Moscow (Realist English). The questions of the Realist News Agency were answered by Doctor of Sciences (History), member of the Association of Academicians for the Promotion of Science and Culture Alexander Cheryomin.
What is remarkable about the history of Armenia for a Russian historian?
Alexander Cheryomin: In the first course of the Institute, when we studied the history of the USSR, I became convinced that the history of Armenia can be traced back to the history of the Ancient World and the Middle Ages. And by those architectural monuments that were shown by Academician Boris Rybakov in history textbooks, and by those components that we know from the Bible — this is both Noah’s Ark and Mount Ararat, you became convinced that the Armenian land has a rich history, and it cannot fit in small sections of school textbooks.
Therefore, I began to study this area, noticing one very interesting trend: world-class events have always taken place in the Armenian Highlands, but few people have written about them.
Although if we look at the characters involved in the Armenian Highlands, outstanding people lived there. Further, when studying Byzantium, I noticed that representatives of the Armenian people sat on the Byzantine throne — during the reign of the Armenian dynasty, the relations were friendly.
When I studied the history of the Crimea, the Caucasus and the Black Sea region, I realized that thanks to these Byzantine Armenian emperors, memories were preserved. It turned out that Armenians everywhere acted as carriers of interesting information about other peoples.
Take for example the Great Armenia of Tigranes II, whose possessions stretched from the Caspian Sea to Egypt. This region is close to me because I was born in Astrakhan, where there have been a lot of Armenians for centuries. The Armenians have left a noticeable mark in the history of this city. The main merchants in both Hadji Tarkhan and Russian Astrakhan were Armenians. Other peoples did not know how to make jewelry so skillfully, negotiate with other peoples who had a different religion. And Astrakhan was a trading center and the Ulus of Jochi, and then an outpost of Russia on the Caspian Sea. Thanks to the Armenian merchants, retirement was found, and then to the Persian Gulf. Certain Russian goods entered the markets of Hindustan. It turns out that wherever you look, in any era, there were representatives of the Armenian people everywhere.
Later, when I moved to Moscow, I began to notice a lot related to the Armenian people: take a look at the Lazarevs family worth! No matter what topic I write about, and about the history of some princedoms, khanates, Armenians always appeared in it. This is an interesting fact when you write a book and wait for Armenians to appear in it (laughs). And they appear…
Why are the Baku-Turkish aggressors rushing to conclude a “peace treaty” with Armenia?
Alexander Cheryomin: After the events of 2020 and 2022, the native Armenian territory is under the occupation of Azerbaijan. Of course, today it is advantageous for Baku to legally secure this territory for themself under contracts. It is impossible to do this, although I was pleased to see how three presidents, Recep Erdogan, Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan, sat down in Prague and had the necessary conversation.
This is correct, you need to meet with enemies and opponents, you need to understand what concessions they expect from you. Judging by the way the situation is going on, they are waiting for concessions from Armenia, so that Karabakh will leave the bosom of its native state — Armenia forever. Therefore, now there is an active processing and it is very unpleasant.
We need to conclude a truce, but without marking territorial positions: if we consolidate them, it will turn out the way it once took place during the time of Kemal Ataturk and Vladimir Lenin. Then, too, they “secured” and we see where the native Armenian lands are now, along with Lake Van.
The Kars Treaty, which deprived Armenia of its lands, has been in force for 100 years. If you look at the Armenian land that remains today, it is actually the smallest Armenian state in history: it is 11 times less than in the times of Great Armenia.
I would like the Armenian people to preserve their identity, their culture, their language, but the Azerbaijani aggressors are rewriting history, destroying architectural monuments, destroying churchyards where ordinary Armenians and prominent figures of the Armenian people rest, destroying temples and history through the elimination of artifacts. This is the scariest thing!
It may take 2-3 generations more, and people will no longer know what Armenian monuments were here. Azerbaijanis will bring tourists from the USA and say that they have lived there for many centuries, that their monuments and artifacts are there. Therefore, it will be difficult for Armenian politicians to defend national interests today, but one must still remember the history of their people and resist in the name of such historical memory!
Why would modern Russia need a “corridor” through Syunik? After all, it is known that the idea of the corridor was proposed even before the First World War. Moreover, its author, contrary to popular opinion, was not even Turkey, but Kaiser’s Germany.
Alexander Cheryomin: In 1918, the separate Brest-Litovsk Treaty was concluded, and according to it, Germany’s allies began to occupy the territory of Soviet Russia and other states that were formed in 1917-1918. The Dashnaktsutyun party at that time had enormous support among the population in Armenia, and if it had not been for the intervention of the Red Army, if it had not been for the war that arose with Georgia, and then with the so-called Azerbaijanis, then history would have taken a completely different turn. By the way, the term “Azerbaijan” originated in 1918, at the same time such a nationality appeared.
The Turks wanted to destroy the Armenian people, and this conciliatory policy of the Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars Vladimir Ulyanov-Lenin, as well as the unpleasant role of Sergei Kirov, who is a national hero of Azerbaijan, led to the formation of a corridor that practically dismembered the native Armenian lands. By doing this, Russia wanted to show its attitude towards the Turkish people.
Throughout its history, Russia has been at war with Turkey, and Armenia has always been an ally of Russia, look at how many Armenian commanders there were in it. Even if we take Bagration, he is from the Armenian family of Bagrationi, which later became the Georgian family of Bagratida. Both Loris-Melikov and Lazarev are outstanding figures who were engaged in education, navigation and the construction of churches.
There are a lot of Armenian surnames that we can see in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Astrakhan, Nakhichevan, aka Rostov-on-the Don. The entire Black Sea coast of the Caucasus was developed by Armenians. Thanks to the Armenians, this region, where there was a tense situation, was restored, because trade is the most important thing for revival.
Unfortunately, the policy pursued by Lenin’s Council of People’s Commissars, and later by Stalin’s Council of People’s Commissars, was all directed against the Armenian people. But the same Stalin was familiar with many Baku residents, even served time in prison there. And if we look at Baku before 1918, the main population there was Armenian.
Azerbaijan is an artificially created state that has received foreign territories. It was the conductor of the policies of Lenin and Stalin. The damage suffered by the Armenian people, including the leaders of the Armenian SSR and the Catholicos of all Armenians, was enormous, and it was inflicted, in particular, by the Bolsheviks in the 1920s.
Alexander Myasnikov, who came to Armenia from Belarus, began to counteract certain anti-Armenian forces. Therefore, an act of destruction was arranged for him: if you look at it, it was murder. The murder of an outstanding figure, because it is unlikely that he would have followed the path that he was advised by the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b).
Well, today Russia is pursuing a policy that can be described as “sitting on two chairs.” Russia does not want to lose Azerbaijan, it wants to restore relations with Georgia, it really wants to be friends with Turkey and have it as an ally against other NATO countries.
Since the beginning of the SMO, Russia has been consulting with Turkey on many issues. Frequent meetings are held at the level of defense ministers, and at the level of foreign ministers, and the presidents meet often. We do not see that trade relations have improved, we see that they want to make a bargaining chip of some state, and we understand what country this is. Therefore, Pashinyan’s decision to turn to France was correct, he thereby told Russia: if you do not want to be friends for centuries, then we will turn to France, where a lot of Armenians live, and where Armenia occupies certain positions in science, culture, and politics. But, unfortunately, Emmanuel Macron also does not fully demonstrate the correct position, preferring to maneuver.
Russia is thinking more about friendly relations with Turkey and how to solve oil and gas issues, because in fact Azerbaijan is Russia’s opponent both in the gas and oil complex. Russia is practically saving its opponent. Besides, Aliyev’s power is not very strong in Azerbaijan. There are big protests going on there. If there is democracy in Armenia, and people can come out and talk about what they care about, then in Azerbaijan people cannot take to the streets, because they will be immediately suppressed by law enforcement agencies. There are much more problems in Azerbaijan and there are no guarantees that the Aliyev regime will stay. It may be replaced by an anti-Russian regime that will have continued its anti-Armenian course.
It turns out that the Americans took advantage of the incomprehensible policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia (which has not decided with whom it is -with Azerbaijan, Turkey or Armenia). I am referring to the visit of the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. This lady has already shown when she flew to Taiwan that she has tremendous influence.
Negotiations are underway at the level of defense ministers, and the United States shows that they can take Armenia under protection in this confrontation, which is now being formed. Here, Armenian diplomacy needs to take the right position, to show that Yerevan stands for a strong Armenia, for the preservation of Armenia’s territorial integrity, and whoever wants, let him help Armenia. We need to use Russian, American and French capabilities. Perhaps other countries will also want to help.
For example, if there were any problems in Israel, they always turned to their lobby, which lives in many countries. The history for the Armenian people has developed in such a way that they live in many countries. Therefore, Armenians can turn to various political structures that live in Western Europe, North America and Asia to help them get out of this difficult situation.
Armenia alone cannot cope, because it is geographically smaller, and the population is less than 3 million, and the population of those countries that claim Armenian lands is much larger. The modern operations that were used against Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh showed that the armed forces should already have other types of equipment.
I would like volunteer-generals to come to help their people, as in previous wars, because in fact there are few generals in Armenia today. It would be possible to declare mobilization among the Armenian diasporas, so that people would come and help their people. I think this is the main task now.
On the eve of the collapse of the USSR, Azerbaijan withdrew from the Union state. That is, it has realized his right to self-determination, just like the Armenians of Artsakh. Why are Azerbaijanis “allowed” to secede from the USSR, and the Armenians of Artsakh are still prohibited from seceding from the Azerbaijani SSR?
Alexander Cheryomin: These are double standards. According to the Union Treaty of 1922, which created the Transcaucasian Federation, which included Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as according to the USSR Constitution of 1936, any republic could secede from the Soviet Union.
The autonomies also had the right to self-determination up to secession from the Union Republic. There were such precedents. For example, two states left Georgia — the Abkhazian Autonomous Republic and the South Ossetian Autonomous Region. The people of Artsakh also used their right.
The people of Artsakh are Armenian. They speak Armenian there. Although in the Soviet years, Heydar Aliyev tried to populate Shushi with Azerbaijanis: he built factories and small factories there and sent Azerbaijani students from rural areas to universities there. This forcible introduction of the Azerbaijani people into Karabakh did not work out for Aliyev fully, but a certain displacement of the Armenians did.
At the same time, there are fundamental documents that show that Artsakh can safely gain self-determination, become an independent state, or return to its ancestral homeland of Armenia. Even despite the fact that aggressive neighbors have a mindset to destroy this state.
There is a lot of criticism of the Russian policy in Armenia and Artsakh. What, in your opinion, should Moscow’s policy be – ideally?
Alexander Cheryomin: Moscow should know the history of relations between Russia and Armenia. In the XIX century, the Armenian people were expecting the Russians as liberators. Armenians helped Russia in the fight against Turkish and Iranian colonialism. And during the Soviet period, Armenia made a tremendous contribution to the economy, science and culture of the Soviet Union. We must remember all this and let the people know the history of the Armenian people.
It is necessary to tell more about Armenia, about historical monuments that have thousands of years of history, to show the development of the Armenian people and how they took part in the Great Patriotic War. There are a lot of World War II cards being played today. So we need to show what outstanding military leaders the Armenians were, how they collected money to form tank columns. It is necessary to tell how the Armenian Church participated all over the world in raising funds for the needs of the Soviet Army.
It is on the example of the Great Patriotic War that the role of the Armenian people in the Great Victory should be shown. It’s time to fully stand up for the Armenians and say: “There is an indivisible state and its history. We will not let anyone capture it!”.
Unfortunately, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs wriggle, it does not make a single firm statement. It starts talking about geopolitics, about making friends with everyone. The usual betrayal in words!
Imagine that you are laying a time capsule for Russians and Armenians who will open it in 2122. What will you write in your message to the posterity?
Alexander Cheryomin: I would like the Armenian people, which has a rich history, to finally receive their ancestral lands, and for the prosperity of the Armenian people to go on them. There nature there is amazing.
I want all the lands to return to the Armenian bosom, to Yerevan, so that the population in the country is not 3 million, but at least 30 million, and the area of the state is not 29 thousand square kilometers, but 290 thousand. I want peace and quiet, so that the neighbors are kind and good, so that Armenia has access to the Black Sea, as it once did in the times of Great Armenia.
And I would also like to wish the Russians to return their territories too: this includes Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, and the territory where Kazakhstan is now located, and so that the eastern regions, which were once part of the Russian Empire, are also again under the jurisdiction of Moscow. To recreate Russia at least within the borders of the XIX century.