pieces!" and "Down with the Armenians!" They shout it again, and then shout, "Hurrah!" The people streamed without end, they were walking in groups, and in the groups I saw that there were women, too. I say, "My God, there are women there too!" And my son says, "Those aren't women, Mamma, those are bad women." Well we didn't look a long time. They were walking and shouting and I was afraid, I simply couldn't sit still. I went out onto the balcony, and my Azerbaijani neighbor is on the other balcony, and I say, "Khalida, what's going on, what happened?" She says, "Emma, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know what happened. Well she was quite frightened too. They had these white sticks, each second or third one had a white rod. They're waving the rods above their heads as they walk, and the one who's out front, like a leader, he has a white stick too. Well maybe it was an armature shaft, but what I saw was white, I don't know.

My husband got home 10 or 15 minutes later. He comes home and I say, "Oh dear, I'm frightened, they're going to kill us I bet." And he says, "What are you afraid of, they're just children." I say, "Everything that happens comes from children." There had been 15- and 16-year olds from the Technical and Vocational School. "Don't fear," he said, "it's nothing, nothing all that bad." He didn't even eat, he just lay on the sofa. And just then on television they broadcast that two Azerbaijanis had been killed in Karabagh, near Askeran. When I heard that I couldn't settle down at all, I kept walking here and there and I said, "They're going to kill us, the Azerbaijanis are going to kill us." And he says, "Don't be afraid." Then we heard—from the central square, there are women shouting near the stage, well, they're shout¬ing different things, and you couldn't hear very well. I say, "You speak Azerbaijani well, listen to what they're saying." He says, "Close the window and go to bed, there's nothing bad happening there." He listened a bit and then closed the window and went to bed, and told us, "Come on, go to sleep, it's nothing." Sleep, what did he mean sleep? My son and I stood at the win¬dow until two in the morning watching. Well he's sick, and all of this was affecting him. I say, "Igor, you go to bed, I'm going to go to bed in a minute too." He went and I sat at the window until three, and then went to bed. Things had calmed down slightly.

The 28th, Sunday, was my day off. My husband got up and said, "Come on, Emma, get up." I say, "Today's my day off, let me rest." He says, "Aren't you going to make me some tea?" Well I felt ashamed and got up, and said, "Where are you going?" He says, "I'm going out, I have to." I say, "Can you really go outside on a day like today? Don't go out, for God's sake. You nev¬er listen to me, I know, and you're not going to listen to me now, but at least don't take the car out of the garage, go without the car." And he says, "Come on, close the door!" And then on the staircase he muttered something, I couldn't make it out, he probably said "coward" or something.

I closed the door and he left. And I started cleaning... picking things up around the house . . . Everything seemed quiet until one o'clock in the after¬noon, but at the bus station, my neighbor told me, cars were burning. I said, "Khalida, was it our car?" She says, "No, no, Emma, don't be afraid, they were government cars and Zhigulis." Our car is a GAZ-21 Volga. And I wait¬ed, it was four o'clock, five o'clock . . . and when he wasn't home at seven I said, "Oh, they've killed Shagen!"

Tires are burning in town, there's black smoke in town, and I'm afraid, I'm standing on the balcony and I'm all ... my whole body is shaking. My God, they've probably killed him! So basically 1 waited like that until ten o'clock and he still hadn't come home. And I'm afraid to go out. At ten o'clock I look out: across from our building is a building with a bookstore, and from upstairs, from the second floor, everything is being thrown out¬side. I'm looking out of one window and Igor is looking out of the other, and I don't want him to see this, and he, as it turns out, doesn't want me to see it.

We wanted to hide it from one another. I joined him. "Mamma," he says, "look what they're doing over there!" They were burning everything, and there were police standing there, 10 or 15 of them, maybe twenty policemen standing on the side, and the crowd is on the other side, and two or three people are throwing everything down from the balcony. And one of the ones on the balcony is shouting, "What are you standing there for, burn it!" When they threw the television, wow, it was like a bomb! Our neighbor on the third floor came out on her balcony and shouted, "Why are you doing that, why are you burning those things, those people saved with such difficulty to buy those things for their home. Why are you burning them?" And from the courtyard they yell at her, "Go inside, go inside! Instead why don't you tell us if they are any of them in your building or not?" They meant Armenians, but they didn't say Armenians, they said, "of them." She says, "No, no, no, none!" Then she ran downstairs to our place, and says, "Emma, Emma, you have to leave!" I say, "They've killed Shagen anyway, what do we have to live for? It won't be living for me without Shagen. Let them kill us, too!" She insists, saying, "Emma, get out of here, go to Khalida's, and give me the key. When they come I'll say that it's my daughter's apartment, that they're off visiting someone." I gave her the key and went to the neigh¬bor's, but I couldn't endure it. I say, "Igor, you stay here, I'm going to go downstairs, and see, maybe Papa's ... Papa's there."

Meanwhile, they were killing the two brothers, Alik and Valery [Albert and Valery Avanesians; see the accounts of Rima Avanesian and Alvina Baluian], in the courtyard. There is a crowd near the building, they're shout¬ing, howling, and I didn't think that they were killing at the time. Alik and Valery lived in the corner house across from ours. When I went out into the courtyard I saw an Azerbaijani, our neighbor, a young man about 30 years old. I say, "Madar, Uncle Shagen's gone, let's go see, maybe he's dead in the garage or near the garage, let's at least bring the corpse into the house." He shouts, "Aunt Emma, where do you think you're going?! Go back into the house, I'll look for him." I say, "Something will happen to you, too, because of me, no, Madar, I'm coming too." Well he wouldn't let me go all the same, he says, "You stay here with us, I'll go look." He went and looked, and came back and said, "Aunt Emma, there's no one there, the garage is closed." Madar went off again and then returned and said, "Aunt Emma, they've already killed Alik, and Valery's there ... wheezing."

Madar wanted to go up to him, but those scoundrels said, "Don't go near him, or we'll put you next to him." He got scared—he's young—and came back and said, "I'm going to go call, maybe an ambulance will come, at least to take Alik, maybe he'll live ..." They grew up together in our courtyard, they knew each other well, they had always been on good terms. He went to call, but not a single telephone worked, they had all been shut off. He called, and called, and called, and called—nothing.

I went upstairs to the neighbor's. Igor says, "Two police cars drove up over there, their headlights are on, but they're not touching them, they are still lying where they were, they're still lying there ..." We watched out the window until four o'clock, and then went downstairs to our apartment, didn't take my clothes off. I lay on the couch so as not to go to bed, and at six o'clock in the morning I got up and said, "Igor, you stay here at home, don't go out, don't go anywhere, I'm going to look, I have to find Papa, dead or alive ... let me go ... I've got the keys from work."

At six o'clock I went to the Emergency Hospital. The head doctor and another doctor opened the door to the morgue. I run up to them and say, "Doctor, is Shagen there?" He says, "What do you mean? Why should Shagen be here?!" I wanted to go in, but he wouldn't let me. There were only four people in there, they said. Well, they must have been awful because they didn't let me in. They said, "Shagen's not here, he's alive somewhere, he'll come back."

It's already seven o'clock in the morning. I look and there is a panel truck with three policemen. Some of our people from the hospital were there with them. I say, "Sara Baji ["Sister" Sara, term of endearment], go look, they've probably brought Shagen." I said it, shouted it, and she went and came back and says, "No, Emma, he has tan shoes on, it's a younger person." Now Shagen just happened to have tan shoes, light tan, they were already old. When they said it like that I guessed immediately. I went and said, "Doctor, they've brought Shagen in dead." He says, "Why are you carrying on like that, dead, dead . . . he's alive." But then he went all the same, and when he came back the look on his face was ... I could tell immediately that he was dead. They knew one another well, Shagen had worked for him a long time. I say, "Doctor, is it Shagen?" He says, "No, Emma, it's not he, it's somebody else entirely." I say, "Doctor, why are you deceiving me, I'll find out all the same anyway, if not today, then tomorrow." And he said ... I screamed, right there in the office. He says, "Emma, go, go calm down a little." Another one of our colleagues said that the doctor had said it was Shagen, but... in hideous condition. They tried to calm me down, saying it wasn't Shagen. A few minutes later another colleague comes in and says, "Oh, poor Emma!" When she said it like that there was no hope left.

That day was awful. They were endlessly bringing in dead and injured people. At night someone took me home. I said, "Igor, Papa's been killed." On the morning of the 1st I left Igor at home again and went to the hospi¬tal: I had to bury him somehow, do something. I look and see that the hospi¬tal is surrounded by soldiers. They are wearing dark clothes. "Hey, citizen, where are you going?" I say, "I work here," and from inside someone shouts, Yes, yes, that's our cook, let her in." I went right to the head doctor's office and there is a person from the City Health Department there, he used to work with us at the hospital. He says, "Emma, Shagen's been taken to Baku. In the night they took the wounded and the dead, all of them, to Baku." I say, "Doctor, how will I bury him?" He says, "We're taking care of all that don't you worry, we'll do everything, we'll tell you about it. Where did you spend the night?" I say, "I was at home." He says, "What do you mean you were at home?! You were at home alone?" I say, "No, Igor was there too." He says, "You can't stay home, we're getting an ambulance right now, wait just one second, the head doctor is coming, we're arranging an ambulance right now, you put on a lab coat and take one for Igor, you go and bring Igor here like a patient, and you'll stay here and we'll see later what to do next ..." His last name is Kagramanov. The head doctor's name is Izyat Jamalogli Sadukhov.

The "ambulance" arrived and I went home and got Igor. They admitted him as a patient, they gave us a private room, an isolation room. We stayed in the hospital until the 4th.

Some police car came and they said, "Emma, let's go." And the women, our colleagues, when they saw the police car, became anxious and said, "Where are you taking her?" I say, "They're going to kill me, too ..." And the investigator says, "Why are you saying that, we're going to make a positive identification." We went to Baku and they took me into the morgue ... I still can't remember what hospital it was . . . The investigator says, "Let's go, we need to be certain, maybe it's not Shagen." And when I saw the caskets, lying on top of one another, I went out of my mind. I say, "I can't look, no." The investigator says, "Are there any identifying marks?" I say, "Let me see the clothes, or the shoes, or even a sock, I'll recognize them." He says, "Isn't there anything on his body?" I say he has seven gold teeth and his finger, he only has half of one of his fingers. Shagen was a carpenter, he had been injured at work ...

They brought one of the sleeves of the shirt and sweater he was wearing, they brought them and they were all burned . . . When I saw them I shouted, "Oh, they burned him!" I shouted, I don't know, I fell down ... or maybe I sat down, I don't remember. And that investigator says, "Well fine, fine, since we've identified that these are his clothes, and since his teeth . . . since he has seven gold teeth ..."

On the 4th they told me: "Emma, it's time to bury Shagen now." I cried, "How, how can I bury Shagen when I have only one son and he's sick? I should inform his relatives, he has three sisters, I can't do it by myself." They say, "OK, you know the situation. How will they get here from Karabagh? How will they get here from Yerevan? There's no transportation, it's impos¬sible."

He was killed on February 28, and I buried him on March 7. We buried him in Sumgait. They asked me, "Where do you want to bury him?" I said, "I want to bury him in Karabagh, where we were born, let me bury him in Karabagh," I'm shouting, and the head of the burial office, I guess, says, "Do you know what it means, take him to Karabagh?! It means arson!" I say, "What do you mean, arson? Don't they know what's going on in Karabagh? The whole world knows that they killed them, and I want to take him to Karabagh, I don't have anyone here." I begged, I pleaded, I grieved, I even got down on my knees. He says, "Let's bury him here now, and in three months, in six months, a year, if it calms down, I'll help you move him to Karabagh..."

Our trial was the first in Sumgait. It was concluded on May 16. At the investigation the murderer, Tale Ismailov, told how it all happened, but then at the trial he ... tried to wriggle ... he tried to soften his crime. Then they brought a videotape recorder, I guess, and played it, and said, "Ismailov, look, is that you?" He says, "Yes." "Well look, here you're describing every-thing as it was on the scene of the crime, right?" He says, "Yes." "And now you're telling it differently?" He says, "Well maybe I forgot!" Like that.

The witnesses and that criminal creep himself said that when the car was going along Mir Street, there was a crowd of about 80 people . . . Shagen had a Volga GAZ-21. The 80 people surrounded his car, and all 80 of them were involved. One of them was this Ismailov guy, this Tale. They—it's unclear who - started pulling Shagen out of the car. Well, one says from the left side of the car, another says from the right side. They pulled off his sports jacket, He had a jacket on. Well they ask him, "What's your nationality?" He says, "Armenian." Well they say from the crowd they shouted, "If he's an Armenian, kill him, kill him!" They started beating him, they broke seven of his ribs, and his heart... I don't know, they did something there, too . . . it's too awful to tell about. Anyway, they say this Tale guy ... he had an arma¬ture shaft. He says, "I picked it up, it was lying near a bush, that's where I got it." He said he picked it up, but the witnesses say that he had already had it. He said, "I hit him twice," he said, "... once or twice on the head with that rod." And he said that when he started to beat him Shagen was sit¬ting on the ground, and when he hit him he fell over. He said, "I left, right nearby they were burning things or something in an apartment, killing someone," he says, "and I came back to look, is that Shagen alive or not?" I said, "You wanted to finish him, right, and if he was still alive, you came back to hit him again?" He went back and looked and he was already dead. "After that," that bastard Tale said, "after that I went home."

I said, "You . . . you . . . little snake," I said, "Are you a thief and a murder¬er?" Shagen had had money in his jacket, and a watch on his wrist. They were taken. He says he didn't take them.

When they overturned and burned the car, that Tale was no longer there, it was other people who did that. Who it was, who turned over the car and who burned it, that hasn't been clarified as yet. I told the investigator, "How can you have the trial when you don't know who burned the car?" He said something, but I didn't get what he was saying. But I said, "You still haven't straightened everything out, I think that's unjust."

When they burned the car he was lying next to it, and the fire spread to him. In the death certificate it says that he had third-degree burns over 80 Percent of his body...

And I ask again, why was he killed? My husband was a carpenter, he was a good craftsman, he knew how to do everything, he even fixed his own car, with his own hands. We have three children. Three sons. Only Igor was with me at the time. The older one was in Pyatigorsk, and the younger one is serving in the Army. And now they're fatherless . ..

I couldn't sit all the way through it. When the Procurator read up to 15 years' deprivation of freedom, I just ... I went out of my mind, I didn't know what to do with myself, I said, "How can that be? You," I said, "you are saying that it was intentional murder and the sentence is 15 years' deprivation of freedom?" I screamed, I had lost my mind! I said, "Let me at that creep, with my bare hands I'll ..." A relative restrained me, and there were all those military people there ... I left. I said, "This isn't a Soviet trial this unjust!" That's what I shouted, I said it and left...

I said that on February 27, when those people were streaming down our street, they were shouting, "Long live Turkey!" and "Glory to Turkey!" And during the trial I said to that Ismailov, "What does that mean, Glory to Turkey? I still don't understand what Turkey has to do with this, we live in the Soviet Union. That Turkey told you to or is going to help you kill Armenians? I still don't understand why "Glory to Turkey!" I asked that question twice and got no answer ... No one answered me...

May 19, 1988 Yerevan


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Born 1942 Employed Sumgait Bulk Yarn Plant

Resident at Building 34, Apartment 33

Microdistrict No. 12


On February 27 my wife and I went to Baku to go shopping and returned to Sumgait at around five in the evening. We ran into one of my relatives at the bus station and got to talking. A lot of people had gathered not far away, near the store. Well at first we didn't know what was happening, and then a fellow I know comes up to me, an Azerbaijani guy, and says, "What are you standing here for? Go home immediately!" I asked, "What's going on?" He says, "What's the matter, can't you see, they've overturned a car and they're killing Armenians!" He helped me catch a cab and we got home safely.

We sat at home for two days. During that time a gang of bandits came into our courtyard. But the neighbors wouldn't let them in the building. There were about 80 of them. They had sticks and pieces of armatures in their hands. They were shouting something, but you couldn't understand it. It wasn't one voice or two, all of them were shouting in a chorus. They turned toward Building 35. They went up to the third floor, and we see that they're breaking glass and throwing things out the window. After a while they come out the entryway: one has a pair of jeans in his hands, another has a tape recorder, and a third a guitar. They went on toward the auto parts store.

We had to save ourselves. After midnight on March 1 we went to hide at School No. 33, which is in Microdistrict 13. There were two other Armenian families there with us. There were 13 of us altogether. Out of all of them I had only known Ernest before, he had moved to Sumgait from Kirovabad. The Azerbaijani guard at the school let us in. At first he didn't want to, but there was nowhere else for us to go. We had to plead with him and talk him into it. We were told that on that day, the 1st, there would be an attack on our microdistrict.

We went upstairs to a classroom on the second floor. On the city radio station they announced three telephone numbers that could be used to summon assistance or communicate anything important. I called one of them and the First Secretary of the Sumgait City Party Committee answered. I asked him for assistance. 1 say, "We're in School No. 33, we need to be evacuated." Well he says, "Got it, wait there, I'm sending out help now."

I know his voice. The First Secretary had been to our plant, 1 had spoken with him personally. When I called he said, "Muslimzade here."

About two hours after the call we heard shouts near the school. We looked out the window and about 100 to 120 people were outside saying, "Armenians, come out, we're here to get you." They have clubs, axes, and armature shafts in their hands. The guard sat there with us, and asked, "Where should I go?" I say, "If your life is of any value to you you'll go down there and say that the Armenians were here and that they left." That's what he did. He went down there and said, "The Armenians were here," he said, "I let them out the back door, they went that way." And pointed with his hand. And with shouts and noise the mob set off in the direction he had pointed.

So the assistance we had been promised did come. They sent us help, all right! Instead of sending real soldiers he had sent his own. I am positive that Muslimzade did that. No one had seen us entering the school, no one knew that we were there. In any case, we stayed at the school until seven in the morning, and no soldiers of any sort came to our aid.

In the morning we went to my relative's in Microdistrict 1, and the sol¬diers took us to the SK club from there. The club was jammed with people, and there were lots of people ahead of us—there was no space available. One small boy, about three months old, died right in my arms. There wasn't a single doctor, nothing. The boy was uninjured, there were no wounds or bruises on him. He was just very ill. They gave him mouth-to-mouth resus¬citation, they did everything they could under the circumstances, but were unable to save him. And his mother and father, a young Armenian couple, were right there, on the floor ...

I searched for a spot for us in the SK, we have a small child of our own, I wanted to find a room or something to put my family in. I went up to the third floor, there were a lot of soldiers up there, bandaged, with canes, limp¬ing, with their heads broken open. They were a terrible sight. Young guys, all of them.

There were a lot of bandaged Armenians, too. Everyone had been beaten, everyone was crying, wailing, and calling for help. I think that the City Party Committee ignored us completely. True, there was a snack bar: a sausage was 30 kopeks or 40 kopeks, a package of cookies that cost 26 kopeks was being sold for 50, a bottled soft drink cost a ruble . . . But there was no way to get the things any cheaper.

I met my old uncle, Aram Mikhailovich, there. He saw me and tears welled up in his eyes. My whole life he had told me that we were friendly peoples, that we worked together, he always had Azerbaijanis over at his house. And now he saw me and there was nothing he could say, he just cried. You can understand his feelings, of course.

April 8,1988



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Born 1937


Kavkazenergoremont Electric Booster Station

Her daughters


Born 1970


Sumgait Municipal Hospital No. 1


Born 1978

Second-Year Student

Sumgait Secondary School No. 13

Residents at Building 21/31, Apartment 47

Microdistrict No. 3


-Zinaida: On March 20 we arrived in Yerevan, and the next day they reg¬istered us at the train station and took us to the boarding house. The condi¬tions were wonderful, thanks to our Armenians, who received us. But it's not relaxing all the same. I don't know how everyone else feels about it, but for me it's torture. We don't have a place to call our own. I had a two-bed¬room apartment in Sumgait, my children went to school and we lived well, in friendship. It's painful that in our times, in 1988, in the Soviet period, peo¬ple can break into our apartment and try to kill me and my children, in whom I've put all my efforts and my whole youth. Everything was going well for us: my older daughter was studying at the Institute, the middle one was preparing to enter medical school and was interning as an orderly, and my youngest had been sick for a long time, but had returned to health. I have been though a lot in my life: it's been seven years since I lost my hus¬band, I raised my children by myself. Lots of women have similar fates, but there's nothing to be done about it. But I can't control myself when I remem¬ber what happened in Sumgait on February 27, 28, and 29, it was just a horror, it's indescribable.

On February 27 our relative, Ira, came to visit us. She's better friends with my oldest daughter, and so right away she asked, "Where's Vika?" I say, "Vika's off in Pirkuli on a trip for three days, she's supposed to come back tomorrow." My middle daughter, Gaya, had baked a cake and we sat there talking and laughing, drinking tea. Then Gaya and Diana went to walk Ira home.

They left and a few minutes went by; suddenly I hear noise. I raced out to the balcony—our balcony is right across from the bus station, we live at the corner of Mir and Druzhba Streets—I look and see that there are hoards of people near the bus station and they're all shouting something. What they're shouting I can't understand. Our neighbor is standing on his balcony, too. I ask, "Nufar, what's happened?" He says, "I don't know, I can't figure it out either." I got scared—the kids had gone outside, and I wanted to run after them, but then there was a knock at the door. I open the door and it's the kids. "Mamma," says Gayane, "you'll never believe what's going on out there! It's awful!" Ira says, "Aunt Zina, they're shouting, 'Karabagh! Karabagh! Karabagh is ours!' We didn't know what was going on. They're threatening to drive out the Armenians and slaughter them."

I called my brother, and his wife answered the phone. I said, "Aunt Tamara, don't worry, Ira is staying here with us, and we'll see her home lat¬er." I couldn't shut my eyes all night long, even until morning. I was worried about Vika. My God, what was going on, what had happened?!

-Gayane: That day, on the 27th, we stood on the balcony and observed what was happening, although Mamma wouldn't allow us to watch all of it. There weren't 50 yards between our building and the bus station. We could see and hear everything perfectly. They were stopping buses, dragging peo¬ple out, leading all the passengers out, looking for Armenians. If they found an Armenian on the bus, then it started ... I don't know what to call it...

-Zinaida: It's called slaughter.

-Gayane: The mob would descend on people and beat them. I don't know if they were killing them or not, but when they left them, they lay still, not moving, as though nothing was left of them. One person was lying there and they started dragging him. The police were standing right there, to the side, not doing anything, they didn't take any steps to calm that mob.

It was awful to stand there and watch it all from the balcony. And you couldn't go anywhere, somehow . . . you wanted to be able to see everything so as to tell of it later. We wanted to leave Sumgait that day. What kept us was the idea that we live in the Soviet Union, and that something would be done about it. Where in the world was our government?!

-Zinaida: We couldn't leave town, of course, because our older daughter wasn't home. And at the same time I was terrified for Gaya and Diana. On Sunday morning when I went to see Ira home, our neighbor said, "Zin', you know they went into Valodya's house and smashed everything he had. They murdered his father and two sons." Valodya is our neighbor, he's an Armenian, he lives on the first floor. I think, my God, what is happening?! And in broad daylight!

I saw Ira home and when on the way back I came across a mob shouting "Slay the Armenians! Karabagh is ours!" This was at 12 o'clock in the after¬noon. On the way I stopped into a bread store and the saleswoman says. "They beat our store manager, they thought he was an Armenian and they beat him, but he was an Azerbaijani." And I asked, "Did they kill him?" She says, "No, he's in serious condition." I left there and started to walk home on that same street, but the mob started moving in my direction. I turned off the street and went down the little way that goes toward the Sputnik store. There I met another crowd, but these weren't bandits, these were our people from Sumgait. I was so frightened that I walked without knowing where I as going, I couldn't feel my legs or the ground under my feet. I was walking and there was a boy standing before my eyes. This was on the 27th, around evening time. He ran under our balcony, and the mob surged toward him shouting, "He's an Armenian, get him!" He wore a black coat. They grabbed him, that boy, near the bus stop, I saw it. They grabbed him by the legs and struck his head on the asphalt.

I made it home but I just couldn't calm down. My oldest daughter was in my thoughts. I was thinking, my daughter's coming home now, they'll stop her bus and she'll be gone. There's no police, no protection, nothing. It's like they had all died, there's no one, nothing, no authorities whatsoever. I can't even find the words for it! I look and see an Ikarus arriving. Before going to the bus station they stop near our place, across from the Kosmos movie the¬ater. So this Ikarus stops there and the gang is yelling, the Azerbaijanis are running toward it yelling, "Armenians, out!" And I see them take the Armenians and beat them, killing them. I can't watch it any more. It was a nightmare. I just couldn't watch it. But Gaya was standing there watching it, and I scolded her. She says, "Mamma, I have to see it, I have to know what's happening, I have to see it with my own eyes so I can tell our people of it later. So our children will know."

-Gayane: We saw a great deal on the 27th. They caught no less than 20 people before my eyes. I can't say for sure if they killed them or not...

-Zinaida: There were too many people there, the mob was too big. You couldn't make anything out. But I saw that boy in the black coat with my own eyes. He was 18 or 19 years old.

-Gayane: I think he was older, probably, about 22. A tall fellow, a big guy, in a coat. He was walking quickly, but when they shouted that he was an Armenian, he tore off running. And the mob went after him. They caught him right under our balcony. I don't know. I don't think there could have been much left of him after that. You can imagine what happens when a crowd attacks one person. It was a mob, big, angry, and featureless. You know, there was a similarity in the way they were dressed, mostly they were wearing long black coats. You couldn't even tell them apart, they were all wearing black and they all looked alike.

-Zinaida: When they picked up that boy and struck him against the asphalt and he cried "Mamma!" 1 ran into the room. I couldn't watch any longer. An awful lot was going on right then, in various places, it wasn't only that boy, several people were being beaten up. You couldn't see all of it at once, but when that boy cried "Mamma!" I immediately started watching only him.

—Gayane: On that first day it went on from about six in the morning until twelve at night. At midnight they dispersed and the police took their place They were scattered about in all districts. But how can you explain the fact that by morning, when it had already started getting light, around seven o'clock, our police were gone? The police disappeared and yielded their positions to the bandits. In the morning they started gathering at our inter¬section again, at the bus station and at the entrance to downtown. From morning on all the roads and mass transit stops were covered, and by nine o'clock you couldn't even see the ground. There were thousands of people in the crowd. Again they began stopping vehicles and checking for Armenians.

-Zinaida: They had signals. I realized that when I noticed that they made a cross with their arms, they crossed their arms over their heads. The cross, evidently, meant that the vehicle had Armenians in it. They let the Azerbaijani cars through, and they stopped the Armenian ones and started their pogrom.

-Gayane: They stopped a white Zhiguli and asked the driver what his nationality was. He got out and said they were from Baku. "But what is your nationality?" He says Armenian. They immediately start shouting, "Ermeni, Ermeni!" And he says, "What's going on? I'm coming from Baku. I don't live in Sumgait." "Doesn't matter, who cares if you're from Baku or Sumgait." Anyway the crowd pounced on him and started beating him, and they dragged a woman—his wife, probably—out of the car. At this point the police came and took the two and led them away. Then the mob started smashing the car, and then burned it. The flames blazed ... it was a horrible fire! Then everyone ran away, they thought the car was going to explode. About 20 minutes later another car comes along, a green Moskvich. They ran up shouting "Ermeni! Ermeni!" But this time they didn't pull the people out of the car, they didn't beat them. Maybe they burned them along with the car, because no one emerged from the flames. The neighbor boy Vakhit was standing on the balcony too, acquaintances of his walked by below, and he asked them and they said, "Yes, they burned them along with the car." About two hours later a whole wedding procession came by, and there was a doll on the first car. We thought they were Armenians, but the cars started to honk loudly. They were Azerbaijanis, and they were immediately allowed through.

-Zinaida: The driver waved his hand as if to say 'get out of the way.' The whole crowd parted and the procession passed through freely.

-Gayane: By the way, at the marriage hall, which is right in the courtyard of our building, there was a wedding that day. The Azerbaijanis were cele¬brating and dancing. On the streets there was grief and death, people were being killed, and people were celebrating the whole time.

-Zinaida: Before the apartment itself was attacked I asked Gaya to call and find out when the tourist bus was supposed to arrive. She went to her girlfriend's in the building, she lives in the first entryway, on the third floor. Gaya came back and said, "Mamma, the bus is supposed to come around eight, after eight." You can imagine what I was feeling, how hard it was: Vika knew nothing about what was happening and was coming to meet her death. Then I heard shouting. I raced to the window and see that the belong¬ings of our neighbors from the second entryway are being thrown outdoors. They were thrashing about with the pillows and the feathers were flying like snow. I started to cry. I am walking around the room, crying, wailing: Vika's not here, what will come of her . . . Gaya, of course, was consoling me: "Mamma, nothing will happen to her, don't worry, calm down, she's in good company, they'll look out for her."

Diana: I saw the green car burn. The car was burning when we went out onto the balcony. Gaya pushed me away, telling me to get off the balcony. I left. Then they came up to the balcony and asked if there were any Armenians here.

-Zinaida: You're right, I forgot about that, that was on the 27th.

Diana: There's a small, grassy area in front of our balcony; there are trees planted there. The mob asked if there were any Armenians in the building. All the neighbors said, no, there are no Armenians here. There weren't a lot of Armenians in our building, but there weren't just a few Armenian fami¬lies, either.

-Gayane: They fell upon the apartments on the 28th. There were terribly many of them. Our courtyard is huge, and it was completely filled with them.

-Zinaida: Katusev had made an appearance on television earlier. He said that two people, Azerbaijanis, had been killed in Karabagh. And when he said that. . . you know how bees sound, have you heard how they buzz? It was like the buzzing of millions of bees . . . and with this buzzing they flew into our courtyard, howling and shouting. I don't know how to describe it. By this point we were afraid to watch from the balcony, but when I looked out of the bedroom window—the Znaniye Bookstore is down there, and Armenians live on the second and fourth floors—I saw their things being thrown out the windows. I realized that they would be upon us any minute. I shouted to Gayane, "Gaya, hide the gold." That's honestly what I told my child. I grabbed Diana. I didn't know what to do! Vika still wasn't home, and it was already getting dark. I was afraid to look at the time because I was already horrified as it was.

-Gayane: Just in case, we changed the television channel from the Moscow station to the Azerbaijani one.

-Zinaida: And turned it up loud.

-Gayane: We never listened to Azerbaijani music. It just didn't do much for us. In all those years we almost never listened to it. But sometimes we would watch some entertainment show or film on Azerbaijani television. And that was it. And here we had it turned up full blast. So they would think we were Azerbaijanis.

-Zinaida: Well you can imagine, they're slaughtering Armenians, robbing them, and we're listening to this concert music from Baku. Our Azerbaijani Neighbors suggested we do it, they knocked on the door and told Gaya to turn on Azerbaijani music. But we already had it on anyway. Turn on the lights, they told us, so they will think you're not Armenians. They're saying the Armenians are afraid to turn on their lights, they're hiding.

-Gayane: Apparently there was some kind of arrangement, because we noticed that the lights were off only in Armenian apartments, that is, the Azerbaijanis were warned, and every last one of them had their rights on. When we turned the lights off two of our neighbors came immediately, and later, another one. "Turn on the lights," they told us, "please. Nothing will happen. Be calm. Nothing will happen."

-Zinaida: "We won't allow them to come into your apartment."

-Gayane: We believed those people. We had never done anything bad to them.

-Zinaida: After the whole nightmare, about March 15, before we left for Armenia, when I was coming into the building they were all crying. The Azerbaijanis were crying, saying, "Can it be there is no God? How could they raise their hands against your family? You never did anyone any harm, you never refused anyone anything, not in hard times, or in time of fortune, or in time of mourning. How could they give you away? How could they sell you down the river?" They really had given us away. Some of them pro¬tected us, but others gave us away. They sold us down the river.

-Gayane: I was wearing slacks that day, and when it all began I became cautious for some reason and I changed my clothes. Azerbaijani women don't wear pants. Young Armenian and Russian girls in Sumgait wore pants, but the Azerbaijanis found that very strange. And I thought I better put on a skirt, otherwise they won't believe me if I told them we were Azerbaijanis. There was nothing else we could do. No other way out. I was forced to turn myself into God knows who. I let my hair down, tousled it, and threw a scarf over my head.

-Zinaida: And she told me, "Mamma, you hide. Take Diana and go into the other room. You two look more like Armenians. They'll figure out that we're Armenians right away." But how could I go away and leave her there?!

-Gayane: I went out onto the balcony. It worked out better that way. We were the only Armenian family in the fourth entryway. This gave us hope: we were the only ones, the neighbors wouldn't let them in. They, the Azerbaijanis, would fear for themselves and for their children. I looked and saw someone crawling up on the balcony from below, it was easy to get up onto our balcony. When we would lose the keys the neighbors would let us into their places and we would crawl across onto our balcony and get in that way. So I turned around and saw a guy with a knife on our balcony. He looks at me and shouts, "What nationality are you here?"

-Zinaida: At the same time they were knocking on the door.

-Gayane: "What nationality are you?" he's shouting. Well at first I was frightened, but then I got control of myself and answered in perfect Azerbaijani, "You should be ashamed of yourself, asking a question like that. Can't you see I'm an Azerbaijani? If I were an Armenian would I come out to meet you face to face and look you in the eyes?" He looks at me and tells the people with him, "Yes, Azerbaijanis live here." From below they tell him, "Check it out, it can't be, they have to be Armenians." And he asks me again, "What nationality are you?" I say, "Can't you see?" I started fuming. I could not say anything else. "You're blind, that's for sure! You can yell all you want, but that won't make us Armenians." I hear them breaking down our door, and Mamma went toward the door. I say, "I don't have time to deal with you, they're breaking down our door." I go to the door and ask, "Who is it?" They answer, "Open up!" I say, "Wait, why are you breaking the door? What's going on? I'm opening up." We never locked the lower lock, it was broken, but now they had locked it out of fear, and I couldn't get it open. I say wait, I'm looking for the key. I opened the door—it was almost broken down already. I opened the door and they burst in. I say, "What's going on? Why are you breaking down our door?"

-Zinaida: Then they started climbing in from the balcony. They're shout¬ing, "Why don't you open the door?" And I say, "Well you've already come in the balcony." Then Diana sees their knives, runs into the bathroom, and closes the door. Gaya cries out, "Mamma, Diana ran into the bathroom!" I ran to the door and forgot that we were pretending to be Azerbaijanis, and said in Armenian: "Diana, open the door!" Gaya tried to calm them down, and I'm shouting with tears in my eyes for Diana to open the door.

-Diana: I was sitting on the couch with my doll, Little Red Riding Hood. That guy climbed in from the balcony with a big knife with a yellow handle. They put it up to Mamma's stomach. I ran to the bathroom, opened the door, and slammed it behind me. I was frightened, and started to cry. I shouted, "Mamma, they want to kill you!" And then . . . then they started shouting, "Give us your passports." And Gaya says, "What do you need passports for, we're Azerbaijanis."

-Gayane; I tried to convince them that we were Azerbaijanis, I was trying everything I could. I could get on my knees and plead. I could humble myself, because at that moment I was worried about other lives than just my own. To be honest I didn't care about anything else, as long as my little sister would survive, her life and health had cost us so dearly! I tell them, "What, don't you understand anything?" They started shouting, they were tremen¬dously excited, shouting with terribly loud voices, saying that in Stepanakert their girls were being killed, raped, and tossed around with pitchforks. Why shouldn't they do the same to us? I said, "Who's doing all that? Who is doing it? Some Armenians! What does that have to do with us? Give me the knife, I'll cut my own face." "Now you calm down," they tell me.

-Zinaida: I told them, "Why didn't you deal with them there! There, in Karabagh? Nothing has happened here, no one has been fighting here, not we with the Armenians, nor they with us. Why didn't you give it right back to them there? What've we got to do with this?" I got confused. I had been saying that we were Azerbaijanis, but suddenly I started speaking as though I was an Armenian, but they didn't notice. One of them was next to me, with a knife at my breast. And he says to the others, "What pretty girls." He meant Gaya and my 10-year-old Diana. I was terrified. Gaya started assuring them that we were Azerbaijanis. One guy stood in the doorway and gave us bad looks.

-Gayane: He demanded the passports. I said, "Young man, I don't have my passport here." He says, "Let's have the passport, we won't believe you without your passport." And one of them started hurriedly searching for documents. They turned the wardrobe in the other room upside down, took the picture off the wall, and started pulling the clothes off their hooks, yelling and shouting, "Passport! Passport!" They all started yelling, there was so much noise in the apartment. They were all shouting. My hair stood on end. Suddenly I said, "Listen, my Papa died, 40 days haven't passed yet, we have a Muslim household, we're in mourning, you should be ashamed of yourselves, you've disgraced your honor." And then Mamma started to cry.

-Zinaida: I started crying: "My husband died, 40 days haven't yet passed, aren't you ashamed of yourselves!" In fact my husband had died seven years earlier, in 1981. "We're in mourning, and you burst in here demanding docu¬ments. The documents are at the housing office, I'm filing for my pension." Well it seemed like they believed us. Then one guy said, "They're Lezgins. Can't you see, there are no men here, only women. Leave." Another fellow in the group agreed with him, he also said that we were Lezgins. But a third said, "No, they're Armenians." Well the other two convinced him, I don't know how, and all the rest of them listened to them too. There were abort 50 of them, if not more, all in our three-room apartment, even the entryway was filled. They started leaving. Yes, we're Lezgins, we're Lezgins." They started leaving, and one of them took our tape recorder with him. And the one who had first called us Lezgins says, "Leave that, what are you doing?" They seemed to obey that guy.

-Gayane: He was tall, wearing baggy jeans and a coat.

-Zinaida: With a little moustache, I think.

-Gayane: No, he didn't have a moustache, he was tall with brown hair, he wasn't a bad-looking sort. He didn't have anything in his hands.

-Zinaida: He stood at the threshold.

-Gayane: Yes, he didn't look like a bad guy, and you know, his face seemed familiar to me. I had seen him somewhere. And more than once. But I can't remember where. When he came in I was stupefied, I had a premoni¬tion that he wouldn't be able to remain indifferent. When he said that we were Lezgins and that they should leave, such gladness started to glow inside of me. Hope. They continued to argue on their way out. Some said, "They're Armenians all the same." And that fellow answered, "Even if they are Armenians, it's shameful, the father died, they're mourning, there's noth¬ing but women in the house, there's no men. We should stay out of the apartment." "What do you mean, stay out? We can go in there!" And he said, "No, we should stay out, they're Lezgins, we're leaving here." The three of them protected us.

-Zinaida: No, the two of them. The one in the short coat and the one in the grey suit, who stood at the threshold, about 19 or 20 years old. Well they were all young really. The two of them defended us.

-Diana: Three, three!

-Zinaida: Do you remember the third one, Diana?

-Diana: Yes, he was wearing dark clothes.

-Gayane: The third one was the one who came back. He wore a long brown coat.

-Diana: He wore a long, darkish brown coat, and his hair was dark too. When they left, they told him downstairs that those women were Armenians, and ran back and said that they were going to kill us.

-Zinaida: They had all left, and we had started to calm down a little, and I closed the door. And then there is a knock. I told Gaya, "Take Diana and go into the other room." My daughters went into the dining room, and I opened the door. There was a guy there who said, "Run, hide! They're coming to kill you now!" We ran up to the third floor. We had some good neighbors up there, Azerbaijanis. I sent the kids and stood there alone, not knowing what to do. I was so far gone . . . Out of a whole room I couldn't even think of anything to take. I even forgot to take my work documents; at the time I had been preparing a report to send to Baku, and the documents were at home. I couldn't see anything ... I could only see Vika, my older daughter. I sent Gaya and Diana upstairs, and stood there asking that fellow, "Should I close the door and leave everything like this?" He says, "What do you mean, door? Get out of here, they're coming to kill you! What are you standing there for?" And I ran after the children.

-Gayane: We barely had time to get up to the third floor when they burst into our apartment and started shouting, "Where are the Armenians?" We were already at the neighbors'. They had an infant at the time, and the neighbor said, "Don't you worry, I'm not letting anyone in this apartment no matter what."

-Zinaida: On the third floor there I started asking the folks, our neighbors, to go meet Vika. The bus was due to arrive at eight o'clock. I dissolved in tears, Gaya was soothing me, Diana was next to us, she was crying too, and I'm already thinking that I've lost my older daughter, but deep in my heart I still believe she's alive . . . And my tears choked me. I was going out of my mind. But no one could leave the building, the courtyard was packed with people, swarming with them. From the balcony the neighbor in whose apartment we were hiding asked the bandits, "Where are those Armenians, the ones who were at home? Where did they make off to?" They told him they didn't know. They asked him where he lived. He answered, "Can't you see, on the third floor." He asked them specially to divert attention from his own apartment. We heard them taking free reign of our apartment, and they threw our color television off the balcony and it exploded.

-Gayane: Mamma was crying the whole time. She fell into a faint and we brought her around and held her back, because the whole time she kept making for the door to go outside, alternately raving and sobbing, shouting, and calling Vika. She didn't notice us, probably because we were next to her. Her thoughts were only on Vika. The neighbors who were hiding us were calming her too, offering tea.

-Zinaida: We are very grateful to them. Thanks to them my children and I are alive, well, and unharmed. When they were throwing our belongings out and burning them—the beds, the pillows, and the chairs—our neighbor came to us and said, "How lucky you are that it's not you standing there naked, but some other woman instead. You're from our part of the building, you lost your husband, you have children, thank God you're not in her posi¬tion, we wouldn't have been able to take it. I don't know what I would do." He of course wouldn't have done anything, he was just trying to calm us down. In the yard they were torturing our neighbors, fellow Armenians. They lived on the fifth floor, in the third entryway. A married couple, Vanya and Nina, and their three children. Their last name is V. They hid their two daughters, and stayed with their son to defend themselves, they even got boiling water ready, and an axe, and held them off for a long time, but then . . . They beat up the husband, dragged the wife outside, and stood her naked next to our burning things; her husband was lying at her feet on the ground. The crowd shouted, "Look at the naked Armenian!" They were going to throw the poor woman into the fire. The neighbors came out, an Azerbaijani woman threw her a scarf, and she covered herself with it, and the neighbors led her off to their apartment. All the neighbors saw and heard it...

-Gayane: Mamma wouldn't allow it but I went to the window and saw her standing there, and they took skewers that had been heated in the fire and stuck them into her body. Our neighbor, who lived in the same entry-way as Nina—she lives with us in the same boarding house now—saw what they had done, Nina showed her, from her knees up, almost up to her neck, her whole body was covered, riddled, with wounds.

-Zinaida: In the morning, during the night of the 29th, rather, after one o'clock, two buses approached the station. I wanted to run out. By then I didn't care any more if I lived or died, but Gayane wouldn't let me go, and the neighbors said that I would bring disaster to them and they would be slain along with their children. Gaya was crying and said that I forgot about them, my other children, but I could only think of Vika. I imagined her torn to pieces, I'm a mother, and they're just children, they don't understand. I would have jumped off the balcony and run to the soldiers for help. I was going to do it but Gayane wouldn't let me: "Mamma, please! Mamma, I beg of you!" The neighbors were sleeping and Gayane woke them with her cries. So we held on that way till morning.

On the morning of the 29th I told our neighbor I was going to go down¬stairs to our apartment, maybe Vika was lying there, murdered. He told me he would go himself. He was gone for about five minutes, but it seemed like an eternity to me. He returned and said there was no one there, nothing. I went down too, stole down like a mouse, and slipped in—everything was thrown all about. I didn't go to the soldiers because the armored personnel carriers were far away, farther than the bus station. I began looking for the briefcase with my work in it. I was miserable because of my daughter, and at the same time because of my work. My documents were there, my travel papers—I worked in the transport division—and my trip sheets.

-Gayane: Mamma is a very responsible person, she was always ready to work around the clock to do her job.

-Zinaida: I look around and I can't find the briefcase. I didn't care about the fact that everything had been stolen out of all three of my rooms, that everything was smashed, and the furniture was broken, I worried about that later, but at first I was concerned about the lost documents. I went into the kitchen. My daughter had hidden some valuables in the gas stove: my ring and my earrings. It was all there. Five minutes passed and Gayane ran in and said, "Mamma, hurry." And Diana came downstairs too. Gayane found her coat among the debris, and Diana found her track shoes, her coat, and some of her dresses.

-Diana: Immediately after we got back up to the neighbors they started throwing things around in the apartment under us. They threw a television onto the asphalt, it exploded so violently it sounded like a thunderclap. Then, when Vika wasn't there, I wouldn't eat, and they forced me, but I couldn't eat. Because I loved Vika terribly and she and I had always gone to the movies and gone for walks in the park. When we went into our apart¬ment the next day and everything was broken, right away I started looking for my dolls and my books, but I didn't see anything. When we went back upstairs I managed to take two cups from my tea service, and Gaya took Vika's suit and one of her own dresses. My Italian boots were gone, my brown coat, it was beautiful, there wasn't a one of my beautiful dolls, and my giant lion was gone too, the one that had been on top of the television. He was very large and very handsome. I had two satchels, one for first grade and the other for second grade, one was yellow-green with a boy and a girl on it, they're playing a drum and a violin, and there is a dog sitting there closing its ears, and on the other one were the letters A, B, C, D, E and the numbers 4+5, two girls and a boy with their mouths open like they are singing. They were beautiful satchels. They were gone too. I had many books, I collected them, they were in the bedside tables. And a boy had giv¬en me a little apron and a headband for my birthday, they weren't around either. And I had some big books, fat ones, and they disappeared, only one was left, The Malachite Box. The Adventures of Karlson, Pippi Longstocking, and Fairy Tales of the World were left. All the other books were gone.

-Zinaida: I continued searching for my briefcase, and then my supervisor arrived. He had waited for me until nine o'clock, but I didn't appear, and he thought something must have happened, so he came. He's a Russian, Aleksei Semyonovich Lomakin. Alik Aliyev, the mechanic, came with him. When they saw my wrecked apartment they were just petrified, they could not say a thing. When I saw them I started crying. My Azerbaijani neighbors came in. Some of them were crying, others were helping me pick up. I go on looking for my documents and at the same time put things into the wardrobe. Now that I remember it it's both funny and painful: How could I have thought that I had returned to my apartment and that everything had gone back to normal? Incidentally, later, when I went back to the apartment again, those things were gone too. And the door was gone. After my super¬visor left, in the afternoon, the neighbor said that we should leave, find another refuge. "I'm afraid," he said, "that someone saw you come to my apartment, and that they could kill you and us too." My God, where could I go, it was daytime and those ... I don't even know what to call them, the bandits, those marauders, those jackals, I don't know what to call them, I can't find the words, they were everywhere. Where should 1 go with two girls? When 1 opened the door I had tears in my eyes, and I was terrified . . . And he said, "Go to Alik's, he's an Azerbaijani, too." And I say, "You should have said that earlier, when my supervisor was here with the car, he could have taken us with him." Everyone feared for their own lives. What could I do? I went out into the entryway and stood. And he says, "Any other time I would keep you here a year, or two. But right now, I'm sorry ..." Then another door opened, also on the third floor. I ask the neighbor, "Tayara, can we hide at your place?" She's an Azerbaijani too. She says, "What kind of question is that? Come in!" She hid us. There were many people in the court¬yard, and Gaya and I hid in the wardrobe, and they put Diana under a mat¬tress, leaving a small opening so the child could breathe. Tayara said that when the bandits left she would let us out, and when they came back she would hide us again.

We sat in the wardrobe for about a half hour. Gaya became ill, and I allowed her to get out. My legs fell asleep and felt like cannons. We hadn't eaten or drunk anything for so long, since the 27th, when we saw that hor¬ror—and all of it just snapped in me. Tayara's husband went outside, even though I begged him to stay, saying there should be a man in the house. He said that he'd be in the courtyard, and if anything happened his wife would signal him. She put her passport and all of their documents on the table so if they suddenly came in she could show them that they were an Azerbaijani family. My girls went to the window—and what was going on out there! I feared for my children, that someone would recognize them from the street. Gaya let her hair down and put on a scarf so she would resemble an Azerbaijani, but directly across there was a 9-story building, their windows were right across from us, and I shouted that someone would see her and give us away on the spot. But she kept on looking.

-Diana: I watched too.

-Zinaida: Downstairs the bandits were fighting with the soldiers. The sol¬diers didn't shoot, they didn't have orders to. I saw them throwing rocks at the soldiers, they were young boys, 18- and 19-year olds, and they defended themselves . . . I'm a mother after all, and they were no different from my children. When one of the soldiers fell and his head started bleeding I had to stop looking, I couldn't watch anymore ... I imagined my children in their shoes ...

-Gayane: The troops had assumed their defense that morning and had cordoned off the buildings, and some of the soldiers surrounded the bus sta¬tion, Block 36, and our Microdistrict 3. But they only cordoned them off from the outside. The mob fell upon the soldiers, who started to protect themselves, and the mob surged into the courtyard with the soldiers after it. They caught several Azerbaijanis and started beating them with their clubs. One fell down and they cracked open another's head...

-Zinaida: They show Lebanon on television, and the war in Afghanistan—that's just what it was like. Like in America, how they attack demonstrations with shields and clubs—that's just how it was in our court¬yard.

-Gayane: Don't compare it with America, those were peaceful demonstra¬tions, but these?!

-Zinaida: But how could it happen here and not off somewhere in America! They attacked the soldiers, hurled stones at them . . . Then I thought, where's the tear gas that the Americans use to disperse demonstra¬tors? If they had used gas on those jackals they all would have scattered.

-Gayane: They would not have scattered. The soldiers had been there since morning, they didn't bring in fresh troops. They hadn't eaten, they were fine standing there for about three hours, but then they got tired. They weren't even allowed to sit down ... At noon they, the soldiers, attacked them, and then the tables were turned. The mob went after the soldiers, the guys were bunched into a group in the center street and covered themselves with their shields, and the Azerbaijanis surrounded them and threw paving stones at them. And those guys sat there covering themselves with their shields. And meanwhile tanks with machine guns were cruising the streets . . . They always say, "Our children have never seen war." I never even dreamed about it, there was no need to. But then I thought about those peo¬ple who had lived through a war. It was truly horrible . . . The guys were tired, exhausted, some had had their clubs taken away, others, their shields, they had been beaten, they were covered in blood ... So many died! They beat the soldiers with their own clubs and shields. And those guys stood there and couldn't defend themselves, they couldn't open fire. They couldn't even defend themselves, let alone us. It's comical...

-Zinaida: What are you saying? How can it be funny?

-Gayane: No, I didn't mean that: How could something like that happen during our Soviet period? It's painfully embarrassing! And they burned the armored personnel carriers, too. Someone shouted, "Get away, it's going to blow!" Everyone scattered away, and the armored personnel carrier explod¬ed. The soldiers lost their senses. And when they drove the personnel carrier and the bus at the mob out of rage and fury, they drove right up on the side¬walk.

-Zinaida: The bus that had brought the troops. Only the driver was in it. The bus ran over three people straight off, I saw it. And two armored per¬sonnel carriers ran over four more. All in one or two minutes. The bus ran over three, one of the carriers ran over two, and the second, two more. Right on our street there's a dry cleaners and appliance and watch repair places; one of the armored personnel carriers went that way, and they say it ran over several over there, too. But they ran over seven before our eyes. Then the bus ploughed into a book kiosk.

-Gayane: No, that was a flower place. It was a new booth. He drove straight into it.

-Zinaida: The driver jumped out and they dragged the vehicle out to the middle of the road and set it on fire.

-Gayane: And I also saw the troops put a bunch of Azerbaijanis in a bus and take them in a convoy to Baku. There were many arrests.

-Zinaida: Our neighbor, the one who hid us, couldn't take it, and he told his wife that we should leave. They were running around in the courtyard looking for the Armenians. They knew that they were hiding with Azerbaijanis, and they were saying that they were going to check the Azerbaijani families. Poor Tayara got scared too, and started to cry; I plead¬ed with her, I said that I would remember forever how she saved my chil¬dren and me, but where could we go?

-Gayane: She didn't make us leave, she said that she would do anything, but she was afraid.

-Zinaida: I told Tayara that we would just stay a little longer and that at night we would return to our apartment. Then her husband came back and said that a curfew had been imposed. He says, "Zina, you owe us a drink. Gorbachev announced a curfew." And Bagirov [First Secretary of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan SSR] was on television, he said that two people had been killed in Karabagh, but nothing was wrong, automobile windows had been broken, but there hadn't been any killings. He kept mak¬ing statements, and there were Azerbaijani songs and dances. Tayara turned the TV all the way up. When we learned of the curfew we calmed down, but then a crowd ran into the courtyard again, a large one. Our neighbor told them that there had been only one Armenian family here, but they had already killed them all, there was no one left. We hid in the wardrobe again, and they stuck Diana back under the bed.

-Gayane: Tayara went down to our apartment to see what was happening there, and found two bandits. They asked her, "What are you doing here?" Tayara answered, "I came to take something for myself." "Take all you want, they're gone now."

-Zinaida: Yes, she had wanted to get something for us, at least some bed¬ding. She said, "What are you going to do, empty handed, naked, with three children, nothing remains of your entire apartment." In short, we calmed down, and the crowd raced off to the other building, the one across from us. I don't know what went on there.

-Gayane: The curfew had its effect on the gangs, many started to disperse: they were warned that they would open fire on them. The soldiers didn't know the city, they couldn't get oriented, they drove up and down the main streets, but didn't go into the courtyards. When we were at the City Party Committee they asked people from Sumgait to go with them and show them the way.

-Zinaida: The tanks entered the city on the night of the 29th.

-Gayane: No, Mamma, the tanks had been there earlier, but were near the City Party Committee, where the Armenians were . . . After midnight, on March 1, when I had finally gotten to sleep after two sleepless nights, Mamma said, "Get your things together, they have sent buses for us." As it was we had been dressed the entire time. Mamma went to check it out . . . and came back for us.

-Zinaida: When I came back for the children Tayara said that Vika was alive and well, some guys had come and told her that they had hidden her in a safe place. I both believed it and didn't believe it. We ran out to the tanks. The Gambarians were there, Roman and Sasha; their father, Shurik, the clarinetist, was killed, and their mother was there. Sasha came over and asked about the girls. I was surprised, how did he know my girls? He said that he knew me and the girls. Our neighbor himself went for Gaya and Diana and it seemed like he was taking forever so I went after him. Another neighbor came out, Anna Vasilyevna, a Russian: "Zinochka, my dear, good¬bye and good luck." She kissed Diana. They put us in the bus and the cap¬tain gave the order for us to be taken to the City Party Committee. The bus wouldn't start, so they put us on another one. It was pouring rain.

-Diana: When they imposed the curfew there were many soldiers on the streets, and they all had clubs and shields. And when the Azerbaijanis attacked them, many of the soldiers died. They threw paving stones—huge rocks—at the soldiers. I saw this myself. The soldiers ran over those Azerbaijanis with the tanks. The soldiers saw that the Azerbaijanis were doing violence to people and they ran over them out of rage. We got scared and they hid me under a mattress and a blanket, and Gaya and Mamma crawled into the wardrobe. And they were fighting right down there on the street. . . Near the building they were blowing up buses and tanks, and cars were burning, and there were many dead in the courtyard. They drove with¬out looking to see if it was a sidewalk or a street, they just drove, and the ones who didn't manage to get out of the way were run over by the tanks. And when we left—it was evening, it was already dark—there were three buses, and one of them had soldiers in it. Mamma ran up and said, "Get your clothes on, let's go." Gaya was wearing slippers, and I had on my blue dress, but it was an old one. I was wearing my old jacket, my old dress, and slippers. And nothing else. Gaya had on a skirt, her Angora sweater, and slippers. It was raining hard, and there were puddles on the street. They gave Mamma an old coat because she was wearing a short-sleeved dress; she put it on and we ran out. We got onto the bus and I was hungry, one of the soldiers from Yerevan gave me rations and carried me from one bus to the other in his arms. I gave him the little glass that remained from Vika's trousseau, and he gave me his telephone number.

-Gayane: In the bus there was a soldier with a shield sitting at every win¬dow. We had to be ready for anything. They took us to the City Party Committee, let us out, and then took us into the City Party Committee building under armed guard. It was jammed with people and you couldn't breathe. We asked, "Are these all us? Armenians?" They answered yes. We were surprised that there were so many Armenians in Sumgait. All those years we lived there and didn't know there were so many Armenians, 18,000. We were struck by that, we had never noticed. Going downstairs the next day I ran into the Secretary of the Komsomol from Vika's plant, the Khimprom. He said that Vika was alive and well. When I told Mamma she of course calmed down some more. But you know, after all that it was hard to believe anything, our faith in everything was just gone. She didn't believe it completely.

-Zinaida: I didn't believe it because I had heard all kinds of things. When we arrived at the City Party Committee we heard everything imaginable! It was the fear of God. I saw many of our acquaintances, they were kissing each other and asking how their children and homes were. Many people already knew that there had been a pogrom of our apartment. They had seen the broken windows. I cried, saying that I didn't know where Vika was. One woman said that they had taken two of her daughters and that she couldn't find one of them; the other had been slashed all over. A second said that her husband and her son had been murdered. That was Nelli Aramian. She lived in Building 6 in our microdistrict. They killed her husband, Armo, and her son Artur. I heard so many things like that that I was already start¬ing to lose touch; my patience had run dry waiting for my daughter. Later an Azerbaijani fellow came to me and said, Aunt Zina, Vika sent me, she's alive and well and hidden in a safe place; if you want I'll call her there and you can speak with her. We went downstairs to the first floor and he called Vika. I spoke with her, heard the voice of my child. She had managed to sur¬vive in that hell. Then I started begging that Azerbaijani to bring her to the City Party Committee. He tried to talk me out of it: "I'll bring her wherever you go, don't worry, I've looked after her better than a brother does a sister." All the same I asked him to get her. He brought her and I calmed down. On the second day there was a meeting with Demichev and people started shouting. One shouted, "Give me my son back!", another yelled, "Where is my daughter?!", a third wanted her husband . . . Bagirov was there too, and he stood there blinking, not saying anything.

-Gayane: When Demichev asked where we wanted to go, everyone shout¬ed, "To Russia!" To be honest we were all frightened of Armenia, there were such wild rumors it was as though we were in a terrible dream, and no one wanted to go to Armenia. But he said that he couldn't evacuate 18,000 peo¬ple to Russia and that he would meet with everyone individually the next day and speak with them. And he also said that today he was going to go look at all of our apartments. On March 3 we went to the military barracks in the village of Nasosny. We were taken care of marvelously by the military. They sent special flights of children right from there to Minvody, Yerevan, and Moscow. One woman left for Moscow with a letter for Gorbachev and Gromyko.

-Zinaida: The worst was truly behind us by then. Everything had passed, but the pain will remain for our whole lives. It cannot be forgotten. Under no circumstances should we, our children, or our grandchildren forget. Who will answer for those who died? For our mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters? Who will bear the responsibility? Who will wash away their blood? Someone should be made to answer, and severely, so it has an effect on the people that did with us as they pleased ... It isn't over yet, now we live here, in Armenia, protected, but the issue isn't resolved. We would like to stay in Armenia, in our homeland, so that all the Armenian people will be united. Then we will be invincible. Armenians won't be scattered through¬out the Soviet Union, about the world, and if we're all together this won't happen again. As a mother of three children, as a woman, as a sister, I ask Armenians to be united so that what happened in Sumgait will never hap¬pen again. Our homeland . .. The only request we have is that we be helped in obtaining an apartment and getting jobs. So that our children can work for the good of Armenia. If we aren't able to, then let our children do it. And if it's possible, we'll work for the good of Armenia too. This is the land of our forefathers. Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers lived here too, it was only later that people dispersed all over. Like a mother, the land here bore and reared us. It is our wife, and will protect us, too. I want but one thing, that our people never see the hardship that our children saw, that your children here, in Armenia, never see anything like it.

May 28, 1988



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Born 1966

Computer Operator

Sumgait Khimprom Production Association

Third-Year Student

Department of Automation and Computer Hardware

Baku Polytechnic Institute

Resident at Building 21/31, Apartment 47

Microdistrict No. 3


The KVN [Kommanda veselykh i nakhodchivykh, a television game show that tests wit and ingenuity] team at our Production Association had been awarded a trip. We played KVN, and we were pretty good, and the Association decided to give an award. The trip was to Pirkuli, a mountain ski resort not far from the city of Shemakhi, 4 or 5 hours' drive from Sumgait.

We left on February 26, and there were 25 people in the bus, all young men and women from our Association. There were six of us from the team. I was in good spirits and I didn't want to think about anything bad. Despite the fact that since the middle of February, when the unrest started in Nagorno Karabagh, the tension in Sumgait had been growing constantly. At the bus stops, in the lines, everywhere people spoke only of Karabagh and the Armenians. The Azerbaijanis were outraged that the Karabagh Armenians would dare to raise the issue of reunification with Armenia. How dare they? They have said that there are Azerbaijani villages that are poorer than Karabagh. They were simply arguing then, that if there were Azerbaijanis who were living in poor conditions, Armenians had to live in worse conditions. The situation became acute when the first so-called refugees appeared in Sumgait. These were Azerbaijanis from Armenia, largely from Kafan, and they went about town shouting that the Armenians were killing, slaughtering them. They were telling stories that would literal¬ly make your hair stand on end. I said, no, it's impossible that Armenians would do things like that, it's unimaginable . . . Our lives changed drastical¬ly. Until then we had felt free, if the Azerbaijanis insulted us we answered them right back, bravely, and would call them piglets and Turks. If someone was bothering us on the street we'd say, "OK, piglet, get lost." But to be hon¬est, in more recent days I wouldn't have risked talking to them like that. We were all under intense pressure. In our Production Association, for example there were a lot of Armenian employees, engineers and blue-collar workers, and if anyone said anything they would be immediately cut off: "What, are you giving a speech? Go off to your Armenia, give your speech there. You have no business here." Things like that. We felt alien. Imagine a stream of electrons, and we were like the spaces in between. We felt as though we were surrounded by a shell. The way it is when society doesn't accept a per-son, considers him unnecessary, an outsider. Suddenly we were surrounded by an atmosphere of hostility. But who would have thought what it would come to?

Before we departed some of the guys from the Association came by to get me. I was dressed and ready. One of the girls, Irada—she worked in our department—says, "Aren't you afraid to go with us?" I say, "Why should I be afraid?" "Well," she says, "there's those events in Karabagh, all the same, and all that . . . Only Azerbaijanis are going." "So what," I say, "they're all our guys from the Association, nothing's going to happen." We set off. We arrived and got set up just fine. That evening, when we all got together, we got some wine and some soft drinks, and I said, "You guys, if we're such good friends that I wasn't afraid to come on this trip with you, let no one accuse me of those events in Karabagh or reproach me for being an Armenian." They went crazy, and started to shout: "How could you?! We're friends!" I said, "I'm just letting you know so that nothing will happen." Anyway, we had a wonderful time. The only oppressive thing was the radio in the room, which was on constantly and talked about Karabagh incessant¬ly. And when our so-called comrade, Deputy General Procurator Katusev, came on television and announced that two Azerbaijanis had been killed in Karabagh, everyone immediately decided that if he said two, it must mean that in fact it was two hundred.

Our trip was three days long: we left on Friday and we were coming back on Sunday, February 28. Nothing had really happened on the way, if you don't count the fact that Irada got sick. She has high blood pressure. We stopped at the State Motor Vehicle Inspectorate [traffic police] station, they have a doctor on duty there, and he gave Irada a shot. And the policeman at the station said that the situation in Sumgait wasn't all that great because there had been a worker demonstration on account of Karabagh. "Well we got the report this morning," he said, "and it may have calmed down by now." We reached Baku, and still nothing, and it was calm in the village of Akhmedly. We drove through the village of Jeiranbatan—it's ten minutes' drive from Sumgait—and still all was well. Finally we were coming into Sumgait. Right there, at the entrance to town, there is a large sign with a portrait of Lenin, and it says: "Sumgait is the living embodiment of the ideas of V.I. Lenin." How ironic! It's true, however, that when I went there on busi¬ness in the fall, the sign was no longer there. So when we came into town everything was quiet. We passed the tube-rolling plant and it was fine there, too.

It was seven o'clock in the evening. I had calmed down and then . . . You know how when you stop a horse from a full gallop and it rears up on its hind legs? That's how sharply and unexpectedly our bus stopped. We were thrown forward against the backs of the seats. We were a little rattled, but really didn't think anything of it. Then . . . then we heard a roar, it was awful, it was loud and it came from all directions. It was so strange, like we suddenly found ourselves in the woods, in a jungle: the river is rushing, tigers are growling, elephants are trumpeting, wolves are howling, the mon¬keys are shrieking . . . All mixed together, and nothing was distinct or human in the noise, and at first we didn't realize that it was people talking and shouting. I couldn't figure it out at all, not at all. I thought there must have been an accident or something. I opened the curtain on the window. It was dark outside, it was February, it was very dark, and surrounding the bus was an even darker human mass, a black mass of people, darker than the night. And there were bright orange reflections flickering on the win¬dows. I look and see something burning, some sort of giant torch, and it's giving off a whitish smoke. This was all in the first few seconds, and I could not figure out what was happening. Then they started pounding on the door and shouting "Ermeni, Ermeni!"—"Armenians, Armenians!" Everyone is shouting angrily: "Slash, kill the Armenians!" And suddenly I understood everything. It all became clear. I understood because I had read a lot about the history of Armenia. The events in Nagorno Karabagh, the accounts of the alleged eyewitnesses in Kafan, the hatred and malice toward the Armenians that had existed previously, and the mean conversations of recent days in Sumgait—it all suddenly snapped into place with the events in our history, all the individual links formed into a chain, one after the oth¬er, and the circle closed. I realized it was all anti-Armenian, that the torch was really a burning car, and that the people our family had lived with in Sumgait for 17 years and to whom we had never done anything, those peo¬ple might now very easily just kill me simply because I was an Armenian. I became very frightened, I just went dumb. I was overcome with some sort of paralysis, and I couldn't move my arms or legs. To be sure, everyone in the bus was afraid. The people gathered in that huge crowd were in such an epileptic fit that—and I realize this only now—they were capable of beating and killing anyone they did not like and anyone they labeled as Armenian.

The oldest person in our group was the Secretary of the Komsomol orga¬nization of our Association, Elshad Akhmedov, a fine, upstanding man about 28 years old. As soon as the bus stopped he went up to the driver to find out what was going on. The crowd shouted, "Open the door!" Elshad told the driver, "Don't open it." From the mob: "Are there any Armenians in there?" The driver said, "I'll find out." He got the list and muttered, "Yes, there is one Armenian." Elshad said, "Hide that thing, if you tell them I don't know what I will do with you!" The driver shouts, "No, I don't have any Armenians on board." But they don't believe it: "Open up, open the door!" And they started breaking the door. The driver's hands were shaking, he couldn't even push the button to open the door. And then the bus started to rock. Imagine tossing at sea in a storm—that's exactly what it was like. The bus was in a sea of people, they clung to the bus on all sides, and were try¬ing to turn it over. The bus rocked back and forth, throwing us from one side to the other. They started breaking the windows with some sort of crowbars. It was good that the curtains were tightly drawn so the shards fell outside.

Elshad tells the driver: "Open the door, or they'll turn us over." And the door opened ... or maybe they broke it open? Elshad jumped toward them: "What do you want?" They shout, "You have Armenians in here, we know it!" He says, "We haven't got any Armenians in here!" "You're lying! We know you do!" And one of them put a knife to Elshad's chest. "Show us or we'll kill you instead." Elshad is almost crying, "You guys, I give you my word as a man that we don't have any Armenians here, believe me. I hate those Armenians myself, I can't stand them, I would kill any Armenian myself ...

Let us go." They say, "If there aren't any Armenians here, then get off the bus one by one, you can walk from here, and we'll check each one and let you go." Elshad doesn't agree to this: "What do you mean, get off the bus? We have our bags and our tents and things, and if this is what's going on we won't be able to walk through town. Let us go through, guys!"

All of our people were thinking how to save me from them. When they were pounding on the door and shouting, "Slaughter the Armenians!" Dima, a Russian fellow, pulled out a knife and dashed forward: "I won't let them have Vika, I won't let them!" Dima Vladimirov, we went to school together. The guys took the knife from him immediately and sat him down. "Listen," they tell him, "we don't have any Vika here, sit quietly, you're not helping things, you're making it worse." I am in some sort of trance, I can't even move, I have no strength, I have no control of myself. They started to shake me, "Get up, you can't sit like that, they'll figure out that you're an Armenian." I was dressed in a way that would be unusual for an Azerbaijani: I had on slacks and a long, baggy sweater. Moreover, Armenian women have different faces: Armenian women have softer features, the Azerbaijanis themselves are always saying that. And another thing, I have a graying lock of hair, and Azerbaijani women never gray young. But none of that mattered, anyway: all someone would have to do was start talking to me and it would all be out the window, because when I speak Azerbaijani you can tell right away I'm an Armenian . . . Anyway, they tell me, "Don't sit there, do something." They shoved my purse with my passport in it some¬where and put a hat on me and a man's sheepskin coat. Giulaga, an engineer from our Association, tells me, "If anything happens, you're my wife. Your name is Sevda. You're my wife, don't be afraid, no one will dare to touch you."

And then they shoved Elshad away from the door and came onto the bus. There were three of them. Irada became ill, the girls surrounded her and Wed to bring her around. I started slapping her cheeks. Really I was striking her quite hard, giving her real slaps in the face, because I was so terrified I didn't know my own strength and didn't know what to do to vent the terror, And the three of them, like dogs, sniffed all around and stared into each per¬son's face. I was imagining vividly what could happen to me if they found me, and I thought, "God, if I only had a knife, I don't want anything else, or if I had a poison tablet." So I could defend my honor. Better to kill myself than to have them violate me, and then cut me into pieces or burn me alive. I thought that they might burn me with the flaming car. And those three moved slowly down the aisle between the seats. They were 20 to 25 years old. One was wearing a black fur cap, one had a week's stubble, with a small drooping black moustache and dark eyes, and the third was behind them, I didn't notice anything about him. They were walking behind one another, the aisle was narrow, and I bent over Irada, slapping her on the cheeks, only lifting my head for a moment to look at them from their feet up to their heads and then let my head back down. My God, to be a mouse and run into a crack away from them! They were picking on one of our girls, Aida, the wife of Vagif, who was the head of our KVN team. They had the scent: Aida is an Azerbaijani, but her mother is an Armenian, and she resembles an Armenian. Vagif shouted, "She's an Azerbaijani, she's my wife!" And they said, "No way, she's an Armenian who just married you." Our people started making noise and saying that she was an Azerbaijani, and they left her alone. They started throwing things around and checking people's faces again. They started pestering another girl, Leila. Leila is an Azerbaijani: she is a wonderful person, she's a very brave woman, she helped me with every¬thing and hid with me later. They pulled her toward the exit but she didn't lose control, she started cursing them with such words, such foul words, I've never heard words like those in my life. They realized they had made a mis¬take, and let her go. "Well, if you can swear like that ..." Leila, who was nearly at the door, looked at the crowd and recognized one of them. He worked at our Association. Later she went to the authorities, and troops from the internal forces came right into his shop at the plant during work and took him away. Those three looked at Irada, who was still sick, and announced, "Everyone get your things and get off the bus." Our people said, "Hey, let us go, let's go ..." Elshad shouted, "What do you need this smashed up bus for? Where are we going to be able to go on foot, how are we going to carry all of our things? We'll be stopped every step of the way ..." Then someone in the mob shouted: "I know them, they're ours, there are no Armenians there, let them go."

And they let us go. The door of the bus wouldn't close. The driver's hands were trembling again, he couldn't turn the ignition key. We were shaking ourselves and were all shouting: "Start the bus, fast!" We started rolling and drove out of the mob. Of all the stories I later heard here, from Sumgait refugees, and in Sumgait itself, I never heard that they just let a vehicle go like that. Perhaps our bus was the only one that was able to break away whole from that hell. It was a real hell, worse than Dante's. And the mob was a mob of demons, of monsters . . . what else can you call them? They didn't have human appearance, nor did they have human hearts. Even their speech resembled the roaring of animals. Animals are more noble than they are. Even snakes don't bite for no reason at all, and they killed people, just like that!

We decided that the safest thing would be to go to the plant. We drove there and went upstairs to the Komsomol Committee office. Elshad called the City Komsomol Committee right away: "Explain to me just what is hap¬pening in this city?" They told him that the situation was bad, Armenians were being attacked, and that they themselves didn't know what was going on, they didn't have a clear picture of the situation. They also told Elshad that he was to come to the City Party Committee immediately. He left, but before that they hid me in one of the Committee rooms, there's a safe in there, with documents—a room with an iron grate over the door. Leila, Irada, and two of the guys stayed with me. True, one of them, Ismail, left shortly: "I've had a bit to drink," he said, "and if they get in here I won't be able to control myself, I'll start cursing and it'll be bad. They'll kill me, too."

My thoughts were on my mother and sisters. We didn't have a telephone at our apartment. I wanted to call my aunt but I couldn't remember the number. Aunt Tamara, the person closest to us in Sumgait, I called her sever¬al times a day, and now I couldn't remember her number. With difficulty I was able to concentrate and recall the number. Aunt Tamara was crying: "Vika, we're leaving the house, they're killing all the Armenians, we're leav¬ing ..." I say, "How's Mamma, how are Gaya and Diana?" "Mamma was here this afternoon," she says, "they're alive." My God, how everything can change in just half an hour, this afternoon they were alive, but now? My skin started to crawl. I loved my Mamma and my sisters immensely, I adored them, I couldn't imagine living without them. I thought, "My God, if I sur¬vive I can't live without them."

I asked several of the guys to go to my house and see what had happened to them. I gave them a detailed description of the building, the entryway, and the apartment. I asked them, I begged them to go, and they said, "What are you talking about? We'll go and rescue them, get them out of there." They left and then returned and told us everything. Somehow they had managed to get up to our building, the building was surrounded by a huge, dense crowd. A pile of things were burning in front of the building. They asked what was burning. "They're Armenian things, they belong to those infidels. They're killing the Armenians." They saw a family defending them¬selves on the fifth floor. They poured hot water on their attackers and threw heavy things at them. It was our neighbors, Aunt Vanya and Aunt Nina, and their son and daughter. I learned their story later. They hid their daughter and the three of them defended themselves. There were three of them and the whole entryway was filled with those beasts. They live on the top floor. They were going to go up to the roof and close the trap door after them, but they didn't have enough time. They seized them. How they tormented them! Mamma told me about it later...

My friends squeezed in closer and saw the pogrom going on in our apart¬ment, things flying off the balcony, and being burned down below. "There was nothing we could do," they said, "it was impossible . . . We wouldn't have gotten out of there ourselves ..." When they told me this I pounded my head against the wall, thinking my Mamma and sisters were no longer in this world. I would have been the happiest person in the world if some-one could have told me the truth, told me that the three of them were alive and well, and it was just our apartment that was destroyed. In August, when Mamma and I went to Sumgait to get our documents, she showed me a large black spot on the pavement in our courtyard and said, "Look at this and remember, this is where they burned our things." Then she added, "And they burned everything good along with them." In fact it wasn't our things they burned in the fire, but 17 years of life with them, they burned every¬thing good we had thought of them, the years of my childhood, my school¬ing . . . they burned it all...

Now I don't even want to remember how hard that night was for me in the Komsomol Committee office. I didn't dare hope that Mamma, Gaya, and Diana were alive. True, Irada and Leila tried to reassure me, saying that nothing was yet known, maybe they had hidden in someone's apartment. The next morning they came and said that it would be better if I hid some¬where else: too many people knew where I was. Giulaga, whom I men¬tioned, the engineer, took me by the arm and led me out of the Association building. There were troops in the city, and our Khimprom Association was cordoned off. Giulaga and I got into a van. The passengers were talking about nothing other than Armenians being beaten and killed. One fellow said, "How can people do things like that?!" They told him, "They killed our people in Kafan." And he said, "They killed men, not women, how come ours are killing women and children?" Giulaga took me home with him. He's clever that way: he told everyone he was taking me to the dormitory, including our guys, he didn't even trust them anymore. He had gotten a new apartment, he had just finished renovating and furnishing it, no one lived there yet. He said, "I'm sending Inna to stay with you." Inna is a Russian woman, she graduated from the Institute in Odessa, and she was assigned to our Association. As soon as Giulaga left I went into the kitchen and found a knife there. It wasn't very long, but it was sharp. I went and sat down next to the door to the balcony. I thought that if they found me I would throw myself off the balcony or take the knife to myself. . . Maybe I wouldn't have tried it with the knife, I was afraid, but I could have thrown myself off the balcony for sure. I sat and sat, and then I fell asleep. Giulaga and Inna came and I woke up to see Inna crying: "God, what has it come to .,, you're sitting there with a knife ..." Anyway, she stayed the night with me. She had brought something to eat with her, and a bottle of champagne. "Let's get drunk," she said, "I don't have the strength to face all this." I said that I wouldn't touch a drop. She drank that champagne by herself, got drunk and sat there and cried. Then an armored personnel carrier with a loudspeaker drove down the street: they announced that a curfew had been imposed in the city. They made the announcement in Russian, Azerbaijani, and Armenian: the curfew would be enforced with firearms. I thought, my God, what have we come to. And you know what's ironic? On the wall of that building where I hid, in Microdistrict 11, covering the entire wall of a 12-story building was a gigantic mosaic portrait of our dear Vladimir Lenin. Full length. With his hand extended. Even though Lenin had warned that the nationalities question had to be taken seriously, we had only seen to the creation of a multinational state, which we were proud of, but no one did anything to make it a truly international state. I turned on the television and cried: they're massacring people here, I don't know what has become of my Mamma, Gayane, and little Diana, I don't know if they're alive or dead, and Baku television is broadcasting concerts and cartoons. And they're slaugh¬tering us, they're killing us!

What else can I say? . . . Well Elshad found my Mother and sisters at the City Party Committee, alive and unharmed. Giulaga and Inna went and called me from there. We had a signal: four rings and hang up; four rings and hang up; and only after that would I pick up the receiver. They called from the City Party Committee: "Now you can talk to your Mamma." My God, I just, I just couldn't believe it! ... My Mamma's voice had changed completely, she was shouting and crying. "My little Vika, it's I, my dear Vika! Diana is here ..." As soon as she said "Diana" I started to sob and choked for breath, and the operator said, "Please hang up the phone." I hung up the receiver immediately. All the lines were being monitored.

Mamma insisted to Giulaga: "Bring Vika here!" He told her the situation was really bad here, you're sleeping on the floor, and she has an entire apart¬ment . . . Mamma cut him off: "Bring her here immediately!" And they brought me to the City Party Committee. They checked our passports three times, we went into the building, and my legs gave way under me, I could not walk. I became terrified. Could it really be that I was going to see them? Now Gaya often tells me, "I saw it all." And I say, "Gaya, you had Mamma and Diana with you the whole time, you knew that you had someone. And I spent so long thinking I was the only one alive in the world ... I had to face the three of you being dead." God grant that others not have to go through that.

So I was going up the stairs and my legs were failing me. And I see—Mamma. She's somehow a different person, she's wrinkled, she has a scarf on her head, Diana is next to her in a summer sarafan, wearing socks ... I became so ill that I simply collapsed to the floor. I come to and Mamma is holding my head in her hands, there's water on me, I'm wet, and women have gathered around us and they are crying.

October 5, 1988 Yerevan


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Born in 1940


Sumgait City Administration Committee


His wife

Born in 1940

Elevator Operator

Zh.E.K. No. 8 in Sumgait


Their son

Born in 1940


Synthetic Rubber Production Unit

Residents at Building 21/31, Apartment 42

Microdistrict No.3


-Ivan: I am very glad that I am living in Armenia now. I've had many hard times in my life, and now this last misfortune—the Azerbaijanis' attack on the Armenians. We lived in Sumgait thirty years and we never anticipat¬ed that they would commit such atrocities against us. It was very unexpect¬ed.

On February 28, from morning to evening, the whole family stood on the balcony and watched what was happening on the street, in the courtyard: everything that they were doing to our people, to Armenians. It was unlike anything ever seen or heard of before. Our house was in the center, right across from the bus station, and we had a good view from our balcony of the road from Baku to Sumgait. It was about 3 or 4 in the afternoon. We saw that crowds were coming from all sides; they met at the Sputnik store on the intersection of Friendship and Peace streets. There were several hundred people there, and they were all stirred up, furious. Behind our house on both sides of the road, the Azerbaijani militia was standing, as if to keep the crowd from coming into the microdistrict. These crowds met, united, and were silent for about five minutes. After five minutes, policemen with their caps in their hands ran up to the Caucasus store, went into it, and hid while the crowd flung themselves after them with sticks, stones, and pieces of armatube, as if they wanted to beat them up. At the same time, a green Moskvich 412 appeared on the road from Baku; the car belonged to Armenians. The crowd ran up to the car and turned it over so that its wheels were in the air. Policemen came out from somewhere and righted the car, but when they went away, the crowd overturned it again, doused it with gasoline and set fire to it.

-Yelizaveta: I saw that there were people in the car when they poured gasoline over it and set it on fire. I think there were three people in the car: a man at the wheel and a woman with a child. I can't say how old the child was—it was impossible to tell from the balcony. After the crowd burned the car, our Azerbaijani neighbors said to me, "Don't watch. Everyone knows that you're Armenians, and you're standing out here on the balcony? Go back to your house."

-Vladimir: I also saw that there were people in the car when it caught on fire, and they were burned alive inside. After they set fire to the car, we saw that in the middle of the crowd they were beating our neighbor from the first floor, Gurgen Arutiunian. He has a bald patch on his head, and that's how we recognized him. I said, "Look, why did Gurgen go out of his house at a time like this?" They beat him severely. Several policemen approached, pulled him out of the crowd, and brought him home, and he went into the entrance way. You could see that his head was badly injured.

The crowd broke up into several groups. They went off in different direc¬tions: toward microdistrict 2 and our microdistrict 3, to apartment blocks 41, 34, and 36, and Peace Street was full of people, too. The instigators of all this were Azerbaijanis who had come from Armenia. They gathered up the young people, told them all kinds of lies, gave them money, and so these young ones started to attack Armenians.

It was about 5:00 PM. As I watched, things started flying into the court¬yard from a second-floor balcony of a neighboring house, number 20. I said, "Good for you, Vachik, I can see you're defending yourself—throwing things down onto their heads. Later I realized that it wasn't Vachik, his family probably wasn't home at all. This crowd had gone into his apartment and were destroying it. The Azerbaijanis smashed the glass on the porch and threw everything down below; they left nothing in the house. Several hundred people were standing below at a fire where the things were burning, they behaved like animals. When we saw all this, we understood that we couldn't possibly leave our home to go and hide somewhere. Other Armenians from our building had hidden, but we decided that we wouldn't.

-Vladimir: We hid my sisters. I have two sisters, and five or ten minutes before the attack, I took them away to the neighbor's place. The crowd was already at our stairway, on the second floor. There were five people at home, My father, my mother, myself, and my sisters. Zhanna was born in 1965, and Angela in 1971. First my sisters and I knocked on the door of our neighbor across the landing. She was afraid to hide them. She opened the door and said, "I'm a lonely woman, I'm frightened, I can't hide them." There was already noise in the stairwell. Suddenly at that moment, an Azerbaijani neighbor ran up from the fourth floor; her name was Atlas. We lived on the fifth floor. She took my sisters, and I went down with them. She hid them in the sideboard, locked them in there, and I went back upstairs.

-Ivan: Before we hid our daughters, we already knew that they would attack us, too and we had decided to defend ourselves. I took an axe from the balcony and told my wife to boil pots of water.

-Vladimir: I took my military belt with the metal buckle (I served in a rocket troop and returned home in December of 1987); and I took a sharp knife from the cupboard, and at my waist under my sweater I hid a chisel. The noise in the stairwell was frightening, of course, but not very, and when I had hidden my sisters I felt a little better.

-Ivan: When we had hidden the girls, I calmed down a bit, too. If some¬thing happened to us, it wouldn't matter, but they are young. If the girls had stayed at home, those Turks could have done whatever they wanted to them right before our eyes. Of course I was afraid for my wife and son, but what could I do? Since something like this was happening, we had to defend our¬selves. If the whole family had hidden, they would have started to look for us. We turned off the light and stood behind the door with four buckets of boiling water. I had an axe in my hands, and Valodya had his belt. We heard them say, "This is an Armenian family, they have two beautiful daughters, go right in, don't be shy." They knew the floor and the apartment number beforehand.

-Yelizaveta: They shouted, "Come out and give the apartment to us. You'll leave here sooner or later, anyway. Get out. Your home is the City Executive Committee, go and live there."

-Vladimir: They were prepared, they knew exactly where Armenians were living. They shouted, "Give up,..."

-Ivan: They called out Angela's name, and said it was Angela's house. I didn't hear our names. We could tell from the voices that there were a lot of them; from the first floor up to the top, the whole stairwell was full of them. Other Armenians lived on our landing, too, but they all managed to hide themselves in time, and we were the only ones left on the fifth floor. Then we heard them knocking at the door. We stood silently and didn't make a sound. We pretended that no one was home. There had been a plate with our last name on the door, but early that day we had taken it down and painted over all the traces. They started to pound on the door with big rocks. These were blocks, big building blocks of white stone. The locks did not hold. They flew apart. The three of us threw ourselves against the door, but they didn't even feel that someone was behind it.

-Vladimir: We held the door without a sound. We didn't even whisper. Everything we could have talked about was clear. My father was still holding the axe in his hands. The buckets of hot water were standing in the hall.

-Ivan: The door burst open, and they flew into the hallway, like black crows. Right then my wife splashed them with boiling water. I hit one of them in the right temple with the blunt edge of my axe; I broke his head Valodya started to hit them with the belt, and my wife continued to pour hot.

-Yelizaveta: I poured the boiling water on them as quickly as I could from a long-handled tub, and I wasn't even watching where I was throwing the water: in their faces, on their heads, wherever it fell, just to drive them away. The boiling water really helped us, they were frightened and ran down to the third or fourth floor.

-Vladimir: In the excitement, my mother scalded my back with the water. It also hit my father; his arm was burned. When they burst into the corridor, their faces were brutal. I threw myself into the crowd with my belt. Besides the belt, I also had a knife from the cupboard in my hand. I started to strike them. I noticed that my father had hit one of them with the axe. It was a terrific blow; the man fell back covered with blood. I wasn't hit at all. Because of our blows and the hot water, the crowd took fright and started to break up and run away.

-Ivan: At that point, I was struck only once. That first attack lasted five minutes or so.

-Vladimir: Yes, the first clash lasted about five minutes. They started to run away. I managed to catch one of them. I put him up against the wall in the stairwell and started to beat him with the belt. He was about my age, 22 or 23. I hit him on the head with the buckle, and he fell back, covered his face, and shouted. Then he broke away and ran downstairs. So we managed to fend off the first attack.

-Ivan: They ran down to the third floor. Then, after about 10 or 15 min¬utes, they started to come back up in twos and threes and look in at us. As soon as they came near, my wife poured hot water over their heads, and they took off. The ones whose heads had been burned went down, and oth¬ers appeared in their place.

-Vladimir: After we beat off the first attack, my father and I sat down at the table, ate a little, and drank about 50 grams of vodka each to keep our courage up.

-Ivan: Because we hadn't eaten anything since morning. When we caught sight of that crowd and realized that they were moving against the Armenians, we didn't think of food. But then my son and I felt terribly hun¬gry. At that time, the Azerbaijanis were still standing downstairs, so we quickly swallowed a piece of bread.

-Vladimir: They came up for the second time about half an hour after the first attack. During that time, my father and I gathered up from the stairwell the stones that they had brought with them, and we carried them into the hallway. They had thrown these stones at us, but they hadn't hit us.

-Yelizaveta: We tried to fix the broken lock. We thought that they wouldn't come back again. But it turned out that they hadn't left. They burst in on our neighbor, Zina Akopian, and destroyed her apartment; that lasted half an hour to an hour. But we didn't know that they were there, we thought that they had gone away. Vanik and Valodya ate a little, and then repaired the lock as best they could. I spread sunflower oil on Valodya's burned back, although the burn wasn't very bad.

-Vladimir: I was waiting for them to come after us again. I thought, that was the first, but not the last attack. So I inwardly prepared myself for that, although I didn't believe that I would survive. I thought, this is the end, death, but I didn't say anything to my mother and father about these thoughts.

-Ivan: I wasn't as afraid during the first attack as I was after it, because they were saying things like this: "We're warning you for the last time, we'll be here tonight and we'll kill you. Leave the apartment, go away to the club, they're collecting the Armenians there." They shouted this from below. They cursed us with their last words.

The second attack began. There were a lot of them this time too, it was just the same crowd. But they were afraid to come up to the fifth floor, and they shouted from the fourth floor that Armenians shouldn't be living here. We answered them that we wouldn't leave, that it was our apartment and we wouldn't give it up.

-Vladimir: They had the same savage look that they had the first time; they were fuming. They had sticks, armatube, stones in their hands.

-Ivan: They wanted to distract us with their words and break into the apartment. The man that I had struck was also among them. His whole face was covered in blood. He was about 35 or 40 years old. He spoke perfect Armenian; he was one of the Azerbaijanis that had come from Armenia. He said, "No matter what, you've got to give up your apartment to us tonight, you have to leave here." I said, "What have we done to you, what do you want from us? He said, "You shouldn't be living here, they're collecting the Armenians in one place, you go there." We answered again that we weren't going anywhere. A few of these whelps tried to come up to the fifth floor. We started to hurl at them the sticks and stones that we had gathered up in the stairwell, and to pour hot water on their heads, and they ran down.

-Yelizaveta: Then about ten people came up and shouted at me, "Was it you who poured water on us?" I said, "Yes, it was. And as long as you keep trying to come upstairs, I'll pour boiling water on you. So don't come up." But they said to me, "You have to leave all the same. Get out while you're still alive, or we'll kill you." They wanted to trick us.

-Ivan: They wanted to drag us out into the courtyard, to beat us, to kill us as they did the other Armenians, and to loot our apartment. For that reason they distracted us with conversation, but we didn't believe them. After the first attack, I called the militia and asked for help, but they said to me, "We know all about it. Don't you try to give them orders." I finally understood that it was all organized, that we couldn't rely on the police for anything, and I hung up. We weren't waiting for help from anyone: not from neigh¬bors, not from the militia, not from the city authorities. There weren't any city authorities. We weren't expecting help from military troops either, because, although there was a delay, both tanks and soldiers had driven up, but they were attacked and beaten, too, and they went away. So we had no hope that we would remain alive. To tell the truth, I never said this either to my wife or my son, but I was sure that they would kill us and leave my two daughters orphaned. Not one of our neighbors tried to help us, and we couldn't go down to Atlas's place, because she was a sick woman, and besides, she had already hidden our girls. If we had gone down, they would have seen us, and our daughters would have suffered for us. They kept saying that they wouldn't leave us alive. They were constantly trying to come up from the fourth floor in twos and threes, swearing and shouting, but we drove them away again and again. And then their ringleaders came up.

-Vladimir: One of them was the same age as my father. He had been in the stairwell with the crowd and spoke Armenian perfectly. He was a grey-haired man with a bald spot, of medium height.

-Ivan: And the second one was young, with curly hair. They came up to the fourth floor and said, "We won't trouble you anymore, we're asking you to leave and go to the place where all the Armenians are."

-Vladimir: They spoke Armenian fluently, both of them were from Kafan, they said so themselves.

-Ivan: Then the one that I had hit with the axe said, "I came here from Kafan. The river there is full of blood, the train from Kafan to Baku is full of blood, because there are so many murdered Azerbaijanis there. Why should you people here stay alive? We'll kill you, too." Of course I didn't believe that our Armenians in Kafan were doing such a thing to Azerbaijanis.

-Vladimir: A big crowd was standing on the street. If we had gone out, that would have been the end of us. We decided to stay.

-Ivan: At that time a neighbor from the fourth floor, Firdusi Omarov, came out of his apartment and said, "What's happening, what do you want?" They said to him, "Please tell these Armenians to get out of here." Omarov said, "It's their apartment, why should they leave?" They said, "No, as long as they're here, we won't go away, we'll even stand here through the night." Then I saw that one boy the age of my son had come up and was calmly standing not far away from us. Omarov said, "Don't be afraid, that boy was my student." Omarov had been a gym teacher. The boy didn't have anything in his hands. Omarov said, "Vanik, go and bring a few nails in from the balcony, nail the broken door shut, and go where the Armenians are gathered. Nothing will happen to you.:" I answered, "Firdusi, do you really think I can break out of here, go downstairs and get through the crowd alive?" He answered, "Nothing will happen." These negotiations last¬ed almost half an hour. Then the ringleaders also said, "Don't be afraid, we won't trouble you. Nail up your door and go away." They didn't say any¬thing about our daughters, thinking they were at home.

I went out to the balcony for nails and a hammer, and then I looked, and saw that they'd already broken into the room.

-Vladimir: As soon as my father went after the nails, the crowd immedi¬ately flew into the apartment. I was standing in the corridor at that time. A telephone was hanging on the wall in the corridor; they ripped out the wire. I tried to defend myself, but it was too late. They had already caught me, and my father and mother.

-Yelizaveta: I didn't have any more boiling water, and I couldn't pour it on that boy that had come up to the fifth floor as if he were going to help us. When Vanik went after the nails, I was still standing in the stairwell and talking with our neighbor, and Valodya was standing in the corridor. I was saying to Firdusi, "You're doing a bad thing, helping them get into our place. If they come up, we won't have anything left." But he repeated, "Don't be afraid, I promise nothing will happen." And he came up, too, and all the rest broke into our place after him. But I didn't feel any fear, they hadn't beaten us yet.

-Vladimir: Yes, they hadn't touched us. I recognized one of them. I had seen him around town. He was deaf and mute. He sold postcards, stills from Indian films, labels at the Sputnik store. He stood at the sideboard and made a sign with his hand: "Let's knife them." Even before he showed up in our house, I had seen him in the crowd, and he recognized me. And so he drew his index finger across his throat: "Knife them."

-Ivan: I was standing in the middle of the living room with an axe in my hand. They surrounded me on all sides. If I had tried to get into a fight with them then, and hit them, they wouldn't have left us alive. And I decided, "Let them do whatever they want, let them break everything, steal, if only they leave my wife and son alive. They hadn't beaten any of us yet. One of the ringleaders, the curly-haired one, said, "Don't touch them." But with his eyes he directed them to break and loot. So we stood surrounded by them, each of us in a separate corner, and they smashed everything.

-Vladimir: I couldn't use the chisel; you couldn't turn around in a crowd like that. In the apartment they didn't touch us. When the deaf-mute signaled that they should kill us, the grey-haired man said, "Don't, we'll take them out onto the street and then decide what we're going to do." They all obeyed him. Beating us, they started to take us out to the street. It was impossible for us to defend ourselves, because a crowd was also standing in the stairwell. We were about two or three paces apart from each other. That was the hardest moment. We didn't think we would survive.

-Ivan: When the grey-haired ringleader ordered them to lead us out, two of them tore the axe out of my hand. I knew that if I hit them, they wouldn't let us live, but a small hope still remained that we would manage to save ourselves. When they brought me downstairs, one held me on the right, another on the left, and they held my wife and son in the same way. As we were going down, one whelp punched me in the upper lip, and it bled. In the courtyard they had already lit a fire. They wanted to throw me into the fire. I lost all hope then. They surrounded each of us separately, and I could not see my wife and son anymore. I understood that this was death. I was sure that they would kill my son and my wife and throw me into the fire. They pushed me toward the fire, but I dug in my heels and fell next to it. They started to beat me on the head with their feet, sticks, and pieces of armatube bar. After a few minutes, one Azerbaijani came up and said, "Vanya, don't you stand up. If you get up, they'll realize you're alive and start to beat you again." I was almost unconscious and so I didn't find out who it was, but he called me by my first name.

-Yelizaveta: In the courtyard they started to roar at me, "Was it you who poured water on us, you who tormented, you who cursed us? Now you'll see what we do to you!" And they started to beat me up, they hit me every¬where and with everything. "We'll burn you," they said, "and then you'll see what it means to pour boiling water on us." All I remember is that the son of an Azerbaijani neighbor was running around and shouting, "You've beaten her up and that's enough. I won't let you burn her!" His name was Bailiar. There were two brothers. They lived off of the fourth stairway, and lived off of the third.

-Vladimir: We didn't expect anything like that from him, because he was a drug addict. He was constantly smoking anasha, and he got along badly with Armenians. I didn't see him myself, when he was defending my mother.

-Yelizaveta: I had already fallen on the ground and was surrounded by those wretches, and then Bailiar and his brother broke into that circle and shouted, "It's enough that you've beaten her so much. We won't give her up to you to burn. What has she done to you?" And as if they were talking to each other, the [attackers] said, "All right, we'll go away, but it's a shame we didn't burn her." And they left.

-Vladimir: When they led us out of the stairwell, I managed to break away. Now I can't imagine how I succeeded; perhaps because they had lost their heads, or because they had all thrown themselves on my father, but anyway I managed to break free. And then I saw that one of them waved his fist and punched my father. I cried out, then jumped and kicked him in the chest as he deserved. Someone grabbed me from behind and shouted, "What are you? An Armenian?" I said, "Yes." And after that the whole crowd flew at me, surrounded me and began to beat me. I fell. I didn't see my mother until I regained consciousness. They beat me for a long time—with stones and with armatube. There were about 30 or 40 people. I lost consciousness, then came to, but they continued to beat me. Bailiar helped me, too. He managed to chase away the crowd.

-Ivan: Then, after all of that, they told me that some of the neighbors, some young men, went up to Valodya, and said the same thing as someone had said to me: "Don't stand up, don't raise your head, pretend you're dead."

-Vladimir: I don't remember that myself.

-Ivan: My head ached terribly. It was broken and covered with blood. My wife came up to me and asked, "Are you alive?" I said, "I'm alive." She answered, "Stand up, and let's go to the neighbor's house." She and my son picked me up from both sides and led me. My wife's claves were full of glass splinters from bottles, the glass had cut right into her legs. I realized that they had been beating her with bottles. We went up to Atlas's place. We did not go to our own house, and we didn't know what state our apartment was in. Zhanna put iodine on my head, bound it up, and stopped the bleeding. We called an ambulance to take us to the hospital. They answered that they had no ambulances; they had all been destroyed.

-Vladimir: I didn't regain consciousness immediately. After I became con¬scious again, I saw my mother and father. They were lying on opposite sides of me, about five or six meters away. I managed to prop myself up to look; my mother had also raised herself a little. I went up to my mother, and then we both went to my father, picked him up and went to the neighbor's, to Atlas's house. She let us in. My mother tried not to show us her wounds so that we wouldn't worry.

-Ivan: We stayed at our neighbor's that whole night. In the morning we called the police, and in half an hour an ambulance arrived; a doctor and two policemen were in it. They took me to the police station in my dirty clothes and with a bloody head. They examined me and said, "He can't be left here. He must be taken to Baku." So they took me off to Baku.

-Vladimir: After all this, in March, an investigation team from the Prosecutor's Office of the USSR summoned me to the city police department. They gave me a few books of photographs. On each photograph there was a number. There were very many photographs. I started to leaf through these albums and immediately identified one man. It was the one that we had allowed to come near our apartment, the one that our neighbor Firdusi had called his student. I knew where the deaf-mute lived as well, and I told the investigator about this. I set off with one of the investigators, a man named Toporkov, to Microdistrict 2 to find the deaf-mute. Sure enough, he was home. The investigator explained to him: "Take your passport with you and let's go to the department." He didn't recognize me. He had let his beard grow over the last few days. We got into the car and went back to the police department. In his deposition he wrote that he hadn't been at our home, that at time he had been in Baku, that he did not know anything. He was about 30. He denied everything, but I confirmed 100% that he had been at our house. For about fifteen days, we lived, first at the club, and then in a dormi¬tory. When we returned home, my father was still in a hospital in Baku. The day after our return home, the investigator Toporkov, some woman investi¬gator, and an Azerbaijani policeman came to our house. They said to me, "Get in the car, we are going to the department." They told my mother not to worry, that they would bring me back soon. In the car, Toporkov said to me, "Valodya, we're going to the prison now to identify the man that you showed us in the photograph, and we are going to take him to Sumgait." He had handcuffs with him. When we arrived, he said to me, "Sit in this little room. I'll bring in the suspect. You sit and be qui¬et for now." He brought in an arrested man and two suspects and asked the first one, "Where were you on the 28th, and what were you doing?" The arrested man's last name was Ismailov. In general, [the investigator] asked what he was doing there, how he had been arrested, how his photograph had shown up in the book. He denied everything, and then the investigator called me. I went in and looked; he was wearing my grey velvet pants. I returned from the army not long ago, and they made me some new pants. He was also wearing my shirt and sweater. So, he was sitting in person in my clothes. I went up to him and said, "Listen, brother, are those your pants?" I wanted to hit him, but soldiers were standing next to him. I said, "Are those your pants? Your sweater?" A stitch had split in the pants—he was a bit bigger than I was. He said, "It is my sweater, my pants, all mine." I told the investigator that they were my clothes, that he had been in our apartment and stolen them. It turned out that he had been not only in our apartment, but in others as well. The deaf—mute had also been in different places.

-Ivan: When the investigators Toporkov and Mishin were dealing with our case I identified five or six people in the albums, but that was useless, no one paid any attention to them. And I want to say one more thing. The Sumgait genocide was organized. I am 100% certain of it. There were many conversations in the city before the 28th. I heard at work that several hundred Azerbaijanis had come from Kafan to Apsheran, the secretary there was a native of Kafan. He wouldn't accept them in Apsheran. When asked why they had come, they answered that the Armenians had driven them out. They sent them to Sumgait on two buses. They went to the City Committee, and Muslimzade, the secretary of the Committee, went out to them and asked them what they wanted. I saw it all myself on February 26. I was working near the square. I saw a group of people, and went up to them to hear what they were saying. They told Muslimzade that they wanted to organize a demonstration and announce that Karabagh belonged to them. They wouldn't give up Karabagh. Muslimzade said, "You can have a demonstration, but I ask one thing: no discussion and no verbal abuse." They fooled the young people, bought them with cash, and taking the flag of Azerbaijan, they set up a protest meeting and a march around the city. And then the genocide began. It was all prepared before then. Bagirov [First Secretary of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan SSR] set off for Stepanakert. They sent him back from Askeran, he went to Agdam, and he remained there as the secretary of the Regional Committee. After that, they released 55 conditionally sentenced prisoners

from the Agdam prison. They brought them to Kafan and mixed them with the people there. In addition, lists of Armenians had been prepared before¬hand. I learned all these facts from Azerbaijanis in Sumgait after the inci¬pient. After all this, I remained in Sumgait for three more months.

September 10,1988 Kafan


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