Last Updated: Monday, 19 February 2018, 14:34 GMT

Chronology for Russians in Azerbaijan

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Russians in Azerbaijan, 2004, available at: [accessed 19 February 2018]
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Date(s) Item
1988 Violence breaks out between Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijanis. Soviet troops move in to impose order, but the violence continues. Soviet troops become the target of Azeri frustration and resentment as they enter and restore order in Baku. This "occupation" is said to have been a major irritant to Azeris as the measures of the OMON forces were said to have been harsh and invasive.
1989 - 1990 Frequent clashes between Armenians and Azeris occur both around Nagorno Karabakh and along the Armenian - Azerbaijani border. Much of the violence is carried out by irregular militias each side has formed. Meanwhile, the Soviet authorities institute the "government Azeri language plan" which is designed to stimulate the use of Azeri over Russian and to provide avenues for non-Azeri speakers to learn Azeri. This is designed to make Azeri the dominant language of Azerbaijan.
Sep 2, 1991 The leadership of Nagorno Karabakh declares itself an independent Soviet Republic and holds a referendum which passes overwhelmingly.
Jan 1 - Apr 30, 1992 Serious widescale fighting engulfs Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijani forces shell several towns in Karabakh and reportedly attack towns in Armenia.
Mar 1992 As pressure mounts Azerbaijani President Mutalibov resigns his post after receiving guarantees of safety and financial security. A spokesman for the Azeri Popular Front (APF), the leading opposition, denounces Mutalibov's decision to join the CIS. The current Prime Minister, Gasanov, calls for the formation of a coalition government with the APF which announces it is reconsidering its membership in the CIS. The attempt fails and Gasanov is forced to step down. The Popular Front has maintained an anti-Russian stance since its formation in 1988.
May 1992 The Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh begin to turn the conflict around taking considerable territory from the Azerbaijani forces and opening a vital corridor to Armenia. As losses mount on the Azerbaijani forces, pressure mounts on the government of Abulfez Elchibey to turn things around. Azerbaijani leaders and the government charge that the Russian Federation is arming the Armenians in an attempt to force Azerbaijan into giving lucrative oil contracts to Russia. Inter Press reports that 500,000 Russians have fled Azerbaijan. There is considerable resentment against Russians over what many Azeris see as interference from Russia which has favored Armenia. This has resulted in isolated attacks against Russians.
Oct 12, 1992 Russia and Azerbaijan sign a treaty of friendship and mutual security which ensures certain protections for Russians living in Azerbaijan. The Popular Front denounces this move and calls for closer ties to Turkey. Despite the treaty and official legal protections, the U. S. Department of State reports that refugees from the Karabakh conflict have seized the apartments of many Russian residents with impunity. They also report general hostility and discrimination against Russians who are married to or somehow related to Armenians.
Jan 1993 Russian-speaking groups air their grievances to the speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament on the grounds that the rapid introduction of Azeri as the official language is creating problems for the Russian-speakers. The representatives complained that there is insufficient availability of Azeri language schools. They fear this will force many Russian-speakers to leave.
Jun 1993 A rebel Azerbaijani army colonel, Surat Huseinov, leads forces against government forces. He marches on Baku forcing President Elchibey to flee the city. Geidar Aliyev, who was just elected Parliament Chairman, assumes all presidential powers. Parliament votes to back Huseinov, making him Prime Minister and elevates Aliyev to the post of president.
1994 The Russian Foreign Ministry continues to express its concern for the treatment of Russians in Azerbaijan.
Aug 1995 Russia continues to place considerable pressure on Azerbaijan to join the defense arrangements of the CIS, thus allowing them to station Russian military forces in Azerbaijan. President Aliyev has requested assistance from Turkey, the OSCE and the United States in resisting these pressures. Azerbaijan has also concluded discussions with Turkey concerning the desirability of oil pipelines which would run through both Turkey and Georgia, thus excluding Russia in future dealings. Russia's relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan have soured over the past month or so. Moscow newspapers have begun blasting the "authoritarian" crackdown of the Ter-Petrossian regime.
Nov 14, 1995 Parliamentary elections and a referendum on a new constitution held in Azerbaijan. Preliminary results showed that most voters approved the new constitution, strengthening presidential powers, and supported Aliyev's New Azerbaijani Party(Inter-Press Service).
Dec 1995 The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) agreed to send a 3,000-strong multinational peacekeeping force to Azerbaijan, composed of troops from Croatia, Hungary, the Baltic states and Turkey, with Russians making up 30 per cent of the total (Europe World Review of Information).
Dec 8, 1995 A commentary in Moscow News identifies two competing alliances which shape the balance of forces on the Caspean oil issue. One of them comprises Western countries led by the United States and joined by Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Kazakhstan. The other one includes Russia, Iran, Armenia, Greece and Turkmenistan. Moscow News points out that the list of belligerents also includes the separatist formations of the Caucasus and the Middle East. The Kurdish rebels in Turkey, the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Abkhazians and Ossetians objectively come out as the allies of the "Russian-Iranian bloc" while the "Western bloc" includes Chechnya. The commentary concludes that, having mobilized the forces in full speed, the battle for the Caspian is now in the full swing (Moscow News).
Jan 22, 1996 After attending the CIS summit in Moscow, Azerbaijani President Aliyev said that Russia had a decisive role to play in reaching a settlement to the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the region of Nagornyy Karabakh. He said that the CIS summit had adopted an appeal to the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia, and to other CIS heads of state, urging that the 19-month-old cease-fire between the warring sides be maintained until a political agreement is reached (BBC).
Feb 22, 1996 An incident on the border of the territory of Nakhichevan, an Azeri held enclave in Armenia which mirrors Armenian-held Nagorno-Karabakh, brought the 20th-month armistice in the Nagornyy Karabakh region to an end. Baku and Yerevan blamed each other for the renewal of military operations. Moscow News observes that the incident has renewed public interest in the benefits and disadvantages of different scenarios for the management of Karabakh conflict. The newspaper discusses three of them suggested by the American political scientists, Paul Globe. In the first scenario, Karabakh loses a protracted war with Azerbaijan. In the second one, an "external power" (meaning Russia) forces its own solution and creates a Russian protectorate. In the third scenario, Nagornyy Karabakh goes to Armenia with the Lachin corridor and the western part of Nakhichevan, while Azerbaijan receives in exchange the Zangezur district thereby creating a direct border with Turkey. Globe recommends the third scenario. He also suggests that Armenia should hold negotiations with Azerbaijan and Georgia because the oil pipeline could well pass through Armenian territory. Moscow News notes that Baku ignores Globe's plan, charging that changing of borders violates international agreements and UN principles. Baku agrees to give the Karabakh region "broad authonomy" in exchange for 20 percent of occupied Azerbaijani land and the return of some 1.5 million refugees. Azerbaijan's leadership flatly rejects the idea of "federalizing" the state of Azerbaijan or establishing confederate relations with Nagornyy Karabakh. Moscow News also observes that Nagornyy Karabakh dislikes the idea of autonomous Karabakh within Azerbaijan. Yerevan, like Baku, is not prepared to discuss an exchange of territory. Armenia believes that the people of Nagornyy Karabakh should decide their future for themselves, the newspaper points out. Moscow News observes that the US and Russian mediators in the conflict are more concerned with their own interests rather than ending the conflict. Primary concern for both powers is certainly the Azerbaijani oil. Both sides approach the problem from opposite directions. Moscow prefers the preservation of existing borders and improved status for Nagornyy Karabakh in a federation or confederation. This solution would give Russia a chance to increase its influence in the Transcaucases. The White House, instead, is indirectly proposing a territorial exchange. This would take Russia out of the 21st century oil picture and strengthen the pro-Western stance of Azerbaijan through Turkey (The Moscow News).
Apr 18, 1996 The OSCE, the United States and Russia tried to bring together the Azeri and Armenian presidents in Moscow. Peace talks sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had been so far stalled as the Baku government offered autonomy for the enclave, while Karabakh Armenians insisted on independence (AFP).
May 8, 1996 Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov visited Baku and Yerevan for political consultations over the settlement of the conflict in Nagornyy Karabakh. The minister made the trip within the framework of Russia's "shuttle diplomacy". Primakov said that Moscow was for a just settlement of the conflict. This included granting Nagornyy Karabakh autonomy. Primakov was also involved in a humanitarian action conducted by Russian mediators with participation by the Red Cross International Committee. The action aimed at exchanging prisoners of war and hostages between Armenia and Azerbaijan (ITAR-TASS).
May 10, 1996 At a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, Azeri President Aliyev and Armenian President Ter-Petrossian confirmed their determination to observe a cease-fire agreement until an appropriate political accord was signed (DPA).
Oct 28, 1996 Another round of talks to resolve the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagornyy Karabakh region opened in Moscow. Representatives of the sides told the agency that they felt a "restrained optimism" regarding the likely outcome of the talks (BBC).
Nov 19, 1996 A new series of talks to settle the future of the secessionist Armenian-populated enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh opened in the Finnish capital. They were joined by countries of the so-called Minsk group and were presided over by Russia and Finland. The aim of the talks was to reach some progress before the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe summit in Lisbon in December. In 1992, the OSCE charged a group of countries, dubbed the Minsk group, with finding a solution to Nagornyy Karabakh conflict. Besides Russia and Finland, the Minsk group also included Belarus, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy Sweden, Turkey and the United States (AFP).
Nov 24, 1996 Presidential elections held in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. The Armenian population chose between the incumbent President Robert Kocharyan, former Deputy Parliament Speaker Boris Arushayan, and Communist leaders Grant Melkumyan. All of them supported independence for the enclave and the continuation of the economic reform. Nearly 50 percent of the eligible electorate of 130,000 voted, well in excess of the 25 percent turnout needed to validate the election. The elections sparked protests in cities and towns throughout Azerbaijan, some of which included thousands of demonstrators. State-run Azerbaijani television commented that the presence of Russian electoral observers at voting sites represented a lack of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe together with a number of foreign countries expressed concern for the effect the vote might have on regional stability. Russia and Turkey also objected to the election on the grounds that it was being held before talks on the region's political status were completed. Washington denounced the elections as a threat to the fragile peace process (United Press International).
Mar 14, 1997 The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry official dismissed a statement by Armenia accusing Baku of attempting to undermine the peace process by focusing on alleged sale of Russian arms to Yerevan (BBC).
Apr 1997 It was reported that fighting erupted during the third week of April between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Each side accused the other of instigating the fighting. The Russian military recorded 32 major violations of the ceasefire. This was the worst fighting since Yerevan and Baku signed a 1994 ceasefire freezing Armenia's hold over some 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan. It was pointed out that some 35 km (22 miles) from the main area of the recent clashes, inside Azerbaijan, there was a vital oil pipeline, which was at the heart of an $ 8-billlion international project. It was said that a hot war between Armenia and Azerbaijan was likely as both sides looked interested in gaining control over this pipeline in order to influence the global and regional energy markets.
Apr 5, 1997 Azeri leaders warned that alleged clandestine Russian arms shipments to Armenia "could lead to a new large scale war in the [Caucasus] region" and demanded that the weapons be returned to Moscow. President Aliyev sent a message to Boris Yeltsin, Russian President, urging Kremlin to take "the most active measures" to bring the armaments back to Russia (Financial Times).
Apr 10, 1997 The Azerbaijani parliament sent a letter to the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly questioning Russia's co-chairmanship of the OSCE Minsk Group. The letter drew attention to Russia's alleged illegal supply of arms to Armenia (BBC).
May 8, 1997 Twelve political parties in Azerbaijan issued a statement expressing their readiness to unite with the government in the event of war with Armenia. The statement also condemned the illegal supply of Russian arms to Armenia (BBC).
Aug 6, 1997 Azerbaijani President Geydar Aliyev announced at a press conference that it was expected that a trilateral agreement on the transportation of Caspian oil by the so-called "northern route" from Baku to Grozny to Novorossiisk would be signed soon. Kommersiant-Daily noted that this would not be an interstate but a commercial agreement, even though it would be signed by representatives of state institutions: the Russian Federation Ministry of Fuel and Power, the Azerbaijan Oil Company and the National Company of Chechnya. It was long been known that from an economic standpoint the "northern route was far more advantageous for Azerbaijan, rather than the "southern" route through Georgia (Current Digest of the Post Soviet Press).
Aug 29, 1997 The presidents of Russia and Armenia signed a far-reaching strategic pact in the Kremlin which Yerevan considered more significant than Russia's union accord with Belarus. The friendship and cooperation treaty provided for mutual assistance in the event of a military threat to either party. The treaty stipulated that Russia was allowed to station 12,000 troops in Armenia and keep border-guards on Armenia's border with Turkey and Iran (AFP).
Oct 23, 1997 Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosyan declared that any future struggle for an independent Karabakh would be impossible and admitted that the conflict needed to be settled according to the plan forwarded by the co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk group. Yerevan's new position caused a crack in the partnership between Yerevan and Stepanakert. The siltation concerning Nagorno-Karabakh changed in the last year and a half. Baku undertook a series of measures which resulted in a shift of political balance in its favor. Baku scored its biggest victory when the OSCE summit in Lisbon decided to support Baku's resolution on settling the conflict in Karabakh based on the principle of preserving Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. This principle paved the way for a new proposal from the co-chairmen of the Minsk group. At the same time, Moscow's support for Armenia and Stepanakert significantly weakened after agreements were reached at the Denver summit by the leaders of Russia, US and France (Moscow News).
Jun 22, 1998 Azerbaijani Defense Minister Saraf Abiev received a NATO delegation which was presided by deputy commander B. McCendry (Defense and Security).
Aug 15, 1998 An opposition rally in Baku demanded the resignation of Azerbaijan's leadership because of its inability to liberate the disputed enclave of Nagornyy Karabakh, and fight corruption in the upper echelons of power (ITAR-TASS).
Oct 16, 1998 President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev said that he was the winner of the 11 October presidential elections, which he described as democratic, free and fair. Aliyev urged the opposition to refrain from attempts to assume power by force and invited it to enter a dialogue (BBC).
Dec 17, 1998 Deputy Foreign minister of Azerbaijan Araz Azimov accused Russia of delivering military aircrafts to Armenia and demanded their instant removal. Azimov said that Azerbaijan was directing its protests over the fighter jet delivery against Russia rather than Armenia, since Moscow purported to be a neutral party in the dispute (AFP).
Feb 5, 1999 Azerbaijan offered to be host to the first American military base on former Soviet territory (The New York Times).
Mar 1, 1999 Defense Minister Colonel General Safar Abiyev confirmed the report that a Turkish, US, or NATO military base may be stationed on its territory. During a recent visit to Turkey, "[W]e discussed the possibility of concluding a military alliance between Baku and Ankara which would be similar to the Russian-Armenian alliance", Defense Minister stated. Defense Minister also emphasized that Azerbaijan did not intend to extent its participation in the CIS Collective Security Treaty for another five years. He also stated that Baku intended to shut down a Russian strategic military facility in Azerbaijan.
Mar 23, 1999 A group of senior Pentagon representatives, specialists in the area of military-political planning, arrived in Baku. The US military delegation held talks with the president of Azerbaijan and senior officials in the republic's Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The American military were given a tour to appraise the condition of Nasosnaya air force base (BBC).
May 28, 1999 Azerbaijani Speaker Murtuz Aleskerov said that the Political Committee of the Council of Europe favored the simultaneous admission of Armenia and Azerbaijan to the Council as a way of settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Aleskerov said that the Council of Europe would discuss Azerbaijani's admission not later than January 2000 (BBC).
Jun 19, 1999 Armenia proposed posting permanent OSCE monitors on the border between Karabakh and Azerbaijan to head off possible truce violation in the region. A number of serious exchanges of fire with casualties occurred along the line, dividing the Azerbaijani army and units of the self-proclaimed Karabakh republic. Some observers believed that these events were dictated to Armenia by the Russian military who was widely represented in Armenia (Interfax Russian News).
Jul 19, 1999 It was reported that Azerbaijani authorities intensified their harassment of selected opposition politicians, groups and newspapers. The reprisals had targeted not established opposition parties, but individuals or movements that had sought to capitalize on popular discontent (Middle East News Items).
Aug 7, 1999 State Foreign Policy Adviser Vafa Guluzade said that Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey route of the main export oil pipeline (MEOP) had been confirmed and would not be changed. Guluzade's statement came as a reply to a statement made by the Armenian deputy power engineering minister, saying that laying the MEOP through Armenia would "be 500m dollars cheaper than any other option". Guluzade said that had the staged plan of the OSCE Minsk Group on settling the Karabakh conflict been adopted, the question of laying one branch of the oil pipeline via Armenia could have been discussed. As the staged plan was rejected "Armenia missed its chance", he said (BBC).
Sep 10, 1999 It was reported that humanitarian aid for Azerbaijan was to be cut. This was connected to the increasing demand for such aid throughout the world while the possibilities for rendering assistance were diminishing. Cutting of humanitarian aid would mostly affect the Azerbaijani refugees from Nagornyy Karabakh (BBC).
Oct 9, 1999 About 50,000 people demonstrated in the Azerbaijani capital Baku against Armenian involvement in the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Speakers called for the international community to recognize Armenia as the aggressor in the conflict, and denounced Russia for backing Armenia in the dispute. They proposed cultural autonomy for the region (AFP).
Oct 26, 1999 US Deputy State Secretary Strobe Talbott arrived to Baku by personal instruction of the US President and the State Secretary to discuss additional measures to bring peace in the region. Other issues to be discussed in Azerbaijan included energy cooperation, the construction of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline for carrying Caspean oil to the international markets, the strengthening of political institutions in the Transcaucasian republics and the development of economic cooperation (ITAR-TASS News agency).
Nov 22, 1999 An Azerbaijani newspaper said that the Azerbaijani authorities and opposition felt vindicated by the fact that no accord on Nagornyy Karabakh was signed at the OSCE Istanbul summit. Analyzing the post-summit scenario the paper suggested that the US was likely to play the main role in negotiations on Karabakh once Russia got involved into the Chechen conflict (BBC).
Dec 27, 1999 Mais Safarli, leader of the Azerbaijan Compatriot Party, said that Russia was carrying out its new "southern doctrine". Safarli pointed to Russia's military campaign in Chechnya, as well as to the propagandist anti-Georgian and anti-Azerbaijani pressure. Safarli said that it was likely that Moscow undertake steps for the restoration of its lost influence in the south Caucasus once the war in Chechnya ended (BBC).
Mar 31, 2000 Armenian President Robert Kocharyan suggested a 3+3+2 collective security structure for the Caucases, which could include the three South Caucasus countries, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, their neighbors, Iran, Turkey and Russia, and the European Union and the USA. Addressing the Georgian parliament Kocharyan said that all three South Caucasus countries had agreed on the need to establish a collective security system (BBC).
Apr 24, 2000 Ex-Aide to the Azerbaijani president Vafa Guluzade suggested that Turkey should station troops in Azerbaijan to counteract the Russian military presence in Armenia. Guluzade noted that having taken revenge on Chechnya, Russia was turning its attention to Georgia and Azerbaijan (BBC).
May 26, 2000 It was reported that in contrast to its attitude toward Armenia, the Council of Europe's legal committee meeting in Cyprus did not advise Azerbaijan's admittance to this organization (BBC).
Jun 20, 2000 It was reported that the principal themes of upcoming talks in Moscow of President Geidar Aliyev would be ways to settle the Karabakh problem and the situation in the Caucasus. Aliyev flew to Moscow to attend the CIS summit there. Aliyev intended to continue his talks with President Kocharyan which had started the previous year in Washington, and meet President Vladimir Putin (ITAR-TASS).

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