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Acharyan Hrachya Hakob (1876-1953) was an Armenian linguist, dialectologist and philologist. Acharyan was arrested on September 29, 1937 on charges of being “British resident, a Turkish spy and a member of counter-revolutionary group of university professors”. The investigation lasted for a year and a half and he was sentenced to six years in prison. Acharyan was set free upon mediation of the first deputy of Armenian NKVD Suren Tovmasyan (the future First Secretary of the CP(b)A Central Committee) for the lack of Corpus Delicti.

Akinyan Nersess (Gabriel) Hakob (1883-1963) was an Armenian historian, philologist, expert on manuscripts and a member of Mkhitarian Congregation in Vienna.

Alazan Vahram (Vahram Martiros Gabuzyan) (1903-1966) an Armenian poet, novelist, literary-public figure, member of the USSR Writers’ Union since 1934. “Alazan” is his pen name. He was born in the town of Van, in Western Armenia. After the Genocide, his family sought refuge in Eastern Armenia, Yerevan. Alazan was arrested with a number of other writers on August 9, 1936. They were labeled “counter-revolutionary Trotskyist bastards” and expelled from the Writers’ Union shortly after the official announcement of Khanjian’s suicide. He returned upon the acquittal of 1954 but got paralyzed and confined to bed for 10 years (1956-1966) until his death. His book “On the Roads of Anguish”, published after his death, in 1990, describes the sufferings endured by the author during the Stalinist repressions.

Alexander Sergeyevich Griboyedov (1795-1829) was a Russian writer and diplomat. He is considered one of the first Russian writers to have established contacts with Armenia and Armenians. In the midsts of General Paskevich’s army Griboyedov participated in the conquest of Yerevan and Nakhijevan from Persia. In 1822 he was the secretary of the diplomatic corpus of the Russian troops stationed in the Caucasus.

In 1828 he was personally involved in preparation of Turkmenchay Treaty and was the one to put forward Article 15 of the agreement, which provisioned that Persian Armenians were to be allowed to move to the territory of Eastern Armenia. Griboyedov was killed on February 12, 1829 at the Russian Embassy in Tehran.

Anastas Hovhannes (Ivan) Mikoyan (1895-1978) was a Bolshevik revolutionary, Soviet politician. He was born in Sanahin village of Lori marz (region), studied at Gevorgyan seminary in Etchmiadzin. In 1917 he was actively engaged in the process of establishing Bolshevik authority in Baku. In 1918 he was a member of the Baku Commune led by Stepan Shahumyan. In March 1918 Mikoyan worked for suppression of Caucasian Turks (Tatars) uprising by the Bolsheviks. After the British took power in Baku and arrested the Commune members, Mikoyan made a successful escape. On September 15, 1918 when the Ottoman Turkish regular army and Musavat Caucasian Turkish (Tatar) troops occupied Baku, he was able to release the imprisoned 26 Commissars and escape onboard a prearranged ship. Mikoyan somehow managed to survive the execution of 26 Baku Commissars and returned to Baku where he pursued underground Bolshevik activity. In 1923 he moved to Mosow and served as a member of Central Committee of Russian Communist Party. In 1926 was a candidate member of Politburo and served as People’s Commissar of Commerce – the youngest among the People’s Commissars. In 1930 he was appointed People’s Commissar for Supplies and in 1934 – People’s Commissar of Food Industry. Mikoyan succeeded in importing new industrial technologies, including those of American production. In 1935 he became a Politburo member, in 1937 – deputy chairman of USSR People’s Commissars Council. Between 1938-1949 he served as People’s Commissar of Foreign Trade, and in 1957-1964 he became first deputy chairman of USSR Council of Ministers. During the political repressions Mikoyan did not really manifest initiative, albeit neither did he oppose the set agenda. Mikoyan took part in the campaign against the ”cult of personality” taken up by Khrushchev and safely navigated through the political rearrangement following Stalin’s death. Mikoyan’s sophisticated diplomacy as vice chairman of USSR Council of Ministers (1957-1964) boosted Soviet Union’s international reputation: he played a key role in the peaceful resolution of Caribbean crisis persuading Fidel Castro to accept the situation at hand. In 1964-65 he was the chairman of the Presidium of USSR Supreme Soviet and although he resigned on his 70th anniversary, he remained a member of USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet until 1974, and until 1976 – member of the Central Committee of the CPSU.

Armen Mkrtich (Mkrtich Grigor Harutyunyan), (1906-1972) was an Armenian novelist. At his early age a Bolshevik propagandist, a member of USSR Writers’ Union since 1934. In 1937, Mkrtich was arrested as “an enemy of the people” and exiled for eight years. His collection of short stories “Bidden to Pass it Over ” was created in exile (published in Yerevan in 1964 and reprinted in 2006).

Atarbekyan Gevorg Alexander (1892-1925) was a Bolshevik revolutionary and Soviet statesman, deputy people’s commissar of Worker-Peasant Inspection in Transcaucasus. He died in 1925 plane crash in Tbilisi, which also took the life of A. Myasnikyan. The cause of the crash has been a subject of controversy and some are inclined to think that it was not an accitent.

Bakunts Aksel (Alexander Stepan Tevosyan) (1899-1937) was an Armenian novelist, member of USSR Writers’ Union since 1934. His pen name “Bakunts” is derived from the writer’s paternal family name “Begunts”. Bakunts was arrested in 1936, shortly after the notorious “July 14” assembly of the Writers’ Union of Armenia declared him and a number of other prominent writers (G. Vanandetsi, V. Totovents, G. Mahari, Dr. Ter-Simonyan and V. Norents) “counter-revolutionary Trotskyist bastards” and expelled them from the Union. He was executed on July 18, 1937.

Charents Yeghishe (Yeghishe Abgar Soghomonyan) (1897-1937) was an Armenian poet, a statesman and public figure born in Kars. Charents began to write poetry at an early age. In 1908-12, he studied at Kars realschule (six-year secondary school). During the Armenian Genocide the seventeen-year old teenager joined the first Armenian volunteer troops and participated in Sulduz Battle of December 25, 1915. He put his impressions of war to paper in a lengthy poem “Dantean Legend”. In mid 1916 Charents left the army and moved to pre-revolutionary Moscow, whcih was boiling with political and party passions but also with literary life. In the aftermath of 1917 October Revolution he returned to the newly established Republic of Armenia full of confidence towards Bolshevik ideology of building a fair society. His poems “Soma” and “Mobs Demented” were composed in this very period, however, after assassination of Khanjian and recurring arrests of writers, Charents was put under house arrest in September 1936 and his books were banned from libraries and bookstores. At the same time NKVD issued a directive to burn 11 portraits of the “enemies of the people” created by Saryan. The twelfth – portrait of Charents was not found: today it is one of the most famous portraits of the poet. On March 1, 1937 USSR “Glavlit” in its “confidential” report informed the chief ideologist of CC Zhdanov that poem “Message” by Armenian poet Yeghishe Charents published in his “Book for the Road” collection in 1933 contained a crypted nationalistic message: the second letters of each line read: ”Oh, Armenian people, your only salvation is in your collective power!” Charents was arrested on July 27. It is believed that he died on November 27, 1937 in Yerevan prison hospital unable to withstand the inflicted tortures.

Davit Bek (date of birth – unknown, died in 1728) was a general in the service of Georgian king Vakhtang VI. At the request of Armenians of Syunik David Bek travelled to Kapan at the end of 1722 and assumed the leadership of national liberation struggle waged in 1722-1728 against the Persian khans and Ottoman Turkish army. David Bek established an Armenian Princedom in Syunik, with a capital in Halidzor Fortress. In 1727 the Persian Shah Tahmaz recognized David Bek’s authority in Syunik. Davit Bek died unexpectedly (presumably he was poisoned) in the spring of 1728, during the Turkish invasion of Syunik and Karabakh.

Dro (Drastamat Martiros Kanayan) (1884-1956) was a general of the first Republic of Armenia, a prominent figure of the national liberation movement. In 1905-1906, during the Armenian-Tartar clashes, he took part in self-defence battles in Nakhijevan, Karabakh, Zangezur, etc. In 1919-1920, during the renewed Armenian-Tartar tensions he fought alongside Nzhdeh in battles for Karabakh and Zangezur. After Bolshevik takeover Dro left Armenia. During the Second World War he cooperated with Nazi Germany with aspirations for future independence of Armenia. For this purpose, he formed the “Armenian 812 Battalion” which was later reinforced by Armenian war-prisoners.

Isahakyan Avetik (1875 – 1957) was an Armenian poet, novelist and academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia. Isahakyan studied in Gevorgyan Seminary in Etchmiadzin and was an auditor at the University of Leipzig. In his youth he was affiliated with ARF, got arrested three times. After the sovietization of Armenia, he remained abroad but did not hide his pro-Soviet sentiments. In 1936 he finally returned to homeland. In 1946 he received a USSR State Prize. Isahakyan was the President of the Writers’ Union of Armenia between 1946-57.

Kaganovich Lazar Moiseyevich (1875-1946) was a Soviet polititian and administrator, Stalin’s close associate and one of the organizers of the October Revolution. Kaganovich was a Commissar of the Red Army propaganda department. In 1925 he was assigned General Secretary of the Central Committee of Ukrainian Communist Party and was known as Stalin’s “man”. He pursued the policy of “struggle against bourgeois nationalism” and personally defined and assessed the standards, manifestations and the character of “Ukrainian nationalism”. The bulk of Ukrainian party members were dissatisfied and unhappy with Kaganovich and often complained to Stalin about him. In 1928 Stalin seconded him back to Moscow, just in time, for Kaganovich to assume leadership of kolkhoz movement. In 1933-34 he was involved in party purges. As Stalin’s special proxy Kaganovich participated in the special inspections of the lists of the repressed ordered by the CC. A signature under the “lists” meant an accusatory conclusion. These lists became known as “Stalin’s lists of executions”. In 1957 Kaganovich was declared a member of “Molotov-Kaganovich-Malenkov” anti-Communist group and dismissed him from all offices. He peacefully lived his life for another 34 years.

Kalinin Mikhail Ivanovich (1893-1991) was a revolutionary, soviet statesman. After the establishment of Bolsheviks’ power he held key political offices. In 1932 Kalinin signed the “Law of Spikelets” which caused the deaths of numerous innocent people throughout Soviet Union (some accounts presented herein tell the stories of the narrators’ parents or grandparents who were convivted over this legislation).

In 1938 Kalinin was the Chairmen of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of USSR. The same year his wife Ekaterina Lorberg was arrested. She was released in 1945, a year before her husband’s death.

Khanjyan Aghasi (1901-1936) was born in Western Armenia, in the city of Van. His family resettled in Eastern Armenia after the successful self-defense of Van and subsequent retreat of Russian troops. In Soviet Armenia he became an active party member and politician. In 1928-1930 he was appointed Second Secretary of the Central Committee of Armenia, he substituted the editor of “Soviet Armenia” newspaper for a short while and in 1930-1936 he took over as the First Secretary of ASSR Communist Party CC. His years in office – 1930-1936 were the years of political repressions in Armenia. At the time Armenia was still a part of the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic led by Beria (the Federation was dissolved on December 5, 1936). Khanjian allegedly committed suicide (propably killed) in Beria’s Tbilisi office in 1936. Armenian NKVD sought to prevent the unfolding rumors about the murder: the suspitious minds were accused of proliferating false information and slandering Beria. The number of the arrests rapidly increased to eight hundred. Shortly after Khanjian’s funeral on July 14, the council of Writers’ Union of Armenia brought heavy political accusations against writers who supported Khanjian – Vanandetsi, Totovents, G. Mahari, A. Bakunts, Dr. Ter-Simonyan and V. Norents. They were called “anti-revolutionary trotskyist-nationalist bastards” and expelled from Writers’ Union. A month later, in August, these writers were arreted.

Khrushchev Nikita Sergeyevich (1894-1971) was a Soviet statesman, first secretary of CPSU Central Committee in 1953-1964, Chairman of the USSR Ministers’ Council, Hero of USSR, three times Hero of Socialist Labor. He was the first politician to have publicly spoken about political repressions. After Stalin’s death in 1953 he was elected First Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee. At the 20th Congress of the CPSU he came up with an extensive report about the “cult of personality” and mass repressions. Under Khrushchev the momentum of repressions signicantly reduced and numerous prisoners and deportees were set free. Trials over the perpetrators of the repressions were held. The ideological censorship decreased, the peasants recieved certain rights and freedoms, the right to private property and the right to freedom of movement was slightly enhanced. However, the considerable part of the regime’s punitive functions was preserved. The State Security strengthened its spying methods and maintained a state of fearfulness. The shooting of the Novocherkassk workers took place under Khrushchev.

Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria (1899-1953) was a Soviet politician and statesman, Marshal of Soviet Union, Hero of Socialist Labor. Beria was instrumental in orchastrating Stalinist repressions. Between 1927-1930 he served as the People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs of Georgia. In 1931 Beria took over as the First Secretary of CP Central Committee of Georgia and in 1932 he simultaneously assumed the office of the First Secretary of Transcaucasian Regional Committee. Beria was also a Member of the CP Central Commitees of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Together with G. Malenkov and A. Mikoyan Beria was comissioned from Moscow in 1937 to oversee the purges of the party establishment in Armenia. On August 22, 1938 he was appointed First Deputy of Yezhov in NKVD. Later the same year he was promoted to head of NKVD GUGB (main directorate of state security). Beria’s political and administrative promotion continued up to Stalin’s death. In 1952, he was a member of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPSU i.e. one of the five people who determined the internal and external policies of USSR. Beria was removed from all public offices and arrested in July 1953. He was executed on December 23, 1953 upon the ruling of a special tribunal.

Lenin Vladimir (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov) (1870-1924) was a revolutionary, the founder of Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ (Bolshevik) Party, one of the masterminds of the October Revolution in 1917, president of the RSFSR People’s Commissars Council and the creator of the first communist state in the world. We shall herein particularize on certain actualities of Lenin’s governing period which considerably affected the Armenian people later, in the period of Soviet political repressions. In 1918-1920 as the first independent Republic of Armenia was overwhelmed by thousands of Genocide survivor refugees and had to fend off the recurring attacks of the Turkish regular army (that made its way into South Caucasus and especially Eastern Armenia following Brest-Litovsk Treaty signed by Lenin) and save Armenian citizens from a double massacre at the hands of the Turks, Lenin was negotiating with Mustafa Kemal who had established actual power in the territories of the Ottoman Empire free of the Entente control and exerted every effort to reunite the shards of the Ottoman Empire defeated in the First World War. At the time the perpetrators and organizers of the Armenian Genocide were actively lobbying Moscow to convince Lenin to support Mustafa Kemal. In exchange for that they promised Lenin to build socialism in Turkey. Apparently Lenin got overly enthusiastic over the idea of socialism in Muslim East and gave little regard to the cost the undertaking. Mustafa Kemal, on the other hand, set a high price for the realization of that idea – a substanitial ammounts of ammunition, finances, a common border with the Caucasian Turks (Tatars), as well as an opportunity to solve the Armenian question as best suited to his ends. To ensure that the ideological side of the Armenian question’s solution would meet Kemal’s anticipation Lenin instructed Armenian Bolshevik A. Mikoyan to prepare a report on the future of massacred Turkish Armenians and Turkish Armenia. The report referred to the plans of Armenians to restore the statehood in Western Armenia as “imperialist-colonial”, “invasive” and even “chauvinistic”, substantiated by the fact that most of the Armenians living on those territories were killed in massacres and the return of the survivors would endanger the Muslim population living there. Mikoyan claimed that “the idea of a united and independent Armenia is a harmful, criminal and reactionary chimera against which our party has to fight.” While Mikoyan was working on the program for protecttion of the Muslims of Western Armenia from the “imperialist-colonial”, “aggressive” and “chauvinistic” Armenian state, on November 29, 1919 Azerbaijan and Kemal signed a treaty in Konstantinople which provisioned that: 1) The parties will support each other in maintenance of territorial integrity of both Turkey and Azerbaijan. 2) Azerbaijan will not pursue any alliance or sign any treaty without Turkey’s consent. 3) Turkish army officers will train Azerbaijani army. At the same time the process of unification of Azerbaijan and Turkey was elaborated. (Simonyan Hr., in the mentioned work, P 318) To that end the sides agreed on establishment of Greater Azerbaijan (South West Azerbaijan at the expense of a part of Yerevan governorate, Akhaltsikhe and Akhalkalaki regions of Tiflis governorate and Adjaria, as well as the unification of Terek, Dagestan, Karabakh, Persian Gharadagh and Tabriz). It is highly unlikely that Lenin was unaware of these schemes: in April these plans were openly discussed in Azerbaijan. On April 26, 1920 Mustafa Kemal, on behalf of the newly formed government made an official request of assistance to the Soviet government, in return pledging to “combine our work and military actions with the Russian Bolsheviks in the struggle against the imperialist governments and the liberation of all the oppressed”. Two days later, on April 28, Azerbaijan peacefully declared about its “sovietization”. The very first undertaking of the newly established regime was to ask Soviet Russia for assistance. This was obviously well coordinated between Kemal and the Caucasian Turks i.e was the partial fulfillment of Kemal’s promise of “sovietization of the Turkish world”. Despite the attempts of preserving opportuneness (a statement was made that the Provisional Military-Revolutionary Committee of the Independent Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan assumed power at the request of revolutionary proletariat as well as the peasantry of Azerbaijan and henceforth declared the former Musavat government an enemy of independence and traitor of the people) the Parliament and the local administrations were not dissolved and continued to perform their duties. This strange “coup d’état” had taken place over the peaceful consent of the Azerbaijani Parliament: at emergency session of April 27 the communists insisted on transition of the authority the parliamentary commission decided to satisfy the demand at 12pm. On April 29 Revolutionary Committee was set up in Shushi (the town had suffered destruction and massacre a month before) and on May 12 Nagorno-Karabakh was sovietized. Sovietization of Azerbaijan was followed by provision of enormous military and financial support to revolutionary Turkey which was primarily used to see through the execution of the Armenian Genocide. At the end of September 1920, the Turkish commander of the Eastern Army Kazim Karabekir attacked Armenia. The purpose of this attack is clearly outlined in Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Mukhtar Pasha’s secret message to K. Karabekir of November, 1920: “Destroy the Armenian army, seize the weapons and give them to the Muslims. Deprive Armenians of the right to form a new army, seize control of the railways and make direct contact with Azerbaijani Turks”. (National Archive of Armenia, F. 113, L. 3, F. 31, P. 6; “Republic of Armenia”, 16.03.1991) Later Mustafa Kemal would write that the goal of the war was “to destroy the Armenian army and the Armenian State”. (Mustafa Kemal, “Road to New Turkey”, V. 3, М., 1932, P. 102) The discourse of “liberation of all oppressed” was forgotten, Armenia suffered a heavy defeat. As a result of factual Russian-Turkish joint efforts, Dashnaktsakan government of the independent Armenia failed and Russian-Turkish Moscow Treaty was signed in 1921 (March 16). On October 21 Russia, Turkey and the Transcaucasian states signed the “brotherhood and friendship” Kars Treaty. Both documents proved to be voracious for Armenia as it had to forfeit some of its regions to Turkey. Soviet Armenia was forced to come to terms with “brotherly and friendly” Kemalist Turkey that continued to remain hostile towards Armenia. The silent dissent of the Armenian society for these treaties played a key role in the nature of political repressions in Armenia: Armenian intellectuals were labeled “nationalists”, “imperialists” and “anti-Soviet elements” for bringing up these issues.

Mahari Gourgen (Gourgen Ajemyan) (1903-1969) was an Armenian writer, born in Western Armenia, the city of Van. His family fled from the city in 1915 when Russian troops retreated from Van. In July 1936, Mahari was labeled “trotskyist-nationalist” and expelled from the Writers’ Union of Armenia. On August 9 he was arrested and accused of carrying out terrorist activities with intentions to separate Armenia from the USSR and to integrate it into the camp of imperialism. In the summer of 1938 he was exiled for 10 years. In 1947 he returned but in November 1948 he was arrested again and sentenced to life exile in the Krasnoyarsk region. Mahari returned from exile in 1953 and was acquitted in 1954 July 21.

After his return he wrote the novels “Blossomed Barbed Wire” – about the years spent in exile, and “Burning Orchards”- about the city of Van.

Malenkov Georgy Maximilianovich (1901-1988) was a Soviet politician and dignitary, Member of the Central Committee of the CPSU (1939-1957), Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU (1946-1957) and Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee (1939-1946, 1948-1953). He supervised the defense sector industry. After Stalin’s death in 1953 he was the de facto leader of USSR. Malenkov had a major role in implementation of Soviet political repressions. Alongside Mikoyan and Beria he was one of the “purgers” of Armenian CP in 1937. In the course of the repressions he proved to be most notorious for his engagement in the so-called “Leningrad Case” of 1949. On March 5, 1953 after Stalin’s death, Malenkov became the Chairman of USSR Council of Ministers and in the same month, he proposed to terminate “the cult of personality and engage in a policy of collective management”. Two years later Malenkov was dismissed from the President’s post. In 1957, Molotov and Kaganovich attempted to overthrow Khrushchev but they did not succeed and had to leave the governance system.

Molotov Vyacheslav Mikhailovich (1890-1986) was a Soviet politician and functionary, chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR (1930-1941), Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR (1939-1949, 1953-1956). Molotov was one of the main orchestrators of Soviet political repressions. His signature is the most frequent on the files of people executed under Stalin’s Lists.

Mughdusi Khachik (Astvatsaturov Khachatur Khlghat), (1898-1938) was an Armenian statsman, chekist, head of Armenian NKVD. Khachatur Astvatsaturov was a graduate of accounting courses, started his career as an accountant’s clerk of Rostov “Astoria” Hotel in 1915, moved to Armenia in 1921 and served as a secretary in Vagharshapat Provincial Emergency Commission and eventually grew into the head of NKVD of Armenia (15.07.1934-01.01.1937). In September 1937 the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court arrested him and executed in February 1938 in Moscow. Mughdusi was arrested when Beria, Mikoyan and Malenkov were sent to Armenia to carry out the purges of party and state employees. He was the Head of the NKVD in 1936 when Khanjian was assasinated. Eight hundred people who had expressed doubts concerning the official statement about Khanjian’s suicide were arrested due to Mughdusi’s efforts. The arrest order of Sardarapat battle hero General Silikov who had fought in Turkish front for years was also signed by his hand. In 1937, November 26, ASSR NKVD “Troika” sentenced the General to death, the verdict was enforced on 22 November.

Myasnikyan (Myasnikov) Alexander Feodor (1886-1925) was a revolutionary (pseudonym – Martuni), politician and stasteman, one of the founders of Soviet regime in Belarus. He was a literary critic and analyst of Marxism-Leninism doctrine. He was known as a very capable, competent, courteous person and a skilled orator. In early May of 1921 Myasnikyan was delegated to Armenia where he served as chairman of the People’s Commissars Council and the People’s Military Commissar. At the same time he was deputy chairman of the Underfederation’s [Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic] Council of People’s Commissars. He was also the editor of the “Zaria Vostoka” newspaper and a member of USSR Central Executive Committee. Myasnikyan died on March 22, 1925 in a plane crash in Tbilisi. Many argue that the crash was not a mere accident.

Nikolai Ivanovich Yezhov (1895-1940) was a Soviet statesman. In the heyday of Soviet political repressions in 1936-1938 he was the head of NKVD. It is argued Yezhov period repressions were the harshest. The number of executed people during the two years of his office reached excessive numbers. Following first deputy Beria’s move against him Yezhov was factually left out of all NKVD operations. He was arrested on April 10, 1939 over charges of terroristic activities and links with foreign intelligence services. He was sentenced to execution on February 3, 1940.

Njdeh Garegin (Garegin Yeghishe Ter-Harutyunyan), (1886-1955) was a statesman, military and political leader. He was born in Kznut Village (now Kyuznut) of Nakhijevan province. After getting initial education in Nakhijevan, he studied at Tbilisi Russian Gymnasium, then entered the Law Department of St. Petersburg University. In 1906 he studied in Bulgaria at the Officers’ School of Sofia. In 1907 he returned to the Caucasus and got engaged in anti-sultanist and anti-tsarist activities. In 1912 during the First Balkan War, he, together with Andranik Ozanyan, was in charge of the Armenian Volunteers’ Battalion attached to the Bulgarian Army. On the eve of the First World War Nzhdeh returned to the Caucasus determined to against Turkey on the side of the Russian army. After Bolshevik Russians withdrew from the war, as provisioned by Brest-Litovsk Treaty, Nzhdeh took command of Armenian detachments in self-defense battles against the Turkish intrusions. He organized the defense of Zangezur in 1919-1920 and continued to struggle against Bolshevik Red Army even after the establishment of Soviet Armenia. In the aftermath of Sovetization of Azerbaijan on April 28, 1920 Njdeh resisted the forced annexation of Karabakh, Zangezur and Nakhijevan to Azerbaijan by the joined forces of Musavatist troops and the Red Army. In July, 1921 securing guarantees that Zangezur will remain within Soviet Armenia, Nzhdeh moved to Persia with some of his allies. Nzhdeh’s activities in the period of 1919-1921 had a negative impact on the destiny of his supporters who remained in Soviet Armenia and Soviet Union. During political repressions they were accused of being “nationalists”, “terrorists”, “Dashnaks” as well as “Njdehists”. The latter was a notion encompassing the first three accusations and was assen as an equivalent to the terms “anti-Soviet” and “counter-revolutionary”. “Nzhdehist” is a commonplace term in the accounts recorded in Syunik and presented herein. Since 1923 Njdeh lived in Romania and Bulgaria. In 1933 he left for the U.S. to pursue Dashnaktsakan activities and to actuate the Tseghakron Movement. In October 1944 Soviet counterintelligence in Bulgaria arrested and moved Nzhdeh to the Soviet Union. They exiled his wife and son to the Bulgarian town of Pavlikeni and sentenced him to 25 years of imprisonment. Nzhdeh died in prison in 1955 in the town of Vladimir. Republic of Armenia Prosecutor’s Office acquitted him on October 30, 1992.

Nurijanyan Avis (1896-1937) was a Bolshevik revolutionary and dignitary of ASSR. He was born in Vatchagan village of Kapan region. Nurijanyan was the chairman of the Revolutionary Committee of Armenia between November – December 4, 1920 and served as the People’s Commissar of Military Affairs in the newly formed Bolshevik government from November 1920 to May 1921. From May 1921 to September he was in charge of Special Forces and took over as the Minister of the Internal Affairs of Armenia between September 1921-February 1923. He was notorious for his brutal, repressive measures, particularly, for the violent struggle against Dashnaks and those labeled as such. It is believed that Nurijanian’s cruelty was one of the causes of the anti-Bolshevik uprising in February of 1921.

Sergei Mironovich Kirov (1886 -1934) was a revolutionary and later a Soviet politician. He was born in Vyatka Province, in 1904 joined RSDWP (Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ Party) in Tomsk. In 1909 moved to Vladikavkaz and worked in the Caucasus for many years. In 1919 he was the chairman of Astrakhan Provisional Revolutionary Committee and, as such, he supervised the suppression (through shooting) of workers’ counter-revolutionary uprising. On April 28, 1920, he entered Baku with the 11th Red Army, shortly after Azerbaijani parliament peacefully declared the establishment of Soviet authorities in Azerbaijan. That was the period of warming in Lenin-Ataturk relations as Turkey repeatedly pledged to adopt socialism. The Caucasian Turkish Bolsheviks who also took part in the process were promised independent Soviet Azerbaijan with a common border with Turkey and desirable border in the Caucasus. Kirov became a member of the Caucasian Bureau of the Russian Communist (Bolshevik) Party in Baku and in 1921 – First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan. In 1923 Kirov was elected a member of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist (Bolshevik) Party. In 1926 he took over as the First secretary of Leningrad Provincial Committee, First secretary of City Committee and a Candidate Member to Politburo. In 1933 he was a member of “Troika” examining the insurgents’ and counter-revolutionary cases in Leningrad region. Kirov was assasinated on December 1, 1934. There have been conflicting opinions as of the grounds of this murder: a personal motive or an assasination orchastrated by Stalin. The official news of Kirov’s murder announced that he fell victim to conspirators, enemies of USSR. On the same day USSR Central Executive Committee made the decision on amending the Criminal Codes of Soviet Republics in order to fight against the terrorist enemies of the people. The amendments stipulated that the investigating bodies will examine the terrorist suspects’ cases in accelerated procedure and the judicial bodies will put the decisions into effect in accelerated procedure as well. Thus the “legalized repressions” were practiced throughout the entire Soviet Union.

Stalin Joseph Vissarionovich (Jughashvili Joseph) (1878 or 1879-1953) was a Russian revolutionary, Soviet politician and dignitary. He was the de facto head of the Soviet State since late 1920s and up to his death. Stalin was born in the town of Gori in Tiflis governorate. He studied in a spiritual seminary and took interest in Marxism at a very young age: in 15 he was already affiliated to underground Marxist groups. He was expelled from the seminary after fourth grade and later got fully engaged in revolutionary activities. The years of his authority are defined as a period of totalitarianism and political repressions that went simulaneous to the implementation of major economic programs such as industrialism, collectivization, resolution of the national question – establishment of national republics, national autonomies of different levels, the forced displacement of the peoples, etc. Several of the displaced ethnic groups such as Germans, Circassians, Kalmyks, Balkars, Ingushes, Chechens and the Crimean Tatars lost their respective autonomies. The overall scale, methods and forms of Soviet political repressions are known as “Stalinism”. According to human rights organization “Memorial” 4.5-4.8 million people became victims of political prosecution, of whom 1 million were executed and the rest put to prisons, labor camps or other exile destinations, 6.5 million people were forcedly displaced, about 4 million people became “disenfranchised” and 6-7 million people died from starvation in 1932-1933 etc. Stalin personally signed the special Lists of Executions that were publicized only in 1956. According to A. Manukyan who studied the files of the repressed in the archives of Armenian Ministry of Internal Affairs and the State Security Service, 42.000 people in Armenia were exerted to various forms of political repressions between 1920-1953. Based on the chronology and methods of implementation Manukyan classified the repressions to the following periodicity: in 1920-1930 1246 people were subjected to various levels of depravation of liberty and execution in judicial procedure upon political charges

  • In 1921 approximately 1400 former soldiers were exiled to the Russian city of Ryazan
  • The number of people repressed between 1930-1940 reached 18,000, including those convicted during collectivization and the repressions of 1937-1938.
  • In 1940 – 1953 8222 people were convicted on politically motivated accusations. 13,272 people were exiled in 1949.

Khrushchev characterized the period of “stalinism” as “cult of personality” which appears to be a rather close definition given the context of Soviet upbringing and mass culture. (“Stalin’s wise governance”, “father Stalin,” “genius Stalin’s decisions,” “infallible Stalin’s approaches,” “for Stalin!.” “our beloved Stalin,” “Stalin – incarnation of justice,” “the most fair Stalin” and other phrases of similar character were an integral part of Soviet rhetoric, literature, media and education for nearly thirty years.) The country was governed top-down by strictest administrative methods and under sternest supervision of the regime. It was a de facto dictatorship. All the spheres of public life were under state control.

Stepan Gevorg Shahumayn (1878-1918) was an Armenian revolutionary, politician, Marxist theorist, journalist and literary critic born in Tbilisi. He adhered to social-democratic movement since his youth and in 1901 was already a member of Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ Party. In 1902 he established the “Armenian Social Democratic Union” in Armenia as a satelite institution of the Russian Union. The same year Shahumyan entered the Law Department of the University of Berlin. He met and worked with K. Kautsky, A. Bebel, F. Mering, K. Liebknecht, and R. Luxemburg. He met Lenin in Switzerland for the first time in 1903 and their warm friendship continued until his death. Shahumyan translated the “Communist Manifesto” into Armenian. In 1905, he returned to Tbilisi and took leadership of the workers strikes, demonstrations and Bolshevik propaganda throughout South Caucasus. Shahumyan contributed to Bolshevik newspapers “Vpered” [Forward] and “Proletariy” (Prolitariat), founded the “Kavkazski Rabochi Listok» (Caucasian workers pamphlet) – the first legal Bolshevik newspaper in the South Caucasus and in 1906-07 the Armenian newspapers “Kayts” [Spark], “Nor Kyank” [New life] and “Orer” [Days]. In 1907 he moved to Baku and became the head of the local party organization. An educated and intellectual person he gained an unquestionable reputation among the mostly uneducated or self-educated Bolshevik workers. In 1915 Shahumyan was exiled to Saratov. He was acuitted and returned to Baku after February Revolution. In 1917 he served as the head of Baku Bolsheviks’ Council and following the October Revolution he also became the head of Baku Bolshevik Commune. On December 16 he was appointed Extraordinary Commissioner of Caucasian Affairs. In March 1918 he quelled the attempt of Musavat uprising securing, among others, the aid of Armenian regiment. The regiment consisted of soldiers who remained in Baku on their way back home from the Caucasian front, since the Musavatists had control over the railway. After the establishment of British control in Baku Shahumyan was arrested in the summer of 1918, but on September 15 as Ottoman Turkish regular army and Musavat troops entered the city, Shahumyan and the rest of the Commissars fled from prison due to A. Mikoyan’s efforts. He was among the 26 Baku Commissars executed in Turkmenistan, in September 1918. Shahumyan was against the peoples’ right to self-determination, seeing it a concession to the nationalist desires of the oppressed peoples of Tsarist Russia.

Totovents Vahan (1889-1938) was an Armenian novelist born in Western Armenia, Mezre Town of Kharbert Province. Totovents studied in the USA from where, in 1915, together with 400 American Armenian volunteers he enlisted to fight in the Caucasus front and after withdrawal of the armeis resettled in the Caucasus. His relatives were among hundreds of thousands Armenians who perished in Der Zor (Der-El-Zor) desert. Totovents moved to Yerevan in 1922. He was arrested on July 20, 1936 on accusations of affiliattion with counter-revolutionary terrorist group of the Commissar of People’s Education N. Stepanyan, ties with Dashnaktutyun members of Diaspora controlled by foreign powers, being a British intelligence agent, having intentions to separate Armenia from the Soviet Union and to bring it under British protectorate and carrying out counter-revolutionary literary activities. The trial, which lasted only 15 minutes, sentenced Totovents to execution. The verdict was put into effect on July 18, 1938.

Trotsky Lev Davidovich (Bronstein Lev Davidovich), (1879-1940) was a revolutionary of international communist movement, ideologist of one of the Marxist directions known as ”Trotskyism” (a theory of permanent revolution as contrasted to phasal revolution; the nesessity of world socialist revolution as opposed to building socialism in one country only; since 1923 a criticism of the lack of democracy both within the Party and Soviet leadership; necessity of revolution within the political regime of USSR; application of the principles of transitional period; support of workers’ movements in capitalist countries). Trotsky was one of the founders and ideologists of Comintern, as well as one of the organizers of the October Revolution of 1917. In the Soviet government he served as the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs. Between 1918-1925 he was the People’s Commissar of Military and Naval Affairs. Since 1923 – the leader of the inter-party leftist opposition. In 1927 Trotsky was dismissed from all offices, in 1929 – exiled from the Soviet Union. In 1940 NKVD agent Ramón Merkaderi dealt a fatal wound at Trotsky’s head in Mexico. Effective 1927 the words “Trotskyism” and “Trotskyist” were equal to the notion of “anti-Soviet”, “enemy of the people” and widely used in public rhetoric without any specific ideological content.

Vagharshak Norents (Vagharshak Tonapet Yertisyan), (1903-1973) was an Armenian poet, novelist, translator, Honored Worker of Culture of the ASSR (1967), Member of the USSR Writers’ Union since 1934. He was born in Western Armenia in Shenik Village of Sasun province. In 1915 during the Genocide he witnessed the four-month (April-July) resistance of Sasun and the horrible massacres that followed. In spring of 1919, among thousands of other orphans, he made his way from Mush to the South Caucasus. Norents was arrested in 1936, shortly after Khanjian’s murder. Before his arrest, the meeting of the Writers’ Union discussed the question of his political reliability. The speakers accused him of nationalistic views considering as such his son’s name – ”Sasounik” [derived from toponym Sassoun].

Vyshinsky Andrey Yanuarevich (1883-1954) was a Soviet political figure. He is considered one of the masterminds of Stalinist political repressions. In 1925-1928 he was the provost of Moscow State University, Doctor of Law, since 1939 – Academician of USSR Academy of Sciences; in 1935-1939 the USSR Prosecutor General, in 1949-1953 – the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In order to legalize the political repressions Vyshinsky set up a legal practice which provisioned that the defendant had to prove his innocence himself, whereas the majority of the accused were unaware of the charges brought against them or comprehended the accusation only during the trial. In 1937-1938 people wouldn’t even be brought before the court: the troikas decided the fate of the defendants.

Zaryan Nairi (Hayastan Yeghiazaryan) (1900-1969) was an Armenian writer. He changed his name upon Charents’s proposal, taking the name “Nairi” instead of “Hayastan” and shortening his last name to “Zaryan”. Zarian was born in Western Armenia, in Kharakonis Village of Van. He witnessed the disaster of the Armenian Genocide in his youth and moved to Eastern Armenia with other Vanetsi [people from Van] refugees. Zarian got actively engaged in the political censorship of 1920s and 1930s. He unmasked the “trotskyist, nationalist, dashnak bastard” writers both through the press, at the assemblies of Wrtiers’ Union and through the widespread practice of denunciations.

Zhukov Georgy Konstantinovich (1896-1957) was a Soviet commander, Marshal of USSR, quadruple hero of the Soviet Union. He commanded Soviet Armed Forces in several fronts of Second World War. In 1942 he served as USSR People’s Commissar of Defence and Deputy Supreme Commander in Chief. After Stalin’s death Zhukov became First Deputy Defense Minister and in 1955-1957 – USSR Defense Minister. In 1958 he was dismissed from all offices. In 1937-1938, in the peak of repressions, the meeting of the party organization discussed the complaint filed by a number of political instructors about “Corpus Commander Zhukov’s hostile methods of personnel training”. It was decided to “take comrade Zhukov’s explanations into consideration and not to take the matter farther than disscussion”.

Zinovyev Grigory (1883-1936) was a Russian Bolshevik revolutionary activist, later a Soviet politician and statesman. He was born to a wealthy Jewish family (his family name was Gersh Radomyslsky. “Grigory” was his party pseudonym; he used “Radomyslsky” as a literary pseudonym). Was repeatedly accused of Trotskyist views. In 1934 Zinovyev was arrested and sentenced to ten years of imprisonment, but two years later the ruling was changed to execution.

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