The Mikoyan Enigma

Recently, there has been a major controversy in Armenia over a proposal to build a statue of the Soviet statesman and Bolshevik revolutionary Anastas Mikoyan in Yerevan. Some Armenians regard Mikoyan as a remnant of the country’s Soviet past from which they want to move beyond. Others ponder possible political motives behind this sudden proposal.…

Remembering Stalin in Russia and the South Caucasus

In the spring of 2013, major news outlets in Russia, the Caucasus, and the U.S. were abuzz with the news about “Stalin’s long shadow” (NYT), alarmed that “Stalin lives on” (Tert), and that he is “more popular in Russia now than at the end of the Soviet Union” (HuffPost). These articles referred to a survey,…

Commentary: Squandered Opportunity?: Armenia, Georgia, Abkhazia, Russia, and the Sochi Olympics

The 2014 Sochi Oympics in Russia are due to start just a week from this Friday. Yet, when I was in Yerevan recently, I was somewhat surprised to see a total absence of discussion on the upcoming games. After all, Yerevan is located only 500 miles away from Sochi. Would not the Armenians stand to…

The Serious Business of Being Funny in Armenia: An Interview with Sergey Sargsyan

“Making people laugh, even if it’s just a little, is a psychological need for comedians. I seek to satisfy this need.” When speaking about civil society, it is important to mention the people who help forge this environment in Armenia today.  One such individual is Sergey Sargsyan, co-host of the ArmComedy Project (the Armenian version of…