It was after this tragedy that the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict irreversibly entered the "hot" phase of warfare
Author: Rizvan HUSEYNOV Baku
Twenty-two years have passed since the tragic deaths of the members of the peacekeeping group of Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan, including prominent officials, deputies, military servicemen and journalists, who became victims of Armenian terrorism.
On 20 November 1991, as a result of a terrorist act committed by Armenian terrorists, a Mi-8 helicopter was shot down by a heat-seeking missile near the village of Qarakand, Xocavand (Martuni) District of Karabakh. Twenty-two people were killed: the helicopter crew and passengers, including prominent Azerbaijani state and government figures and observers from Russia and Kazakhstan who had flown to the NKAO [Nagornyy Karabakh Autonomy Region of Azerbaijan] for a meeting with Karabakh separatist leaders and their chiefs from Armenia to try to reach a peaceful settlement in the escalating Karabakh conflict. Unfortunately, it has still not been specifically revealed as to which of the Armenian bandits committed this bloody act which led to the deaths of worthy representatives of the Azerbaijani people and leading Russian and Kazakh peacekeepers.
The incident of the blowing up of the government helicopter has been raised in the press from time to time and in this article we would like to present a few little-known facts and the reminiscences of witnesses to these events.
Eyvaz Huseynov, who in the 1990s was the commander of a self-defence detachment and head of local government in Xocavand District: "On 31 October 1991 the Armenians occupied the villages of Tug and Salaketin in Xocavand District. Then, on 19 November 1991, with the aid of the 366th motor-rifle regiment of the former USSR, Armenian bandits captured the small Azerbaijani village of Xocavand, next to the district centre of Martuni (now Xocavand). There followed a four-month siege of the village of Qaradagli and the town of Xocali [Khojaly], which were situated on the main roads to Xankandi [Khankandi]. The next day, in the morning of 20 November, the people of Xocavand and other villages, who had been banished by the Armenians, sent a delegation to request help from the Azerbaijani leadership. We gathered in Agdam and began demanding that the republican leadership help us. A government delegation, headed by Azerbaijani state secretary, now the late Tofiq Ismayilov, arrived by helicopter. We demanded that the republican leadership take measures to protect us. Ismayilov told us they would fly to the Armenian-occupied village of Xocavand to clarify the situation and have talks with the Armenians. Our agsaqqals [male elders] tried to dissuade Ismayilov from taking this flight, pointing out that the Armenian mercenaries didn't care who they killed, villagers or members of the Azerbaijani leadership.
However, the members of the government delegation had no idea there was a real war going on in Karabakh and so they flew there. Then, on 20 November, near the village of Qarakand in Martuni (Xocavand) District of the NKAO Armenian militants shot down the government helicopter carrying the best sons of Azerbaijan and peacekeepers from Russia and Kazakhstan."
The commander of a number of special troop units in the Karabakh war, Air Force Colonel Mammad Qadirov, also shared his memories with R+. From the very outset of the Karabakh conflict Qadirov played an active part in organizing the defence of Azerbaijani territory from the Armenian occupation forces in Xocavand, in particular the area where the government helicopter was shot down. As a regular Soviet officer, he was able to organize surveillance and obtain information about the movements of Armenian mercenaries. Qadirov recalls: "At the end of August - beginning of September 1991 I was told that, according to the information of Armenian residents, a field commander - one Avo (an international Armenian terrorist, the leader of ASALA [Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia], Monte Melkonyan - editor's note) had arrived in the region from Yerevan. Then we found out that Avo had arrived in the region from abroad to carry out a series of terrorist acts before returning to Yerevan. Avo had received urgent information about Azerbaijani movements and his detachment knew in advance which flights or journeys were being prepared in the NKAO. He was helped in this by Armenian officials in the NKAO. The Mi-8 government helicopter was blown up in November when, according to our information, Avo, with a small detachment of "bearded men" was in the region to carry out, as usual, a specific operation. I believe that the blowing up of the Azerbaijani government helicopter on 20 November 1991 was the first major terrorist act that Avo committed. Serious tactical training was carried out and heat-seeking missiles, up to then unknown in the region, were used to destroy the helicopter."
In summing up, we should point out that the blowing up of the government helicopter in November 1991 was just one tragic episode in the chain of bloody terrorist activity of the Armenian mercenaries who committed hundreds of terrorist acts, taking thousands of lives, in Azerbaijan. The world community should know the truth about the true face of Armenian nationalism which preaches terror and the annihilation of women, children and the elderly. The people who were involved in terrorist acts and ethnic cleansing on Azerbaijani territory are now in power in Armenia - they are the president of Armenia, the defence minister and other now prominent officials who came to power having shed the blood of innocent people.