1991 Azerbaijani Mil Mi-8 shootdown

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1991 Azerbaijani MI-8 helicopter shootdown
Mi-8 Hip Roving Sands 99.jpg
A Mil Mi-8 similar to the aircraft shot down
Date November 20, 1991
Summary Shootdown
Site Karakend, near Khojavend, Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan
Aircraft type Assault transport helicopter
Aircraft name MI-8
Flight origin Agdam
Destination Khojavend
Fatalities 22
Survivors 0

The 1991 Azerbaijan MI-8 helicopter shootdown, also known as the Karakend tragedy in Azerbaijan, occurred on November 20, 1991, when an Azerbaijani MI-8 military helicopter, carrying a peacekeeping mission team consisting of 13 Azerbaijani government officials, 2 Russian and 1 Kazakhstani Ministry of Internal Affairs officials, 3 Azerbaijani journalists and 3 helicopter crew was shot down amidst heavy fighting near the Karakend village of Khojavend district in Nagorno-Karabakh.[1][2] All 22 people (19 passengers and 3 crew) on board were killed in the crash.[3]


In accordance with the Zheleznovodsk communique initiated by Boris Yeltsin and Nursultan Nazarbayev in the Russian city of Zheleznovodsk for the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and their subsequent shuttle diplomacy visit to the region on September 1991, officials from Russia and Kazakhstan were placed in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast ("NKAO") for an observation mission. On the eve of the crash, the Armenian side refused to continue the peace talks with Azerbaijan until Azerbaijan re-opened the natural gas supply to Armenia, which it ceased on November 4.[4][5] The team of observers along with representatives of Azerbaijani government were to fly from Agdam to Khojavend due to rising tension in the district.[1]


Helicopter MI-8 with the peacekeeping team departed from Agdam with 22 people on board and was shot down en route by Armenian attack using a group of ZSU-23-4 Shilka and SA-6 missiles, killing everyone on board.[5] The attack on the helicopter disrupted the ongoing peace talks.[6][7]

Various conspiracy theories about the shoot down have since been in circulation, and are promoted by various political figures in Azerbaijan, who say the shoot down was a political assassination. Despite an absence of official investigation evidence, such theories are considered credible by a significant part of the Azerbaijani population.

List of victims[3][8]
Full name Position
Tofig Ismayilov Kazim oglu Secretary of State, Azerbaijan
Ismat Gayibov Ismayil oglu Public Prosecutor General, Azerbaijan
Mahammad Asadov Nabi oglu, Minister of Internal Affairs, State Advisor, Azerbaijan
Zulfi Hajiyev Saleh oglu Deputy Prime Minister, Azerbaijan
Vagif Jafarov Jafar oglu Member of Parliament, Azerbaijan
Vali Mammadov Huseyn oglu Member of Parliament, Azerbaijan
Osman Mirzayev Mirza Huseyn oglu Head of Presidential Administration, journalist, Azerbaijan
Gurban Namazaliyev Huseyn oglu Deputy Prime Minister of Amelioration and Water Management, Azerbaijan
Igor Aleksandrovich Plavski Public Prosecutor of Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO), Azerbaijan
Vladimir Vladimirovich Kovalyov Head of Ministry of Internal Affairs of NKAO, Azerbaijan
Sergey Semyonovich Ivanov Head of department of National Security Ministry, NKAO, Azerbaijan
Nikolay Vladimirovich Jinkin Commandant for Emergency Situations of NKAO, Azerbaijan
Sanlal Dasumovich Serikov Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Kazakhstan
Mikhail Dmitriyevich Lukashov MVD, major general, Russia
Oleg Nikolayevich Kocherev MVD, lieutenant colonel, Russia
Rafig Mammadov Mammad oglu Aide to Secretary of State, Azerbaijan
Ali Mustafayev Mustafa oglu Journalist, Azerbaijani State TV[9]
Arif Huseynzadeh Ismail oglu Lights technician, Azerbaijani State TV
Fakhraddin Shahbazov Ibrahim oglu Cameraman, Azerbaijani State TV
Lieutenant Colonel Vyacheslav Vladimirovich Kotov Commander of helicopter crew
Major Gennadiy Vladimirovich Domov Member of the helicopter crew
Sergeant Dmitry Borisovich Yarovenko Member of the helicopter crew


Initial reports by central state agency TASS claimed the helicopter flew into a fog and crashed into a hill. On November 21, the chairman of the crash investigation committee announced over TV that the helicopter was shot at by large caliber weapons and the weapons and video equipment was stolen from the site of the incident.[1] At 6:30 PM, the same day, the deputy Chief of Command of Internal Troops of the Ministry for Internal Affairs of USSR, Vyacheslav Ponomarev left for Agdam. The Interior Ministry officials declared they would not pull out the internal troops detachments out of the district due to escalation of the conflict. The investigation committee was also to determine where the victims would be buried.[1] However, because the area of the crash was soon captured by Armenian militants, the investigation was suspended and no one was indicted.[10]

The investigation was initiated for clarifying the reasons for the crash. The first version was transferred by TASS referring to the commander's special area of NKAO: helicopter exploded, sprung up on a rock in the fog.[1] However, an investigation found holes in the fuselage consistent with the explosion of a rocket.[11] Investigation Commission Chairman Adil Agayev said that the helicopter was shot down from the ground by a large-caliber weapons, video equipment and weapons from the crash site were kidnapped.[1] Armenians denied any involvement, they were blamed immediately for the incident.[11] In response to Agayev the deputies of the USSR from Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh Zori Balayan, Victor Hambardzumyan, Henrik Igityan, Sos Sargsyan accused Central television of bias and hinted at the non-participation of Armenians to the crash.[1] According to American researcher Michael P. Croissant, it is appeared to be an Armenian rocket attack.[5]


After the public burial of the Azerbaijani victims in Baku on November 22, demonstrations began. The protestors demanded the Supreme Soviet and the chairman of Communist Party of Azerbaijan, Ayaz Mutalibov, to establish authority in Karabakh or resign from office. As a result, the Supreme Soviet called a special session on November 26 requesting to impose a martial law in the republic, withdrawing cadets and officers of Azerbaijani ethnicity from Soviet Army and ceasing all negotiations with Armenia.[1] On November 27, the Supreme Soviet voted in favor of abolishing the autonomous status of NKAO and established direct rule over it. It also officially changed the name of Stepanakert to its pre-Soviet name Khankendi and re-arranged administrative division of the rayons in Nagorno-Karabakh area.[5][6]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Roman Glebov (1991-11-25). "Республики. В Азербайджане сбит вертолет с VIP на борту" [Republics. A helicopter with VIP on board has been shot down in Azerbaijan.] (in Russian). Kommersant. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
  2. ^ Menashri, David (1998). Central Asia Meets Middle East. London, Great Britain: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd. p. 155. ISBN 0-7146-4600-8.
  3. ^ a b "Azerbaijan Association. 17 year passes since "Mi-8" military helicopter was shot in Garakand sky – complete list of the perished people". November 21, 2008. Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
  4. ^ Eichensehr, Kristen; Reisman, W.Michael (1998). Stopping Wars and Making Peace: Studies in International Intervention. Leiden, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 55. ISBN 978-90-04-17855-7.
  5. ^ a b c d Croissant, Michael P. (1998). The Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict: causes and implications. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. p. 45. ISBN 0-275-96241-5.
  6. ^ a b Карабах: хронология конфликта [Karabakh: Chronology of the conflict] (in Russian). BBC News. 2005-08-29. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
  7. ^ Хронология событий в конфликтных точках СНГ [Chronology of events in conflict spots of CIS] (in Russian). Peacekeeper.ru. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
  8. ^ Террористические акты, совершенные на воздушных судах [Terror acts committed on air transport] (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2 May 2010. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
  9. ^ "International Eurasia Press Fund. 5 journalists were killed in 1991". July 31, 2008. Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
  10. ^ K. Zarbaliyeva (2008-11-19). "Investigation into Crash of Helicopter with Azerbaijani Senior Officials Suspended". Trend News Agency. Archived from the original on 2012-07-15. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
  11. ^ a b Croissant, Michael P. (1998). The Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict: causes and implications. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. p. 55. ISBN 0-275-96241-5.

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