The first story in the “Politics is people series, from Karabakh
Meet the Oganyans, Ruben and Sofia.
Twenty years ago they settled in the village of Vazgenashen in Martuni district in Karabakh, in a house on a hill near the river. Every day Ruben has to climb the steep hill in order to bring wood for the stove.
Sofia, 52 was 18 when they married. The conflict, the war in Karabakh and the following deadlock make her and Ruben`s life.
In the Soviet times there were two villages in the vicinity – Avdal and Gyulaplu, with the population of 600. Those were the Azeri villages. The Azeris fled, when the war began, and the villages have stayed empty for several years.
With the end of the armed clashes the Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan and the families from Armenia moved here. One village instead of two was established and called Vazgenashen, where 300 people live now.
Ruben and Sofia Oganyan were the first to settle here in 1996.
“We used to live in the town of Charentsavan in Armenia. When the war in Karabakh had begun, my father volunteered. My brother and I followed him. They left later, and I decided to stay here, Ruben told us.
Twenty years after the war boxes and sleeves of the “Grad rockets can still be found in the woods.
Electricity came as the only substantial change in the past 20 years. The rest is the same – no gas, andthe local residents burn coal and wood to heat the houses and cook.
There is also no water supply – water is being carried from the small river up the hill on donkeys. “On weekends, when washing is going on, one has to carry water up to three times, and the donkeys get tired and reluctant to go, Ruben told. For their heroic efforts the donkeys are fed delicacy on weekends – oats.
Ruben and Sofia built their house on the empty space. The roof has got shabby and leaks. “The walls are made of mud, and though we whiten them every year they get dark immediately anyway, Sofia told us.
The old rusty bus standing by the gate – nobody knows, how it happened to be there – is being used as a shed.
The house saw four children to come to life, grow up and get married in the light of the candles. The large family with the grandchildren of Sofia and Ruben has been living their daily life, when in April, 2016 the new war has in fact begun. They sent the grandchildren to Charentsavan, and though the things have calmed down, they still live there.
Ruben and Sofia are reluctant to leave. Several years ago one of their sons died in an accident. The small cemetery with only five graves – one of them of their son – is close to their house. “Theyinvite us to Charentsavan, but how can I leave my son?, Sofia says.
The authorities often provide assistance to the village residents constructing houses or repairing roofs, but mostly to those, who live in the downtown, where there is already gas supply. Those living on the outskirts receive much less, like the Oganyans, whose house is about a kilometer away from the downtown.
Ruben considers water more important, than gas. “With water we can always earn some money. We have a cow, pigs and rabbits – we sell meat whenever it is necessary. But I cannot construct a water supply pipeline up to my house.
The words about exile belong to Sofia. “We are free here, makin our choices. But it feels like in exile nevertheless. Freedom is a relative notion – that is why, perhaps.
- The armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan around Nagorny Karabakh took place in 1992-1994. After the ceasefire had been introduced, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has became de-facto independent, not recognized anywhere in the world, including Armenia. Azerbajan considers Karabakh and the neighboring regions, seized during the war, the occupied territories and demands their return.
- According to the UN, over million have become refugees and were forced torelocate on both sides.
- On April 2-5, 2016 thear medclashesa long the line of contact in Karabakh conflict zone have resumed for the first time since 1994, when the truce had been established.
- On April,6the defense ministries in Baku and Stepanakert informed, that an agreement had been reached to resume the truce.
- 31 Azeri servicemen were reported killed (93, according to the Khazar Military Studies Center). 92 servicemen were reported killed on the Armenian side.
- Thesidesprovide contradicting reports, making it impossible to establish who in itiated the conflict. Theinternationalsourcesprovidenoanswertothequestionaswell.
- Since the truce had been established in 1994 the sides have provided numerous reports of the clashes along the line of contact, blaming each other of provocations.
The opinions expressed in the article convey the author’s terminology and views and do not necessarily reflect the position of the editorial staff.