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Azerbaijan's first female martyred journalist: Salatin Asgarova

11 January 2022 [17:38] - TODAY.AZ

By Azernews

By Sabina Mammadli

Thirty-one years have passed since the tragic death of Salatin Asgarova, Azerbaijan’s first female journalist martyred in Karabakh. The journalist, famous for her bravery, dedication, passion for her art, and patriotism, was 29 years old. 


Salatin Asgarova was born on December 16, 1961, in Baku in an intellectual family. In 1979, she graduated with honors from Baku secondary school No 18. In the same year, she entered the Azerbaijan Institute of Petroleum and Chemistry. Having an engineering degree, her passion for literature led her to the world of journalism. She first tried herself as a freelance reporter.  In 1984, she started working in the Baku newspaper, and four years later she joined the Youth of Azerbaijan newspaper as a special correspondent.

Journalistic mission in Karabakh

Prior to the beginning of the first Karabakh war in the early 1990s, Salatin was writing about mundane issues of society. However, after the war broke out, she frequently visited the front line and provided press coverage from hot spots. Her articles were full of sincerity, compassion, and objectivity, thanks to which she earned the respect of colleagues and her readers.

Sparing no effort and health, she held meetings with local residents, collected information, prepared articles in a touching hope to somehow try to stop the Armenian chaos.

A woman in a male-dominated editorial office, a mother, with a young child at home, you would think she would be the last one to go, but Salatin was always the one to volunteer to go to the front line. The editorial staff of the newspaper was very worried about Salatin and every time, upon her return to Baku, they tried and failed to persuade her to no longer travel to dangerous regions, which were slowly but inevitably becoming front-line territory. To which she always responded the same way: "If not me, then who?"

Those were extremely challenging times. It wasn’t the first case of an organized armed ambush by Armenians; however, it was the first case of murder of an on-duty journalist in Nagorno-Karabakh.

On the morning of January 9, 1991, the journalist was on her way to Shusha with a journalistic duty for the newspaper. She shared a military vehicle with soldiers of the border unit - Russian Lt-Col Larionov, Maj Ivanov, Sgt Goyek. Oleg Larionov, originally from Taishet, Siberia, commanded the battalion for more than five years. A reward of R10,000 was promised for Larionov's head.

At the sixth kilometer of the Lachin-Shusha highway, next to the village of Boyuk Galadarasi, the vehicle in which they were traveling was shot upon by Armenian militants firing from at almost point-blank range with machine guns and sniper rifles. The investigators counted 113 bullet holes in the vehicle: such was the intensity of the enemy fire. As a result of the attack, Asgarova and two others died on the spot. The wounded battalion commander Larionov managed to jump out of the vehicle that had lost control and took up the defence: only ten cartridges remained. He was killed shortly after.

National hero

Under a presidential decree dated November 6, 1992, Asgarova was posthumously awarded the title of the National Hero of Azerbaijan for the journalistic courage she had displayed. Salatin was buried in the Martyrs' Alley in Baku.

After his death, he was awarded the title of laureate of the International Confederation of Journalists.

A street in Baku and a village in Karabakh are named in her honor.

The attackers - Arno Mkrtchian, Hrachik Petrossian, Mongasagian, and Garik Arustamian - were identified and arrested. They were later released and handed over to Armenia on May 8, 1996.

Asgarova's son was the whole world to her, and even though she dedicated so much time to her work, she was always a good mother to her son, Jeyhun, who became a journalist in name of his mother.

“For some, she is a National Hero, for others, she is a talented journalist, but for me, she was primarily a mother. When I grew up, I realized that she is one of the journalists who are at the top that is difficult to conquer. Not every journalist has the willpower to do what my mother did. She loved her homeland very much and was ready for anything for it,” he said.


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