Shushi: Kanach Zham church

St Hovhannes Mkrtich Church of Shushi, also known as Kanach Zham (Green Church) was one of Azerbaijan’s targets even after the war.

On November 15, 2020, Azerbaijani users began to distribute videos from the vicinity of the Kanach Zham church – the destroyed dome of the church was clearly visible even from the emerged footage.

Kanach Zham is part of Shushi’s Armenian Heritage and became an active church only after Artsakh’s Liberation. Being built in 1847, the church had undergone lots of challenges; such as the Shushi Pogroms of 1920, then, in the Soviet Era when the Azerbaijani authorities turned it into a part of a Health resort complex.

It’s important to underline that the church wasn’t damaged during the war, unlike Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, which is located in Shushi as well. After the trilateral agreement of ceasefire was signed, Azerbaijani soldiers actively published footage from within Shushi city and a picture of an Azerbaijani serviceman posing in front of Kanach Zham emerged as well.

As seen in the picture, the dome of the church was not damaged during the war. Therefore, we can claim that the dome of Kanach Zham church was destroyed intentionally, after the ceasefire and active combat actions.

French journalist Emmanuel Grynszpan visited Shushi on December 26, 2020, shared photos of the destroyed church with Karabakh Records on Twitter, where you can see in more detail what damage the Armenian church suffered as a result of the Azerbaijani aggression.

Besides that, satellite imagery proving the destruction of the church is available as well. 

Azerbaijani propaganda machine rages on a campaign aiming at distorting historic facts and realities such as claiming that the cathedral was actually a Russian Orthodox Church. Along with the numerous memorials and documents claiming otherwise, we should also like to include an official apology letter addressed to the Armenian Church written by Russian parliamentarian Alexey Zhuravlev. 

“I must admit that the information previously at my disposal regarding the history of construction and the ownership of the church does not correspond to reality. Your arguments are correct, and the chronicles testify that the church has always belonged to the Armenian Apostolic Church. The only church belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church in Shushi was actually in a completely different location. In this regard, I regret the statements made earlier and would like to apologize”.

Besides that, Azerbaijani authorities have also taken down the dome of Kanach Zham, claiming it to be the original, initial architectural plan. However, even the archival photos prove that the dome was demolished during the Shushi Massacre of 1920, and was restored only after the city’s liberation according to the initial architectural plan. 

Azerbaijan should be held accountable for its crimes against humanity and Armenophobia, which, in this case, is illustrated by the actions of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces towards Armenian Cultural heritage.