The independent academic platform “Monitoring of the Cultural Heritage of Artsakh” (MONUMENT WATCH) reports:
“As a result of the military invasion on September 19-20, 2023, Azerbaijan occupied the entire territory of Artsakh. Under Azerbaijani control were also the renowned scientific, educational, and spiritual centers of medieval Artsakh – the monastic complexes of Gandzasar and Amaras, which for centuries had an all-Armenian significance.
Official Azerbaijan promptly targeted the monastic complexes of Gandzasar and Amaras, claiming that the Azerbaijani side “liberated the famous Caucasian Albanian shrines-pilgrimage sites.” After spreading this information, Azerbaijani propaganda began to widely disseminate pseudo-scientific and fake, overtly propagandistic information flows about the monasteries. The Ministry of Culture was the first to do this, followed by the media field with its various representatives and so-called experts.
On October 6, 2023, Baku TV presented an extensive video program dedicated to the monastic complexes of Gandzasar, Amaras, and Dadivank. In particular, it was stated that after the “liberation” of the mentioned monasteries, the global academic community, especially historians, will have the opportunity to see and confirm “Armenian falsifications” firsthand.
However, this video clearly raises questions about the statements of the secretary of the Baku eparchial administration of the official Russian Orthodox Church, Alexei Nikonov. Speaking about the monastic complexes of Gandzasar and Amaras, he notes that they are the best examples of Caucasian Albanian architecture and have always been spiritual and cultural centers of Caucasian Albania. Not a word about the real affiliation of the monasteries. The Russian cleric, obviously distorting and substituting historical facts, makes another extremely intolerant statement, according to which “those who felt themselves masters there could not fill these monasteries with spiritual and religious life for 30 years, they could only produce 3-star cognac Gandzasar.”
Such a blatantly intolerant, radical statement raises many questions specifically addressed to the Russian Orthodox Church.
Rizvan Guseynov and Ulviya Hajiyevas presented more dangerous theses, according to which the appearance and decor of the monastic complexes of Gandzasar and Amaras were significantly transformed by Armenians over the last 200 years, when these monasteries passed to the Armenian Apostolic Church, to hide the fact that the monasteries were supposedly Caucasian Albanian. The Azerbaijani side noted that it “documented all these changes and manipulations.” It was also noted that Azerbaijani researchers now have the opportunity to work there.
Such statements pose an obvious threat to the existence of monastic complexes, as under the guise of de-Armenianization, the genuine architecture of these monasteries may be distorted, and hundreds of Armenian inscriptions, crosses, and cross compositions may be erased.