Great Russian Chauvinism or the Era of Imposed Armenophobia

With the ascent to the throne of Alexander III in 1881, the policy of Great Russian chauvinism and intensified Russification of the peripheries began. In the Caucasus, it first and foremost encountered the Armenians as a nation, which was the most economically strong and politically developed.

“Minor collisions of most lawful non-Russian rights with the new state course were perceived as rebellious phenomena,” the famous writer A.V. Amfiteatrov wrote on this occasion. “And since the new course collided with the Armenian rights very quickly and sharply, Armenians earned the reputation of a rebellious and insurgent people in St. Petersburg” – (Amfiteatrov, p. 51).

Another well-known publicist, Vlas Doroshevich, illustrates this remark as follows: “Every Armenian in the Caucasus is considered a revolutionary simply because he is Armenian.”

The Russian official press launched a campaign to persecute Armenians and their liberation movement. In the Caucasus, this was especially widely publicized by V.L. Velichko, the editor of the official newspaper “Caucasus.”

He served under Prince G.S. Golitsyn, the former head of the Caucasus from 1896 to 1904, famous for his pronouncement: “I will bring it to the point that the only Armenian in Tiflis will be a stuffed Armenian in the Tiflis Museum!” (Amfiteatrov, p. 52). On October 14, 1903, during a country walk, Golitsyn was severely wounded in the carriage by several dagger blows to the head. The assassination was organized by the Armenian Social Democratic Party “Hnchak.”

By secret circulars, Armenians were strictly forbidden to hold posts in the Caucasus administration. It went so far that the Baku censorship considered the word “Armenian” to be obscene and even crossed out the epithet “Armenian national … music” in music reviews (“S.O.,” 30.8.1905).

The idea of autonomy for Turkish Armenia particularly frightened Russian administrators: they saw what temptation this could bring to Russian Armenia. No wonder Armenia was called Poland of Asia! To explain Russia’s refusal to join other powers in demanding autonomy for Western Armenia (!!!), Prince Lobanov-Rostovsky (who was the chancellor, i.e., foreign minister in 1895-1896) said: “I do not want Turkish Armenia to become the second Bulgaria and Russian Armenians to use against us the institutions that Armenian autonomy will create under Turkish protectorate.” (Amfiteatrov, p. 17).

Excerpts from Pavel Shekhtman’s book: Flame of Ancient Fires.

(!!!) The Russian Empire received full funding for the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, with the main condition being the creation of Western Armenia (referring to the territory of W.A in the modern sense).

The only successful war that the Russian Empire conducted simultaneously in two geographically distant theaters of military operations was 100% financed by borrowed funds allocated by a consortium of Western banks, and only at the end of the war did the royal government allocate about 200 million gold rubles from the state budget for redistribution (collection of documents of the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Empire).

On the main Caucasian front (the Balkan front was secondary according to the terms of the agreement), out of 75,000 soldiers of the Russian Empire, more than 40,000 were Armenians, including 7 generals and about 500 officers. They were opposed by a 65,000-strong army of the Ottoman Empire. The Russian army received significant assistance and massive support from the local population, which led to the Russian Empire’s devastating and swift victory on the Caucasian front.

As a result of victory in this war, the Russian Empire flatly refused to fulfill the obligations it undertook to create Armenia on its historical lands, and as a result of its refusal, it received nothing. It was perhaps the only war in which Russia gained nothing despite its victory.

In retaliation, the tsarist government, in agreement with the German Empire, organized through Sultan Abdul Hamid mass killings of our people on the territory of Western Armenia in 1895-1897, as a result of which we lost about 400,000 tortured and killed of our people.

Twenty years later, in 1915, history repeated itself on a much larger scale. The organizers and perpetrators were the same. Remembering the robbery of Echmiadzin by Russian army units in 1804 and the Decree of Nicholas II on the confiscation of property of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the closure of Armenian schools.

P.S. Unlearned lessons of history repeat themselves until they are fully absorbed or until the student themselves becomes a part of history. The choice we make depends only on us.

Submitted and commented by: Rollo Hrolf

Translated by Vigen Avetisyan

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