Baku: Twenty years ago, January 1990. All quotes from area radio and press of the time.
“Many pogroms were committed with a special cruelty. On January 14 a group of 30-40 people stormed into the flat of the Torosyans, an elderly couple, where they found two other elderly relatives of the family. The criminals beat them all, grabbed 3,500 rubles and forced these Armenians and their neighbors out of the town, threw oil on them and burned them,” says Kirill Stolyarov in his book, Break-up.
From Radio Liberty, on January 15: Lenin Street — one of the central streets in Baku — was flooded with blood. A Russian living in the Azerbaijani capital recalled with horror the scenes of atrocities against their neighbors, who were fired at point-blank, thrown out of balconies, burned alive, or dismembered by raging crowds of Azeris.
“For five days in January of 1990, the Armenian community of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, were killed, tortured, robbed and humiliated. Pregnant women and babies were molested, little girls were raped in front of their parents’ eyes, Christian crosses were burned on their backs, and they were abused for their Christian faith.”
The unprecedented sadism of Azeris and inactivity of law enforcement bodies was testified to even by one of the leaders of the National Front of Azerbaijan, Etibar Mamedov:
“I myself witnessed the murder of two Armenians near the railway station. A crowd gathered, threw petrol on them and burned them, whereas the regional militia division was only 200 meters away with some 400-500 soldiers of the internal forces. The soldiers passed by the burning bodies at a distance of some 20 meters, and nobody attempted to circle the area and disperse the crowd.” Novaya Zhizn newspaper, 1990, No. 5.
“ … in the course of Armenian pogroms in Baku the raging crowd literally tore a man apart, and his remains were thrown into a garbage bin.” From an article in Soyuz weekly, May 19, 1990.
“The group commander, Roma, Azeri by origin, goes out to the town on assignment. Upon returning he immediately asks for vodka. He is furious. He had seen how a woman was thrown out of the window from a balcony of a multi-storied building. Naked. Into a fire of burning furniture. The furniture was apparently taken out from her flat. And then… a militant from the People’s front of Azerbaijan was waving that woman’s ears from the balcony,” testified Soviet Army officer Aleksey Vasilyev.
On January 19, 1990, the New York Times published an article which said: “Azerbaijan is not Lithuania. Nationalists in Azerbaijan also talk of independence, but their protest includes bloody pogroms against their Armenian neighbors.”