The people of Artsakh rally against ethnic cleansing, mark three historic events

Stepanakert, May 9, 2023

STEPANAKERT—The people of Artsakh commemorated a triple holiday – Victory Day, the Liberation of Shushi and the founding of the Artsakh Defense Army – as they continue to live under the extreme conditions of the almost five-month-long blockade by Azerbaijan. The crisis created by the blockade deepened when Azerbaijan set up a checkpoint on April 23 at the Hagari River bridge, leaving Artsakh in a double blockade.

Today again, national unity has become the imperative of the day. We have no right to hesitate or step back. There is only one way. Artsakh was, is and should be Armenian, with the free will of its people and the right and determination to manage their own destiny,” said Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan in a speech on the occasion of Victory Day on May 9. “The efforts of all of us, in Artsakh, Armenia and the Diaspora, should serve this purpose. We should rediscover and cherish the mystery and spirit of the victorious Triple Holiday as a guideline for our lives,” Harutyunyan continued.

On the morning of May 9, a requiem service was held at the Holy Mother of God Cathedral of Stepanakert for the repose of souls of the martyred during the Great Patriotic War, the first Artsakh war, the April and 44-day wars. A prayer of peace was offered after the requiem service. Under the leadership of the clergy of the diocese, the people united in the church and prayed for peace for Armenia and Artsakh.

A requiem service was held at the Holy Mother of God Cathedral of Stepanakert, May 9, 2023

After the requiem service, a cross procession continued from the church to the memorial center of Stepanakert to inspire young people with previous victories.

Cross procession

They chanted “No to the ethnic cleansing of Artsakh,” “Glory to the Artsakh Defense Army” and “Glory to the Republic of Artsakh.” Many participants held pictures of martyred heroes.

Many participants held pictures of martyred heroes.

At noon the same day, a mass rally was organized in Stepanakert’s Renaissance Square by the group who initiated the “No to the ethnic cleansing of Artsakh” petition.

The rally began with a moment of silence in honor to the martyred heroes. Rev. Father Gyurjian of the Artsakh Diocese; Ruben Vardanyan, co-founder of “We Are Our Mountains”; former Minister of State Carmen Avetisyan, a participant in the three Artsakh Wars; and youth organizers of the “No to the ethnic cleansing of Artsakh” offered remarks. 

Avetisyan explained how his generation did what some people thought was impossible. “There are no unsolvable problems; there is a lack of great desire and great faith. We won because we were united, because everyone took responsibility for tomorrow, for our statehood, for the survival of our homeland, for the existence of our people,” Avetisyan said.

Former state minister Vardanyan said that Azerbaijan crossed the red line by setting up a checkpoint on April 23. He said the people’s response should be to struggle, because there is no other option, because this does not lead to reintegration, but to reoccupation. “We have a goal that was established in 1988 – to have a free, safe, happy and Armenian Artsakh, and that goal has not changed. We will solve the issues related to our security and the future of our homeland,” Vardanyan emphasized. He also appealed to all Armenians to add their signatures to the petition initiated by the youth of Artsakh.

So far, 120,000 signatures have been collected on paper and online with the demand to unblock Artsakh. This petition will be transferred to the Republic of Artsakh government, the embassies of the Russian Federation, the United States and France, as well as the UN Armenian office in Yerevan.

“We demand the application of all international mechanisms to ensure the terms of the 9 November 2020 trilateral statement, as well as the implementation of the UN International Court of Justice ruling,” reads the petition.

The people of Artsakh continue to reaffirm their right to live freely, safely and independently in their homeland. They are demonstrating that Artsakh is not surrendering and that they are determined to continue their struggle. 

Stepanakert, May 9, 2023
Siranush Sargsyan

Siranush Sargsyan

Siranush Sargsyan is a freelance journalist based in Stepanakert.


  1. Long live the Artsakhtsis. Do not leave your lands . When the time comes fight for your lives and die in front of your houses.

    • Just curious: when that life and death moment arrives, what will you be doing?

  2. I am happy to see our sisters and brothers in Arstakh standing up. However, “The people of Artsakh reject ethnic cleansing” is a very weak statement. Unfortunately, it implies that Artsakh is part of Azerbaijan. People of Artsakh and all Armenians around the world must reject and denounce the occupation of Artsakh by Azerbaijan.

  3. Our brethren in Artsakh are remarkable. Their commitment
    to the land and their family legacy is profound. It is a great inspiration with controversial leadership everywhere , our people in Artsakh have been a constant. Consistent message for 35 years. Azadootiun!!!

  4. The liberation of Shushi. All gone as soon the most incompetent useless traitor loser was implanted. He is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Artsakh youth and many more wounded. Just recently the traitor proclaimed ancient Armenian lands as part of the made up gas station called Azerbaijan in the hopes that he can make “peace” with criminals that are eying the possibility of all Armenians being gone. He is that stupid. He is the perfect opportunity for Turks. He is the enemy within to all Armenians. HE NEEDS TO BE RID AND TRIED FOR TREASON.

    • Our naive “traitor” ran the war with no adequate ammunition, his traitor army officers, Putler and his programmer “Sergey Kalantarian” neutralized them, who planned to overthrow the Armenian Parliamentarian Revolution of 2018. Yes, the army’s most experienced traitors, were Armenian high-ranking army officers, who deserted the war fronts and went for hiding, leaving our young Monte-type generation to be slaughtered by the enemy and NATO Turkey, and by Israeli-made drones.

      The funny part of the war is our naive “traitor” who did not know that the newly paid SU 30SM fighters have no mounting missiles and Iskander missiles were defused by faithful KGB thugs. Putler finally kept his promise to the Sultan of oil the night before the 44 days of the Artsakh war. Even after three years, The Putler’s drama is not over yet. He signed another military contract with the dictator of Tatar-Turks the day before attacking Ukraine, who is laughing at him today with his pinched nose.

  5. As President of Artsakh (November, 2022 – February, 2023), Ruben Vardanyan speaks fluent English, Russian, and Armenian; unfortunately, officials in Artsakh made the incredibly stupid blunder & decision to “dismiss” Ruben from his post. With his fluent English language mastery, Ruben was able to frequently broadcast Arsakh’s plight worldwide, oftentimes doing prolonged interviews, as a guest. Now, things have gotten worse; without Ruben Vardanian, Artsakh is even more isolated.

    • It was pressure from Yerevan that made them dismiss Ruben Vardanyan. Aliyev has been demanding it and pashinyan always does what aliyev wants.
      Remember that Yerevan has levers of power over Artsakh. The cash flow that prevents the Artsakh people from starvation can be stopped anytime at pashinyan’s will.
      Gone are the days when Artsakh provided 25% of Armenia’s wheat and was self sufficient in electricity and food. Pashinyan handed all that over to the azeris, together with 75% of Armenia’s water resources, the rivers that feed Sevan and the border villages of Armenia.

  6. Armenians squandered the opportunity to settle the dispute over Artsakh in the 1990s. Yerevan needed to compromise from a position of strength as a victor and an ally of Russia. Armenians should have pulled back from at least 5 of the 7 territories outside of the internationally recognized borders of Artsakh. Armenia should have moved closer to Russia and invited a Russian military presence inside Artsakh. This should have been done to make both Armenia and Artsakh strategically indispensable for the Kremlin. Instead of chasing after silly fantasies in the West, we needed to turn Armenia into a strategically important asset for both Moscow and Tehran. It was not to be. Our arrogance, pride, materialism, maximalism, tribalism, shortsightedness, cognitive dissonance and political illiteracy and our love of all things Western came into play. We thought we were invincible. We thought we could not do wrong. We thought we could be maximalistic. We thought we could sit on two chairs. We thought we could have our cake and eat it too. We wasted 30 years on importing corrosive Western pop culture and subversive NGOs. We constantly called for revolutions. We played dangerous games with our closest and only ally, Russia. All the while, the Diaspora acted like a pack animal for all kinds of Western and Tukish agendas in Armenia. The accumulated toxicity then burst in 2018. The Armenian world enthusiastically toppled the “Russian backed corrupt oligarchs” and put into power a bunch of Western financed degenerates and professional Russophobes. And that’s when Russia pulled its protective hand away just so slightly. The tragedy that therefore followed, and still continuing today, is our collective fault.

    Ultimately, Nikol’s toxic regime is a by-product of the materialism, tribalism, shortsightedness, egotism, political illiteracy, pride, cognitive dissonance and Russophobia that is so prevalent in modern Armenian society.

    The only thing left to look forward to at this point in time is to see Armenia entering the Russian Federation in some form. An Armenia can only survive as part of Russia. That’s the only hope. Everything else is a pipe dream that will only prolong the misery of the last 30 years. The last 30 years did indeed prove that we Armenians are in no shape and form to maintain any degree of independence in a complex and dangerous place like the south Caucasus.

  7. Nikol dreamed of abandoning Artsakh, forgetting about the Armenian Genocide, unconditionally opening Armenia’s borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey and, last but not least, bring Armenia out of Russia’s orbit his entire life. Nikol was therefore placed into power by special interests in 2018 exactly for this purpose. To it’s utter disgrace, the Armenian world, both native and diasporan, preferred to keep Nikol in power not once but twice. The rest is history, as they say.

    • . “The only thing left to look forward to at this point is to see Armenia entering the Russian Federation”

      Armenia officially is in the Russian CSTO organization minus Azerbaijan. How Armenia’s securities will be guaranteed when the entire CSTO including the dictator of Belarus supports Azerbaijan in their victory? Iran’s old president congratulated dictator Aliyev for liberating a “Muslim land”. Russia alone is a worn-out Empire, where 30% of the population has Turkic or Tatar roots, where any moment can destabilize the rest of RF by chaotic revolutions.

      Armenia needs a smart and energetic young generation, who can give assurances for stability with proactive innovation strategies and tend to have a strong research orientation in technology and sciences to become technology hob, market leaders. We will survive without Russia and the West. Armenian Diaspora is ready to make Armenia stronger than it was 1700 years ago.

  8. I see many are still living in la-la land.
    Armenians are in no shape to sustain a nation-state in a complex and violent place like the south Caucasus without direct Russian support or control. As I said earlier, all these so-called solutions, fixes, remedies, etc., will do is prolong the country’s misery. Apparently, there is a group of Armenians that will not rest until Armenia is totally destroyed or put under Turkish rule. They won’t get their way. Armenia will go back to Mother Russia sooner or later, one way or another…

  9. @Concerned,
    There is a high chance that many of these commentors are cyber activists who’s main task is to sow disinformation and Russophobia in our society. Anyone that says Armenia can go it alone in a place the south Caucasus cannot be taken seriously. At worst, such people are carrying out a Turkish agenda because an alone Armenia in that region will collapse. In any case I envy your patience and civility.

  10. I have been reading about those 86,000 square kilometers in the news lately. And I am thinking to myself, how did that colossal size work out exactly? I mean that’s larger than Austria! For Austria to be the size it is now they had to wage numerous wars. How did Azerbaijan become so big? Name one Azerbaijani king.

    • They don’t have kings or a history for that matter, but they have a very good ambassador and agent. His name is pashinyan.

  11. Nobody can guess whether Nikol Pashinyan will be known in the future as a traitor or a righteous person, only history will judge him.

    Some new facts are that the anti-Armenian 5th column work for Kremlin. These contemporary secret societies, which are to be blamed for the losses of Artsakh 44 days of war are willing to give away the rest of Artsakh to junior Turks. These people also want Armenians to forget the reality of 1920 and the Genocide, where Putin’s predecessor Lenin, gave away the empty lands of Kars and Ardahan to Kemal Ataturk as a gift.

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