Rise and Fall: January 20, 1990

On March 7th 1990 my dad was filming my brother's 5th birthday - a small family event at my grandparents' place. As we were very talky and want-to-act-for-the-camera kids, everyone would ask us questions: "Rustam, can you count all the players of "Spartak Moskva"?"

"Sure!", replies my brother and starts counting names.  Then go several questions of this kind and another one for me from my grandma's brother:

"N, can you tell me what bullets were used by the Soviet Army on January 20th?".

"Yes!", I say "Tracer bullets!".


I was only 4 years old when it happened, so don't remember a lot. But I do remember the sounds of shooting coming somewhere from the street and my mom hiding us under the bed. I remember my dad putting on his clothes, preparing to go out with his crew and film everything, and my mom standing in the door asking him not to do it.

And the spirit. The spirit of pure fight, mixed with dirty intentions and provocations coming from all the sides.  When people didn't actually know who to fight - friends or enemies. But they did fight for justice, trying to stop the tanks, the shooting, and the chaos.

For a while after the tragedy of January 20, people from all the city would bring the videos they made on home cameras to the secret office of a group of cinema people, who later made an investigative documentary about this tragedy, which showed several proofs of the KGB provocation leading to this tragedy. The film would be hiddenly distributed among people, literally from one hands to another. The creators would be threatened, interrogated, their houses searched for he proof of betrayal.

Later there were millions of people on the streets, broken walls, teared down monuments, the truth, the war, the migration, new country, new history, new hopes, new people, new nation, new lies and new walls - stronger, higher, oilier.

It's been 20 years since the tragedy, and I'm not a four-year-old who knows what bullets were used on January 20th anymore. But I know for sure, that I wouldn't want my kids to know what is tracer bullet at the age of 4, to watch their mom edit scary footages of tragedy, or hear their dad calling from the KGB, war zone, or a demonstration.

But if they do ever witness another rise of this nation, I definitely wouldn't want them to be as sorry as we are for what we did to the country thousands of people sacrificed their lives for.


It's been 20 years since the tragedy of 20th January, which killed 130 and injured around 700 people.

Allah rehmet elesin.

The Story of my Anger or How to Kill the Will and Alienate People on May 28th.

It is a huge achievement to learn how to overcome the anger. A year ago I thought I did.

Yes, I have managed to overcome most of the anger in my life, but it came back as the one against injustice. And once you let this kind of anger out you will not be able to squeeze it back inside. It grows fast and it's contagious.

When my anger was a baby we would bitch about stupid people and bad drivers around, I would put him back to sleep the moment we were home.

As a teenager he would go all Jack Nicholson to the neighbours who throw garbage from the window and policemen asking for bribe.

Today he's a grown up, he lives a live of his own not depending on me. He feeds, entertains and looks after himself. And grows. Every day.

Ninety-one years ago a group of well-educated politicians formed the first Azerbaijani Democratic Republic after the collapse of Russian Empire. THAT Azerbaijan was the first Muslim state in the world to give women equal political rights with men, even before UK, US, Switzerland and some other western countries. Another significant achievement of ADR was the establishment of Baku State University, which was the first modern-type university founded in Azerbaijan.

During two years of its existence ADR had to struggle for recognition in the World, including negotiations with W.Wilson, fight the Dashnaki and Bolshevik invasions as well as Irani resentment and, what is more difficult, brake inner prejudices of the centuries-old slaved Azerbaijani nation.

After only two years of independence we were slaved by Soviet Union again. According to Vladimir Lenin the invasion was justified by the fact that Soviet Russia could not survive without Baku oil. On April 28, 1920 we became Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.

However, the former capital of Azerbaijan Ganja managed to resist the invasion for one more month. And, what is very significant, they DID celebrate the 2nd anniversary of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic only three days before Ganja was finally occupied.

Leaders of the ADR either fled to Menshevik Georgia, Turkey and Iran, or were captured by Bolsheviks, like Mammed Amin Rasulzade (who was later allowed to emigrate) and executed (like Gen. Selimov, Gen. Sulkevich, Gen. Agalarov, a total of over 20 generals), or assassinated like Fatali Khan Khoyski and Behbudagha Javanshir. Most students and citizens travelling abroad remained in those countries never to return again to their country.

Does any of this sound like present Azerbaijan to you? Maybe, only the last sentence.

What is Azerbaijan today?

A country which celebrates the Flowers Day by 10 whole minutes of fireworks, all-day celebrations and a huge concert and only mentions with no celebration whatsoever the most significant day in its history - the day we fought back our independence.

Today, the whole 8 million population of Azerbaijan is weaker than the group of people who defended Ganja 91 years ago to celebrate the day of May 28th.

Today my anger triumphs.