All this was yet to come. Meanwhile, 20 years ago people in Nagorno Karabakh realized that liberation of Shushi was vital. Azerbaijanis kept Stepanakert under constant shell attack from upper Shushi; Stepanakert was 70% ruined; people lived in basements, often without bread and water… Further delay could be fatal.
Mastermind of the liberation of Shushi, general Arkady Ter-Tadevosyan, the legendary Commandos: “The Armenian leadership did not favor the operation. Then-Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsyan believed it should be postponed. But we had to act. During a meeting, 72 commanders agreed unanimously that Shushi must be freed.”
Political scientist Levon Melik-Shahnazarov:
“It never occurred to anybody that Shushi liberation operation might fail. One question was in the air: “When are we going to take Shushi?” Once I asked an acquaintance of mine, an elderly man who lives in Shushi now.“What if the operation fails?” He looked at me closely and asked: “How can an operation aiming to release our native town ever fail? Are we of any use then? Are we Armenians ornot?”
Zhirayr Sefilyan, Artsakh war veteran, member of Sardarapat movement initiative group:
“Despite lack of arms and ammunition, people stood in lines to be able to participate in Shushi liberation. I believe no Armenian in the whole world would object to liberation of Shushi in those days.”
Archbishop Pargev Martirosyan:
“Military operation in Shushi was postponed until May 7, the Holy Cross Day, and this was not a coincidence; participants of the military operation experienced uplift as well.
They all wore crosses. Those who did not, drew crosses on their sleeves or back of their uniform. Even tanks and armoured vehicles had crosses on them. It seemed as if a supreme power leaded us so that we would suffer least losses in entering Shushi…”
Shushi liberation operation was called “Wedding in the Mountains,” a title untypical of a military action. The thing is that then Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsyan believed it should be postponed since it required serious preparation. Then Commandos told Sargsyan that should Shushi be liberated, the Minister will celebrate his wedding in the mountains. So, the operation was titled “Wedding in the Mountains.”
The operation started on the night of May 8, at 2:30am. Colonel Arkady Karapetyan’s400-member battalion started offensive from Shosh village. Ashot Ghulyan’s company attacked from the northeast. Dushman Vardan’s company advanced from the east and had retaken the environs by the morning. The detachments under command of Nver Chakhoyan and Zhirayr Sefilyan came from the south.
A 400-member shock troops led by colonel Seyran Ohanyan advanced from the southwest, liberating the villages of Kusar, Bashkend, Javadlar and 17 others. Arthur Arakelyan's detachment liberated the settlement of Lower Zarislo while Albert Alaverdyan and his men freed Upper Zarislo.
In the morning, they were joined by the battalion of Valery Chtchyan to enter Shushi.
Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan:
“1992 plan for liberation of Karabakh’s historic capital Shushi met highest military standards. Liberation of Shushi is one of the crucial victories of the Armenian army.”
Martik (“Fighter”) newspaper, 1993:
“Throughout its 273—year-old history, the fortress of Shushi always knowned to be unassailable, was first conquered for the sake of historical justice. The two-day military operation revealed the indisputable fact of human dignity called to serve the homeland, which was perfectly manifested in feats of 1st, 4th, 6th, Aknaghbyur units, reconnaissance self-defense units, etc.”
Chairman of Armenia's Public Council Vazgen Manukyan: “Liberation of Shushi was our response to those who imposed this war on us. This was the beginning of our triumph. This is our town, and we must maintain it forever.”
Arkady Ter-Tadevosyan: “We had no right to be defeated. It was our town, where each stone and road was dear for us. This thought gave us strength and inspiration.”.
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan:
“Shushi’s liberation marked the victory of the good over the evil and barbarity. By releasing the historic capital of Artsakh, Armenian fighters regained new perception and emerged as a new factor. Those who reached eternity in the heroic fight, still pursue their highest mission as moral and political incentive.”
Commander of volunteer Arabo detachment Manvel Yeghiazaryan:
“May 9, day of Shushi liberation must become a universal Armenian holiday. It must become a parade day, a universal panarmenian day so that people look forward to it.”
Shushi is reviving today, throwing off the horrid recollections of Turkic yoke and war. Shushi residents currently live a peaceful life, reconstructing the town, going to work, forming families and raising their children.
Yet their eyes, the stern eyes of “war kids” testify that all of them, young and old, will never hesitate to fight for their home town and homeland.
And they will definitely hold out, until the end, until a new Victory.