Grandmaster Garry Kasparov

Kasparov: Start of Karabakh Tragedy Was Sumgait Pogrom


MOSCOW (PanARMENIAN.Net) — The 13th world chess champion and head of Human Rights Foundation Garry Kasparov — the Baku-born Russian-Armenian chess grandmaster   — said on October 13 that the starting point of the tragedy in Nagorno-Karabakh is the Sumgait pogrom, which targeted the Armenian population of the Azerbaijani town of Sumgait back in 1988.

Kasparov believes the Sumgait pogroms took history to a new dimension, followed by pogroms in Kirovabad (today’s Ganja), and those in Baku.

“For me the issue definitely resonates on an emotional level. That is why many will see my point of view as biased. I try to be as objective as possible, though, obviously, what we’ve gone through in Baku and experienced living in Azerbaijan sets a mood of its own,” Kasparov has said in a conversation with Echo of Moscow (via Sport24).

“First: why the Turkish factor matters – because this problem was not purely an intra-Soviet one, but has in fact the Armenian Genocide perpetrated in the Ottoman Empire at its roots. This here is an important factor at the genetic level and is ingrained in the subconscious of every Armenian living in lands controlled by Turkic-speaking peoples.

“Next. In no way shall we re-examine the historical documents from thousands of years ago. This will certainly distract us. The only unbiased statistical evidence is from the census of the late 19th century Russian Empire, which records that the territory — which then had a different name — was mostly populated by Armenians.”

Kasparov then discusses the history of the region, how Lenin, who sought a major alliance with Turkey, handed two territories — Nakhijevan and Karabakh — to Azerbaijan which he says created “a minefield” in the Union: “In fact, Stalin would then do this regularly, creating minefields, redrawing the map in such a way that would ensure mine explosion in case of potential state exits.

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“Now lastly. There is actually one detail that fundamentally separates the Karabakh problem from that of Crimea and many others. According to a Soviet law approved in 1990, quite a clear exit rule existed for union republics, which said that autonomous republics and densely populated regions of national minorities must vote separately, with an equal right for self-determination. This is a crucial point that many ignore. This is why the issue of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty remains questionable.”

Topics: chess
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