President Mikhail Gorbachev has halted plans to deport Armenians from violence-torn areas of Azerbaijan and ordered helicopters to evacuate the wounded, Armenia's president said Saturday.
Tens of thousands of Armenians, meanwhile, jammed Independence Square in Armenia's capital of Yerevan to mourn the latest victims of the ethnic violence. Soviet television showed two coffins hoisted shoulder-high amid the huge crowd.At a Moscow news conference, Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosian said he won the concessions from Gorbachev in a 90-minute meeting in the Kremlin on Friday. The meeting followed fighting this week that cost 36 lives.
Gorbachev also met separately with Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov to try to quell the latest bloodshed between the southern republics. Neither Mutalibov nor Gorbachev commented on the session.
Ter-Petrosian angrily accused the Soviet leadership of waging "state terrorism" against his tiny republic.
He said he had complained to Gorbachev that mass deportations of Armenians from Azerbaijan would represent an escalation in the conflict. After the meeting, he received a phone call from KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov, who told him "the question of deportations has been taken off the agenda," he said.
Ter-Petrosian said 36 civilians were killed and scores wounded when Soviet and Azerbaijani troops attacked the villages of Getashen and Martunashen on Monday. The villages are inside Azerbaijan, but most of their 2,760 residents are ethnic Armenians.
An Armenian lawmaker charged Thursday that people injured in the fighting were dying because Soviet troops were preventing doctors from treating them. Ter-Petrosian said he raised the issue with Gorbachev, who agreed to allow helicopters to evacuate the injured.