Milliyyet, 15 March 1992
“Death is wandering the green hills”
Foreign Press Centre
While it was said that there had been a confrontation between forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) leaving Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenian militiamen (police officers), Russian soldiers withdrawing from the region said “We were persuaded to fight Azerbaijanis”. Meanwhile the hills of Karabakh were covered with the bodies of Azerbaijanis killed by Armenians. Western journalists taken to the hills of the region by helicopter viewed the Armenian massacre in horror, witnessing the savagery committed against Azerbaijanis.
A correspondent from the French news agency AFP said that he counted 31 bodies of women, children and elderly people killed by projectiles. It was said that there were up to 50 bodies of people shot at close range in those bloody hills and that all were from Khojaly, which had been occupied by Armenians.
ID cards establishing their Khojaly origins were found near 31 bodies. Azerbaijanis said that another 20 bodies had been carried to Aghdam by volunteers.
The pilot of one of three armoured helicopters belonging to the CIS army testified that there were still dozens of dead Turks [Azerbaijanis – ed] in the hills of the region, unchecked because of their proximity to Armenian forces.
32-year-old Zahid Jabbarov, who lost his wife and son in the massacre, told the AFP correspondent that about 60 dead bodies collected the previous day were due to be identified in the Aghdam mosque.
On the other hand Armenians, bloodlust unquenched, then took on CIS forces.
Regional commander Sufian Beppayev explained to journalists in Tbilisi that an arm of the CIS forces withdrawn from Karabakh clashed with Armenian forces outside Stepanakert [the Armenian name for the town of Khankendi – ed].
Beppayev said that the confrontation occurred in the village of Ballurja, but he did not provide further information.
After CIS Commander-in-Chief Yevgeny Shaposhnikov gave the order to withdraw detachments from Karabakh last week, some Khankendi-based detachments began to pull out.
One Russian death
It was also stated that a CIS army soldier had been killed in Karabakh during an attack the previous night. According to a CIS military representative in Moscow, Sergeant A. Ruder lost his life in the attack while fulfilling an order to withdraw a motorized infantry detachment under his command. The spokesman stressed that it had not yet been ascertained which side attacked first.
The Interfax news agency also said that the order to withdraw the motorized infantry detachment had been delayed and the detachment was waiting for orders to renew the attack.
Four soldiers confess
Four soldiers of the 366th Motorized Infantry Regiment which began to withdraw from the Karabakh region stated that they were encouraged to struggle against Azerbaijanis “As a sacred duty”.
According to the Azerbaijani ASSA-Irada press agency, four soldiers named as Pavel Antipov, Yuri Lyakovich, Pavel Zuyev and Alexey Bondarev stated at a press conference that they underwent ‘brainwashing’ and as a Christian Russians they were called by the Christian Armenians to struggle against Muslim Azerbaijanis.
The agency said that the 4 soldiers had deserted from the 366th Regiment on February 20.
By the way, Elman Mammadov, headman of the occupied village of Khojaly, stated that the bodies of 15 Russian officers had been taken away by Armenians in order to eliminate evidence of Russian participation in battles on their side.
The headman of the occupied village of Khojaly in the Nagorno-Karabakh region accused the government of Azerbaijan, naming head of state Ayaz Mutalibov, of not defending Azerbaijanis against Armenian aggression.
Mammadov held a press conference in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, and declared that The Azerbaijani leadership constantly assured us of rescue today or tomorrow. We were told to wait but unfortunately they did not come.
The headman said that 22 members of his family had been killed during the attacks and he continued his speech in tears:
We relied on the government of Azerbaijan. We were sure that they would not leave us alone. But no help arrived from them. There were no helicopters and no other kind of assistance from the government.