I did not expect that they would accuse me of genocide; the first president of Azerbaijan spoke about the events of Khojaly

Today is the 32nd anniversary of the tragic events in Khojaly.

In this regard, Ayaz Mutalibov, the first president of Azerbaijan, interviewed Czech journalist Dana Mazalova a month after those events.

Question.: What do you think about the events of Khojaly, after which you resigned? The corpses of Khojaly residents were found not far from Aghdam. Someone had shot people in the legs beforehand so that they couldn't run away. Then, they were axed. On February 29, my colleagues filmed them. On March 2, the skulls of those corpses were removed during the reshoots. This is a strange game.

Mutalibov: As the survivors of Khojaly say, all this was organized to create an occasion for my resignation. Some forces were working to discredit the president. I don't think that the Armenians, who have a straightforward and knowledgeable approach to such a situation, would allow the Azerbaijanis to acquire facts exposing their fascist actions. If I declare that it is the fault of the Azerbaijani opposition, they can say that I am slandering them. However, the general picture of the judgments is this: the Armenians had left a corridor through which people could leave. Then why should they shoot? As soon as Khojaly was surrounded by equipment, it was necessary to evacuate the population immediately. Earlier, I gave such an assignment on the occasion of Shushi. Leave the men in the city and take the women and children out. This is one of the laws of war. People need to be saved. My behavior was objective and unambiguous. I gave such instructions, but it is unclear why they were not carried out in Khojaly."

Later, Mutalibov continued to claim that the Armenians left a corridor for the civilian population to leave. "On the evening of February 25, I was informed about what happened, but without details, by the late Interior Minister Tofik Kerimov. He said several hundred people were shot in Khojaly itself. At that time, I first picked up the phone and called the head of Karabakh, (Arthur) Mkrtchyan. I was unfamiliar with him and had never seen him, but I knew his last name. I asked him angrily, How is it possible to shoot almost a thousand civilians in Khojaly? And he answered the following: "What nonsense, we did not shoot anyone in Khojaly. When Khojaly was taken, no one was there because we had been given a corridor, and the residents had left. And a part of the Khojaly residents stayed with us. They are in the vocational school building. We feed them, even though we don't have enough food."

I didn't believe him. I asked Armen Isagulov, the head of the police department, by phone. He also reported that people were given a corridor. That's why, as I said in an interview, I was informed about providing a corridor to the civilian population. But I didn't claim that the corridor existed or not. I referred to the telephone mentioned in the above conversation," said Mutalibov.

In 2013, Mutalibov said this in an interview with the Azerbaijani service of "Azatutyun" radio station. "It was unacceptable to associate my resignation with Khojalu; it affected me a lot; I did not expect that I would be accused of genocide; those allegations spread everywhere and turned into a huge barrier that I could not overcome."