'Black January' – the day of the betrayal of the people by the Soviet Union
26 years ago, on the night from the 19th to the 20th of January 1990, the Soviet government made one of the biggest steps that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, de facto outlawing and shooting their own people who were residents of Baku. In history this event is famous as 'Black January'. 132 people were killed and another 612 were injured, 841 were illegally arrested. The event is annually remembered as one of the most treacherous and bloody pages in the history of the Soviet Union.
Soviet troops were sent to Baku on those days under the pretext of stopping the Armenian massacres, committed by nationalists of the Popular Front. A year before, troops had already been sent to Georgia in order to disperse an opposition rally in Tbilisi. 19 people were killed then.
The treacherous nature of this action will be clear if you remember how traditionally respected and honored Soviet soldiers were in the Soviet Union, including the Azerbaijani SSR. People didn't expect that the Soviet troops who reached Baku intended to shoot at people. These troops were already in Sumgait, but then they introduced proper order there. In Baku they opened fire at anyone who was seen, including children.
The reason for the massacres was fabricated: when criminal elements rampaged, trying to provoke society, civilians of different nations – Azerbaijanis, Lezgins, Tatars and Russians – tried to save the Armenians who had remained in the city from the pogroms. They hid them in their homes and organized militias, supported by the Popular Front. It was a real mutual action of the Soviet citizens against the background of the criminal inaction of the central and republican authorities. In addition, many Armenians had already left Baku by that time.
In fact, the purpose of the monstrous act was to raise fears among residents of Baku, instead of introducing proper order in the city. Special forces with a predominance of criminals were used for this purpose, not regular army units. Some offenders have completed what had been started by other perpetrators, plunging the whole of Baku into shock. The next day, the traces of the treacherous action were hidden and ordinary conscripts were sent to Baku.
The criminal nature of Gorbachev's clique was demonstrated once again: the blood of civilians that was shed in Vilnius, Tbilisi and Baku completely destroyed the belief in the Soviet people, the Soviet Union and the central authority, ensuring further collapse of the Soviet Union. Certainly, neither of the organizers who took the decision to attack Baku, nor those who directly killed residents of Baku were punished in the USSR. The Prosecutor General's Office closed the criminal case into the shooting of civilians by soldiers "for lack of evidence" on December 20th of the same year. Later, when Azerbaijan became an independent state, the case was reopened, but the people involved escaped to other countries.