Author: Oleg KUZNETSOV, Moscow
At the end of October, the Russian and Russian-speaking Armenian media distributed a manifesto, or a declaration, an announcement (it is difficult to determine the genre of this text), about an intention of a group of Russian and Armenian politicians, as well as the Russian politicians of Armenian descent to create the Russian-Armenian Lazarev Club in Moscow. This is how the initiators explain the choice of the name for their club: "[The club will bear] the name of the renowned family of Armenian patrons, the Lazarevs, who were the founders of the Lazarev Institute of Oriental Languages in Russia, which was the forerunner of the Institute of Asian and African Countries attached to the Moscow State University and the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Affairs." We will not comment on the issue of continuity of the two famous universities of Russia allegedly stemming from the specified educational institution of the imperial time, since it is a very controversial story. But the wording used in the presentation clearly indicates that it was made by people who have a poor knowledge of the Russian language. They perfectly knew that I reality the club would carry out activities radically different from the declared humanitarian goals and values.
The text of the announcement-presentation about the establishment of the Lazarev Club begins with a very controversial and even dubious statement that "the history of Russian-Armenian relations covers more than a century." After reading this phrase, anyone who knows Russian might think that interstate relations between Russia and Armenia were established centuries ago, although this is completely false. As a state, Armenia was first proclaimed on May 28, 1918, and celebrated the 100th anniversary of its existence in 2018. In other words, the history of Russian-Armenian relations in legal or political terms goes back to only one century, no more, as the authors try to assert. Surely, Russian-Armenian relations may be considered from an ethnological point of view, from the standpoint of a purely Armenian understanding, when the Armenian people are perceived not as an ethnos, but as a millet - a national-religious corporation of adherents of the Armenian Apostolic Church in accordance with the legislation of the Ottoman and Russian empires. In this context, the history of Russian-Armenian relations begins on March 11, 1836, when the Emperor Nicholas I signed the Highest Approved Regulation on the Administration of the Armenian-Gregorian Church in Russia. But it is important to understand that according to the above document, the Armenian-Gregorian church was not a subject of partnership with Russia, but an object of administrative control under the supreme power of the Russian Empire. Therefore, the period of 182 years is not the term of Russian-Armenian relations, but a period when the Armenian millet was a subordinate of the Russian Empire, which means a relation of different nature.
From a deeper historical retrospective, it is clear that the religious corporation of Armenians has been multinational until the beginning of the 19th century. It consisted of representatives of various ethnic groups. The authorities of the Russian Empire, or to be more precise, Emperor Paul I personally decided to turn this absolutely amorphous or even amphoteric mass into something structured and organised with a series of decrees. The Imperial Letter of Paul I, dated February 26, 1798, to the Armenian Patriarch and the entire Armenian people "On the confirmation of the letters awarded to them and on the being of the Armenian people in spiritual affairs and church rites under the auspices of their patriarch" was the beginning of this process. Later, on October 28, 1799, Paul I re-confirmed the spiritual subordination of these ethnic groups to the Armenian Patriarch Luka, residing in the Armenian Patriarchal Ararat Monastery in Echmiadzin, by his Letter "on the rights, advantages and freedoms of Armenians of Derbent and Maksur" (Daghestan), Grigoriopol (modern Moldova), Old Crimea, as well as the Armenian communities of Astrakhan, Kizlar and Mozdok. In other words, the supreme power of the Russian Empire forcedly united geographically and ethnically different groups of adherents of the Armenian-Gregorian Church, referred to collectively as Armenians in the 18th - 19th centuries, into a millet or a religious corporation. During the following century, they have transformed into a more or less unified ethnos, which, thanks to external geopolitical cataclysms of 1917 in the former Russian Empire, gained its national statehood in May 1918.
Conclusion: this year is the hundredth anniversary of the Russian-Armenian partnership and diplomatic relations. Prior to this, there were only the efforts of the Russian imperial authorities to artificially form the Armenian ethnos as a social pillar of imperial presence in the Caucasus, which was deprived of rights and partnership in principle. Therefore, anyone who claims the opposite without considering actual historical facts, pursues not humanitarian, but exclusively mercantile purposes. This activity and the associated organisations are collectively known as lobbying activities and organisations. Therefore, the Lazarev Club founded in Moscow is a lobbyist organisation whose members are going to protect the interests of Armenia, the Armenian diaspora in Russia and their own at the highest possible level based on their own financial potential, as well as administrative and political resources. Should its creators had humanitarian or philanthropic goals, they would never neglect the history of Russia, a country that will objectively have a leading position in any alliance with Armenia.
Acknowledging this fact raises the following question: what interests of the Armenian elite will the Lazarev Club lobby? To answer this question, it is enough to check the list of its founders, or the people who have undersigned the announcement. Here is a short list indicating some of these people: Zori Balayan, Artashes Geghamian, Konstantin Zatulin, Vladimir Kazimirov, Modest Kolerov, Vazgen Manukian, Yuri Navoyan, Vyacheslav Nikonov, Aram Safarian, Viktor Soghomonian, Karen Shakhnazarov. All these people were either directly involved in the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan, or supported it politically and diplomatically, or served the interests of the separatist regime of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in the last 30 years - since the beginning of the Karabakh war of 1988-1994. Interestingly, the list of signatories does not include any individual in power in Armenia, anyone who would bring to power Nikol Pashinian and his openly pro-Western team after the coup of May 1-8, 2018. Therefore, it is enough to look at the composition of the club founders to determine the future political image of this public lobbying body.
First, in relation to Armenia, the Lazarev Club will be openly anti-Pashinian and will try to organise and implement anti-democratic counter-revolution to bring back the junta of former field commanders of the illegal armed groups of the Armenian separatists of Nagorno-Karabakh. It is well known that they were created by the ex-presidents of Armenia Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sargsyan as a result of the terrorist act in the National Assembly of Armenia on October 29, 1999. This was followed by a coup that ousted ex-President Levon Ter-Petrosian, who had begun constructive negotiations with Baku on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In other words, the Lazarev Club is created either by the direct participants of the so-called Karabakh Clan expelled from their previous posts in May 2018, or by Russian politicians and businessmen of Armenian descent politically or financially affiliated with these individuals. The factor uniting these individuals is the thirst for political revenge, the desire to regain the status quo ante bellum (the situation that existed before the war) in order to regain the comfortable living conditions. Or to guarantee payments from Yerevan for their past services to the Karabakh Clan, which is different from the people of Armenia, who has long lived in a depressed state, or subventions to carry out social and political activities, or concessions for the use of the resources of this country in their business.
Secondly, these individuals will openly lobby for the preservation of the status quo on the Azerbaijani lands occupied by Armenia during the 1988-1994Karabakh war. Disguised as the caretakers of the Russian-Armenian friendship, they will argue that it is impossible if Russia follows the norms of international law in the issue of the ownership of Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan. By creating, promoting and supporting the quasi-state of Artsakh, they will try to change the order in the South Caucasus. Alas, but only a few of them understand that their position is not so much anti-Azerbaijani as anti-Armenian, since Armenia has been a colony of Artsakh since 1994 rather than a metropolis. In fact, Armenia spends all its material, financial, human, political and administrative resources only to maintain the physical and political existence of the occupation regime in Stepanakert. Representatives and allies of Artsakh consider Armenia not a historic homeland, but a cash cow, feeding its milk to Balayan and Zatulin, Kazimirov and Kolerov, and all others whose personal well-being and future generally depend only on the existence of this quasi-state. The whole life of these people, or a significant part of it, was devoted either to the creation of a second Armenian state in the Caucasus, or the annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. All of them were and are a sort of “crusaders” fighting for the ideas of the notorious “miatsum”, which suffer a crushing defeat today, same as their ideological forerunners from the Middle Ages. They are doomed to lose this fight not because of their enemies, the Turks, but because their former sponsors have lost interest in this topic, as it happened with the first crusaders in the Middle Ages.
The Lazarev Club is a desperate gesture of a certain category of Russian and Armenian politicians, public figures and representatives of the intelligentsia, who had once relied on the exaltation of Armenia in the South Caucasus through the creation of Artsakh and its miatsum with Yerevan. But the history has been ruthless to them - the potential colony, or the "new habitat" itself turned into a metropolis, sucking all the juices of life from Armenia, whose residents, after 18 years of life in fear, rebelled against this state of affairs. Now they want the Kremlin to intervene in the internal affairs of Armenia in order to reanimate the political regime, which they overthrew in May 2018. It is unlikely that the club members turn the history back, because no one else has ever succeeded in refutingVictor Hugo: "No army can resist an idea whose time has come."