Alexander Prokhanov

Writer, publicist, political and public figure. Member of the secretariat of the Writers’ Union of Russia, chief editor of the newspaper “Zavtra”.

Alexander Prokhanov: “Then Karabakh began, when the Armenians decided to secede from Azerbaijan, take away this traditional Azerbaijani territory from them. And a monstrous war, which Gorbachev did not stop, which he regarded as something alien, began.  He said: “Let the contradictions be solved by the republics and peoples who are at war. It was a monstrous mistake and a crime.”

Alexander Prokhanov: “I was in Stepanakert (Khankendi), I was presenting Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev was hosting me. I have many friends in Azerbaijan. Neither Russia nor America will help Azerbaijan to solve the Karabakh problem, because both Russia and America have huge interests in Azerbaijan. The Americans will not choose between Yerevan and Baku, but, on the contrary, will make every effort to use this conflict. In my opinion, the only way for Azerbaijan is the way that he did not resort then and won’t resort in future, it is a way to create a large army and conquer this territory. “




Alexander Prokhanov: I am grateful to Azerbaijan for the fact that it gave shelter to my ancestors

A well-known Russian writer and journalist told the “Moscow-Baku” correspondent about his attachment to Azerbaijan, about meetings with its national leader Heydar Aliyev.

 -Alexander Andreevich, is it true that your ancestors are from Azerbaijan?

-You immediately touched upon an important episode of my life. My family goes back to the Molokans. These are the Russian heretics who left the persecution in the Caucasus and went to Azerbaijan. My ancestors are from  Azerbaijani village called  Ivanovka. I have wanted to visit Russian settlements for a long time, and my friend Valentin Ivanovich Varennikov, Deputy Minister of Defense of the USSR, allocated a helicopter for my trip. On a military helicopter I flew to the village, though, quite frightening local people. My dream has come true. I saw the Molokan. In the same place I tasted the famous Molokan noodles, which my grandmother treated me. The Russian colony lived peacefully among the Azerbaijani population. They sowed wheat. And I want to say that I am very grateful to Azerbaijan for the fact that it gave shelter to my ancestors.

-And were there more trips to Azerbaijan?

-It happened that I had an Azerbaijani friend living in Moscow. He was a unique person. This is Fuat Novruzov. He opened my eyes to many new phenomenons for me. The native Baku settler, with all the features of the eastern Azerbaijani man, he was an amazing Russophile. Being an Azerbaijani, he adored Russia. The Russian world was mysteriously beautiful for him. He had a Russian wife. After 1991, Fuat became a very rich man, engaged in business, the bourgeois economy made him independent and dashing. However, at the same time he remained a socialist and bowed before the Soviet period, in which he suffered, as he was persecuted. What is surprising, Fuat was a free-lover and at the same time a Stalinist. He believed that Stalin was the greatest leader who made the country grandiose and won the war. My friend consisted entirely of contradictions, and these contradictions played in him as the brinks of a diamond … He seemed to me a typical Azeri, he was able to  reorganize into different registers quickly and plastically, not contradicting to himself, creating from contradictions a striking and integral unity. I have just adored him … Due to my friend, I have quickly become closer to the Azerbaijani reality.

I visited Azerbaijan in a rather dramatic period, when the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict flared up. Fightings began. Emotionally, I was on the side of Azerbaijan. Then the second secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan was Viktor Petrovich Polyanichko. The Russian man, whom I met in Afghanistan, where he was the second, maybe even the first person, all military, economic and political operations were on him. Then he moved to Baku. During the conflict, he courageously did not leave Karabakh and was shell-shocked. Then I saw these tragic events with his eyes. Everything that I described in the newspapers, much is taken from Polyanichko’s arguments  and his experience, including military. By the way, he, as a sensitive politician, already foresaw coming disaster for the USSR.

-Did you understand what was happening to the country then?

-Returning from the battlefield from Karabakh, we went to the one of the state dachas on the beach. I remember a red-hot desert of ash-stone colour. And the paradise gardens blossomed nearby, where green juicy greens descended to the water, marble steps, birds sang. Sensing the oncoming upheavals in the Soviet Union, people have left their dachas. Together with Polyanichko we sat on the seashore, throwing on ourselves white sheets, literally like two patricians before the end of Rome, drank wine, ate fruit. We have recalled our military campaigns in Afghanistan, have thought about the USSR, which, like Atlantis, sank to the bottom, grieved and, as it were, said goodbye to each other … The end of the Soviet Union was very acutely felt in Azerbaijan … I was ready to burst into tears … I was a Soviet man.

-Tell about your meetings with Heydar Aliyev.

-When the USSR collapsed, and Heydar Aliyev returned from his disgrace, from exile, the time of this crisis, the rebellious Colonel Suret Huseynov moved on tanks towards Baku, but only Heydar Aliyev was able to stop him. An alliance was concluded. Huseynov was appointed prime minister. Due to my friend Novruzov, I found myself in the epicenter of events in Baku. I managed to meet twice with Heydar Aliyev, there were two big interviews. We have discussed with him the possibilities of Russian Azerbaijani relations, the way Azerbaijan chooses, where the Russian factor is present as a very strong and significant, Karabakh’s issue, the topic of Russian volunteers who participated in the conflict.

-How do you remember Heydar Aliyev?

-The era of post-Soviet Azerbaijan began. Heydar Aliyev was a very experienced and sophisticated politician who understood how the state is organized, who saw its strengths and weaknesses . Azerbaijan received a powerful leader who fled from the Soviet era to the post-Soviet era. It was the time when the economy transformed, oil began to serve the national interests of the country. The boom and dawn in development were laid by Heydar Aliyev. I had impressions of Heydar as a man of wisdom, tired of many intrigues that have passed through his life. In his appearance there was something antique, maybe Roman. It somehow crashed into memory…

-Did you have meetings not only with Azerbaijani politicians?

 -Once I took the writers to Azerbaijan to show them the tragedy of that war, these were the last days before the collapse of the USSR. Crossfire was already going on everywhere. When our plane was landing, red tracers were passing by, we were fired. Writers met with the military along the front lines. Returning from Baku, we were helped to board a plane filled with Soviet officers. On the plane, my attention was drawn to a man reading the book “Memories of Denikin.” When he turned around, I realized that it was General Lebed. He was returning to Moscow. He was destined to play in the events of 1991 a special role in the transition of the army to the side of Yeltsin.

REFERENCE: Molokans – a kind of spiritual Christianity, identified in the ethnographic group of Russians. The village of Ivanovka is the largest Molokan settlement on the territory of Azerbaijan, which makes up more than 3000 people.


Molokan from Azerbaijan Prokhanov again took up the promotion of the myth of “Azerbaijani refugees” from Kafan.

The Russian journalist, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Zavtra, Alexander Prokhanov, addressed the topic of the Karabakh conflict in the “Soldier of the Empire” programme on the “RTR” TV channel, trying once again to unleash the myth about “Azerbaijani refugees” from Kafan that allegedly became the catalyst for real pogroms of Armenians in Sumgait, Baku, Gandzak (Kirovabad) and other cities and villages of Azerbaijan. It is symptomatic that Prokhanov in his story touched the figure of second secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Azerbaijan SSR, the head of the Republican Committee for NKAO Viktor Polyanichko, with whom, according to his own confession, he was in friendly relations.

Prokhanov is from Azerbaijani Molokans, and is well known for his anti-Armenian statements in the Azerbaijani press. He does not hide the presence of relatives and friends in Azerbaijan, as well as the fact that he always spoke in favor of Azerbaijan. Thus, in an interview with the agency “”, Prokhanov said that the only solution to the Karabakh conflict was the creation of a powerful Azerbaijani army and the conquest of the territory of the NKR. “Azerbaijan can lead to a melting resource of the population in Karabakh, create a blockade, make life there unbearable. Letting go along the corridors …”, suggests the Chief editor of “Zavtra”.

As for Prokhanov’s good friend, Viktor Polyanichko, he was known to have been one of the developers and conductors of the failed policy of so-called “national reconciliation” in Afghanistan. In early February of 1991, Polyanichko said: “The land of Karabakh is our land, and we must take it for our children.” And a couple of months later – in the spring and summer of 1991 – he became one of the inspirers, developers and executors of the act of state terrorism against civilians in 27 Armenian villages of Northern Artsakh – Operation “Ring”. The military operation, during which more than 100 people were killed, about 10,000 civilians were deported, dozens of Armenian villages were crushed and looted, was stopped at the end of August – after the failure of the Emergency Committee and the coming to power in Russia of democratic forces led by B.N. Yeltsin. Polyanychko in August of 1991 strongly supported the putsch. So, speaking on the Baku radio, he said: “I am ready to share my Karabakh experience with the State Emergency Committee of the Soviet Union”.

If everything is clear with the figures of Prokhanov and Polyanichko, the myth of the “Kafan pogroms”, which the Azerbaijani propaganda has been trying to reanimate for many years, has been debunked by Russian journalists and experts for many years. And, unlike the unfounded statements of both Prokhanov himself and other apologists of these fabrications, they are refuted on the basis of irrefutable facts. From the expert assessments, the chapter “The Kafan Myth” from Arsen Melik-Shahnazarov’s book “Nagorno-Karabakh: Facts against lies”, in which the author opposes factually the theses of Azerbaijani propaganda about Kafan events, as well as the fabrications of British journalist Thomas de Waal on the same subject in his book “The Black Garden.”

“Immediately after the session of the [Regional Council of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast], there was some apparent ferment in the AzSSR: party leaders repeatedly visited areas adjacent to the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region populated by Azerbaijanis, in legal and underground mosques mullahs were firing anti-Armenian sermons, rumors were swelling.

One of the most persistent rumors was related to the allegedly violent eviction of Armenians by the Azerbaijanis from the villages of the Kafansky district of the Armenian SSR, which is in Zangezur. The “myth of Kafan” remained a myth, but the provocation that preceded the rumors was real: immediately after February 20, Azerbaijani emissaries visited this region of Armenia, and as a result of their agitation, several hundred peasants really withdrew and temporarily left for a number of regions of the AzSSR, The author writes and notes that practically all of those who left for the AzSSR soon after their unexpected departure returned to their places of permanent residence in the Armenian SSR.

The Leningrad mathematician and publicist Konstantin Voevodsky addressed the “Kafan episode” back in 1993 in his article “Perestroika in the Karabakh mirror”. Voevodsky writes in the second chapter of the article, “Before the session of the Nagorno-Karabakh Regional Council, a military unit bordering on Azerbaijan appeared to prevent the massacre of Azerbaijanis, appointed in accordance with” signals received by Moscow ” On the 20th of February. On the 26th, General Albert Makashov (another friend of Prokhanov-Ed.) arrived in Kafan with the authority to mobilize troops from the Nakhchivan ASSR. Checking from the Central Committee of the CPSU, the KGB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR, the headquarters of the ZakVO, there were no signs of preparing riots … Thoughtful experts in the lanterns even carried out an analysis of the migration of Azerbaijanis from the region. He did not give anything remarkable, except for the sudden departure of some 200 Azerbaijanis to Baku on 27 February by one train. According to these people, the reason for their departure was the persuasion of relatives from Azerbaijan.

The maneuvers of this train and around it are very mysterious. Around midway he was detained in the Imishli district center where the deputy presidents of the AzSSR A.Rasizade arrived, the leaders of the Imishli and Zangelan districts of Azerbaijan and the heads of the Kafansky district, caused by the telephone message, for talks with the passengers. Passengers said they had no complaints against the Armenians, after which the train continued on its way. The lack of evidence leaves too much freedom for the different versions of this railway odyssey. Here is how the first secretary of the Kafan District Committee sums up his impressions: “When we returned back (from Imishli – KV) on the cars of the leading workers of the neighboring republic, we were stopped by an aggressive crowd that stoned cars with stones. Here we, who were involved in provocation together with the Azerbaijani leaders, naively confirmed the facts about the stable situation in Kafan, not knowing that pogroms are already taking place in Sumgait (R.Gonyan, “What was in Kafan”, “Communist” (Yerevan), 09.01. 1990)”.

Somewhat later, the information on the results of the inspections, which confirmed the absence of any harassment of Azerbaijanis in the Kafansky district, was handed over to AzTV, it also fell into the central press.

Let’s add that we are talking about the article of O. Kulish and D. Melikov “Black seeds do not germinate” in the newspaper of the Central Committee of the CPSU “Socialist Industry” on March 27, 1988, which reads: “Many of those who happened to talk, Directly inform about a whole chain of obviously provocative actions designed to harden people, to bring panic and mistrust. What are, for example, the hysterical cries of a man who told the audience of the terrible story of his family, who was killed by “Armenian murderers” in Sumgayit Square. When the competent authorities dealt with the “victims”, they found out that he was by no means a peaceful resident of Kafan, for whom he had betrayed himself, but a previously convicted recidivist, now a parasite, without a fixed residence and without a family at all. “

Russian journalist, human rights activist and public figure Lydia Gryfova in her article “Without repentance. The freedom to kill was proclaimed three years ago in Sumgait”, published in the newspaper “Democratic Russia “on March 22, 1991, wrote: “On the eve, as is known, criminals from different regions were brought to Sumgait under the guise of Kafan refugees. (There were no outbreaks in Kafan, which could provoke refugee flows, then Armenia did not hold out for long, before lawlessness was answered with lawlessness). “Refugees” from Kafan disseminated Sumgait horrible legends about the outrage of Armenians over Azerbaijani families.”

The magazine “Country and World”, published in Munich, in number 1 (55) from 1990 quoted the words of the scientist from Moscow, Andrei Kibrik: “Massive and repeatedly repeated murders of civilians occurred in Azerbaijan, and in Armenia there was nothing like this”.

As  A. Melik-Shahnazarov notes, meanwhile, speakers at the meetings in AzSSR spoke about the Armenians who arrived from the Kafansky district as “exiles from Armenia”, allegedly beaten, humiliated, etc. “Agitators were spreading rumors about alleged tortured Azerbaijanis, raped women, children with severed fingers. All this, of course, was complete nonsense from beginning to end, but electrified nationalist-minded crowds perceived everything at face value. The farther from the place of the fictional event the meeting took place, the more fables were wound on the rod of provocative fiction, “the author writes.

Concerning the attempts of T. de Waal to re-unravel the myth of “Kafan refugees”, the author notes: “At first, he unequivocally asserts that after quite real events in Chardakhlu” the tragedy in the south of Armenia, in the Megri and Kafan districts, where in many villages is compact Azerbaijanis lived. In November 1987, two freight cars with Azerbaijanis arrived at the railway station of Baku, forced to flee Kafan because of inter-ethnic clashes. Information about this incident was kept very little, it was not covered in the press at all.

The author of the “Black Garden” could not cite any references to sources in view of their complete absence both in the Soviet official media of those years, and in the “samizdat” opposition publications, as well as in the foreign, Western press. For the “Kafan incident” was from the beginning to the end fictional. It began to be promoted by Baku propaganda after January 1990, when it required an additional “counterargument” against the accusations in the Armenian pogroms in Baku, the driving force of which was allegedly the Azerbaijani refugees from Armenia.

According to de Waal, “no one has described in detail about these very first refugees, mainly because the Azerbaijani authorities tried to hide information about them.”

Why until 2000, when de Waal interviewed his eyewitnesses, nobody told “about these very first refugees”, and what was the interest of the Azerbaijani authorities – from Communists Kamran Bagirov, Abdurakhman Vezirov, Ayaz Mutalibov, “People’s Front” Abulfaz Elchibey to Heydar Aliyev, “to hide information about them”, the author of the “Black Garden” wisely kept silent. But, writes de Waal, “there were eyewitnesses of those events”. And then he quotes the “testimonies” of the two Bakuis. The first of them belongs to a certain Sveta Pashayeva – a “widowed Baku Armenian” who “told how she saw refugees arriving in Baku and how she brought clothes and food for them.” Immediately, in a footnote, the author says about the “witness”: “This is not the real name of a woman who asked to be quoted as a pseudonym.”

So to some anonymous “widowed Baku Armenian” (the nationality was elected clearly not by chance, for the sake of persuasiveness) “people came and said that two carriages arrived from Kafan with naked, undressed children, and we went there to see … These were the Azerbaijanis from Kafan “. It is unclear why they came for help (“bring what can refugees”) to the Armenian, and not to the authorities, and why none of the more official sources ever witnessed anything so glaring for November 1987 (just the period of the conflict in Armenia Karabakh village of Chardakhlu) incident.

What further is evidenced by the man hiding under the pseudonym “Sveta Pashayeva”? “I was at the station. And she herself saw two freight cars. The doors were opened, and two long boards were nailed to the wall so people would not fall out … I saw them myself. There were men, so rustic, dirty, with long hair and beards, old men and children …”

A picture of the “trolley” with the dirty and overgrown refugees of the times of the “civil war and intervention of 1918-1922 in Soviet Russia, immediately appears.” The question is why could not refugees be brought by train? Or in buses, as about that a little later “de Waal” broadcasts another “witness”.

Finally, anyone who saw Azerbaijani villagers or just walked south of the Caucasian range, immediately notice an element of “spreading cranberry,” which can “pass” except in the West or in Russia, but not in the Transcaucasus. It’s about “men, rural, with long hair and beards.” Male Azerbaijanis, especially rural dwellers, never wore “long beards” (with the exception of the beards of a few true Muslims), and even more so of “long hair”: they shortly cut their hair and wore a mustache. The latter have always been considered a symbol of masculinity, while long hair is something indecent, shameful for a man.

Here again we see an attempt to revive in the reader’s memory films about the war. Otherwise, it is necessary to assume that “long hair and beards” grew among the unfortunate “Kafan refugees” during those hours, a maximum of half a day, that their “cars” should have followed from Kafan to Baku (from Kafan to Baku 380 kilometers of track)! “

Arsen Melik-Shahnazarov also refers to the testimony of Azerbaijani political scientist Arif Yunusov, who on the way to the Academy of Sciences allegedly saw on January 25, 1988, as in the center of Baku “the four red” Ikarus “stood in front of the Supreme Council building. Yunusov remembers the passengers of those buses: “They were all in terrible condition. Basically there were women, children and adults. The young were few. Many are severely beaten. They shouted … ” “As if such an event in the very center of a million city could go unnoticed by anyone other than A. Yunusov, it would not become an object of aggravation of the passions long before the February session of the Nagorno-Karabakh Regional Council,” writes Arsen Melik-Shakhnazarov.

Another noteworthy fact: during the presentation of T. de Waal’s book “The Black Garden” in the Yerevan office of IWPR, the representative of the International Crisis Group (ICG) in Armenia Levon Zurabyan told that he conducted an investigation on the order of ICG in Kafan, but found no evidence that in 1987 or in 1988 there were pogroms of Azerbaijanis. However, Thomas de Waal did not embarrass at all: “Let us [further] investigate the Kafan events,” he said, adding that he would try to get money for this.