YEREVAN (Realist English). These and other questions were answered by the member of the Karabakh Committee, the first commander of the Artsakh Defense Forces, Colonel Arkady Karapetyan.
What does Artsakh mean to you?
Arkady Karapetyan: Artsakh is my homeland. And that says it all.
In the lives of many people who created history, there always came a moment when there was a click inside, after which they started their activities. When did you have this click?
Arkady Karapetyan: I was born in Stepanakert in 1958. Already at the age of 16, I swore that I would liberate my homeland from the Turks and other invaders. It makes no difference to me which particular invader we are talking about. I swore in a very beautiful place — on the territory of our ancestral village of Dagraz. The whole valley is visible from there. This is a very beautiful and iconic place. Then I organized an underground group, gathering people like me, but I was a child, the group broke up, gathered again, but there were also permanent members. Then it turned into a more serious organization (smiles).
It is known that in Soviet times the activities of such organizations were suppressed. How did you manage to keep the conspiracy all this time?
Arkady Karapetyan: The Lord protected me. In the organization, all the guys were friends, but closer to 1985-1988, the organization expanded and we had the “sent-in Cossacks”. We didn’t know about them at first, but then, when we found out, the movement started and it didn’t matter anymore. I just used them, and then they revealed themselves.
Interestingly, the Soviet Union was destroyed by the country’s leadership itself. It was clear to me that at some stage we were in their hands. At the stage of raising the wave, because the best way to break up any multinational state is to incite peoples against each other. However, inciting is their concept, and we were fighting for freedom!
When we raised our issue in Moscow, [Pyotr] Demichev (deputy chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR) talked to us. He said that we had de facto held a referendum and only legal issues remained. He inspired us, which gave us the reason to think more deeply about what was happening.
They needed us at a certain stage, because hypocrites cannot to raise the people to fight. People can be raised only by those who sincerely believe in the idea of freedom. According to the plan of the USSR leadership, we were supposed to become the detonator of the collapse, the people who, after the explosion, would die under the rubble of the empire. For this people believes in everything they are told. But they failed to take us under control. Not only have we not died under the rubble, but we have also won — despite all the calculations of the enemy.
To raise the people, sincerity is needed. Personnel of special services, who were operating on the ground, put obstacles in our way. But when the people rose up to fight, the leadership of the USSR ordered these services to take the liberation movement under control — to replace with their agents all sincere guys who were ready to do anything for the sake of victory. Subsequently, these agents became heads of Armenia and Artsakh. A couple of times the secret services offered us cooperation, but we rejected them.
There were very few of us, by the way. Therefore, the current state of Armenia does not frighten or disappoint me. I’ve been through it all. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky used to say that one person is one, and two, who think in unison, are already seven. And three are already 49 people, etc. And the Bible says: ” One of you routs a thousand.” It is also said: “Thank yourself, and thousands will be saved around you.” It all works!
There is not a single word in the Bible just to be said. The Bible has changed, but the basic principles have been preserved. All the laws, everything that the Lord has told us — it all works. If you gather 100 people who think the same way and follow the precepts of the Lord, then the whole world will be powerless before them. Those guys who believe in Christ need to unite in the militia. Because giving your life for others is aerobatics in Christianity. A lot was written about the crusaders, but some of them sincerely believed that they were going to die for Christ.
The propaganda of the Turks turned out to be smarter than our propaganda, because they declare their dead as shahids (those who died for the faith). And we called our fight against the aggressor a “44-day war”, and in 2016 — a “four-day war”. Fought and forgotten! Language thinking is of great importance. After all, our guys are martyrs for the faith! The Turks say “Patriotic war”, they are smart enough for that. And there is no motivation in our names. We lack ideology!
I want to appeal to the guys who really believe in Christ with all their heart, and not just go to Church, for whom faith is not just a tradition. We must fight for the faith!
The Lord says in the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 10, verse 34): ” Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword..” However, this is said very broadly and deeply, with spiritual overtones. Our whole life is a religious war, because the enemy of humanity is fighting against us, pitting one against another. The devil means “whispering in the ear”, he whispers different things, and we kill each other. This is a problem of humanity. And I, as an individual, want to fight for myself in Christ, because the Lord does not need our war, He is omnipotent and omnipresent, He is the essence of everything. We need this to justify ourselves to Him, so that He may have mercy on us.
What should the Armenian ideology be based on?
Arkady Karapetyan: This is a classic — faith, love, homeland, family, man, brotherhood, justice and equality. There is nothing new here! We just need to get it across to everyone. This is the ideology.
Faith is at the head of everything, we have been believing in Christ for about two thousand years. The Lord has divided mankind into nations, until He gathers us, no one can gather us. He gave each nation its own homeland, its own language, its own territory, where it should find the true God. This is the ideology! Everything else doesn’t work. Imperialism has led humanity to a catastrophe, everyone recognizes this. Everything that is said by God, works, everything that is outside of Him, is stalling. This is our ideology! The Holy Scripture says it all.
What is imperialism? Why is it hanging over our heads today?
Arkady Karapetyan: There is a struggle between the Good and the Evil in the world, or rather, vice versa. The Good cannot be defeated. Our Lord cannot be defeated. The Evil is fighting, and it will eventually come to an end. Everything created by God is divine, another question is what we have turned it all into.
I have created the Army not to kill the Azerbaijanis or the Turks but to defend everything that belongs to us. Our enemies are God’s creatures as well but they serve the Devil. In a purely material sense, they have gained something by now but this will be given from them. Those who manipulate them, know that. In Azerbaijan there never were an Azerbaijani leader. These were all representatives of other peoples (Narimanov, Khan Khoisky. Etc.). All who have been creating Azerbaijan, are not Azerbaijanis. They should think about what they want from them, but these are their problems.
It turns out that Azerbaijan is a prison of peoples?
Arkady Karapetyan: Not only Azerbaijan, but the entire Soviet Union is a great experiment on humanity. This is a state that was created specifically to deprive us of faith, to wash our brains and fill them with what they need. At first they wanted to create communes, to destroy the traditional family, but the people did not accept it. Then the authorities began to act gradually, having achieved great success by the collapse of the USSR.
For example, in 1984-1985 I could not find the Bible in Stepanakert. Rarely did anyone have it, people hid it. The authorities have achieved their goal. And now it seems you can believe that there is freedom, but they don’t explain to children at school that they have a soul. No one explains to them: parents are godless, and it is forbidden at school.
It is possible to explain what gender is, but it is impossible to explain that a person has a soul. At first they taught the basis of faith, and then the subject was replaced with the history of the Church. But this cannot be called propaganda of faith. The child is not told that he has a soul. And the Church is presented to him as a social organization. The child does not know why it is needed. This is absurd! In this cleared place, everything began to be poured into our brains.
In addition to the Armenians, the Baku authorities oppress other peoples of modern Azerbaijan — the Talysh, the Avars, the Lezgins, the Tats and other peoples. It turns out that the struggle is not only ours. Do you agree that our Armenian struggle should be a beacon for those indigenous peoples who also suffer from oppression?
Arkady Karapetyan: In terms of politics and common interests, we need their support. After all, ours is a common struggle. It would be easier to free themselves by joint efforts so that they too would get their place under the sun. Here the talysh tried and froze…
As a result, they go to war against us, maybe reluctantly. But they are shooting at us, killing us. The Azerbaijani authorities are playing on their religious feelings, manipulating “all-Islamic” values. But it shouldn’t be like this! Yes, there are those among them who condemn Baku’s aggression, but there are only a few of them. There is no trend towards any movement yet.
First, the Armenians must become a beacon for themselves. It would be good if we were friends with all the indigenous peoples of the region, but no one took on this work from our side. There were connections, but they did not work, there was no serious attitude to the issue. And there was no special zeal on their part.
Unfortunately, people got used to their depressed state. Although they have big problems, but they have been living in Azerbaijan for generations, the process of assimilation is quite successful, as is the process of intimidation. We will not be able to free them without their will. The Lord has given free will to everyone— both humans and nations, He does not interfere in the choice of peoples.
All we have wanted, we got: the voice of the people is the voice of God. In Soviet times, all propaganda was aimed at ensuring that we get the current situation. As soon as the course of our thoughts changes, as it was in 1988, we will restore the true borders of Armenia. If the train of thought does not change, it will be even worse.
Every people gets what it wants. We understand that the Azerbaijani authorities oppress the indigenous peoples of the region by resorting to the most brutal violence.
As for our Armenian problems, they do not originate from the Azerbaijanis, the causes of the problems are our own. If we want, we will return all of our occupied Homeland, but our leadership speaks only about 29.8 thousand square kilometers, the rest was handed over to the enemies. Even the quadrature declared by Pashinyan cannot be safeguarded.
There will even be those who would be ready to give up Syunik, Vardenis or Vayk. What’s next? Then we will divide ourselves by districts of Yerevan – the residents of Komitas will be ready to abandon the inhabitants of the Massif. And we will be in this state until we have a national idea and a dream.
And it’s not easy to dream! We were taught that only a fool dreams. But that’s not true! The winner is always the one who dreams, because he reaches to his dream. And money is not a dream, it’s a myth, especially now: here you have money in your account, someone has pressed a button, and you don’t have any money!
There have been many attempts on your life, but the assassins failed to achieve their goal. How do you explain this?
Arkady Karapetyan: By the Lord. What was happening was contrary to the rational. This is normal for me. As the Russian proverb goes in translation: “If you pledge, don’t hedge.” That is, if you have a goal and you are going to it, then whatever the risks are, you have to accept it and understand it. You have to go further, otherwise you are not sincere, you are a “Pharisee”. As our Lord Jesus Christ said, “the offspring of a viper.”
If you are not like that, then you are under the protection of the Lord. No one can do anything to you. But this does not mean that you will be sitting in a golden mansion. We are all going through the test, and when we go to meet the examiner, we will not be laughing or care about riches (laughs).
Throughout the history of the Armenian civilization, we have always fought with numerous opponents. Nevertheless, those kingdoms that came with the war against us disintegrated. Why do we manage to win?
Arkady Karapetyan: Every nation has its own mission on this Earth, just like every person. We have moved away from this mission, so now we are suffering such losses. When we return to our mission, everything that was taken from us will return.
There are mockingbirds, I don’t want to swear. They’ve got only so much brains. They think that if we return to our values, we will ride donkeys and put on a fur cap. That’s how they understand it. To return means to return to the Covenant, to the Contract. A large territory was bequeathed to us. Metz Haik. We haven’t hold him back. This is also the Covenant of the Lord. We didn’t come out of nowhere. The land was given to us by the Lord.
My ancestors haven’t hold the territory. I don’t blame them, and we haven’t hold it back, even though we did something at the time. But they took it away from us again. They are not Azerbaijanis, they are nobody. The victory is granted by the Lord, and this victory (in the 1990s) we attributed to ourselves. The Lord gave us victory because we were right. But then pride played a cruel joke on us.
I was the first Commander of the Artsakh Self-Defense Forces. I knew what we had, what they had. It was incomparable, there was no chance to win, and the whole world was betting on it. They thought we were going to lose, and no one understood how we managed to win.
A vivid proof of this is the famous Dutch General Faber de Mint, with whom I talked for more than six hours. He didn’t understand how we could have won. He said about fifteen times in this conversation that he did not understand how the Armenians had won. By and large, our false leaders also did not understand how the people managed to have won.
The people won, and the false leaders then attributed this victory to themselves. They seemed to be there, watched, but did not understand, and then wrote the history of victory so that they had the moral right to rob. And now they have accomplished this robbery!
There are numerous evidences of how the Lord helped us in this or that battle. It is impossible that seven people against two battalions with equipment have won the battle. It happened often and literally everywhere: 12 or 30 people against enemy forces that outnumber us tenfold… To understand all this, you need to pass it through yourself.
I will give one example: 26 people were surrounded for a week, they were bombed with all kinds of weapons. Everyone was injured, but no one was killed. They managed to get out of the encirclement! They came out themselves! They were on a patch of flat rock, it was impossible to dig a trench. They were bombed with mortars, tanks and artillery worked. It’s impossible to understand! The commander is still alive! We have survived in spite of the material world!
I have a comrade who was left alone with a machine gun, two battalions were marching on him. He fought till ours arrived, his second number wanted to run away, he caught him and sat him down so that he only served cartridges. 500-600 people shot at him. And they never hit. It simply does not happen that way! (smiles)
But he decided that he would not leave. Our wounded guys were there, he didn’t want them to be captured. He wasn’t even injured. There are many such examples. And the false leaders attributed all these victories to themselves. Instead of thanking the Lord… the Artsakh Armenians say: “Մինը կեր, 10 մատաղ արա (Eat one, get 10 – Miny ker, 10 matah ara)”. In our time it was so.…
What would you wish to the people who are reading this interview?
Arkady Karapetyan: I wish they think about what has been said. Whether they like it or not. I don’t want everyone to like me. I know that life is a struggle. Before the coming of Christ, it’s a constant struggle. I know where the truth is, and I am following this path. The Lord knows how straight I walk. I want to follow this path.
I want people to think: if one out of a hundred readers understands how life really works, I will consider that I have done a great thing. I want those young people who believe in the Lord to understand not only with their minds, but also with their hearts that it is necessary to fight for faith, because there is a time to collect stones, there is a time to scatter them, there is a time to love, and there is a time to hate.
There are different times. At one time it is impossible to do what was possible at another. There was a time to go to pray in the temple all the time, and now it’s time to fight for the faith. Maybe to die for the faith, but this is not death, this is rebirth, this is sacrifice.
We must sacrifice ourselves for the sake of truth and life on this earth. We must prove our faith. As our Vardan Mamikonian did in his time, and not only him. The Lord shows us everything, but we do not see. He spoke with reference to the prophecy of Isaiah: “You will listen, but you will not understand, you will look, but you will not see.”
Why do our foreign “friends” do not like Garegin Nzhdeh? Because he did the impossible. The Lord granted him victories, he defeated the 11th Red Army with 300 soldiers, the bulk of which were Turks. At various times, his army did not exceed 700 people. And he defeated everyone. The Lord gave him the victory, he did not ascribe it to himself. The people wanted to live in the USSR, and he gave in to the people, following the law “The voice of the people is the voice of God.”
Our people should understand this example and use the struggle of Nzhdeh as a guide for their struggle. Being united in faith, we can defeat the horde. For when the Lord is with you, it doesn’t matter how many enemies you have in front of you. But humanity for the most part thinks in material categories. And it thinks arithmetically. Everyone likes to count who has how many tanks, artillery, etc. But if there is no ideology, then there is no army, no matter how many tanks you have. I urge people to unite, look for each other and create an invincible Army of Christ!