The Unsinkable Underground In Soviet Armenia

The National United Party was an underground national democratic party founded in 1966 in the Armenian SSR. The main goal of the party was the independence of Soviet Armenia from the USSR.

In 1968, the founders of the party Haykaz Khachatryan, Shahen Harutyunyan, and Stepan Zatikyan were arrested, and the leadership of the party passed to famous dissident Paruyr Hayrikyan. Hayrikyan has been four times convicted in the USSR and imprisoned for 17 years in total.

Having become the leader of the party, Paruyr Hayrikyan proposed the independence strategy of Armenia through a referendum. The party operated until 1987, after which it was renamed the National Self-Determination Party, becoming the first democratic party in the USSR.

As human rights activist Lyudmila Alekseeva writes: “Armenia is the only republic in the USSR housing a party that aims to separate from the USSR, and this idea causes the sympathy of the people. For 15 years, the KGB has had the opportunity to become reassured of the indestructibility of the National United Party – after each series of arrests, new and new adherents have appeared.”

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