FACT SHEET: The Republic of Artsakh
The Republic of Artsakh declared independence from Azerbaijan because of continued persecution, oppression, and human and civil rights violations by the Azeri Turks. It was attached to Azerbaijan as an Autonomous Region by Joseph Stalin in 1921 and has suffered under Azeri rule from that time onward.
- The Republic of Artsakh had a pre-war population of approximately 200,000 people, 77% of whom were Christian Armenians. The remaining 23% were mainly Muslim Azeri Turks.
- The Republic of Artsakh’s capital is Stepanakert. It has an area of about 1,700 square miles, slightly smaller than the state of Delaware.
- On December 10, 1991, the Republic of Artsakhheld an independence referendum in which 82% of all voters participated, and 99% voted for independence.
- On January 6, 1992, the leaders of Artsakh declared independence as the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh (RMK).
- On January 8, 1992, Artur Mkrtchian was elected President and Oleg Yessaian as Prime Minister of the Republic of Artsakh’s Parliament.
- On January 24, 1992, the Republic of Artsakh’s Parliament elected Georgi Petrosian to the office of Vice President.
- On April 14, Artur Mkrtchian passed away. Georgi Petrosian became acting President.
- On May 8, the Karabagh Defense Forces took Shushi, a city in Artsakh overlooking Stepanakert, from which the Azeris had been shelling Stepanakert.
- On May 18, the Artsakh Defense Forces took Lachin and connected Artsakh to Armenia, thus breaking the Azeri economic blockade on Artsakh (however, Armenia’s situation was not much better since it too was—and still is—under Turish-Azeri blockade).
- On June 12, following the June 7 election of Abulfez Elchibey as President of Azerbaijan, the Azeris launched a massive offensive that seized almost half of Artsakh by September. Beginning in late fall, the Artsakh Defense Forces retook nearly all of these territories and restored the political integrity of Artsakh by late March 1993.
- On March 27, 1993, the Artsakh Defense Forces, to forestall an Azeri spring offensive, launched attacks at two strategic Azeri cities, Kelbajar and Fizuli. They took Kelbajar on April 3, but were unable to take Fizuli. The capture of Kelbajar gave Karabagh a new connection to Armenia.
- June through August 1993 was a time of confusion in Azerbaijan as Surat Huseinov led a revolt against Elchibey; Haidar Aliyev became the new President of Azerbaijan; and a short-lived Mughan-Talish Republic was declared in Lenkoran, a port city near the Iranian border.
- July 23 to September 4 1993, Artsakh Defense Forces take Agdam, Fizuli, Jebrail, and Horadiz (although Horadiz keeps changing hands), thus taking the war to the rest of Azerbaijan.
- From December 22, 1993, to November 1994, the re-formed Azeri army, stiffened by Turkish and Mega Oil (renegade Americans) training; Ukrainian, Turkish, and Chinese weaponry; and Afghan mujaheddin, launched new unsuccessful attacks on Artsakh.
- In May of 1994 a tenuous cease-fire went into effect, which is still holding today.
- December 28, 1994, The Artsakh Parliament created an independent Presidency.
- There have since been three different presidents democratically elected six different times.
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