The night from June 13 to June 14, 1949, became “black” for the representatives of the Armenian people. The soldiers surrounded their houses from all sides, not allowing relatives or neighbors to approach.
Many of its representatives were faced by far-fetched accusations: participation in the Armenian Legion, espionage, membership in the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) party (Հայ Յեղափոխական Դաշնակցութիւն).
In 1918-1920, the ARF was ruling in the independent Republic of Armenian SSR but was defeated by the Red Army in November 1920. Its leaders then emigrated to Europe.
During the World War II, the main goal of the party, namely, its Central Bureau, was the salvation of Armenians, wherever they were, by all available means.
In the second volume of the book by Alexander and Vera Sishchenko “Repressed peoples in the Altai in the twentieth century. Special settlers of 1941-1956, Altai region. Russian Federation“, documents on arrivals of 15 echelons of 12 728 special settlers of Armenian nationality in the summer of 1949 were presented.
Among them were not only the residents of Armenia but also the Armenian-populated areas of Transcaucasia, the regions of Russia, and even Central Asia.
In a new place
From the memoirs of exiled Alexander Mkhitaryan: “At twilight four days later, we found ourselves among the bare Altaic steppe, where we were ordered to exit the vehicles with our belongings.
So began the six-year epopee of our stay in this foreign land, where not everyone was destined to go back to their homeland, including my poor mother Astghik. Eternal memory to them all!”
The deportees could not continue their education after graduation. The youths were not drafted into the army as they were considered unworthy to serve the Motherland. All special settlers were obliged to be regularly observed in the commandant’s office, not having the right to go somewhere.
The book “The Village and the Peasantry of the Altai Territory in the Twentieth Century” by Tatyana Shcheglova tells the stories of the residents of the village of Urozhaynoye about exiled Armenians.
They note that former residents of the solar republic quickly and skillfully solved the housing problem by erecting houses of clay and straw.
In his book “Here is my village”, Ivan Gorshkov tells about the Armenians who arrived in the village of Kolyvansky, Pavlovsky district in 1949: “There were several families in Kolyvansky – Shanukyan, Atoyan, Sargsyan, Poghosyan…
Men and boys were good at playing wind musical instruments. In the first years of their stay in the village, they created a brass band and attracted local guys capable of playing wind instruments. The orchestra brought life to the village, and its creators were respected by local residents.”
Large groups of Armenian exiles also lived in the Togulsky, Mamontovo, Slavgorod, and other districts in the first half of the 1950s.
In July 1954, a commission was formed in Armenia to review the cases of those convicted. Since 1955, those who escaped the camps began to return home.
Currently, over 30 thousand Armenians live in the province. Barnaul has a center of Armenian culture, several national public and religious associations, including the Union of Armenians of the Altai Territory.
And in the Armenian House, meetings, rehearsals, and performances of creative teams, and Sunday school classes take place. Dance and vocal ensembles, a KVN team, a football team were formed. The latter has repeatedly successfully performed at the Pan-Armenian Games.
On October 12, 2007, near the building of the Altai State University on Leninsky Prospect, a monument symbolizing the Russian-Armenian friendship was erected. It is an open book with pages of the Russian and Armenian alphabets.
On October 19, 2008, the Apostolic Church of St. Hripsime was opened in Barnaul, which was then sanctified by Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II.
The Armenian Diaspora makes a significant contribution to the development of the region. The Armenians gave well-known scientists, physicians, lawyers, builders, businessmen, including late Academician of the All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences Shahen Mkrtchyan, doctor of medical sciences Bagrat Sargsyan, businessmen Vladimir Farashyan, Henrik Yeganyan, brothers Mgdesyan, Babken Shahinyan, Yuri Aroyan, artists Aram Mailyan and Vladimir Keshishev, singer Grigory Yesayan, champion of Russia in boxing Rudolf Asaturyan, and others.
Source: © IA “Amitel”