Kornidzor is the last village of Armenia. From there, the depopulated city Berdzor of Artsakh can be seen easily. Olya Margaryan almost always looks in that direction: the road leading to Artsakh can be seen from her balcony.

The 52-year-old woman hopes that one day she will return to her home on that road. She will go to Khachen village of Artsakh again and continue to sell candles in St. Stephen’s Church, as she has done for the past 17 years, when there is an opportunity to go to Artsakh and live safely.

September 19, 2023 changed everything. The village of Khachen, like other settlements, appeared under Azerbaijani fire. There were no shots in the direction of the village, but the sounds terrified the residents. “My son was serving in Askeran. When the shooting started, they phoned and called him. There was no gasoline, how would he go, get there? He said, the fight has started, I have to go. He went out, could not find a car, so he came back.

All the women and children of the village left, went to Stepanakert. Everyone left the way they could, even on tractors. But the men stayed. They were given machine guns to protect the village. My husband and son stayed to enter the village, at least to protect it.

We came to Stepanakert. We stayed for a week, but there were explosions in Stepanakert too. We went to the airport; they didn’t do anything there. The Russians said, “Why have you come here?” We went back home. Then they said that everyone should leave. My son and my husband came from the village, we came to Armenia,” says the woman.

Like everyone else, Mrs. Olya, her husband, son, daughter-in-law, newborn grandson arrived in Kornidzor within a few days from Stepanakert. ” Thank God, we made it, but my father’s nephew died in the gas station. The three little children were left without a father. He was a participant in fights. His father was also killed, he was the commander of our village in 1993.”

The family has social problems, only the son has found a job in Kornidzor.

“They want 300,000-400,000 drams for the house rent in Armenia, where will you pay, there is no job?” Now we have come to Kornidzor, we tilled a little land, sowed greens, the village is fine, let’s go to the city, what should we do, you have to work to eat? It is difficult to live with Turks, they are capable of anything, let them set a limit, let’s go live in our homes,” he says.

Karnidzor is near the border, enemy positions are visible from almost everyone’s houses. There are security problems, but where to go, asks Mrs. Olya, Armenia is surrounded by enemies.

“The entire Armenia is under siege. Is there a safe place now? Where should we go, Russia?”

Narek Kirakosyan

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