Pressure of Kavburo on Armenia for the transfer of Karabakh and Zangezur to Azerbaijan – 1920

Before publishing the documentary letter, it is desired to draw the reader’s attention to the compilers who signed this message, one of whom the former authorities intended to erect a monument to in Yerevan, apparently without delving into the history of their people, or not knowing it.

Regarding the message – the authors of the “Letter” completely ignore the historical rights of the Armenian people and the “Instruction” of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) of July 7, 1920. Guided by the principle of exporting the revolution, Azerbaijani national-communists, to please the aggressive aspirations of Musavatist-Turkish circles, try to justify their conquest plans with their lies and fabricated arguments, namely: with the hands of Russian Bolsheviks, to conquer the indigenous Armenian regions and hand them over to Azerbaijan, which has already taken on a “red” hue.

The letter of members of the Kavburo of the Central Committee of the RCP (B), the Central Committee of the AZCP and members of the Revonsul of the 11th Red Army to the Central Committee of the RCP (B) on the necessity of transferring Karabakh and Zangezur to Azerbaijan.

July 10, 1920. Top Secret

We consider it our duty to convey to the Central Committee a unified opinion on the issue of Zangezur and Karabakh, the decision on which during negotiations with Armenia is considered intermediate, running counter to the interests of the revolution in the Caucasus. Under the Musavatist government [Karabakh] was fully part of Azerbaijan.

The indissoluble cultural and economic ties of Karabakh and Zangezur with Baku, which is fed by tens of thousands of workers from these provinces, and their complete isolation from Yerevan, were vividly demonstrated in 1919 at the peasant congress of Armenian Karabakh, which, under the intolerable for Armenians Musavatist regime and provocative work of Armenian agents, still resolutely spoke out for full unity with Azerbaijan on the condition of guaranteeing a peaceful life for Armenians*.

Only since the end of 1919 and the beginning of 1920, especially after the victories of the Red Army over Denikin, the ground under the rule of Dashnaks and Musavatists shook greatly, the latter at the direction of the Entente provoked a fierce national slaughter, building on this their bloody domination.

After the arrival of the Red Army, the Soviet coup in Azerbaijan and especially the Khanoba rebellion and its exceptionally correct suppression, the national war in Karabakh completely subsided, giving way to a broad revolutionary movement of peasants.

During this process, the army of askers and the squads of the Dashnak General Dro, who fled without an army to Gerusy, disintegrated. The Armenian and Muslim poor, having established Soviet power and getting involved in the revolutionary resolution of the issue, partly already united on the basis of class interests and civil war, taking active part in the persecution of Nuri Pasha’s gangs.

Karabakh and its mountainous part, shaken by civil war, which gave birth to the self-activity of the masses, is increasingly becoming a stronghold of Soviet construction and forging of class self-awareness of the masses of the East. Despite the slowdown of the Red Army’s movement in Zangezur, the echo of its presence and the civil war in Karabakh can be felt both in Karabakh and in Zangezur, and in Nakhichevan.

Due to our passiveness in Zangezur, the remnants of the Dashnaks and Dro, brutally dealing with Soviet workers and sympathizers of the Red Army, were retained, resulting in new uprisings of Armenians against Dashnaks and the organization of councils leaning towards Azerbaijan and Russia.

We have received numerous and homogeneous testimonies of the greatest loyalty of the population to Soviet power and the passionate expectation of the Red Army. In the northern part of Zangezur, militant Kurdistan, councils are half organized on their own. In the rest of the region, the mood is quite favorable. The division commissar, having been there, reports that the Kurds agree to all conditions and orders of the Soviet power.

The militancy of our nomadic Kurds can easily be, and will be directed, provided the Dashnaks in Zangezur are defeated, towards the defense of Azerbaijan’s borders. Securing Zangezur for Soviet power will, in addition to the specified value, restore our connection and create a solid rear for the revolutionary Turkish movement in the Nakhichevan region and in Anatolia.

The movement of the Red Army in Zangezur will be associated with the greatest rise and without pressure from our side will be accompanied by the deepening and expansion of the Soviet Republic. After this, the neutralization of Zangezur and Karabakh or their transfer to the Dashnaks, which will bring death to the councils, fire and sword to the working masses, restoration of the national front and enmity, will be considered as treason, chauvinism will revive, and Armenian masses in search of support in the national struggle will adhere to the Dashnaks.

The Muslim population, having lost before them the buffer of revolutionary Armenian regions fighting against the detested Dashnaks, and seeing again up close the resurgent Dashnak, will take up arms with a curse on Soviet power, for by that time it will be disarmed in reality by the Red Army and morally by Soviet agitation.

The Muslim masses will consider the unexpected turn to the old and the inability of Soviet power to maintain Azerbaijan within its old borders as a betrayal, Armenophilia, or weakness of Soviet power. Either scenario could be a cause of a tense uprising against Soviet power, the installation of Dashnaks in Zangezur and Karabakh will undermine the development of the revolution in Turkey, deprive them of our assistance and communication, and create a threatening rear for them.

We warn the center against hesitation on the issue of Karabakh and Zangezur in the interest of not turning Azerbaijan into a bastard, under the care of the Red Army and being distributed to Armenians and Georgians, instead of making it a strong national center and source of class revolution in the East.

Predrevkom Narimanov, member of Kavburo RKP Mdivani, members of the Central Committee of AKP Mikoyan, Naneishvili, members of the Revolutionary Military Council of the 11th Vesnik, Levandovsky, Mikhailov

Archive of the Central Committee of the CPSU, d. 44-33-a, ll. 72-73. Original. Typewritten. Publ. in the collection: Nagorno-Karabakh in 1918-1923. Yerevan, 1992, doc. No. 367.

  • It refers to the decision of the VII Congress of Karabakh Armenians on August 22, 1919, about the “Temporary Agreement with the Azerbaijani government on Nagorno-Karabakh”. However, this decision is misinterpreted here, as there is not a word about the “complete unity with Azerbaijan” in this decision. See doc. No. 348.

Attention readers: The documents published in the work of Doctor of Historical Sciences Yu. G. Barsegov often change their online addresses. It’s hard to say what this is connected with. However, these original documents can be found at other addresses by typing in the search engine the title of the collection of documents: “Nagorno-Karabakh in international law and world politics”, – author Yu. G. Barsegov.

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