The First Armenian-Language Book In Russia

The name of Grigory Khaldaryan is inextricably linked with the history of the development of Armenian printing in Russia.

Grigory Khaldaryan was born in 1732 in the Armenian suburb of Isfahan, New Jugha (Iran).

It’s known that Khaldaryan received brilliant education in Iran and was engaged in trade in India for more than twenty years. Having earned a decent fortune, he moved to London in 1760.

In the capital of England, the Armenian entrepreneur founded a printing house and publishing house, as well as engaged in charity.

In 1782, at the invitation of the Armenian archbishop Joseph Argutinsky-Dolgorukov, Grigory Khaldaryan moved to the capital of the Russian Empire St. Petersburg. Here, in the territory of the Armenian church of St. Catherine on Nevsky Prospekt, Khaldaryan founded the first Armenian printing house in Russia.

It is believed that it was in the Khaldaryan printing house in St. Petersburg that the first Armenian-language book in Russia, “Alphabet Book”, was published.

Thanks to Khaldaryan, the world’s first “Armenian-Russian Dictionary” was also compiled. But the publication of the dictionary was done only after the death of Khaldaryan in 1787 by his widow Katarine Zakharova. Famous 19th-century Armenian historian Leo (Arakel Babakhanyan) called Zakharova the first female Armenian publisher.

The first Armenian-Russian dictionary contained about two and a half thousand words. At the end of the dictionary were the Armenian text and the Russian translation of “Prayers” by Catholicos Nerses Shnorhali.

After the death of Khaldaryan, the printing house led by Katarine Zakharova published several books, mainly of spiritual content, but did not last long – the lack of funding and debts soon led her into a deplorable condition.

However, in 1789, Joseph Argutinsky bought the printing house from Zakharova and moved it from St. Petersburg to Novy Nakhichevan (now part of Rostov-on-Don) and then to Astrakhan.

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