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In Place of Introduction - Peace to Karabakh. Russia’s Mediation in the Settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Dear reader!

What you can see in front of you now are the author’s memories and separate articles about the Karabakh settlement, mostly referring to that period when I was the head of Russia’s mediatory mission, Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on Nagorno-Karabakh, and a member and a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group from Russia (1992–1996). The complexity of that period lies in the intensity, protracted character and severity of the hostilities, in the very first peacemaking experiences of a number of mediators on the traditionally extremely complicated material of Armenian-Azeri relations.

At different points during the armed conflict in Karabakh many eminent officials and other Russian figures had displayed their willingness to act as mediators and at times exerted concrete efforts aimed at facilitating a peaceful resolution of this conflict. Much is known about the peacemaking ambitions of Defence Minister Pavel S. Grachev, this book also mentions them. Their initial impulse was sound and correct, but the practical implementation invariably doomed it to failure, especially due to the inappreciation of multiagency concurrence of action. Few people know that in January 1993 Vice-President Alexander V. Rutskoi in a memorandum to Russia’s President informed him that he was ready to head a mediatory mission of the Russian leadership. Among other such persons were Victor S. Chernomyrdin, Interior Minister Victor P. Barannikov, Airforce Marshal Yevgeni I. Shaposhnikov, generals Dmitry A. Volkogonov and Andrei I. Nikolaev, long-time residents of Baku — world renowned cellist Mstislav L. Rostropovich and former world chess champion and now chiefly the possessor of political ambitions Garry K. Kasparov. With some of these persons the author at one time had a chance to maintain contact precisely with reference to Karabakh affairs.

The multi-layer composition of this book (memoirs, articles and addresses, documents, timeline) may require from the reader a great deal of tolerance to the repetitions, practically inevitable in such case, of one and the same statements and episodes. True, this will apply only to those who will set about to read the book ‘from cover to cover’ and not just leaf through it, to examine documents or find the sought-for data in the chronicle. In order to abridge the text and avoid official long-winded passages one had to use abbreviations, some of which are common knowledge and others explained at the very outset of the book. The author expresses gratitude to the patient reader for his/ her attention and makes apologies for inconveniences mentioned or not.

In addition, by dint of this book and its placement on the personal website (www. vn. kazimirov. ru) I would like to give an impetus to a more in-depth treatment of history and the problems of peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict.

If you bestow attention on the book’s subject matter, I shall be glad to receive critical remarks, improvements, clarifications even if aimed at correcting or challenging some of the points made or put certain episodes in a different light. I am ready to perceive all this not from a position of wounded pride but first and foremost as a natural desire to add more authenticity to the description and understanding of events in a quite recent past, which, unfortunately, is already suffering from both involuntary confusion and deliberate distortion.

In this respect, the Karabakh conflict is astounding. Hardly had two decades passed after the period of hostilities and initial peacemaking efforts that so many wild tales piled up that one can only be amazed. And a question suggests itself: how then is the history of the ancient world and the Middle Ages written?

It will only be possible to insert possible readers’ amendments and recommendations into the book in case of a new edition. But will it ever come to that?

Yet I am ready and willing to amend the text of this book with due account for comments received at my personal website or even to feature an alternative version there, which you, respected reader, will advance. I have proposed to use the resources of modern informatics in order to jointly promote the formulation of an objective history of the Karabakh settlement to a number of Armenian and Azeri colleagues participating in that process or closely monitoring it.

And now let me give the floor to myself in expectation of your judgement or critique. As the Soviet poet Alexander Tvardovsky said about the truth: ‘I do wish it were unvarnished, be it bitter as it may.’

Vladimir Kazimirov