Battle for the Soul of the Holy Village at the heart of Armenia’s intensifying feud with Azerbaijan

During the Soviet era when Nagorno-Karabakh was under Azerbaijani rule, Shusi was a mixture of Armenians and Azerbaijani, and the difference was suppressed under communism. When the Soviet Empire collapsed, everything changed and Shushi became the central stage of the battle, full of ethnic and religious symbols.

The first to be held was the Azerbaijani, who used the town’s Cathedral of the Holy Savior as a starting point for dropping cannons at Armenian-owned Stepanakert, sometimes firing up to 1,000 shells a week. Later, in a battle that Armenians still praise as the greatest victory in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian troops besieged Shusi and fought up a steep slope in 1992.

Eric Mangasaryan, 73, who participated in the assault, said, “When I brought back Shusi, I found that the cathedral was half destroyed, missiles were scattered, and animals were grazing.” “Azerbaijan never gets it back, I tell you, because we make it a blood bath for them.”


The “Wedding Operation in the Mountains” was a turning point in the war as it pioneered the road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, as the Armenians called it. The half-destroyed Armenian T-72 tank overlooks the road as a monument to the battle.

Today, only two mosques are reminding the master of Azerbaijani, both of which have been restored. However, their only visitors were occasional Iranian pilgrims, and the Azerbaijani inhabitants of Shushi fled altogether.

Nevertheless, Azerbaijani people still consider Shusha (known as Shusha) as their traditional base and remember it as the center of Azerbaijani music and poetry. Therefore, their anger last month when Alaik Hartunyan, a war veteran who had just become the new president of Nagorno-Karabakh, announced that the parliament of the excursion would move from Stepanakert to Shusi.

In other parts of the world, this can be seen as a routine exercise in the reorganization of local governments. But here it was considered and probably intended as a complete provocation to Azerbaijan. At the beginning of last week’s hostilities, Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev accused Hartunyan of choosing Shusi as the venue for the May oath ceremony.

“They held a so-called oath ceremony for the so-called leaders of the Nagorno-Karabakh administration in Shusha, the ancient pearl of Azerbaijani culture,” Aliev smoked. “These are deliberate attempts to drag us into conflict and provoke retaliation.”

While both sides blamed each other for resuming the conflict, Aliev warned that he would be expelled “like a dog” from Nagorno-Karabakh unless Armenian troops conceded.

He points out that the territory is still internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and states that at least Azerbaijani people who have fled from towns like Shusi should be allowed to resettle. ..

However, as Shushi is currently being bombarded in Azerbaijan, it seems unlikely that the two communities will return to Soviet-style brotherhood.

The man lifts the icon of the Cathedral of the Holy Savior, which was damaged by artillery during a military conflict in the self-proclaimed Republic of

On Thursday, the dome of the Cathedral of the Holy Savior was bombarded, angering the town’s Armenian inhabitants.

Foreign jihadists also fought on the Azerbaijani side during the first siege, just as Syrian jihadists are now believed to be fighting for Aliev. The defense against Armenian assault was led by the infamous Chechen guerrilla Shamil Basayev. Shamil Basayev later joined al-Qaeda and ordered the siege of the Beslan School in Russia in 2004.

Then, as it is today, Turkey was involved and launched a behind-the-scenes operation to support the Azerbaijani, who are considered fellow Turks. The more direct role was stopped only by Russia, fearing that it could start World War III.

“Shushi is a very special place for us, because Nagorno-Karabakh is a symbol of the war that liberates us and connects the country and Armenia,” said his two cousins ​​outside the delicious Soviet-era homes of Shusi. Ashot Gryan, 55, who is drinking tea, said. block.

“Yes, in the Soviet era, everyone was supposed to be friends. I knew many Azerbaijani people,” he added. “But in the end, that happened. Even if they came to peace, I don’t think it’s easy for us to welcome again in Azerbaijan.”

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