STEPANAKERT (Realist English). Each nation has its own sacred places, values of material and spiritual culture, which this nation is especially proud of. It is not without reason that barbarians and young nomadic tribes, having seized such sacred places of ancient and rich in cultural values peoples, begin to methodically and quickly destroy these values in order to erase from the face of the earth all that this or that ancient culture has given to the world and civilization.
The world remembers how vandals destroyed the magnificent monument in Afghanistan — the “Walking Buddha”. Barbarians destroyed ancient cultural monuments in ancient Syria, and the museum of ancient artifacts of Baghdad was destroyed and looted by barbarians in Iraq. Today, before the eyes of the whole world, Azerbaijani barbarians and vandals are methodically destroying the ancient culture of Artsakh Armenians — churches, khachkars, cemeteries and other monuments of the Armenian culture, as well as monuments to Karabakh soldiers who died in the Great Patriotic War.
A clear example of the vandalism and barbarism of the Azerbaijani occupiers is their aggressive behavior in those areas of Artsakh that came under their control as a result of the third Azerbaijani-Karabakh 44-day war in 2020. One gets the impression that the authorities and the people of Azerbaijan, in their animal hatred of the Armenians, have adopted everything that was low and barbaric in the entire history of mankind.
Having completely destroyed the ancient culture of the Armenian people in Nakhichevan, Shahumyan district, Getashen and Martunashen, the Azerbaijanis undertook the destruction of the culture of the Armenians of Artsakh. Today, before the eyes of the civilized world, they are zealously destroying the Armenian culture and monuments in Shushi, Berdzor, Karvachar, Sanasar and Hadrut districts of Artsakh.
The Armenian Artsakh is very rich in its history and culture, traditions and customs, linguistic dialects and patois, mores and manners, moral imperatives and gastro-culture, humor and life-affirming energy. But among this wealth, Hadrut district undoubtedly stands out as a special diamond crowning the peak of the Artsakh mind and beauty. It is beautiful with its unforgettable nature: mountains, forests, springs, flora and fauna. Villages and settlements of Hadrut district are usually located in wooded mountains, in very picturesque places, with blooming orchard and kitchen gardens, thanks to the hard work of local residents. However, the greatest wealth of Hadrut and Hadrut district is undoubtedly the people. They are anthropologically beautiful, with regular facial features, well-built, light-skinned and often blonde, smiling and friendly. Residents of Hadrut district are distinguished by their hospitality and special culinary culture. For example, the way how the traditional Artsakh dish “kurkut” is prepared in tonirs in Hadrut district is unlikely to be found in other places of Artsakh.
And the famous Hadrut food variety is a special culture that favorably distinguishes the residents of the Hadrut district. When asked why your pickles are so delicious, they invariably humorously answer that we salt the selective vegetables, unlike Stepanakert residents, who choose the worst for this. This is how they often tease the residents of the capital Stepanakert.
The Hadrut district of Artsakh has given the world outstanding scientists: academicians, doctors of sciences, professors, associate professors, teachers and engineers, mathematicians, physicists, etc.
The Hadrut people have always lived in the aura of the Artsakh Armenian culture and existence, having little contact with their nomadic neighbors – the Caucasian Tatars, the current Azero-Turks.
The book “Collection of Materials for describing the Localities and Tribes of the Caucasus” (Tiflis, 1888) says that Hadrut itself is surrounded by ten villages, of which nine villages have an Armenian population, with only one village of Karakol being inhabited by Muslims. Later, this village would be transferred to the Fizuli district (formerly Karaginsky district), which was founded by the Russians in 1827 as an outpost near the border with Iran (Persia). Russians lived in the town of Karyagin, as well as Armenians who moved from nearby villages of the Hadrut district. Later, in 1959, the authorities of the Azerbaijan SSR renamed the city of Karyagin and the Karyaginsky district into the city of Fizuli and the Fizuli district. The Russians named the city after the hero of the Russo-Persian wars, commander of the 17th Jaeger Regiment, Colonel Pavel Mikhailovich Karyagin, whose memory is undeservedly forgotten in Russia, but the Armenians of Artsakh remember and honor the memory of this Russian warrior-hero to this day.
In the “Collection of Materials for describing the Localities and Tribes of the Caucasus” it is written that the Hadrut silk-winding factory, which existed since 1877, sold 50 to 60 pounds of silk to France for 8 months at a price of 250-300 rubles per pood (16.3805 kg). And the silk of this factory was at two exhibitions: in Moscow, in 1882, and in the American one in 1883. At the first exhibition it was awarded a bronze medal, and at the second — a gold one. Also, this collection says that the local Hadrut Armenians have a special craving for learning.
In 1835, the Poltava Mounted Cossack regiment of the Kuban army was stationed in Hadrut. In 1838, the headquarters with an infirmary was opened in the village of Vank, near Hadrut. In 1880, a telegraph station was opened in Hadrut. The Russian language has been widely spoken here since the deployment of Russian troops in Hadrut in 1835. The collection says:
“Since Hadrut is inhabited exclusively by Armenians, everyone speaks Armenian, mixing Tatar and Russian words with it. Russians and Armenians speak Tatar when they meet Tatars, and they speak Russian meeting Russians”.
It is further written that “after the adoption of Russian citizenship and the establishment of the headquarters here, the residents, often rotating between Russians, had the opportunity to learn to speak Russian, now almost every illiterate villager is able to speak Russian.”
Russian became the second native language in Hadrut, thanks to it, the Armenians of Hadrut district actually got access to quality education, both in the Russian Empire and, especially, in the Soviet Union. During the Soviet period, when education was free and accessible to all segments of the population, the Hadrut district of Nagorno-Karabakh provided a large number of highly educated specialists, scientists, engineers, and creative intelligentsia. And the village of Mets Tagher in the Hadrut district of Artsakh gave the world the outstanding Marshal of the USSR, Armenak Khanferyants (Sergey Khudyakov).
It should be noted that the trend of bilingualism in the Hadrut district lasted until recently, when the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh mistakenly decided that other languages could be sacrificed for the sake of better learning of their native language. So to say, “make a fool pray, he will break his forehead,” so over the past more than 20 years, the Hadrut district has slowly begun to forget the Russian language, especially in villages. Although in Hadrut itself, the residents spoke Russian quite well until the occupation of the Hadrut district by Azerbaijani-Turkish-ISIS troops as a result of the 44-day war and the expulsion of the residents of this city and district from their homes.
It should be especially noted that it was the Russian language that became the bridge to the world of advanced science, culture, literature, etc. for the Karabakh Armenians. Therefore, after graduating from high school in the villages of the Hadrut district, young children entered the leading universities of Russia, and subsequently became doctors of sciences, professors and academicians.
In the Hadrut district there is the famous village of Banazor (Banazur), which has long been famous for its fine wine. Wine from Banazur was supplied to the royal court, and even the great poet A.S. Pushkin in his “Journey to Erzurum in 1829” noted that this Karabakh wine is in no way inferior to some Burgundy. The patriotism of the Banazur Armenians was very high, so at the end of the XIX century the Banazur Foundation was established in Baku, which in every way helped the development of the village, provided the local school with everything necessary. Back in 1928 a German diesel engine was installed in Banazur, which provided electricity to the local mill and gave light to the villagers’ houses for up to 24 hours.
In Soviet times, a military brass band played in Hadrut on holidays, there was a dance floor where people danced on weekends, met and created families, etc. – they lived a full-fledged urban civilized life. It should be noted that the culture of winemaking in the Hadrut district has always been at the highest level: in tsarist times and under the USSR, Banazur wine and the Hadrut brand, in the post-Soviet period, the Kataro wine from the village of Tog became especially famous. This wine was exported from Artsakh to Armenia, Russia and Western countries.
We believe that one of the heaviest blows to the Armenian Artsakh is the destruction of Hadrut and Hadrut district not only physically and geographically, but the spiritual and cultural destruction of the world of Hadrut district itself with its culture, value norms and wealth, with its human wealth.
Unfortunately, the Hadrut people have mostly dispersed all over the world today — some stayed in Artsakh, some in Armenia, and some left for different countries, taking with them the memory and culture of Hadrut, which, unfortunately, will disappear in the next generation. Nothing, of course, will change in this cursed world, but the Armenian people will forever lose the wonderful world of Hadrut Armenians with their dialect, with their “turmeric”, with their pickles — in a word, with their special world and human relations, which are very rare to find in this inhuman world.
Undoubtedly, the city of Hadrut and the Hadrut district of Artsakh are an indivisible part of our Homeland, and we are obliged to return our wealth.
We believe that the OSCE Minsk Group, the Co-chair countries Russia-USA-France should support the just demand of our people for the restoration of the territorial integrity of Artsakh and the de-occupation of our lands. After all, it is not barbarians and vandals who should rule the world, but civilized peoples. Hadrut district, Shushi, Shahumyan district, Getashen subdistrict and other Armenian autochthonous lands should be returned to the true owner – the Armenian people. Hadrut people will be able to preserve their culture and traditions only by living in Armenian Artsakh.
Garib Babayan is Head of the Independent Center for Strategic Studies (Stepanakert, Artsakh), special to Realist English