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Azerbaijan's 'Black January'

It's 25 years since "Black January," what Azerbaijan calls the time when Soviet troops killed more than 200 people in a bloody but doomed attempt to save the Soviet Union. Thousands of people were arrested and local TV transmitters were blown up. But the crackdown only strengthened the local independence movement, and the following year Azerbaijan became a sovereign state.

The Azerbaijani capital, Baku, was defenseless as Soviet forces advanced from all sides, on January 20, 1990.
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The Azerbaijani capital, Baku, was defenseless as Soviet forces advanced from all sides, on January 20, 1990.

The agony of loss. More than 200 people were killed, and 700 injured, as Soviet troops fired into crowds without warning.
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The agony of loss. More than 200 people were killed, and 700 injured, as Soviet troops fired into crowds without warning.

Soviet troops face protestors in the streets of Baku, January 22, 1990.
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Soviet troops face protestors in the streets of Baku, January 22, 1990.

The same day, funerals for the victims were held.
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The same day, funerals for the victims were held.

The funerals were a new focus for protest, attracting huge crowds.
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The funerals were a new focus for protest, attracting huge crowds.

Another scene of mass crowds at a funeral - a statue of Lenin looks on, but the Soviet Union's days are numbered.
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Another scene of mass crowds at a funeral - a statue of Lenin looks on, but the Soviet Union's days are numbered.

Facing the Soviet troops, the independence movement was unarmed.
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Facing the Soviet troops, the independence movement was unarmed.

Another sign that historic changes could not be reversed by violence: people burned their communist party-membership cards.
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Another sign that historic changes could not be reversed by violence: people burned their communist party-membership cards.

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