By Abdul Karimkhanov
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov has said that the massacre of Azerbaijani civilians by Soviet troops in 1990, led to the end of 70-year old Soviet rule in Azerbaijan.
In an address to the event to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Black January that marks the killing of 147 Azerbaijani civilians by Soviet troops on January 20, 1990, Mammadyarov said that "Soviet troops were brought under the pretext of protecting the Azerbaijani people. However, subsequently, USSR Defense Minister Dmitry Yazov said that the main task was to preserve the Soviet government, to punish non-communist national forces. Thus, they also wanted to teach a kind of lesson to national forces in other Soviet republics."
He further touched upon the Sumgayit events in early January 1990, noting that at that time Eduard Grigoryan personally committed the killing of six people in Sumgayit.
Black January, also known as Black Saturday or the January Massacre, was a violent crackdown on a civilian population of Baku on the night leading to January 20 in 1990.
According to official estimates, 147 Azerbaijani civilians were killed, 800 people were injured and five people went missing. However unofficial number put the number of victims at 300 dead.
In 1995 Gorbachev apologized to Azerbaijan by stating: "The declaration of a state emergency in Baku was the biggest mistake of my political career."
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