Shusha Liberation Day in Armenia Date in the current year: May 9, 2024

Shusha Liberation Day in Armenia Shusha Liberation Day is celebrated in Armenia on May 9, coinciding with Victory and Peace Day. It commemorates the Battle of Shusha, which was Armenia’s first significant military victory during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War.

The First Nagorno-Karabkh War between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenians of the Karabakh region backed by Armenia broke out in February 1988, shortly before the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Full-scale fighting erupted after the dissolution of the USSR and the proclamation of independence of the Republic of Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh, in December 1991.

The city of Shusha, also known as Shushi, was the most important Azerbaijani stronghold in Karabakh because of its location on a mountaintop overlooking Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijani troops stationed in Shusha constantly shelled Stepanakert for months, killing and injuring thousands of civilians.

Armenian forces set out to capture Shusha on May 8, 1992. Despite being outnumbered, Armenian troops forced Azerbaijani defenders of Shusha to retreat by the evening of May 8. By May 9, Armenians were firmly in control of the town. Thus, the Battle of Shusha only lasted for two days.

The capture of Shusha, referred in Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh as the liberation of Shusha, was Armenia’s first significant military victory in the First Nagorno-Karabakh War. It helped put an end to the siege of Stepanakert and marked a turning point in the war.

After their triumph in Shusha, Armenian forces had a series of victories and even captured Azerbaijani-majority districts outside Nagorno-Karabakh. Two years after the Battle of Shusha, the representatives of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan signed a Russian-brokered ceasefire, and the Republic of Artsakh remained de facto independent, although internationally unrecognized.

The anniversary of the first day of the Battle of Shusha is observed in Armenia as Yerkrapah Day. Members of the Yerkrapah Volunteer Union, many of whom are veterans of the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, celebrate it a their professional holiday.

The anniversary of the second day of the battle coincides with Victory Day (named Victory and Peace Day in Armenia), celebrated in most of the former Soviet states to commemorate surrender of Nazi Germany in World War II. On May 9, Armenians commemorate both the end of hostilities on the Eastern Front of World War II and the Liberation of Shusha in the First Nagorno-Karabakh War. In addition, the Artsakh Defense Army of the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh celebrates the day as its founding anniversary.

Shusha Liberation Day and Victory and Peace Day in Armenia are marked by wreath laying ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Victory Park and the Yerablur Military Pantheon in Yerevan, public speeches, and other events and activities. A number of events, including a military parade, are held in the Republic of Artsakh.

In 2020, Shusha was captured by Azerbaijan in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War. Since then, there have been debates in Armenian society regarding the continued celebration of the holiday.

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Shusha Liberation Day in Armenia, holidays in Armenia, public holidays, Battle of Shusha, First Nagorno-Karabakh War