“I was hit with a rifle butt taken for Azerbaijani.”
Exclusive interview of Vesti.az with the special correspondent of Russian newspaper “Novaya Gazeta” Victoria Markovna Ivlieva who has been in Khojaly in February 1992 that was captured by the Armenians.
- How did you appear in Khojaly which was captured by the Armenians?
- Today I don’t remember exactly how I got in Khojaly. However, I would like to mention that during the military operations in Nagorno Karabakh I've been there for many times as a freelance journalist in both Azerbaijani and Armenian sides. But during the capture of Khojaly I was with the Armenian side. I want to emphasize that I have not seen the dead people which were shown in Chingiz Mustafayev's report, since I entered the town from the other side.
- What did you see in the town seized by the Armenians? Have you seen any peaceful residents in the town?
- I really saw civil residents in the town but they were not Azerbaijanis but Meskhetian Turks, who were resettled there in the midst of military operations of Nagorno Karabakh. It was February 26, early morning. I remember quite well how the Armenian militaries drove out those people from their homes. There was a woman with blue eyes among these people, her name was Muslyuda. She had 5 children; the youngest was born only a day ago. That is, the child was born a day before the capture of Khojaly. People were almost naked, they had put on shoes in haste on bare feet. They were driven away like captives to somewhere, and I went with them. I took that newborn child in my arms and covered him under my jacket in order to warm him somehow. Most of the captives were women and children; there were also a few old men. A man on the horseback approached me and hit me strongly with a rifle butt in the back, taking me for Azerbaijani or Meskhetian Turk. At that moment I realized what captivity feels like.
- Don't you know what happened to those people?
- The captives were kept in a house. I saw that they were fed. And then they were exchanged for Armenian captives. I saw it by my eyes. I even gave Muslyuda some money. I never saw her again. Though, I would love to meet her again, to know how she strived through.
- Have you seen the soldiers of the Russian 366th Motor Rifle Regiment who took part in the capture of the town of Khojaly seized by the Armenians?
- I don't know whether there were Russian military or not. They were all speaking Russian, and it was impossible to determine which of them was Russian and which Armenian.
- You have mentioned that you had also been in the Azerbaijani side.
- Yes, I have been in Stepanakert (Khankendi) and in Shusha shortly before it was captured. I remember a case in Shusha. We, the journalists, were waiting at the reception of a local officer, if I am not mistaken, the head of Town Executive or Regional Executive committee; now it is very difficult to remember. So, at the very moment, when we were waiting in the waiting room, a man entered the office and shot the official down. We were all immediately arrested. But famous journalist Savik Shuster suffered most of all. Azerbaijanis thought that he was an Armenian. He was saved from inevitble violence only because of Canadian passport and shouts cries that he was not an Armenian, but a Jewish.
I want to note that the Karabakh has served the biggest lesson in my life. I saw suffering on both sides, people suffered equally, regardless of nationality. But Khojaly is a deep wound for Azerbaijanis.
*Interview from 2010 has differences with the written by Ivleva "hot pursuit" and fresh memories.
Compare with the publication in 1992