Three weeks, which is not to forget

December 7 marked 30 years since the catastrophic earthquake in Armenia. A series of aftershocks in 30 seconds almost destroyed the city of Spitak and Leninakan was destroyed Kirovakan. Thousands of people around the world came to help the victims. Someone those 30 years, kept the memories of what happened, not talking about how it was, even his family.

7. 12. 1988

Why I didn’t tell anyone about it, except the children, thirty years. Exactly thirty years ago, being quite a grown 27 year old man, I saw and felt every cell of his body, that very few people get to see this really, really, not in the movie.
Heard on the radio the 7th of December in Armenia’s devastating earthquake of victims and destructions, of course, I immediately began to call her parents in Yerevan. It is clear that I was much alarmed, of course, I was worried about mom and dad.

By and large, the earthquake in Armenia to surprise anyone. They are, especially in Leninakan, quite a lot and often. I remember as a child, but I had four years of their preschool life to live in Leninakan, when I started to shake, parents were taught to stand in doorways. I must admit, I was quite this strange magic doors, but I’m as fascinated and even delighted. I always thought it was an interesting adventure, but to understand why, if falls off the ceiling and floor, you can escape standing in the doorway, it was difficult. But I firmly believe in this mystical force of the door opening.
So, to get through to parents was not immediately apparent, but they immediately reassured me that they were all right, said something strange is happening in Leninakan, which, they say, just wiped off the face of the earth.
As it is wiped off the face of the earth? As it is impossible to get through? How people go there and not leave, but stayed to look for her? On the street, hell, the end of the twentieth century, how can anyone not understand what happened?
And in the afternoon on the radio began to talk about the formation of voluntary rescue teams, collecting humanitarian assistance, etc.

At the time I worked in the consular Department of the Ministry of foreign Affairs of the USSR. Our task was to protect peace in the world. Our business was quite a sensitive and strict discipline was required. So I knew of any volunteers and unscheduled absences from the workplace speech can not be, by definition, while the Motherland will not order. The people we are bonded.
Despite very uncharacteristic for everyday life behavior of the media, still had the confidence that our mighty state will take care of, all fed, all warm.
Usually I never left work before seven to eight hours. First, always work – there were a lot and secondly, I didn’t want to push in rush hour in the subway.
That day, December 7, 1988, somewhere near seven o’clock in the evening in our room came in very Secretary of the head of the Department and hurriedly announced that the chief came back from the meeting with the Minister and, for some reason, the first time in his and my life, caused me personally to himself. Urgent.

I go.
– Armenian you know?
– Mmm, Yes. You can say it.
Okay. Get ready.
Silent. Wait. Begin to guess.
Tomorrow morning you and Victor Kapran from another Department was sent to the disaster area.

In the disaster area?? As favorite, Sunny, tasty Armenia to call it a disaster area?
– You will be the operational headquarters for the organization of rescue operations to provide the foreign Ministry. There flew from all over the world rescuers, doctors and various other professionals. Crazy fly without visas, without documents. It is necessary to establish together with the normal border entry of foreign citizens, preparation of documents, accounting and control. On all matters report to its head of Department, if something serious – directly to me if something is urgent, the Secretariat of the Minister, but it is better through me.
Not really clear what they mean, but face it.


Already when boarding the plane it became clear that this is no ordinary flight. As in the bus during rush hour a large number of people flying standing in the aisles. In the area of the toilet, several men perched a huge box that blocked the passage to the booths. For inquiries not very pleased passengers said, “Artificial kidney carry”. And everyone knew that now it is much more important than conventional passenger comfort, maybe this is something for which generally the whole flight. To wait a couple of hours before landing, no problem.

Reached, we immediately went to the guards. We were waiting for.

Well, then began three weeks of my life filled with so many incredible events and stories that are impossible to forget and to let go with one hand, but also to tell for thirty years did not want anyone except the relatives.

This street in the city of Spitak is lined on two sides by bodies. An infinitely long street. Did so in order that relatives found her. Were the bodies on the ground. Graves was not enough. This picture is still from time to time comes back to me in a dream.

This pale from the shock of Phil Donahue, the famous and mega popular then the American presenter experienced in different parts of the globe. And his incredible professionalism in the preparation and writing of the report for the channel that the whole world is watching.

And the panic that occurred at the headquarters when I got the Israeli side full of rescuers and rescue equipment. The fact that the Soviet Union did not have diplomatic relations with Israel, and it meant that Israeli citizens were not allowed to visit the Soviet Union and visas to them, we could not give. Therefore, any panic from the guards, who immediately moved the arrow to the Ministry of foreign Affairs will Issue them visas – let. Without a visa will not miss. Obviously all as in a bad movie: the time of the evening, the connection is working bad, to reach Moscow does not work. Teletype communication (well, there was such) also failed. Communication problems in the background disturbed the children of Israel in the plane that they came to save that important every minute, and marinate them with no explanation. In short, all the arrows somehow gently transferred to us with Victor. We went to the plane. Together with the guards handed forms of visas for the rescuers to not to waste time on filling alone, as required by manual, stood at the ramp and just slapped mid-ovsky the State seal, and signed, aware that it is possible to lose absolutely everything. Matter specifically within the jurisdiction. When you are finished, tellipalai in the centre about the incident and began to wait. In the morning the first call from the native Department: are You crazy? What do you mean can’t get through? Don’t know what will happen to you.

. Us to his Jogging called the head of the airport, so we saw the news on TV that a common problem opens the gates to all people of good will on the planet, coming to us from all ends of the earth and even from a country which for many decades we have had no contact. And show our Israelis whose faces we remember. Only then from the heart a little relieved. Well, at least time will not give. A little later another call from his office from the boss: “well Done, that clearly fulfilled all my instructions. Continue to keep watch, just in his voice for the first time flashed warmth, is no Amateur.”

Then the thought: for the first seven days, managed to sleep exactly 14 hours, with a maximum duration of one session or thirty minutes.
Three weeks of stay at the airport in Yerevan to parents managed to get only twice, although the roads there are only twenty minutes

And how to forget the historical footage, which was seen live and not on TV: tears of the head of government of a great state, speaking, as it seemed to me, from his helplessness.

A call from dispatchers. Flew two Yugoslav side, one already very near the port disappeared from the radar. Don’t understand where it went.
The head of our guards, Colonel Cherkasov calls frontier. Several confirmed that cotton was like an explosion. Get the coordinate. Take a Yugoslav Consul, who arrived to meet his. One plane was flying the rescue, in the other the crew and equipment. One in seven people in the other two hundred.

– Lord, make it so that the plane with rescuers flew, – wailing all the way Consul.
Reached the specified coordinates. I’m never ready to attend the scene of the crash.
Fortunately, the plane crashed with the equipment. And at this point, now is Stella, dedicated to the Yugoslav crew.

And the story of the boy who brought my from Leninakan. Brought his father, who lost in the earthquake, his wife, son and daughter. Only the youngest survived. But he badly damaged under the rubble of the legs and if in the next hours for him to do the surgery, we will lose him. But the fact that this surgery, said doctors around the world can only be done by Professor X in Munich and no one else. There are only a few hours.
Thank God, this time the connection worked. Contacted the clinic. The Professor himself took the call, knowing that the call from Armenia, “Take. I will cancel all operations”.
How to get to Munich? Question the control room of the airport for Anyone ready to fly? Yes cargo Board somewhere in Sochi.
Out on the tarmac to the aircraft Commander, it is urgent to take the injured child to Munich!
– Tooooo???? Of course! But we need the corridor and there is someone to meet and bosses. Fuel is only barely enough to get there.
– Manager, there is a corridor?
– Load the child from the father, hallway take.
Call colleagues in the consular section in Germany: Meet?
– We meet and everything that needs to be done.

Only next summer I suddenly happened to see in the newsagent passing by on the first page of the Moscow News huge portrait of the boy, only this time with a smile on her face. Take the newspaper and read a story that they managed to the Professor, who spent many hours of difficult surgery and has saved the life of this child!
By reading this article, I truly felt happy. The efforts and desire of many people to save this child, saved his life, left the meaning of life after such a tragedy his father and instilled confidence that life still wins.


Let us only on the 31st of December. In the first and hopefully last time I flew to Moscow cargo overboard. From Moscow I had to fly to Tashkent, where he went wife-old son. Only because of the ultimatum guards with guns at the ready, the captain took me on Board. Like in a bad movie 23-45, fifteen minutes before the New Year, I rang the doorbell of the apartment where unsuspectingly preparing for the fight chimes of my closest and favorite. What a joy to see her, to hug them and understand, what we are happy people. And swear to myself that never and nothing can keep us apart.

A few years, arriving in Yerevan to parents, I’m in front of astonished fellow-travellers at passport control started to cuddle with strict guards, which then another thirty minutes chatting, reminiscing and discussing the day of the earthquake. Times that have not just left a mark for life, but also changed everyone who was there three weeks, which is not to forget.

Moscow, 07. 12. 2018



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