The pan-Turkic policy of the Azerbaijani SSR caused protests among the population of Karabakh, and large-scale provocations were used to fight the people in Soviet times. Perhaps the most known of them occurred in 1967.
At the time, Turkish magazines were distributed to Azerbaijan. In them, the authors argued that the existence of Soviet Armenia impeded the direct communication of the two Turkish states. The situation gradually got out of the control of the Soviet leadership, and the killings of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh became more frequent.
On September 30, 1966, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia Anton Kochinyan sent a letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR and the USSR Council of Ministers stating that he considered it “extremely necessary to discuss the return of Nakhichevan and Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.”
Based on this appeal, the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party decided to create Armenian and Azerbaijani republican commissions to prepare a draft resolution to solve the issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, as Armenian Artsakh was called in Soviet times. In 1967, Kochinyan addressed his Azerbaijani counterpart Veli Akhundov on the issue of coordinating the dates of the meetings to discuss the resolution. The latter began to play for time.
Soon, rumors that other autonomies in the USSR might want changes began to reach the party elite.
In Karabakh, a group of people of Azerbaijani nationality led by Arshad Mammadov was arrested. Mammadov was the director of the school of the Kuropatkino village of the Martuni district of the NKAO.
The gang headed by him, which included his relatives, committed the brutal and sadistically sophisticated murder of an 8-year-old Armenian boy Nelson Movsesyan in the forest. Nails were driven into the boy’s head, and he was literally crucified on a tree. At the end of the investigation, an open hearing was scheduled in Stepanakert.
During the trial, the relatives of the defendants and emissaries from Baku stated that they would “buy out” the accused. In the end, the 10-year sentence ruled by the court was clearly not harsh enough. It was greeted with a noisy glee from the relatives of the murderers and the grim bitterness of the victims.
Once the criminals were escorted out of the court building, a brawl ensued between the police and citizens. The indignant crowd, breaking through the cordon, overturned and set the car with all three convicts inside on fire, killing them.
Taking advantage of such a clearly planned course of events, the then leadership of Azerbaijan presented the events to the Politburo of the Communist Party’s Central Committee as the machinations of Armenian nationalists.
And having received approval from above, they began to carry out repressions. Dozens of representatives of the Armenian intelligentsia of the region who raised their voices in defense of the elementary rights of their people were arrested and convicted.
And the director-fanatic was buried by the Azerbaijanis as a hero. Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Azerbaijan Enver Alikhanov personally left for Baku to participate in the funeral. Moreover, he not only headed the funeral procession but even advised that a tombstone with an image of a book be erected on the grave of the fanatic. And as a geologist, he even promised to deliver “good granite.”
So, did the Soviet state leave the Armenians any choice other than revenge, at least to prevent new victims? Of course, the father of the murdered child Benik Movsisyan was also declared an “Armenian nationalist” and convicted.
On this wave, the Azerbaijani authorities “very successfully” convicted more than fifty so-called “nationalists.” Besides, three Armenians, investigators in this case, “suddenly” unexpectedly died – or rather were killed.
That was Soviet Azerbaijan, such was its cynical and mocking “international friendship.” In this manner, the questions raised by the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia were withdrawn from consideration.