BBC News Russian has referred to the demographic picture of Mets Tagher village of Hadrut region in its documentary film “Karabakh: An Endless War” dedicated to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.
“The history of Armenian and Azerbaijani towns and villages in Nagorno-Karabakh is closely interwined. We are now in a village that Azerbaijanis call Beyuk Taghlar and Armenians call it Mets Taghlar. In the last 30 years, it was inhabited only by Armenians. During the Soviet years, both nationalities lived here together,” said journalist Olga Ivshina at the entrance of the half-ruined Holy Savior Church of Mets Tagher village.
After the release of the video, Facebook user Samvel Meliksetyan drew attention to the fact that the journalist’s claims regarding the demographic picture of Mets Tagher are false.
The Fact Investigation Platform has come up with statistical data about the village by examining some historical documents.
Mets Tagher has only had an Armenian population in the recent centuries
Thus, according to the statistical data of the Russian Empire, in 1886, 2,996 people lived in the village (exclusively Armenians). In 1897, 2849 Armenians lived in the village, residents of other nationalities are not mentioned. Already in 1933, according to the official statistical sources of Soviet Azerbaijan, the population of Mets Tagher was 2852 people, again exclusively Armenians. According to the Encyclopedia of Soviet Azerbaijan, 1695 people lived in the village in 1981, but it is not specified what nationality they belonged to. It is believed that although the number of the population declined sharply, there was no significant change in the national composition; otherwise at least Armenian sources would have mentioned it. By the way, the name of the village is mentioned in the Azerbaijani encyclopedia as “Mets Taghlar”, not “Beyuk Taghlar”, as the journalist notes.
Mayor of Mets Tagher village Andrey Altunyan told FIP.am that during the Soviet years, only Armenians lived in the village. According to him, for a short time the village pharmacy worker was of Azerbaijani nationality, but later he left the village.
Azerbaijani armed forces occupied Mets Tagher in October 2020. The entire Armenian population of the village was displaced.
Therefore, the journalist’s claim that both Azerbaijanis and Armenians lived in Mets Tagher is false.
In general, the overwhelming majority of the population of Hadrut region were Armenians. According to the census conducted by the USSR in 1939, 27128 people lived in the region, of which 25975 were Armenians and 727 were Azerbaijanis. In 1979, 14792 people lived in Hadrut, of which 12489 were Armenians and 2239 were Azerbaijanis. During the Soviet years, according to the last census (1989), 189 thousand people lived in the former Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region, of which 145 thousand were Armenians and 40 thousand were Azerbaijanis.
It is noteworthy that, with the exception of a few towns and villages, the Armenian and Azerbaijani residents of Nagorno Karabakh lived in separate towns and villages; there were almost no communities with a mixed population.
Armenians have lived in Mets Tagher for ages
In another publication on the Karabakh conflict, the BBC writes that Armenians lived in Mets Tagher for a hundred years.
Telling about the trip to Hadrut, the journalist wrote: “The new road section cuts through the center of Beyuk Taghlar village (Mets Tagher in Armenian). This road did not exist two years ago, when the Armenians, who lived here in the last 100 years, left the village, fleeing the war.”
There are no accurate scientific sources as to when Mets Tagher village was founded.
As we mentioned above, there has been official statistical data about the Armenians living in the village since the end of the 19th century. In addition, the journalist herself states that “dozens of meters from the road is the Holy Savior Church, which was founded in 1846″, from which it can be concluded that the journalist has reduced the presence of the Armenian population in Mets Tagher at least by a century.
The destruction of the historical and cultural heritage of Mets Tagher after the 44-day war
After Mets Tagher came under the control of Azerbaijan, many monuments of the village were vandalized and destroyed.
Caucasus Heritage Watch discovered that between April and July 2021, Azerbaijanis destroyed the bridge of the village for road construction works.
The village cemetery, which was established at the beginning of the 19th century, was also destroyed.
Monument Watch reported that the Holy Savior Church was vandalized: the entrance doors were broken, the inside of the church was littered, they tried to scratch and damage the inscription at the entrance of the church. The information possessed by the organization is also confirmed in the BBC report.