For 19 years already the Armenian people celebrate May 9 not only as the day of victory the Great Patriotic War but also as the day of liberation of Shushi, one of the crucial episodes in history of Armenian people. Liberation of Shushi had become the turning point in the Karabakh war, marking the way for future achievements.
“Starting with February 1992, the situation in Stepanakert and its environs became intolerable. The city was under constant fire from Krkjan, Khojalu and Shushi. A semicircle was formed which kept Stepanakert under continuous fire,” recollects the mastermind of the liberation of Shushi, general Arkady Ter-Tadevosyan, the legendary Commandos.
Stepanakert was almost ruined; people lived in basements, often without bread and water…
“Shushi had to be liberated. Our task was to neutralize the weapon emplacements from Khojalu to Shushi,” Commandos recollects in a conversation with a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter, his hand, like 19 years ago, drawing the weapon emplacements from where Stepanakert was fired upon and the liberation plan.
“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,” he recalls.
At that time, Commandos told Sargsyan that should Shuhsi be liberated, the Minister will celebrate his wedding in the mountains. So, the operation was titled “Wedding in the Mountains.”
Preparations began. Commandos’ detachment which numbered 3800 people split into 5 groups. The operation started on the night of May 8. Colonel Arkady Karapetyan’s 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.
According to Commandos' calculations, the operation had to take 2 or 3 days, but Shushi was liberated at 4am of May 9, that is 26 hours after its start.
“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,” Ter-Tadevosyan says.
Now he says he is glad to see Shushi developing. Neither he nor other commanders forgot the town: each year they gather there to celebrate the victory and maybe one day they will celebrate a wedding in the mountains.