Recent Armenian visitors to Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic have accused the regional authorities of deliberately destroying “Khachkars,” ancient Armenian funeral monuments in the shape of crosses made of stone. According to these travelers’ accounts, the historic Armenian cemetery at Jugha–site of as many as 2,000 Khachkars–was targeted for leveling at the beginning of December when dump trucks were sent in to carry the monuments away. The latest Armenian eyewitness reported over the weekend that the action has stopped and the trucks left, but that many crosses lay on the ground, fallen (Groong, December 12). The authorities of Nakhichevan have vehemently rejected the charges (Snark, December 9).
Armenian circles worldwide raised the alarm and also petitioned UNESCO to intervene and stop the alleged demolition. To Armenians, the Khachkars are a national treasure with both cultural and political significance. They are seen as documenting the historic presence of Armenians in areas–such as Nakhichevan–from which the Armenian population was driven out in modern times. The duration and size of the Armenian presence in such areas is a matter of dispute with political overtones and with potential territorial implications. An association was founded last month in Yerevan to promote historic Armenian aspirations to Nakhichevan.
RUSSIA INCREASES KAZAKHSTAN’S OIL TRANSIT QUOTA.