In Commemoration of Ozanyan’s Monument’s Dismantling – Where Armenia-Russia Relations Stand Today

In Commemoration of Ozanyan’s Monument’s DismantlingHaving stood for only several days, the monument to the general of the Russian and Armenian armies Andranik Ozanyan in Sochi was dismantled at the initiative of local authorities in May-June 2011. Ozanyan has been one of the leaders of the Armenian national liberation movement in Western Armenia (now occupied by Turkey), as well as an outstanding commander who protected the interests of Armenia, Bulgaria, and Russia.

Official accounts state that the monument was dismantled because the Sochi authorities had promised the Turks and Azerbaijanis to prevent its erection in the first place. The Union of Armenians of Russia also played its role, being pressurized by Kremlin.

The dismantling of the monument perturbed hundreds of thousands of Armenians, including Hamshen Armenians living in Russia and abroad. The joint declaration of the president of the Association of Hamshen Armenians in Moscow Ashot Dudukchyan and the president of the Krasnodar regional center “Hamshen” Ardavast Tulumjyan reads:

“Andranik Ozanyan not only is a national hero and a fighter for the nation’s liberty, he also is our fellow countryman, a son of the Trabzon vilayet of the Ottoman Empire that is the home of many Hamshen Armenians who now live in Sochi. The fact that it was the Armenians of Sochi who initiated the construction of a monument to their countryman, who also has been a general of the Russian army, is thus not accidental. Moreover, the grandfathers and grand-grandfathers of many Armenians fought under the Command of legendary Andranik and owe him their lives.”

The Russian-language media of Armenia also mentioned the dismantling of the monument with an understandable degree of indignation. The media of Armenia also expressed their opinion on this event during the Russian-Turkish conference “Russia-Turkey: together in the 21st century” held in the Cultural Center of the Moscow State University of International Relations. They argued that the rise of a Turkish flag on the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day in the city of Tver, the desecration of a monument to the heroes of the Russo-Turkish War in Kitay-gorod in Moscow, and the dismantling of Ozanyan’s monument are a part of one chain.

Today, this event is forgotten. Moreover, given the current trends in the relations between Russia and Turkey/Azerbaijan (including the supply of arms to Azerbaijan), the restoration of the monument is highly unlikely and even impossible. Apart from that, Kremlin mouthpieces, including vice-president of Rosneft Mikhail Leontyev and one entrepreneur Yuryev, clearly expressed their hostile attitude towards Armenia. The statements of individuals of such status could be well considered as official. None of them was held responsible for their xenophobia and extremist speeches, once more showing the true position of Armenia in the eyes of Russia.

Леонтьев: “Армяне! Катитесь колбаской!..”

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