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…

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,…

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…