The Armenian Military Elite According to Mamuka Gogitidze and Georgy Bezhitashvili

The Armenian Military EliteDoctors of Historical Sciences Mamuka Gogitidze and Georgy Bezhitashvili published the book “Armenian Military Elite” last year. This biographical directory includes Armenians born in Georgia who were given the rank of general in the Russian Imperial Army (1723-1917), the Soviet Army and Navy (1940-1991), the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia, and the US – 112 people in total. Financial support for the publication was provided by entrepreneur Rafik Aghajanyan.

The authors dedicated the book to the centuries-old fraternal friendship of the Georgian and Armenian nations. The book’s editor, Doctor of Historical Sciences Elguja Mamukelashvili in the preface “Brother is strong by his brother” tells about the value of the handbook and reminds that Georgians and Armenians were first drafted for military service in 1723 by the decree of Emperor Peter I. Since then, there have been 63 Armenian generals in Georgia, 38 in the USSR, 6 in Armenia, 4 in Russia, and 1 in the US.

The book opens with the biography of cavalry general, Interior Minister of Russia, Count Mikhail Loris-Melikov.

The reader is probably familiar with such well-known Armenian generals’ names such as Moses Argutinsky-Dolgorukov, as well as three other generals – David and two Alexanders – from the Argutinsky-Dolgorukov family. Brothers Ivan and David Abamelik and Major General Mikhail Areshev were from Tiflis (now Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia). And there were as many as four generals from the Akhverdov family – Alexander, Fyodor, and two Nikolays.

Jacob Bagratuni (1879-1943) from Akhaltsikhe, a participant of WWI, served in the cabinet of Minister of War of Russia A. Kerensky, married his sister, and later defended Baku in 1918 from the Turks. In 1920, he became the ambassador of the Republic of Armenia in England where he would live until his last days.

The Bebutov family gave 6 generals. The most famous among them was Vasily Osipovich (1791-1858) who distinguished himself in the struggle against Shamil and in the Crimean War where he won many victories on the Caucasian front. On July 24, 1854, in the battle of Kurukdere, Bebutov with his 18.000-soldier squad defeated the twice as large Turkish army.

After receiving the report of the battle, Emperor Nicholas said: “Prince Bebutov wants to surprise me with a victory, and I will surprise him with his reward.”

It is noteworthy that this battle is considered a significant event in the history of the Russian missile forces. The missiles released from special machines horrified the Turks. And the emperor kept his word, awarding Bebutov the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called, which for the lieutenant-general was an unparalleled reward.

The Korganov family gave 4 generals. Among the members of the nobility of Tiflis was Foma Nazarbekov, commander-in-chief of the Armenian forces. Arzas (Arshak) Ter-Ghukasov – a native of Tiflis – participated in the Crimean and Russian-Turkish (1877-1878) wars and the capture Ghunib and Shamil.

The handbook also contains valuable information about army ranks of the Russian army. Then comes the Soviet section, which opens with the biography of Bagrat Arutyunov (1889-1953), the vice-general-director of railways of the first rank (army general), a Hero of Socialist Labor.

Arutyunov served as the director of the Transcaucasian Railway, First Deputy People’s Commissar of Railways of the USSR, and Deputy Minister of Ferrous Metallurgy. He was buried at the Novodevichy cemetery in Moscow. The authors of the monument on his grave were Karo Halabyan and Nikolay Nikoghosyan.

In addition to the generals who fought in 1941-1945 (Ivan Vekilov, Mikhail Arutyunov, Ashot Ghazaryan, and others), the book presents two Kobulov brothers: Bogdan – Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of the USSR – and Amayak – deputy director of the Gulag. Both were shot under Lavrentiy Beria’s case. Stepan Mamulov was another Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of the USSR who would be sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment under the same case.

The list of Soviet generals includes aircraft designer Artem Mikoyan, his nephew Stepan Mikoyan, as well as participants of the Karabakh war Gurgen Dalibaltayan and Kristapor Ivanyan.

Surely, only a few people know colonel general Boris Salambekov (1907-1978). In February 1942, he was appointed the director of the October Railway. He would play an important role in the construction of railway lines to the ports of Ladoga and from the Ladoga shore to the besieged Leningrad inside the encirclement ring.

This road through the swamps – parallel to the front line – has no analogs in history. Salambekov proposed an original timetable and was with the repairmen day and night under shelling and bombing. Nobody knew that his wife had died in besieged Leningrad.

Despite his outstanding achievements, Salambekov was demoted in 1950 under the “Leningrad case”. But after the death of Stalin, things changed. He became the director of the East-Siberian Railway.

Salambekov would die in Moscow from a heart attack. A monument to him now stands in Moscow.

In 1999, a historical series of special banknotes dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Krasnoyarsk Railway was released. The 100-ruble note depicted Salambekov. In his honor in 2004, the series of high-speed electric locomotives was named TEP70BS– “BS” standing for “Boris Salambekov.”

Enrico Apriamov, brothers Vagharshak and Vyacheslav Harutyunyan, Arkady Ter-Tadevosyan, Hovhannes Hunanyan, and Yuri Khachaturov are on the list of the generals of the Republic of Armenia. The handbook is completed by 4 Russian generals and Mikael Tashchian (US).

  1. Gogitidze and G. Bezhitashvili did a valuable job by presenting the biographies of Armenian generals who were born in Tiflis, Tiflis Province, Georgia, and brought glory to Russia, Georgia, and Armenia. We have the right to be proud of these names. Some of them have become known to the general reader thanks to the handbook released by our Georgian colleagues who have made a real step in the development of the Armenian-Georgian relations.

Alexander Tovmasyan

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