Hackers attack Gorbachev's Web site

Mikhail Gorbachev is shown Sept., 1999, in a hotel in Muenster, northern Germany.Martin Meissner / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Hackers attacked the Web site of a foundation run by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, accusing him of brutally suppressing a pro-independence demonstration in Soviet Azerbaijan in 1990.

The perpetrators posted photographs of the suppressed rally on the Web site and published an open letter to the former leader, blaming him for the deaths of more 130 people — a tragedy known in Azerbaijan as the Black January.

The site was down by Saturday afternoon.

Fueled by the conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region inside Azerbaijan populated mostly by ethnic Armenians, pogroms broke out against Armenians in Azerbaijan's capital Baku in January 1990, forcing Soviet troops to intervene and evacuate many Armenians.

Thousands rallied in Baku demanding the ouster of communist officials and independence from the Soviet Union, causing Soviet troops to storm the capital late at night on Jan. 19, 1990.

Shootings and violent clashes lasted several days, leaving 134 people dead and more than 770 wounded. International rights groups said the force used against the demonstrators was excessive and disproportionate.

Azerbaijan gained independence in 1991 after the Soviet collapse.

No one from Gorbachev's foundation was immediately available for comment. It was unclear if the site's owners took it down after learning of the hack, or if it was taken down by hackers.

Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, Gorbachev maintains an active public life running the Gorbachev Foundation _ an organization that deals with international issues including globalization, security, weapons of mass destruction, environmental and natural resources and poverty.