Yeghishe Charents About Stalin – “Narrow-minded Tiflisian Kinto”

Yeghishe Charents About StalinCharents had already been reaching inspirational heights and spiritual insights… And they say that in the last two years of his life, bravado became alien to him and hooliganism also disappeared… He knew that he was being watched. He also knew that Stalin at the Writers’ Congress had pointedly inquired: “And how’s it going for Charents?”

Charents dared to write about Stalin:

He climbed the throne of kings,
This narrow-minded Tiflisian Kinto*,
In chrome boots, in breeches,
He turned the throne into a phaeton…
And there sits this twerp,
Ready to trample all.
This tyrant, Nero, a rude lout,
Who brings tears and blood.

 *A Kinto was an unemployed person or trader who entertained others in restaurants in Tbilisi (Tiflis) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

 In a psychiatric clinic near Paris died Armenian composer Komitas. This death was shocking for many people. Charents identified Komitas with his father. For him, the matching of their surnames was essential: the real surname of both Charents and Komitas was Soghomonyan.

The ashes of the great composer were brought to be buried in Yerevan. The entire city along with many people from around Armenia came to worship Komitas one last time. The crowd in front of the building of the Small Philharmonic Hall at Abovyan St was huge. But when Charents appeared, the crowd moved aside. “Charents! Charents! Charents!” exclaimed the people who recognized him.

Charents approached the coffin and peered through the glass window on its lid. The face of Komitas was visible there. His body had been embalmed in France.

Charents bent over the window, kissed it, and whispered something. Later, people would say that Charents at that moment said goodbye not only to Komitas but also to his father in the face of Komitas…

However, when Charents headed for the exit, the choir standing at the coffin played Mozart’s Requiem. Charents turned around: it was noticeable that he was a little drunk:

“I don’t understand,” said Charents loudly, “I don’t understand, they bury Komitas, but they play Mozart! We must play Komitas!”

In 1936, he was detained by the NKVD and accused of counterrevolution, nationalism, Trotskyism, and terrorism. He died in a prison hospital.

Charents’s burial place is still unknown.

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