35 Days To The End Of Winter – “Republic of Armenia” Newspaper, 1993

“Republic of Armenia”, No. 12 (547), January 27, 1993, Wednesday.

On January 23, when “a little more than 35 days” remained until the end of winter, nothing foreshadowed any disasters.

Of course, I do not mean those traditional disasters that have already become an integral part of the life of each of us – rolling blackouts on the verge of a foul, butter priced at 1,200 rubles per kilogram, an abundance of rabid dogs on the streets, or many, many other things.

The fact that the expected electricity didn’t come to our houses at 14:00 raised no suspicions. You could never know what might have come to the mind of the operator in charge of buttons and knife switches…

However, already at 14:30, a neighbor who returned from his workplace said that “there was no electricity in the whole city.” The Armenia-2 restaurant where he was working had to be closed. “You see, something serious must have happened…”

Time passed. The housing estates of Nor Nork were freezing “before our eyes.” When it got dark, the inhabitants of the once-blooming neighborhoods found that there really was no electricity in the entire visible space – neither in Zeytun, nor in Avan, nor in Jrvezh, nor in Kanaker.

The neighbors arriving in their dark, cold apartments were bringing terrible news…

“It’s rumored that the Zviadists again blew up the gas pipeline in Georgia.”

“It wasn’t in Georgia, it was in North Ossetia. It were the Ingush…”

“Where did you hear about this? There was an explosion at the thermal power plant! People have heard it…”

“They also say that there will be no electricity for a month. Have the consequences of accidents ever been resolved promptly?”

When people realized at 9:00 of the next day that they would be left without light for the “second shift”, another neighbor approached us and seemingly put an end to all doubts. I should note that he hasn’t completely dispersed all the doubts.

He said that the Turkish regular units have crossed the state border of the Republic of Armenia, broke through the Russian border guards, rushed towards the capital, and were now entrenched somewhere in the region of Artashat.

From the northeast, Azerbaijani formations were supporting the aggressors with intense fire from long-range artillery and tanks. Three enemy aircraft had been shot down over Vardenis, Goris, and Kapan.

In a word, it was nothing comforting.

All this was said in one breath, and the neighbor for some reason spoke in the voice of Levitan.

People rushed to their phones but ran into the exceptional silence of one of the greatest human inventions. They started feverishly twisting the handles of the Armenian-manufactured radio – but it also would maintain impregnable silence. They tried to catch the sirens of “air alert” or other public warning systems, as they had usually done in extreme situations…

It was night. Frost. Silence… Even the candles seemed to stop glowing in the windows of neighboring houses.

“That means bread cannot be baked now. We should have taken bread for tomorrow as well,” someone sighed in the darkness.

“Wait with the bread! Does anyone have firearms at home?” It turned out that nobody did…

People were leaving their houses, looking for those who had managed to get to the Nork massifs and asking what was happening in the city.

“It’s dark,” they heard in reply, “And no one knows anything…”

On the morning of January 24, 34 days were left until the end of the calendar winter. One of the locals who could not sleep at night said that around 01:30, electricity had been given for at least an hour. No one believed him…

At the expected time, bread did not enter the store. Phones and radios were still silent like partisans in interrogation… The knocks of axes on the street became more intense.

One theory appeared, more or less logical – the Georgian brothers had given Armenia four and a half million cubic meters of gas less than intended. After all, we would get two or three hours of electricity, albeit rarely. And now, the plants could no longer supply electricity.

But, of course, no one understood what was happening in reality and whether anything was really happening. The shops got supplied with bread by 15:00 though. Now, we only had to wait for “Lraber” (“Herald”, TV news program)… But electricity appeared only for two hours.

On January 25, only 33 days remained until the end of winter. At night, people saw strange dreams – someone blew up a tank, someone failed to blow one up, others, weeping, managed to wash themselves during a random trip to Siberia, the rest didn’t. Some dreamed that everyone has woken up except for them…

And again, they wondered what was happening. It’s not likely we needed an ambulance – thank God that we didn’t – or police. We knew that it wasn’t possible. We just wanted to know what was happening. Or maybe nothing was happening…

We were expecting newspapers on January 26 when only a few days were left until the end of the harsh saw-and-ax winter – only 32 days. What would the newspapers report? Would we learn everything from them?

It turned out that the situation was so serious that the newspapers would not be published on time. But “RA” found an opportunity to see the light and reach its reader on January 27, with 31 days left until the end of winter.

Ashot Gazazyan, Newspaper “Republic of Armenia”, 1993, scanned by Irukan

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