The Armenians of Russia have a history counting more than ten centuries. However, the backbone of the current community is the economic emigrants of the 1990s who left Armenia in search of a better life. They were mainly looking for ways to feed their family.
The trend has remained since the 1990s – as a rule, the Russian Armenians value personal and family well-being along with business, but not the preservation of national identity.
On the vast territory of Russia, there is no integral Armenian community – there are associations at regional levels and cities with little Armenian population.
Armenia in the minds of Russian Armenians continues to be an unsuccessful country. Armenians integrate into the Russian society and willingly switch to Russian, and the desire of the few Russian Armenians to return to their homeland perplexes their Armenian surroundings.
Russia is not in vain called the “country of the Third Rome” – the Armenians of Russia can be compared with the Armenians who lived in the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium). The Orthodox culture has absorbed Armenians, gradually implanting the concept of “Byzantine” (factually “Greek”) in their self-identity.
The Russian society is actively fueling the inferiority complexes of the “small nation” and classifies the Armenians as “people of Caucasian nationality” or “brothers by faith.” Consequently, one of the forms of adaptation of Armenians to the societies where they live is their inclusion in the “macro-communities” of either Caucasians or Christians.
It is not surprising that the number of interethnic marriages is growing exponentially. In such families, preference is usually given to the local way of life and to Russian as the language of interethnic communication.
The Armenian population in the southern regions of Russia (the North Caucasus republics, the Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories, the Rostov Oblast, and others), despite geographical proximity to Armenia, is becoming increasingly distanced from the country.
For example, the Black Sea Armenians in the Krasnodar Territory for the most part consider themselves to be the followers of the Russian Orthodox Church and live according to its canons. So it turns out that Armenia celebrates the holidays on one day, while tens of thousands of Armenians in the south of Russia do so on another.
Young people have a poor command of the literary Armenian language. This means that people cannot read in their native language and follow the Armenian media.
The cultural life of the Armenians of Russia can hardly be called competitive or vibrant. Many events and concerts are being held, but the most ambitious and popular are the performances of singers from the subpar Armenian show business. In the developed part of society, they only cause rejection due to low-quality music.
The image of the Armenians formed on the territory of Russia also causes rejection – many are tired of the stereotypical jokes about barbecue and the ridiculous accent.
Dozens of Armenian organizations operate in Russia. They are headed either by businessmen of the Soviet generation (e.g. the Union of Armenians of Russia) who have been in their positions for many years or by groups of students (e.g. the Association of Armenian Youth of Moscow) who have to act on a voluntary basis without any funding. Often, organizations do not unite anyone except the creators themselves and their environment.
Translated from Russian, original by Narine Melkonyan, armat.im