In February 1988 Andrei Sakharov, who had less than one year to live, devoted a great deal of attention to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. in connection with this he wrote a letter to Gorbachev, which is now worth recalling.
Dear Mikhail Sergeevich!
I have decided to turn to you on two of the most pressing national issues at present: on the return of the Crimean Tatars to Crimea and on the reunification of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.
In each of these cases, we are talking about correcting injustice in relation to one of the peoples of our country. The autonomous national region of Nagorno-Karabakh was annexed to the Azerbaijan SSR in 1923.
At present, about 75% of the population are Armenians, the rest are Kurds, Russians, and Azerbaijanis. In 1923, the share of Armenians was even higher - up to 90%. Historically, the entire region of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) was part of Eastern Armenia.
It can be assumed that the annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan was made on the initiative of Stalin, as a result of internal and foreign policy combinations of that time, against the will of the population of Karabakh and contrary to the previous statements of Stalin
and the leadership of Azerbaijan, over the next decades it became a constant source of interethnic friction. Until very recently, there have been numerous acts of national discrimination, dictatorship, and infringement of Armenian culture.
In the context of perestroika, the Armenian population of Karabakh had a hope for a constitutional solution to the issue. On February 20, at a session of the Regional Council of Deputies, a decision was made on a petition to the Supreme Councils of Azerbaijan and the USSR to
transfer the region to the Armenian SSR. Earlier, similar decisions were taken at sessions of four out of five district councils of deputies. The decisions of the district and regional councils were supported by thousands of
peaceful demonstrations in the region and in Armenia. Undoubtedly, new democratic opportunities associated with perestroika have manifested themselves in everything. However, further developments were not favorable.
Instead of the normal constitutional consideration of the petition of the Soviet authorities, maneuvers and persuasions began, directed mainly at the Armenians. At the same time, there were reports in the press and on television,
in which events were presented incompletely and one-sidedly, and legitimate requests of the Armenian population were declared extremist, and a negative response seemed to be predetermined in advance.
Unfortunately, we have to admit that this is not the first time in the aggravated situation, glasnost is suppressed just when it is especially needed. All this could not but cause an appropriate reaction. Strikes and new demonstrations took place in Yerevan,
in Nagorno-Karabakh and elsewhere, which were legal and peaceful. But in the last days of February, events of a completely different kind took place in Azerbaijan: tragic, bloody, and purposefully or not, reminiscent of 1915. I think that the events in Azerbaijan,
like the unrest of 1986 in Alma-Ata, were provoked and perhaps organized by the forces of the local anti-perestroika mafia. One way or another, it is a challenge to perestroika. I hope that the country's leadership, the Politburo, the Central Committee of the CPSU,
the Supreme Soviet will find a way - to respond to the situation: decisively, democraticly, constitutionally. The problems raised in this letter have become central for the success of perestroika, its ability to overcome resistance and the burdens of the past.
It is impossible again for decades to postpone a just solution of these issues and leave permanent zones of tension in the country.
With deep respect.
Academician Andrei Sakharov.
March 21, 1988

This letter was forwarded to the Secretary General on 21 March. I consider it important to make the following addition to it. I call for solutions based on calm and, as much as possible, impartial consideration of the interests of both of the peoples involved.
It seems to me necessary, in accordance with the Constitution of the USSR, to consider the petition of the Regional Council of People's Deputies of Nagorno-Karabakh to the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijan SSR and the Supreme Soviet of the Armenian SSR.
In the event of a disagreement, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR should undertake arbitration. I call on the Supreme Soviets of Azerbaijan, Armenia and the USSR to take into account the clearly expressed will of the majority of the population of the autonomous region and
the regional councils as the main basis for adopting a constitutional decision. In these difficult days, I address a request and an appeal to the peoples of Azerbaijan and Armenia to completely abjure violence.
It would be the greatest tragedy if new ones were the answer to the heinous crimes already committed. On March 24, a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh was published.
However, this resolution does not express the attitude to the decision of the regional council. I hope that this is not the last word of the USSR Supreme Soviet and its Presidium.
Andrey Sakharov. "
Today a huge amount of propaganda is generated concerning this conflict. The situation is complicated and it’s easy to forget that a enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend, a friend of our enemy is not necessarily our enemy etc. But one should also not forget another
quote from Sakharov, that what for Azerbaijan is a matter of ambition and pride for Armenia is a matter of survival.
Finally, last but not least: Armenia is a genuine democracy, with a reformist leader in an environment extremely hostile to both democracy and genuine reform,
while Azerbaijan is one of the most corrupt & brutal dictatorships in the world ruled by a dynasty no better then those in Central Asia.
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