Author: Natig NAZIMOGHLU
The story of the cult of the Nazi general Garegin Nzhdeh in Armenia reveals the true essence of the socio-political atmosphere in the country. Meanwhile, Armenians understand the absurdity of the glorification of fascism on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Victory over fascism.
Moment of truth
In fact, it was the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev who publicly exposed the facts of glorification of fascism in Armenia at international level. In his address at the meeting of the Council of Heads of the CIS States in Ashgabat on October 11, Mr. Aliyev highlighted a series of socio-political events ongoing on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Victory over fascism, and drew the attention of his colleagues to the monument to Hitler's accomplice Garegin Ter-Harutyunyan (Nzhdeh) in the centre of Yerevan. Ilham Aliyev called on the new leadership of Armenia, particularly Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, to demolish the monument, which would be a gesture made by a democratic government.
However, Pashinyan made an attempt to justify Nzhdeh at the meeting. The attempt is rather pathetic and frankly shameful, since the arguments of the Armenian prime minister demonstrated the degree of his professional incompetence and caused a flurry of indignation in the post-Soviet space.
The far it goes, the messier it gets
The issue had grown so much that the Armenian prime minister had to respond to it somehow in his speeches and interviews. But in a desperate attempt to whitewash the Armenian fascist, Pashinyan raised Nzdeh to the level of the Gulag prisoner, the great Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The comparison was blasphemous, since Solzhenitsyn was a veteran of the Great Patriotic War, received a number of high awards for military merits, and ended up in the camp because of his critical attitude toward the Stalinist regime, and not for betraying his homeland or aiding Nazis.
Later, at a meeting in Yerevan with the representatives of leading Russian media, Pashinyan tried to put an equal sign between Nzhdeh and Soviet leaders Marshal Hovhannes Baghramyan and People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov, claiming that the latter "had also communicated with the Third Reich". Apparently, Pashinyan does not see a huge difference between communicating with representatives of Nazi Germany as the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs and serving the Reich. This means that Pashinyan implicitly supports the idea that Hitlerite Germany and the Soviet Union were equally responsible for unleashing the Second World War—a separate topic widely circulated in neoliberal Western media. Pashinyan thinks that it's easier to justify the value of Nzhdeh for Armenians, since he allegedly "fought against the Turkish occupation!" Apparently, Pashinyan prefers to ignore the fact that the "fighter against the Turkish occupation" served the Nazi Germany, which killed 200 thousand Armenians during the Second World War, for Pashinyan. The main thing for them is that Nzhdeh fought against the Turks: "There should not be a single day without fighting the Turk", and not that he was a Nazi: "Who dies for Germany, dies for Armenia" and was the founder of the idea of Armenian Nazism, i.e. Tseghakron: "We must finally learn to act as Hitler."
Was the position of the Armenian prime minister surprising? Not at all. Because Pashinyan is the current leader of a state that has raised aggression and territorial claims to its neighbours Azerbaijan and Turkey to the rank of official policy. The former Armenian authorities, represented by the Republican Party headed by Serzh Sargsyan, were officially guided by the ideological and political heritage of Nzhdeh, the ideology of Tseghakron, preaching hatred on ethnic grounds. The founder of this ideology, long before he became an accomplice of Nazism, tried out in practice the fascist methods of exterminating representatives of the "hostile race". In 1918-1920, military units led by Nzhdeh killed more than ten thousand Azerbaijanis, the indigenous population of Zangezur. This "glorious" tradition was continued by the modern Armenian executioners, who carried out in 1988-1994 the massacres of the civilian Azerbaijani population, the most severe ethnic cleansing of the Karabakh Azerbaijanis.
Therefore, Pashinyan's attempts to convince the rest of the world of the heroism of Nzhdeh sound so miserable and meaningless. They provoked opposition in Russia, the political and public circles of which are increasingly demanding that official Yerevan put an end to the glorification of fascist collaborators. Regardless of Armenia's allied relations with Russia, Moscow makes clear the unacceptability of such a practice, which is especially important on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory, which will be widely celebrated in the post-Soviet space.
Face of Armenian Nazism
Incidentally, yet another monument to Nzhdeh was installed in Russia, on the territory of the Armenian church in Armavir in 2012. This is a memorial plate in honour of the fascist Nzhdeh and Andranik Ozanyan, another executioner of Azerbaijanis and Turks in the late 19-early 20th century. In a protest, a deputy of the Armavir City Council Aleksey Vinogradov painted the plate with the following words: "Nazism will not work in Russia!" This step was supported by a number of Russian politicians and public figures, let alone the population of Armavir, who approved the anti-fascist demarche of Vinogradov.
Thus, on November 30, the Nzhdeh plate was completely dismantled.
Armenia tried to protest the decision. The Armenian Embassy in Russia expressed "deep indignation" in connection with the actions of Alexei Vinogradov as "not in line with the spirit of the Armenian-Russian relations." It seems Yerevan believes that the glorification of the fascist Nzhdeh is just in line with the spirit of relations with Russia, which, together with other republics of the former USSR, played a key role in the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Hoping for the possible restoration of the monument in Armavir, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan demonstrated an amazing "diplomatic" gesture by referring to the supposedly inviolable status of the territory of the Armenian church and its property, since "the church is separated from the state." In other words, Mnatsakanyan almost openly presented the case as if the territory of the Armenian church in the Russian city of Armavir is not under the jurisdiction of the Russian state. This is another manifestation of the level of professional incompetence of the political leadership of Armenia.
Meanwhile, while the new leadership of Armenia is wasting time and effort in proving to Russia the validity of Nzhdeh's glorification, the young generation of Tseghakron openly resorted to concrete anti-Russian actions. A certain Shagen Harutyunyan, former assistant to one of the deputies from the My Step parliamentary faction previously led by Nikol Pashinyan, doused with paint the monument to the Russian poet and diplomat Alexander Sergeyevich Griboedov in Yerevan.
Ironically, Griboedov played a significant role in the resettlement of tens of thousands of Armenians in the Caucasus, mainly on the territory of Northern Azerbaijan, including Karabakh. That's how the "grateful" descendants of those settlers paid tribute to the efforts of the Russian diplomat, who had actually paved the path for Armenians at the expense of Azerbaijani residents of Karabakh.
Nzhdeh from Armavir and the Armenian reaction to the dismantling of memorial plate, including the desecration of the Griboedov monument in Yerevan, excited the Russian public community. Influential politicians such as the Chairman of the State Duma of Russia Vyacheslav Volodin, the head of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots Leonid Kalashnikov, the First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation on International Affairs Vladimir Jabarov supported the dismantling of the monument in Armavir. Prominent public figures in Russia, including writer Alexander Prokhanov, publicist Maxim Shevchenko, editor-in-chief of the National Defence magazine Igor Korotchenko and others condemned attempts to immortalise the Nazis, rewrite history, and go beyond all respect to Nzhdeh in Armenia.
Russian media also condemned the glorification of fascism in Armenia. Thus, Novye Izvestia newspaper writes: "Condemned to the highest degree of post-war Stalinist justice (that is, 25 years in concentration camps due to the abolition of death penalty), Ter-Harutyunyan was not rehabilitated by either Soviet or current Russian justice, since Nazi collaborators are not considered victims of mass repression. Simply put, in Russia, Nzhdeh is akin to General Vlasov, Bandera, Shushkevich."
According to news.ru: "Why did they damage the monument to Griboedov? Armenian radicals spit in their own history. Shahen Harutyunyan was not aware of the history of his own people? Or does he belong to that part of the youth that does not remember kinship? Or is such a meaningless xenophobic attack a reflection of the general atmosphere prevailing in the country?"
According to info24.ru: "The Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan proposed to draw an analogy between Nzhdeh and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR Vyacheslav Molotov, who "also had communicated with representatives of the Third Reich"... Since statements are made at the highest level in Armenia, the actions of the nationalist Harutyunyan, who chose Griboedov as the target for his senseless revenge, do not look surprising. It is unlikely that Yerevan understands that the memorial plate to Nzhdeh installed by some local level members of the diaspora in Russia, and the monument to Griboedov, who laid the foundation for the liberation of Armenians, differ from each other to the same extent as the "communication" of Nzhdeh with the Nazis differed from the negotiations that Molotov was forced to conduct with them."
According to politnavigator.net: "What did the Russian writer Griboedov do to Armenian Nazis? Despite the promises of Armenians to sort out the negative reaction of the members of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation, who demanded to punish the mad Nazi, there are serious reasons to believe that they will ignore the scandal and that the perpetrator will be fine after a reprimand only... Since there are no monuments to Russian collaborators in Armenia, damaging the monument to Griboedov, who had never done anything bad to the Armenian people, is nothing but a despicable act of vandalism... A quick look at the issue shows that Nzhdeh was elevated to the rank of a national hero in Armenia at the official level, and his personal theory of Tseghakron has become the national doctrine of modern Armenia... The most touching moment here is that the people surrounding the despicable Nazi accomplice are corrupt members of the former government and the new revolutionary democratic forces."
sm-news.ru published an array of archival documents related to the trial of Nzhdeh as an evidence of the collaboration of Nzhdeh with intelligence agencies of fascist Germany to conduct subversive work against parts of the Soviet army. He recruited and trained people to carry out the tasks of the German intelligence and counterintelligence agencies, and was part of the Armenian National Council created in Berlin.
Russian historian and lawyer Oleg Kuznetsov believes that: "The publication of a fragment of the minutes of the Special Meeting of the USSR Minister of State Security, dated April 24, 1948 also proves that the Kremlin's position on the glorification of Nzhdeh in any form and in any place is firm and irreconcilable. Political leadership of Russia has once again showed that the demolition of the memorial plate to Nzhdeh in Armavir was authorised at the very top of the power, and the Kremlin expects Yerevan to carry out similar actions in Armenia as soon as possible. It was not just a hint from Moscow to Yerevan, once again but a very specific, completely unambiguous and categorical message to curtail the state policy of glorifying Nazism as soon as possible and eliminate any hints of its implementation in the past."
The last point is especially noteworthy. Indeed, on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War - a common holiday for the countries of the post-Soviet space - the presence on the territory of one of them - Armenia, a monument to the Nazi criminal will be an insult to the memory of millions of victims of fascism. And it is no coincidence that the statement of the heads of state of the CIS countries, adopted in connection with the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, which, incidentally, was also forced to be signed by the Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan, condemns "the rehabilitation and heroization of Nazi criminals and their accomplices who committed the most serious crimes during the Second World War. "