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Not the last one?

Мемориал

On March 9, the Moscow-based newspaper Novaya Gazeta published an article titled "The Daughter of the War." The author, Viktoria Ivleva, for the nth time, tells about a former resident of Khojaly whom she met on the night of February 26, 1992. Ivleva tells that story in the fullest detail almost the tenth time over the past month. For the first time her reportage was published in March 1992 in two newspapers simultaneously, Moskovski Komsomolets and Moskovskiye Novosti.

At that time, 19 years ago, the journalist told about an episode from the Karabakh war which she himself had witnessed, at the same time trying to be neutral and keep solely to the principles of humaneness. Today also, Ivleva positions herself as an independent journalist who is solely interested in the innocent people's fates during the war and in a pointed manner abstracts away from any kind of political issues and arguments. Nevertheless, in February of the current year, she visited Baku, where she made a number of not quite correct statements, which Baku journalists, naturally, presented to their own advantage. To maintain her image of an impartial journalist, Ivleva insisted on a new interview, where she tried to somewhat smooth over the impression from the first one. Her Baku colleagues, however, had to publish the text without editing, so they "vented their frustration" on the obviously speculative heading (which, according to the journalist, was not agreed with her). In the new interview, Ivleva again (for the nth time) told about the heroine of her war reportage. Moreover, at her request, her friends from Baku found that woman, Meskhetian from Khojaly, whom the journalist remembered as Mavluda, but she turned out to be Mehriban. It was the story of their meeting that became a topic for the article published in Novaya Gazeta.

Such a story is certainly a godsend for any journalist. Especially as the Meskhetian woman's two-day-old daughter, whom Ivleva carried on that night, is currently ill – she is unable to speak. However, Ivleva's persistent unwillingness to go into the details of the story of that woman and her fellow sufferers – former residents of Khojaly – yielded unexpected results, for the journalist herself. Lumping everything together, equally blaming both sides for the civilians' sufferings and refusing to see what was obvious, the journalist did not notice that she was trapped by her own parity, because in her new article, she responds to the question she asked at the end of the article she wrote 19 years ago, without noticing and understanding it.

I will explain. In her reportage of 1992, titled "I was Walking with Them," Viktoria Ivleva honestly describes all the details of those terrible days: her heroine was walking on the snow in rubbers on her bare feet, her two children were following her, lagging behind…In her article of March 9, 2011, the number of the children was four, but this is not so important – undoubtedly, the fate of Mavluda-Mehriban and her family is worth sympathy just like the fate of any innocent person who fell victim to war. Just as much honestly Ivleva tells about the Karabakh people's
kind treatment of the captive Meskhetian woman and her children. Photos taken by the journalist in 1992 and published in Novaya Gazeta show Armenian soldiers carrying Khojaly residents' children. Meanwhile, neither then nor now the author wishes to think about an elementary question: why was a woman who was near her time, a mother of many children, left in the besieged town together with the other Meskhetians, as the Azerbaijani authorities were well aware of the impending assault. Why didn't Baku react to the numerous requests by the town's authorities to evacuate the residents? Instead, Ivleva exclaims hypocritically: "the airport turned out to be more important than the human lives," and she did not want to acknowledge the significance of air communication for the population of Stepanakert and entire Artsakh suffocating in the blockade and dying slowly from cold, hunger and bombings…

These issues did not interest Ivleva then and do not interest her now. However, in her article of 1992, she actually responds to these questions, telling that two days later, the Armenians released the captive residents of Khojaly: "The Turks were released two days later. They were transported to the front line in Askeran region, shown the way and – go. True, not all the captives were released; around ten men were left as hostages. But as the Armenians say, they are no use: those hostages can't even be exchanged for a can of gasoline. They are not wanted, they are no one's." That's right, Ms Ivleva, they were not wanted, and, first of all, the Azerbaijani authorities did not need them. Therefore, the Baku politicians used them as a small coin and they appeared on the front border of dirty political games organized by Azerbaijani politicians for the sake of power and with the aim of blackening the Armenians at any price, even at the price of suffering and blood of those people. Otherwise, why did no one in Baku, "seized with grief" over the innocent victims of Khojaly, think about exchanging the captive Meskhetians? And why did the Armenians, who are being constantly accused of "brutal shooting" of civilians, not only treated them humanely, but also released them?

Now, it is no secret that the Meskhetian Turks were specially settled in Khojaly whose assault was inevitable in wartime. Not only the airport, which was vital for blockaded Artsakh, was located there, but also Stepanakert was being shot from the settlement that had been turned into a firing point. Viktoria Ivleva herself underscores that after a regular resettlement, the Meskhetians were "sent by the Azerbaijani authorities to live in Nagorno-Karabakh, in the war zone." The useless Meskhetians were sacrificed for the Azerbaijani authorities' political ambitions then, in 1992…But was that all?

Now, the most important thing, which Ivleva did not notice due to her persistent unwillingness to go deep into irrefutable facts and circumstances. The fact is that her colleagues from Baku found the Meskhetian woman, Mavluda-Mehriban, 19 years later in the village of Agcakent. For some reason, the reporting journalist writes that the village is in "Naftalan region." However, there is no such region in Azerbaijan, there is only a health resort Naftalan. Did Ivleva's Baku colleague make a slip of the tongue? Maybe yes and maybe no, because Agcakent village is the former Armenian village Verinshen whose residents, like in dozens of other Armenian villages, were forcibly deported in 1991 during the terrible Operation Ring. That village is in Goranboy region of Azerbaijan, former Kasum-Ismailov, or more exactly former Armenian region of Shahumyan, which was forcibly joined with Goranboy in January 1991 to form Azerbaijani majority there and not to allow secession from Azerbaijan together with Karabakh. So, the "small mountainous village Agcakent," where the Meskhetian woman, Mavluda-Mehriban, lives, is the occupied territory of the Republic of Artsakh, former Verinshen, once prosperous Armenian village with 5,000 residents. It appears that the conclusions are evident. The Meskhetian were once again settled on a powder keg. Because in case of Azerbaijan's repeated aggression against Artsakh these very territories will first of all be in danger – they can easily be hit by artillery fire. And the NKR Defense Army will first of all seek to liberate these very territories.
Baku cannot but understand this and therefore, there can be no doubt that it was done intentionally just like in the late 80s, when the miserable Meskhetian Turks were settled in the strategically important village, Khojaly, and then were consciously left to the mercy of fate. Now, they can also appear on the edge of a possible war, which is what Baku trumpets every day.

In her article of March 1992, Viktoria Ivleva wrote: "The captive Turks were the most terrible thing I saw in Khojaly in those days. They fled Uzbekistan three years ago, and were sent by the Azerbaijani authorities to live in Nagorno-Karabakh, in the war zone. Among those deported from Khojaly were old women who must remember the deportation from Georgia in 1944. Now, their third deportation is beginning…The last one? The question is, unfortunately, not rhetorical, because today also, these people, including the heroine of this story, are not wanted. This means that they can be sacrificed again. Not to wish to understand this, to bury one's head in the sand, using abstract humanistic slogans as a cover in a concrete situation means to show indulgence, though unintentionally, towards the new monstrous plans of Baku strategists, those who once planned and carried out the "khojaly."

Marina Grigoryan
Golos Armenii


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