11:10 26-02-2010. Vesti.Az
"I was ordered to immediately write a report and take a leave"
Exclusive interview of Vesti.Az with retired police Lieutenant Colonel Akshin Zeynalov, who was the first to inform Azerbaijan, on February 26, 1992, about the taking of Khojaly.
How did you learn about the taking of the town of Khojaly by the Armenians?
I was head of the Interior Ministry's press service at that time. By right of office I closely communicated with the media. On that disastrous morning, February 26, 1992, I came to work as usual. You know, the situation in the republic was extremely complex, no one knew who had to provide information to the media. I was authorized to work with the press. I would promptly receive information about criminogenic situation in the country, as well as summary of operations from the frontline. Correspondent of Azadliq newspaper Elmira Amrakhgizi (now deceased: editor) phoned me at around 10:00am. She asked me about the situation in the republic. I immediately contacted the Interior Ministry's unit on duty and its employees informed me of the situation in the country. Meanwhile, they noted that the unit on duty of Khojaly police did not get in touch with them. Then I contacted, via internal communication, political supervisor of Shushi police Elhan (regrettably, I do not remember his surname). Shushi was also in the state of siege at that time.
Elhan told me that he could see with binoculars Armenian armored vehicles entering the town, which was literally blazing.
I conveyed the information received from Shushi to Azadliq's correspondent, who wrote about the capture of Khojaly.
What happened after the information about the capture of Khojaly was made public?
– Shortly after it, I was urgently called to the reception room of the Interior Minister and told that by the order of the Presidential Administration it was necessary to immediately prepare information to the effect that Khojaly had not been taken by the Armenians yet, two had died in fightings around the town and other misinformation. Unintelligible fuss arouse when I said that I had already conveyed to Azadliq the information about the capture of Khojaly. I was ordered to immediately write a report and take a leave from February 26.
– That is, someone did not want the people to learn about the capture of Khojaly?
– Naturally. In the morning on February 27, the Minister's assistant phoned me urgently and ordered to come to work immediately. On approaching the Interior Ministry building I saw a huge crowd of people gathered there, demanding explanations and even government's resignation. It turned out that the day before, on February 26, Gunun Ekrani program reported, citing the Interior Ministry, that the situation in Khojaly was all right, and only two were killed and two wounded in fighting.
– Who spread the false information?
At the Security Council meeting on February 26, then spokesman for Presidential Administration Rasim Aghayev persuaded Interior Minister Tofik Kerimov to come up with such information as the truth, in his opinion, could cause a lot of stir and have unpredictable consequences. That is, through deception and concealment of the terrible truth they tried to conceal the information about the fall of Khojaly and death of hundreds of innocent people. To tell the truth, that was very painful and hurtful.