Images captured from a videotape show burnt automobiles and the massive throngs of rioters on the streets of Sumgait.
|Location||Sumgait, Azerbaijan SSR|
|Date||February 26 – March 1, 1988|
|Target||Local Armenian population|
|Murder, rape, riot|
|Deaths||Official statistics: 32
Unofficial: up to hundreds
The Sumgait pogrom (Armenian: Սումգայիթի ջարդեր) was a pogrom that targeted the Armenian population of the seaside town of Sumgait in Soviet Azerbaijan in late February 1988. The pogrom took place during the early stages of the Karabakh movement. On February 27, 1988, mobs made up largely of ethnic Azerbaijanis formed into groups and attacked and killed Armenians on the streets and in their apartments; widespread looting and a general lack of concern from police officers allowed the situation to continue for three days.
On February 28, a small contingent of MVD troops entered the city and unsuccessfully attempted to quell the rioting. They were followed by more professional military units entered with tanks and armored personnel vehicles one day later. Government forces imposed a state of martial law and curfew and brought the crisis to an end. The official death toll released by the Prosecutor General of the USSR (tallies were compiled based on lists of named victims) was 32 people (26 Armenians and 6 Azerbaijanis), although some have revised this figure up into the tens and hundreds.
The civil violence in Sumgait were unprecedented in scope and were widely covered in the Western press. It was greeted with general astonishment in Armenia and the rest of the Soviet Union since ethnic feuds in the country were largely suppressed by the government, which had promoted policies such as internationalism and patriotism to avert such conflicts. The massacre, together with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, would present a major challenge to the reforms being implemented by then General Secretary of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev would later be criticized for his perceived slowness in reacting to the crisis.
The city of Sumgait is located near the coast of the Caspian Sea, only thirty kilometers north of the capital Baku. It had been renovated in the 1960s and had become a leading industrial city, second after Baku by its industrial importance, with oil refineries and petrochemical plants built during that era. Its population in the 1960s stood at 60,000, but by the late 1980s it had swollen to over 223,000 (with an Armenian population of about 17,000), and overcrowding among other social problems plagued the city. While there was a high rate of unemployment and poverty among the Azerbaijani residents, the Armenians comprised mainly the working and educated sector of the town’s population.
The political and economic reforms that General Secretary Gorbachev had initiated in 1985 saw a marked decentralization of Soviet authority. Armenians, in both Armenia proper and Nagorno-Karabakh, viewed Gorbachev's reform program as an opportunity to unite the two entities together. On February 20, 1988, tens of thousands of Armenians gathered to demonstrate in Stepanakert's Lenin (now Renaissance) Square to demand that the region be joined to Armenia. On the same day, the Supreme Soviet of Nagorno-Karabakh voted to join the Armenian SSR, a move staunchly opposed by the Soviet Azerbaijani authorities. Gorbachev rejected these claims, invoking Article 78 of the Soviet Constitution, which stated that republics' borders could not be altered without their prior consent. The vote by the Council and the subsequent protests were condemned also by the state-run Soviet media; however, they resonated more loudly among Azerbaijanis. As journalist Thomas de Waal wrote in his 2003 book on the conflict, after the appeal of the Council "the slow descent into armed conﬂict began on the ﬁrst day."
The rallies in Armenia were countered by demonstrations in Baku, during which time strong anti-Armenian sentiments were voiced by citizens and officials alike. One such statement came on February 14, 1988, when the head of the department of Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan Asadov, declared “a hundred thousand Azerbaijanis are ready to storm Artsakh (Karabakh) at any time and organize a slaughter there.” In the days leading up to the massacre, a leader of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan, Hidayat Orujov, warned Armenians in Sumgait: "If you do not stop campaigning for the unification of Nagorno Karabakh with Armenia, if you don't sober up, 100,000 Azeris from neighboring districts will break into your houses, torch your apartments, rape your women, and kill your children."
On February 26 several minor rallies were held at Lenin Square in Sumgait. Explicit calls for violence against Armenians and for their expulsion from Azerbaijan were heard and the crowds were agitated by news of Azerbaijani refugees who had fled Armenia (from the towns Kapan and Masis). The crowds told stories of murders and violence purportedly carried out by Armenians against the Azerbaijanis. Soviet authorities would later cast these individuals as agents provocateur. One individual, according to the Soviet press, was later revealed not to be a resident of Kapan, as he had claimed, but a criminal with a prior arrest record. Zardusht Alizadeh, who was active in the social and political life of Azerbaijan from 1988-1989 and was one of the founders of Azerbaijani Popular Front, visited Sumgait ten days after the pogrom and met with the workers from the aluminum factory, and reported seeing “strange, not local, young men inflaming the crowd.”
According to Victor Krivopuskov, at the time an officer of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR and a member of a peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh (but not in Sumgait), "The atmosphere in the meeting was one of mass psychosis and hysteria in which the people felt they were to take revenge for their compatriots supposedly killed in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. From the platform they would call for the duty of Muslims to come together in a war against the infidels. The passions were at their highest. The situation got out of control... All this allowed the organizers to easily provoke a certain part of Muslim population of the town for pogroms and murders of Armenians."
Efforts to calm the crowd were made by Azerbaijani figures such as secretary of the city party committee Bayramova and poet Bakhtiyar Vahabzadeh, who addressed the crowd atop a platform. V. Huseinov, the director of the Institute of Political Education in Azerbaijan, also attempted to calm them by assuring them that Karabakh would remain within the republic and that the refugees stories were false. He in turn was heckled with insults and forced to step down. Jahangir Muslimzade, Sumgait's first secretary, spoke to the crowd, and told them to allow Armenians to "leave the city freely." But according to witnesses, this message served to agitate the crowd. Shortly after his speech, at around 6:30 pm, Muslimzade was handed a flag of the Azerbaijan SSR and soon found himself leading the crowd. According to Muslimzade, he was attempting to lead the crowd away from the Armenian district and toward the sea, but many Armenians saw this act as implicating him as a leader of the riot. The crowd, in any case, dispersed and several groups made for the Armenian district.
Another factor that may have ignited the violence was an announcement of the murder of two Azerbaijanis. On February 27, Soviet Deputy Federal Procurator, Aleksandr Katusev, announced on Baku Radio and Central Television, that two Azerbaijani youths, Bakhtiyar Guliyev and Ali Hajiyev, were killed in a clash between Armenians and Azerbaijanis near Agdam several days earlier  One of the youth was killed by an Azerbaijani police officer, but Katusev neglected to mention that and would later receive a stinging rebuke for revealing the nationalities of the young men. The secretive nature the Soviet Union was still attempting to shake off led many Azerbaijanis to believe that there was something more nefarious to Katusev's report than he led on.
Some sources speak of premeditation ahead of the break-out of violence. Cobbles were said to have been brought into the city to block and limit access and the perpetrators reportedly had previously obtained the list of addresses of the Armenian residents of the city. Warnings by Azerbaijanis sympathetic to their Armenian neighbors instructed them to leave their lights on the night of the 27th; those who shut it off would be assumed to be Armenian. According to several Armenian witnesses and Soviet military personnel, alcohol and anasha, a term referring to narcotics, were brought in trucks and distributed to the crowds, although such accounts were not unreported in the media. "The rioters," writes De Waal "carried improvised weapons—sharpened pieces of metal casing and pipes from the factories, which would have taken time to prepare. This is one of many details that suggest that the violence was planned in at least a rudimentary fashion.
Violence broke on the evening of February 27. The attacking groups were of varying age groups. While the main participants were adult males and even some women, there were also youth students who took part in vandalizing and looting from the Armenians' homes appliances, shoes, and clothing. The Russian-language magazine Rodina described how, "Gangs of about ten to fifty or more people roved through the city, broke windows, burned cars, but the main thing was that they were looking for Armenians. The frenzied mobs would enter the apartment buildings and seek out Armenians where they lived. Some took shelter among their Azerbaijani and Russian neighbors, who also risked being attacked by the mobs. Others turned on the television to watch Azerbaijani music concerts and raised the volume to indicate off the effect that they were in fact Azerbaijanis. One account of the violence was given by Valentina Shagayants:
So we're hiding, and I hear them breaking down the door. It's like they took a log and are beating the door with it all their might....The mob breaks down the door and races into the apartment, immediately filling two rooms....Aunt Maria is saying "What have we done to you? I just came here from Kirovabad...I've worked with Azerbaijanis my whole life." She starts pleading with them in Azerbaijani. They say "No, we have to kill you." They are stabbing her husband, and [Aunt] Maria is covering him with her hands, and gets stabbed in the arm....They start to break down the door to the bedroom....There are 60 to 70 of them....They have knives in their hands, various knives, large and small; I see one with an iron crowbar....There are so many of them, and I am pleading "Please, just don't kill us."
The pogrom was marked by atrocities and savagery. As Waal describes it, "The roving gangs committed acts of horrific savagery. Several victims were so badly mutilated by axes that their bodies could not be identified." Numerous acts of gang rape and sexual abuse were committed, taking place in both the apartments and publicly on the city's streets. An account of one such act that was also corroborated by witnesses described how a crowd stripped naked an Armenian woman and "dragged her, carried her, kicked her in the back, in the head, and dragged her" through the streets. Rumors circulating tht Armenian women in hospital maternity wards were having their fetuses disemboweled were later said to be false.
In the midst of the attacks, many Armenians sought to defend themselves and improvised by nailing their doors shut and arming themselves with axes, and in some instances a number of intruding rioters were killed. Calls going to ambulances or to the police were late or in many cases, unheeded completely. One eyewitness recounted:
Those Azerbaijanis broke our windows, and I shouted so...I called so much on the phone—no police, not one of those bastards came to the aid of my children, my children lay on the street until four o'clock in the morning, in front of our building, one on the left, one on the right....When there's one little accident on the main drag in Sumgait, a hundred policemen show up to help. But when two sons...lie on the asphalt all night, no one comes to help....It started at ten o'clock in the evening and my children lay there until four o'clock, and they stole, stole, stole...I called for an ambulance—none. I called the police—nothing. One wouldn't come, the other wouldn't come.
The weekly Moskovskiye Novosti later reported that eight of the city's twenty ambulances had been destroyed by the mobs. Looting was prevalent and many attackers discussed among themselves on who would take possession of what after they had broken into the apartments. In some cases, televisions were stolen, along with other appliances and house goods; many apartments were vandalized and put to flames.
The lives of many Armenians were protected and saved by their Azerbaijani friends, neighbors or even strangers, who, at the risk of their own lives, let the Armenians hide in their houses or be escorted in their cars out of the city. According to the Armenian witnesses, when the Soviet troops went door-to-door searching for survivors, they managed to collect thousands of Armenians who had been hiding in Azeri households.
The Soviet government's reaction to the protests was initially slow. Authorities were reluctant to send military units to impose martial law into town. The spirit of glasnost had seen the Soviet Union more tolerant in responding to such politically-charged issues. However, Soviet officials in Azerbaijan, some of whom were witnessing the attacks, appealed to Kremlin leaders to dispatch Soviet troops to Sumgait. In a Soviet Politburo session on the third day of the rioting (February 29), Gorbachev and his senior cabinet, conferred on several subjects before discussing the events of Sumgait. When the issue was finally raised, Gorbachev voiced his opposition to the proposal of sending in troops but cabinet members Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze and Defense Minister Dmitry Yazov, fearing an escalation of violence, persuaded him otherwise.
Meanwhile, on the previous day, two battalions from the MVD, troops mainly equipped with truncheons and riot gear (those troops who were armed with firearms were armed with blanks and not given the permission to open fire), arrived in Sumgait in buses and armored personnel carriers. As they moved in to secure the town, the soldiers found themselves as targets of the mob. In what became a startling sight for the city's residents, the soldiers were attacked and maimed with the improvised steel objects. Their armored vehicles were flipped over and in some cases disabled by molotov cocktails, as the troops found themselves in complete disarray. One eyewitness described how:
At noon they, the soldiers, attacked them, and then the tables were turned. The mob went after the soldiers....The guys [soldiers] were tired, exhausted, some had their clubs taken away, others, their shields, they had been beaten, they were covered in blood....They beat the soldiers with their own clubs and shields. And those guys stood there and couldn't defend themselves, they couldn't open fire. They couldn't defend themselves, let alone us. It's comical....How could something like that happen during our Soviet period? It's painfully embarrassing! And they burned the armored personnel carriers, too....The soldiers lost their senses. And when they drove the personnel carrier and the bus at the mob of rage and fury, they drove right up on the sidewalk....The bus ran over three [people], one of the carriers ran over two, and the second, two more....they ran over seven before our eyes.
By February 29, the situation had worsened to the point where authorities were forced to call in more professional, heavily armed troops, who were given the right to use deadly force. A contingent made up of elements of the Felix Dzerzhinsky Division of the Internal Troops; a company of Marines from the Caspian Sea Naval Flotilla; troops from Dagestan; an assault landing brigade; military police; and the 137th Parachute Regiment of the Airborne Forces from Ryazan – a military force of nearly 10,000 men under the overall command of a Lieutenant General Krayev – made its way to Sumgait. Tanks were brought in and ordered to cordon off the city. Andrei Shilkov, a Russian journalist for the periodical Glasnost, counted at least 47 tanks and reported also seeing troops wearing bulletproof vests patrolling the town, an implication that firearms were present and used during the rioting.
A curfew was imposed from 8 pm to 7 am as skirmishes between troops and rioters continued. Krayev ordered troops to rescue Armenians left in their apartments. By the evening of the 29th, martial law was imposed and troops in buses and personnel carriers were patrolling the streets of Sumgait. Under heavily armed guard, civilian buses and APCs transported Armenian residents to the Samed Vurgun Cultural Facility (known as the SK) in the city's main square. The SK building was designed to accommodate several hundred people, though as many as several thousand found shelter there.
By March 1, Soviet troops had effectively quelled the rioting. Investigations were slated to begin immediately; however, waste disposal trucks cleaned much of the debris on the streets before they arrived. In the aftermath of the rioting, Soviet authorities arrested over 400 men in connection to the rioting and violence. The Soviet media did not initially report the event and remained largely silent, broadcasting instead foreign affairs while the media in Sumgait spoke only on local issues unrelated to the massacre. The Soviet government was initilly hesitant to admit that violence had taken place; though when it did, it was quick to reduce the severity of the event by claiming that the rioting had been perpetrated by "hooligans." TASS news agency reported of "rampage and violence" taking place in Sumgait on March 1, which was provoked on the part of a "group of hooligans" who engaged in various criminal acts but stopped short of releasing any more information aside from saying "Measures [had] been adopted to normalize the situation in the city and safeguard discipline and public order." In another report wired on March 5, it expanded "Criminal elements committed violent actions and engaged in robberies. They killed 31 people, among them members of various nationalities, old men and women." It laid blame on "wavering, immature people who fell under the impact of false rumors concerning the developments in Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia found themselves drawn into unlawful actions." Western journalists were denied access to visit the town by Soviet authorities.
It was not until April 28, 1988 that images of the pogrom were broadcast in a 90-minute documentary by Soviet journalist Genrikh Borovik. Borovik criticized the media blackout imposed by the Soviet government, claiming that it ran against Gorbachev's stated aims of greater openness under glasnost. He stated, "The lack of information didn't make the situation better, it made it worse....The silence of the press facilitated rumors and provocations. Probably what was needed was honest and full information about the events." Eduard Shevardnadze would later go on to remark on the failure to report the massacre in Sumgait as a failure of glasnost itself: "the old mechanisms kicked in, simplifying, distorting or just eliminating the truth about [this event]."
Soviet authorities arrested 400 men in connection to the massacre and prepared criminal charges for 84 (82 Azerbaijanis, one Russian and one Armenian). Taleh Ismailov, a pipe-fitter from one of Sumgait's industrial plants, was charged with premeditated murder and was the first to be tried by the Soviet Supreme Court in Moscow in May 1988. By October 1988, nine men had been sentenced, including Ismailov, who was sent to 15 years in prison with a further 33 on trial. Other sentences were more harsh: Ahmad Ahmadov was found guilty and sentenced to be shot by a firing squad for leading a mob and taking part in the murder of seven people. However, 90 of those who were tried were set free after some time as they were sentenced for mere hooliganism, rather than for murder, violence and savagery carried out in Sumgait.
Soviet historian and dissident Roy Medvedev questioned the trials: "Who knows why, but the court examined the Sumgait events by subdividing them into single episodes and not as a programmatic act of genocide." Most Armenians and Azerbaijanis were also dissatisfied with the trials. Armenians complained that the true instigators of the pogrom were never caught whereas Azerbaijanis stated the sentences were too harsh and were upset with the fact that the trials were not held in Azerbaijan. Some Azerbaijanis even went on to campaign for the "freedom for the heroes of Sumgait."
Assessment and Consequences
The events in Sumgait were never given due assessment by the state and the perpetrators largely remained unpunished, which led to future escalation of the conflict, as assessed by Memorial. Furthermore, many of the perpetrators of the pogrom gained titles of national heroes and/or high positions in the government, where they serve till today. In this regard V. Krivopuskov states, "The criminals are promoted to the rank of heroes, monuments are erected on their burial places, which comes to prove that the government of Azerbaijan actually continues the policy of genocide which was initiated at the end of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th centuries."
Sumgait pogrom was followed by series of other massacres and cleansings of the Armenian civilian population in Azerbaijani cities of Baku and Kirovabad in 1988; another massive pogrom took place in 1990 in Baku. "An Open Letter to International Public Opinion on Anti-Armenian Pogroms in the Soviet Union" signed by 130 intellectuals in July 1990 referred to these pogroms as follows,
The mere fact that these pogroms were repeated and the fact that they followed the same pattern lead us to think that these tragic events are no accidents or spontaneous outbursts... we are compelled to recognize that the crimes against the Armenian minority have become consistent practice - if not consistent policy - in Soviet Azerbaijan.
Russian renowned academician Andrei Sakharov called these pogroms "a real threat of extermination" to the indigenous Armenian community within Azerbaijan and in the autonomous region of Mountainous Karabagh with 80 percent of Armenian population.
In July 1988, within months of the Sumgait massacre, the United States Senate unanimously passed Amendment 2690 to the Fiscal Year 1989 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (H.R. 4782), concerning the Karabakh conflict, which called on the Soviet government to “respect the legitimate aspirations of the Armenian people …” and noted that “dozens of Armenians have been killed and hundreds injured during the recent unrests…”
On 7 July 1988, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the violence against Armenians in Azerbaijan. The resolution namely stated,
(C) Whereas the deteriorating political situation, which has led to anti-Armenian pogroms in Sumgait and serious acts of violence in Baku, is in itself a threat to the safety of the Armenians living in Azerbaijan... (1) Condemns the violence employed against Armenian demonstrators in Azerbaijan; (2) Supports the demand of the Armenian minority for reunification with the Socialist Republic of Armenia.
On July 27, 1990, 130 leading academics and human rights advocates wrote "An Open Letter to International Public Opinion on Anti-Armenian Pogroms in the Soviet Union" published in The New York Times. The letter, which was signed by professors from Johns Hopkins, Princeton, Berkeley, UCLA, Wesleyan University, University of Paris IV Sorbonne and other renowned universities, urged the international community to take action to protect the Armenian community in Azerbaijan, which "has been the victim of atrocious and intolerable premeditated massacres ... [and] barbaric acts". The letter also stated,
We demand that Soviet authorities as well as the international community condemn unequivocally these anti-Armenian pogroms and that they denounce especially the racist ideology which has been used by the perpetrators of these crimes as justification...
It should be clear that the forceful deportation of Armenians is not the solution to the problem of Mountainous Karabagh which, in essence, is a problem of human rights.
Several conspiracy theories spawned in the wake of the pogrom. One of the most prominent proponents of one these theories was Azerbaijani historian and head of the Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences Ziya Bunyadov, whom Tom de Waal calls "Azerbaijan's foremost Armenophobe". Bunyadov claimed that the massacre had been instigated by the Armenians to cast a negative light upon Azerbaijan. By late 1988, most Sumgait Azerbaijanis had come around to the view that the Armenians had provoked the rioting with this objective in hand. In an article that appeared in the Azerbaijani journal Elm, Bunyadov claimed that Armenians had organized the pogroms: "The Sumgait tragedy was carefully prepared by Armenian nationalists...Several hours after it began, Armenian photographers and TV journalists secretly entered the city where they awaited in readiness." Bunyadov's thesis was hinged on the fact that Sumgait Armenians had withdrawn more than one million rubles from their savings before the attacks. To support his thesis, he had also drawn attention to the fact that one of the participants in the riots and killings was Eduard Grigorian, a man of mixed Russian-Armenian lineage who had three previous criminal convictions and pretended to be Azerbaijani. Grigorian was a factory worker who took part in gang rapes and mass attacks and was subsequently sentenced to 12 years for his role in the massacres. Grigorian had been brought up in Sumgait by his Russian mother following the early death of his Armenian father, and his ethnic identity is considered irrelevant since he appropriately fit the profile of a "pogromshchik, a thuggish young man, of indeterminate nationality with a criminal past, seeking violence for its own sake." This view has since gained wider currency in all of Azerbaijan today, where it is still euphemistically referred to in the media and by government officials as the "Sumgait events."
Davud Imanov, an Azerbaijani filmmaker, expanded on this theory in a series of films called the Echo of Sumgait where he accused Armenians, Russians and Americans of conspiring together against Azerbaijan and claiming that Karabakh movement was a plot organized by the CIA. According to CPSU Politburo member Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev, the Sumgait pogrom was arranged by KGB agents provocateur to "justify the importance of the Soviet secret services"
- Anti-Armenianism in Azerbaijan
- Kirovabad pogrom (1988)
- Pogrom of Armenians in Baku (1990)
- Maraga Massacre (1992)
- List of massacres in the Soviet Union
- List of massacres in Azerbaijan
- De Waal, Thomas (2010). The Caucasus: An Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 111. ISBN 978-0195399776.
- Remnick, David (6 September 1989). "Hate Runs High in Soviet Union's Most Explosive Ethnic Feud". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- Hosking, Geoffrey A. The First Socialist Society: A History of the Soviet Union from Within, 2nd ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993, p. 475.
- Kenez, Peter (2006). A History of the Soviet Union from the Beginning to the End (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 272.
- "An Announcement by USSR Journalists' Union," Glasnost: Vol. 2, Issue 1, Center for Democracy (New York, N.Y.), 1990, p. 62, cit. "The massacre of Armenians in Sumgait, the heinous murders in Tbilisi—these killings are examples of genocide directed by the Soviet regime against its own people."
- Roy Medvedev, Giulietto Chiesa, Time of Change: An Insider's View of Russia's Transformation. New York: Pantheon Books, 1989, p. 209.
- Great Soviet Encyclopedia in Russian Sumgait
- (Russian) Krivopuskov V. V. Мятежный Карабах: Из дневника офицера МВД СССР. Издание второе, дополненное. Moscow: Golos Press, 2007, pp. 187-88. ISBN 5-7117-0163-0.
- De Waal 2003, p. 14.
- (Russian) Vasilevskii. “Туча в горах” Avropa, № 10, 1988.
- HONORING THE VICTIMS OF SUMGAIT (Extensions of Remarks - February 28, 2013)
- SUMGAIT POGROM OF 1988: THE PUBLIC RECORD. Armenian Assembly of America 2005
- (Russian) O Kulish, D. Melikov. “Черным семенам не прорасти”. Социалистическая индустрия. March 27, 1988
- (Russian) Zardusht Ali-Zade. "The Azerbaijani Elite and Masses in the period of collapse of the USSR (An article-memoir on turbulent Times)"
- Rost, Yuri. The Armenian Tragedy: An Eye-Witness Account of Human Conflict and Natural Disaster in Armenia and Azerbaijan. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990, p. 27. ISBN 0-312-04611-1.
- Beissinger, Mark R. (2002). Nationalist Mobilization and the Collapse of the Soviet State. Cambridge University Press. p. 300. ISBN 0-521-00148-X.
- De Waal 2003, pp. 33-34.
- De Waal 2003, p. 33.
- Excerpt from the indictment in the criminal case 18/60233 on charges of Ahmad Imani ogly Ahmаdov, Ilham Azat ogly Ismailov and Yavar Giyas ogly Jafarov. Moscow, Nov. 1988, The Supreme Court of USSR. "I reckon they knew the addresses of the Armenians in advance. I came to this conclusion because the pogrom-makers were entering precisely the buildings were Armenians lived. In reality, they knew all the addresses, they were acting unmistakably. And all that was not out of hooligan intentions, that was an action specifically against the Armenian people, against Armenians. Not against Russians or other nations, but against Armenians. They were looking particularly for Armenians..."
- See Samvel Shahmuratian (ed.) The Sumgait Tragedy: Pogroms Against Armenians in Soviet Azerbaijan. New York: Zoryan Institute, 1990.
- De Waal 2003, p. 35.
- Rodina. No. 4, 1994, pp. 82–90.
- Shahmuratian. Sumgait Tragedy, Interview with Kamo Avakyan, pp. 56–60.
- Shahmuratian. Sumgait Tragedy, Interview with Valentina Shagayants, pp. 65–66.
- De Waal 2003, p. 34.
- Shahmuratian. Sumgait Tragedy, Interview with Levon Akopyan, p. 227.
- Lee, Gary. "Eerie Silence Hangs Over Soviet City." Washington Post. September 4, 1988. p. A33. Retrieved July 31, 2006.
- Shahmuratian. Sumgait Tragedy, Interview with Rima Avanesyan, pp. 233–237.
- (Russian) "Сумгаит, Один месяц поздно" [Sumgait, One Month Later] Moskovskiye Novosti. April 13, 1988.
- Miller, Donald E. and Lorna Touryan Miller. Armenia: Portraits of Survival and Hope. Berkeley: University of California Press; pp. 46–47.
- "Soviets Impose Curfew After Riots." Newsday. March 2, 1988 p. 13. Retrieved December 30, 2006.
- De Waal 2003, p. 38-39.
- Kaufman 2001, p. 64.
- De Waal 2003, p. 37-38.
- Shahmuratian. Sumgait Tragedy, Interviews with Zinayda Akopyan and Gayane Akopyan, p. 199.
- De Waal 2003, p. 39.
- Bortin, Mary Ellen. "Witness Tells of Aftermath of Bloody Armenian Riots." Seattle Times. March 11, 1988. p. B1. Retrieved September 15, 2006.
- Lyday, Corbin. "A Commitment to Truth Telling: Behind the Scenes in Soviet Armenia." 1988 (Typewritten), p. 28. Accessed December 16, 2006.
- "400 arrested after riots in Sumgait, Soviets say." Toronto Star. March 22, 1988. Retrieved December 26, 2006.
- De Waal 2003, p. 40.
- Malkasian, Mark (1996). "Gha-Ra-Bagh"! The Emergence of the National Democratic Movement in Armenia. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. p. 54. ISBN 0-8143-2605-6.
- "Soviet TV surprise: Ethnic strife shown; Program rips news blackout, defends glasnost." Chicago Sun-Times. April 28, 1988. p. 36. Retrieved December 31, 2006.
- Shevardnadze, Eduard. The Future Belongs to Freedom. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991, pp. 176–177. ISBN 0-02-928617-4.
- De Waal 2003, p. 39, 43.
- Keller, Bill. "Riot's Legacy of Distrust Quietly Stalks a Soviet City." The New York Times. August 31, 1988. Retrieved April 19, 2007
- "Soviet Riot Leader Sentenced to Death." The Washington Post. November 20, 1988. Retrieved April 19, 2007.
- Виктор Кривопусков: Преступники в Азербайджане возносятся в ранг национальных героев
- Medvedev. Time of Change, p. 209.
- Kaufman 2001, p. 65.
- Kaufman 2001, pp. 67, 205.
- МЕМОРИАЛ. ХРОНОЛОГИЯ КОНФЛИКТА "Своевременного расследования обстоятельств погромов, установления и наказания виновных не было проведено, что привело к эскалации конфликта."
- Hidayat Orujev for instance went on serving as Azerbaijan's State Advisor for Ethnic Policy and is currently serving as the Chairman of State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations of Azerbaijan Republic.
- Виктор Кривопусков: Преступники в Азербайджане возносятся в ранг национальных героев "Преступники возводятся в ранг героев, там где они захоронены, возводятся монументы и памятники, что свидетельствует о том, что азербайджанское государство продолжает по сути дела политику геноцида, заложенную в конце 19 - начале 20 веков."
- SJ Kaufman. "Ethnic Fears and Ethnic War in Karabagh"
- Pierre Verluise. "Armenia in Crisis: The 1988 Earthquake" Wayne State University Press, 1995
- Imogen Gladman (2004). Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia. Taylor & Francis Group. pp. Page 131. ISBN 1-85743-316-5.
- An Open Letter on Anti-Armenian Pogroms in the Soviet Union. Jacques Derrida, Isaiah Berlin, et al., September 27, 1990 Issue
- New York Times, November 26, 1988
- Asbarez, March 3rd 2011 "More Members of Congress Commemorate Sumgait, Baku Massacres"
- SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 4, March 1, 2013
- RESOLUTION on the situation in Soviet Armenia. Joint resolution replacing Docs. B2-538 and 587 88, 07 July 1988. Source: Official journal of the European Communities, No. C 94/117, o C 235/106, 07 July 1988
- De Waal 2003, p. 42.
- (Russian) Buniyatov, Ziya. "Concerning the events in Karabakh and Sumgait." Elm. No. 19, May 13, 1989, p. 175. Excerpts of this text can be found in Levon Chorbajian; Patrick Donabedian; Claude Mutafian. The Caucasian Knot: The History and Geopolitics of Nagorno-Karabagh. London: Zed Books, 1994, pp. 188–189. ISBN 1-85649-288-5.
- De Waal 2003, pp. 42-43.
- De Waal 2003, p. 43.
- See, for example, Jamil Babayeva, "Armenia’s provocation: Sumgayit events. AzerNews." February 28, 2014; "Sumgait’s events committed by special services and Armenian diaspora." Trend. February 27, 2014.
- Yakovlev, Alexander N. (2003). Time of darkness (in Russian). Moscow: Materik. p. 551.
- De Waal, Thomas (2003). Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 9780814719459.
- Kaufman, Stuart J. (2001). Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-8736-6.
- Nationalism at Its Nastiest - The New York Times
- Vladimir Kryuchkov. Hardline Soviet Communist who became head of the KGB and led a failed plot to overthrow Mikhail Gorbachev, Times Online
- Sumgait Pogroms. Hon. Howard L. Berman, United States House of Representatives, Congressional Record, Feb. 2012
- sumgait.info Armenian site
- sumqait.com Azeri point of view
- Sumgait massacres - Budapest case
- Pogroms of Armenians in Sumgait, Office of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
- Aslan Ismayilov Sumgayit — Beginning of the Collapse of the USSR. Baku: Çaşıoğlu. 2010
- The Ordinary genocide. Sumgait, February 1988. Documentary