Sumgayit events: 35 years pass since the premeditated Armenian provocation

Today, February 28th marks 35 years since the Sumgayit events.

These events, which happened on February 28, 1988, were one of the provocations masterminded and committed against Azerbaijan jointly by the USSR State Security Committee and Armenian nationalists. On that day, Armenian nationalists, who were carrying out a policy of genocide and deportation against Azerbaijanis, resorted to another provocation with the aim of misleading the international community and provoking an anti-Azerbaijani sentiment. This bloody scenario, which was aimed at misleading the international community that Armenians were allegedly oppressed and their rights were trampled upon, in fact, laid the basis of the policy of genocide and occupation against Azerbaijanis. All witness testimonies prove that the perpetrator of the Sumgayit events was Eduard Grigoryan, an Armenian who was twice previously convicted. Grigoryan personally murdered five Armenians during the Sumgayit events. The riot committed on ethnic grounds in Sumgait was the culmination of such purposeful provocations at that time.

Subversive groups trained jointly by Armenian and USSR special services played a key part in the Sumgayit events. The riots resulted in the death of 32 people, including 6 Sumgayit residents.

Under the instructions of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, the country’s Prosecutor General’s Office reopened a criminal case to thoroughly investigate the incident and bring its perpetrators to justice.

In 1988, the population of Sumgayit city was 258,000, of which approximately 18,000 were ethnic Armenians. Until February 1988, there were no ethnic conflicts in Sumgayit, and today Sumgayit, like other Azerbaijani cities, is a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional city.

On February 26, the central square of Sumgayit was captured by protesters who objected to the killing of 2 Azerbaijanis who had been shot by Armenians in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan on February 22, 1988. Armenian extremists and agent-provocateurs instigated the protests towards the disturbances.

To investigate the unrest, the USSR General Prosecutor’s Office opened a criminal case, the special operative-investigative group headed by the investigator on especially important criminal cases Vladimir Galkin consisting of 231 investigators and the same number of operatives from different parts of the USSR was formed. As it was revealed by the investigation of the USSR General Prosecutor’s Office riots claimed the lives of 32 people, 26 of which were Armenians and 6 Azerbaijanis. With the verdicts of the court, 92 persons were sentenced to lengthy imprisonment, and one was sentenced to the death penalty.

However, an investigation conducted by the USSR General Prosecutor’s Office identified only some of the perpetrators of the Sumgayit disturbances and provided their punishment with the decisions of the courts. Under pressure from the USSR political leadership and the State Security Committee (KGB) of the USSR, the investigation failed to come to a logical conclusion and determine the ones who ordered and organized the Sumgayit unrest.

As a manifestation of Azerbaijan's decisive political will to investigate the true essence of this crime, the episodes on which the USSR General Prosecutor's Office tried to pass in silence, with the order of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and the Decree of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated March 19, 2010, suspended five criminal proceedings of the former USSR General Prosecutor's Office on mass disorders in Sumgayit were renewed and combined into a single criminal case. The investigation was entrusted to the investigative-operative group under the First Deputy of the Prosecutor General consisting of the investigators and operatives of the Prosecutor's Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the State Security Service.

The assessments and analysis of pieces of evidence collected by this investigation group confirm that the Sumgayit unrest was a provocation against Azerbaijan by the intelligence services of Armenia and the State Security Committee of the USSR. Armenian ideologists and their support in the high political leadership of the USSR, understanding the illegality of separation of Karabakh from Azerbaijan based on the Soviet Constitution have resorted to such provocation to justify the idea of the impossibility of further coexistence of Armenians together with Azerbaijanis, providing complete ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijani population in Armenia and discrediting Azerbaijan.

It was established that in January-February 1988, that is, immediately on the eve of the riots in the city of Sumgayit, out of 14 savings banks operating in the city, 84 depositors of Armenian nationality withdrew savings in the amount of 143,064 rubles. The investigation also found out that in January-February 1988, immediately on the eve of the riots in the city of Sumgayit, many telephone conversations with Armenia, and money transfers were carried out from the post offices operating in the city. The investigation also revealed that one of the active participants of the events committed in Sumgayit on February 27-29, 1988, was an Armenian resident of Sumgayit, repeatedly convicted Eduard Grigoryan. Grigoryan, having gathered people around himself, attacked the houses of Armenian residents of Sumgayit, under the slogans “Death to Armenians”, “Follow me”, etc. In their testimonies during the investigation, the victims (Lyudmila and Karina Mejlumyan sisters, Manvel Petrosyan, and others), who were subjected to violence and torture, said that the attacks on their houses were led by Eduard Grigoryan.

The investigation revealed one more interesting fact. After being convicted for the murder and rape of Armenian residents of Sumgayit on December 22, 1989, Grigoryan was transferred to remand prison No. 1 in Yerevan on August 26, 1991. On February 9, 2015, a court passed a ruling to involve Eduard Grigoryan as an accused person under the relevant articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan valid until September 1, 2000, and he was declared wanted.

The Armenians who were subjected to attacks were the ones who refused to donate to the covert "Krunk" and "Karabakh" Armenian committees seeking separation of Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan.

Investigative materials demonstrate that if the Azerbaijani population of Sumgayit did not show humanism and audacity, the scale of disturbances would have been bigger than planned by the organizers of this provocation. The testimonies of Armenian eyewitnesses prove that dozens of Armenian were sheltered and rescued by Azerbaijani families during the unrest.

Despite the special control and censorship of the USSR on photo-video recording, surprisingly photo/video filming of the events was carried out with pre-installed recording equipment and immediately was taken out of the territory of the USSR and widely was disseminated by Armenian lobby organizations as part propaganda against Azerbaijan.

Although the events in Sumgayit were used deliberately for propaganda and disinformation purposes against Azerbaijan by Armenia and Armenian lobbying organizations, as a result of measures taken by the Government of Azerbaijan and the objective and fact-based investigative materials it has been proved with sufficient and irrefutable facts that Sumgayit unrest was organized by Armenian chauvinist nationalists and their support to achieve their insidious intentions.

At present, in order to identify and prosecute all organizers and perpetrators of Sumgayit disturbances, as well as to disclose their supports comprehensive investigative-operative actions are continued by the investigative group.


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