THE ROADS OF SHUSHI AND THE MYSTERY
OF THE "LACHIN CORRIDOR"

    Afer the annexation of Karabagh to Russia and the elimination of the alien khanate, merchant caravans resumed unrestrained passage in the mountainous region and in Shushi. Russian authorities commenced the construction of roads and bridges. For example, in 1823 - 1825, a road from Mayraberd-Askeran to the fortress of Shushi and to Amaras was built. The next stage of the road infrastructuredevelopment in Shushi pertains to the construction in 1877 ofa highway from Goris and, particularly, the construction of the Tiflis-Baku railway (1883), and another, along the Arax river, Arax - Yerevan - Julfa (1908). The Julfa - Baku section had been built earlier.
    As it was mentioned previously, there were two roads connecting Shushi to the outside world. One passed through the Yerevan gate and connected Artsakh with Syunik, Nakhijevan and other Armenian regions. The other went through the Jraberd - Elisabethpol gate to Persia, Georgia, the Caspian region and Russia. These roads played an important role in Shushi becoming one of the most important economic and trade centres of Eastern Armenia and the entire Transcaucasus. These roads had military-strategic importance and were under the direct supervision of the Russian military authorities. They were rated among the best roads of the Transcaucasus.
     At the beginning of the 20th century, wealthy residents of Shushi (as mentioned in the archives) responded to the requests of the population and allocated resources for the construction of a new safe road through the Armenian provinces, by Shushi-Khachen-Jrabefd - Gandzak (Elizabelhpol) route. The importance and the necessity of this road was determined by the fact that the Moslem gangs often robbed and killed Armenians on the Shushi - Evlakh road, especially in its Aghdam - Evlakh section. Unfortunately, the construction of this road was never completed. As for the railway from Shushi to Evlakh station, it was never built due to the First World War and the October Coup, although the tender documents were prepared and Sarukhanov - Kurinski association received the license to construct a nanvw-gauge railway. If is noteworthy that this road also had to go around Aghdani and pass through the Armenian villages of Mayraberd (Askeran) - Khachen - Khin Tartar-Begum Saro v and on to Evlakh.
    During the Azeri annexation, the Shushi (and not only Shushi) roads were in neglest. After liquidation of Zakfederatsia (Transcaucasus Federation) in 1936, the road construcfion stopped altogether. In short, during the entire period of being a part of the Azerbaijani Republic, nopavedroads were built in the territory of the Armenian autonomy. The old roads were not upgraded and reconstructed for decades.
    This is especially true about the road that connected Nagorno Karabagh with the Armenian Republic. Already in 1960's the Shushi-Goris road was no longer Gt for modern transportation means, and the people of Karabagh were unable to use it. In order to go by bus from Nagorno Karabagh to Armenia, one had to make a 400 km detour through the territory of Azerbaijan, instead of the 15 km direct route. In spite of numerous protests and demands by the Armenians to rehabilitate the narrow path from Lachin to the territory of Armenia, the leadership of Azerbaijan used all kinds of political premises:like Dashnaks attempting to use this road to go to Karabagh to instigate anti-Azeri riots. The Armenians were thus made to forget this road forever and go to Armenia via Azerbaijan.
    It is common knowledge that the development of road infrastructure and transport plays crucial political, economic and psychological roles. It is not by chance that roads are the economic arteries of any country. And here, in Nagorno Karabagh, the entire region was intentionally deprived of its vascular system. The single objective was to drive out the indigenous Armenian population.
    Only after the establishment of Nagorno Karabagh Republic (1991) and liberation of the Lachin Corridor (1992), a large-scale rehabilitation of the road from the borders of Armenia to the capital of Nagorno Karabagh Stepanakert began.
Map 1
    It is still interesting to know how NKR ended up being an enclave. What incfutable arguments were used by the leadership of the Azerbaijani Republic at the end of 1920s to tear of off from Armenia the entire Northern Artsakh (Gardmank) with 107 Armenian villages populated by over 200 Sliousand Armenians. In the Southern Artsakh, as shown on map, there were artificial arrngement made between the Armenian villages, especially in important river valleys and at highways. These lands were seized in order to deprive Stepanakert of the possibility to connect with regional centres throughout the autonomy. Therefore, in order from Stepanakert or Shushi to a regional centre, one had to make a "world tour" outside the territory of Karabagh. This not only hampered the economic performance of the region, but constituted a transport "sabotage" against the Armenians of Karabagh. This constant pressure had its bitter ramifications during the events of 1988 - 1992 when Azerbaijan closed all the routes going through these arrangements and deprived the region of not only external, but also of internal communication means.
    The dismembering of Nagorno Karabagh Autonomy went unusually smooth. By ironic fate, things that even armed force did not attain, became possible after the establishment of the Soviet rule and with silent consent of the Armenian Bolsheviks, and sometimes even with their "fraternal" support. At the same time, the Azerbaijani Bolsheviks. indoclriniiSed with Armenophobia and Pan-Turkizm, not only followed, but further developed the expansionist policy of liicir predecessors.
    However, the appetite of the Azeris was insatiable. Their next target were the north-eastern bolders of Armenian Republic. A careful look at maps of the Transcaucasus issued through different years of the Soviet Regime shows that in 1920s Armenia and Karabagh had a common border. Yes, a common border!
    Since the beginning of 1930s, a narrow corridor appeared between the Armenian Republic and the Nagorno Karabagh Autonomous Republic. To illustrate the point, let us turn to only a few of the numerous maps. The first, printed in 1926, is put on page 414 (vol. 3) of the "Big Soviet Encyclopedia." (As shown on the fragment of the map printed in 1926, the Armenian SSR and Nagorno Karabagh AR arc connected by a common border). The second political-administrative map of the Armenian SSR was published in the USSR Atlas (Moscow, 1926). (The graphical map shows the circled common border between the Armenian SSR and NKAO. Incidentally, at that time the Nakhiclieyan AR did not have a common border with Turkey) and the third belongs to a map compilation of the Military - Technical Department of the Red Army Staff printed in 1926 - 1926 in Roslov-Upon-Don (In 1930, the borders were changed considerably.
The fragment of thes map published in 1926 shows how the Armenian SSR and NKAR are linked with a common border
Map 2
This map has a circle around the common siretch of border between the Armenian SSR and NKAR. Incidentally at the time there was no common border between Nakhijevan AR and Turkey.
Map 3
Whereas in this map of 1930 the borders have been significantly altered. The notorious Lachin corridor has already squeezed itstef between Ihe Armenian SSR and NKAR. The Nakhijevan AR and Turkey now have a common border.
The unlucky Lachin corridor already appeared between the Armenian SSR and NKAO. The Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic already established a common border with Turkey). All these maps demonstrate that the Armenian SSR and NKAO were connected to each other by a common border that passed by the river Aghavno (Aghari) to the south of Lachin (former Abdalyar) through the territory of Tekh and Kornidzor villages of the Goris Region of the Armenian SSR.
    For many years, researchers neglected this important fact. Today, its importance is hard to underestimate since the Azeris raised big noise (in connection with liberation of the Lachin Corridor) trying to convince the "naive" world that the: Armenians were infrinnging upon the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Nevertheless facts speak for themselves: not so long ago one part of these lands belonged to Armenia, and the other part to Artsakh. The researchers unanimously indicate that this transformation was immediately related to the establishment of the so-called Kurdish Autonomy baptized by the Bolsheviks "Red Kurdistan."
    It is well known that at the beginning of 1920s, with the support of the "buddy of the Soviets" Turkey and "benefactor" Stalin, Azerbaijan started searching for ways to tear off new lands from Armenia in addition to the already annexed territories of Artsakh-Karabagh and Nakhijevan. The methods were Byzantine.
    In 1923, this time at the Party headquarter level, the creation of a Kurdish province was proclaimed, to take care of the Kurdish ethnic minority. In order to ensure sound political and ideological rationale, Azerbaijan blew trumpets about the "victory of the Leninist national policy and proletarian internationalism." Who of the Bolsheviks could at that time question the righteousness of such a statement? The Armenian leaders were so blinded by the Azerbaijani-Kurdish-Arnienian brotherhood that they did not even attempt to see through the essence of this bogus, and gave in again. This time, they surrendered to Azerbaijan considerable borderline territories of Syunik and Gegharkunik for the newly established Kurdish province.
    The mystery of this autonomy on paper, disguised behind evasive and moot intrigues, did cause some suspicion, since the Kurdish province was not marked on any map and its status was not officially designated at a state level.
    All this may imply that the authors of this scheme were not particularly concerned about the process of creating an autonomy for the Kurds, but rather pursued the objective of tearing off new lands from Armenia to divide and separate Artsakh from Armenia, to deal with the Armenians of Karabagh easier. If this was not the objective, they why was it necessary to establish a "Red Kurdistan" between Artsakh and Armenia and then, after a while, quietly dismiss the idea? If there was an intention to populate the corridor taken away from Syunik-Artshakh with Kurds, then why was their cultural autonomy abolished? And if it was, then why were the lands were returned to their legitimate owners and the original borders of Armenia-Artsakh were not restored?
    It becomes particularly important to familiarise oneself with the methods used in the implementation of this anti-Armenian programme, since these directly relate to and are consonant with current events. Territorial issues raised were quite complicated and hard to solve, and these would have been impossible to resolve without sound political rationale.
    Everything was calculated and premeditated from the very beginning. The "Red Kurdistan " was used as small change in a big game, and it was not by chance that this action was loudly and pompously recognized as "another victory of the proletarian revolution of the Azerbaijani Bolsheviks in the East." According to the scale of the time, this was a considerable achievement in the ideological battlefield. The rest: as the saying goes, was a matter of technique, and the technique was used masterfully. A vivid illustration is the statement of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the Transcaucasus Federation of February 18, 1929, which tore 4,739 sq. km off the 34,539 sq. km territory of Armenia and gave it to "fraternal" Azerbaijan. The result was a landstrip separating Artsakh from Armenia. Artsakh and Artsvashen remained enclosed in the territory of Azerbaijan. The state border passed through the Kapan station.
    When everything was formalized de jure, the mechanism of clouting the Kurds was triggered, since they were not needed any more: the Kurdish province was abolished, the recently opened schools closed, the most imminent representatives of Kurdish intelligentsia were persecuted. Cheated and desolate Kurds tried to resist, but it was too late. Political games with the trump card of Kurdish autonomy were over, and Kudophilia was "forgotten." Baku, in its typical insidious way, changed the tune of the sermon and reinvigorated the "proletarian internationalism, "this time along the lines of suppression and elimination of national minorities.
    The fair protests of the Kurds were interpreted as terrorism, anti-revolutionary and anti-Soviet plots. Moscow, actively supported by the Central Executive Committee of Transcaucasian Federation, sent punitive troops to "Red Kurdistan". In several months, the Kurds learned the "bolshevism lessons" and "Red Kurdistan" turned into "Infernal Kurdistan." All that sopke the Kurdish language, wanted their children to lean their mother tongue, and cherished hopes of Kurdish autonomy were executed without any semblance of fair trial.
    Tens of thousands of Kurds left their homes and found refuge in Armenian villages. Azerbaijani's established residence in the deserted villages. The military activities against Kurds were headed by a true friend of Lavrenty Beria, a notorious misanthropist M. Bagirov. The consequences were devastating: prior to the establishment of "Red Kurdistan, " there were 41,368 Kurds residing in the territory of Azerbaijan, in ten years this number decreased to 18,183 people. During the leadership of a KGB general, the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliev the Kurds were made to change their nationality and with a stroke of a pen turned into Azerbaijanis. Thus the census of 1979 demonstrated that there were not Kurds living in Azerbaijan.
    This is the key to the enigma of "Red Kurdistan" (for details see "Golos Armenii" daily of July 13, 1993, issue No. 70, 17564; "Azatamart" No. 33 of December 22 - 28, 1992, "Yerevan" (Bulgaria) No. 15-16 of April, 5-16, 1993). The tragedy of the Kurds represents a single link in the long chain of political crime that started with the Armenian pogroms in Baku and Shushi at the beginning of the century and continued in Sumgait and Baku, as well as in Kamo-Azat, Getashen-Shaumian, Mardakert, Artsvashen and Paravakar.
    Thus, the political intrigues, manipulation with the national sentiment of the Kurds, lie and slander, deception and fraud, groveling and bribery upgraded to a level of national policies of Azerbaijan allowed it to get hold of the territories of Aftsakh and Armenia, de-Armenise Nakhijevan, separate Artsakh from Armenia, and abolish "Red Kurdistan." The current targets are the Republic of Artsakh and Syunik.
    It is high time to disclose the archival materials, annul the decree of the Central Executive Committee of the Transcaucasus Federation and return the seized lands. This will once and for all resolve the artificial problem of the "Lachin Corridor."

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