Commentary: Victory Day – Why remembrance is not exclusively about the past

On 9 May, people throughout the former Soviet Union, from Russia to Armenia to Kyrgyzstan, commemorated the most well-known and celebrated day of the region – the victory over fascism and Nazism in the Great Patriotic War. The celebration of the 70-year jubilee of the 1945 victory in Moscow was simply exceptional.  In fact, it was the…

Debunking a Caucasian Myth

Updated on 16 March 2018 to include the 1920 American map of the proposed boundary between Turkey and Armenia as determined by US President Woodrow Wilson. One of the most enduring myths of Caucasus history involves the little-noticed and oddly placed border between Turkey and Azerbaijan. At first glance at any map, this border is…

Ajaran Armenians: Discovering a Seaside Diaspora

By Lilit Grigoryan and Pietro Shakarian Ajara is a unique region in the Caucasus. A state within a state, it is an autonomous republic of Georgia, located in the southwestern corner of the country on the Black Sea coast, with Turkey to the south. It is home to a significant Armenian community and has served…

Memory and Memorial: April 24 Atop Tsitsernakaberd

In 1967, Yerevan gained a number of public statues and memorials. This year marked 50 years of Soviet Armenia, and an obelisk devoted to the anniversary rose along the curves of Saralanji Avenue in commemoration. In the neighboring Victory Park, devoted to World War II remembrance, Mother Armenia also raised her sword in 1967. These…

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,…

A Lost Soviet Armenian Film

During Soviet times, the cinema industries of Georgia and Armenia proved to be veritable powerhouses not only within the USSR but internationally as well.  Great filmmakers such as Tengiz Abuladze, Sergei Parajanov, Artavazd Peleshyan, and Otar Iosseliani and performers like Sofiko Chiaureli and Frunzik Mkrtchyan effectively put the Caucasus on the map as a major…