January 6, 2021

Irredentism at the Crossroads of Nationalism, Communism and Diverging Interpretations of the Soviet Experience: The Armenian Diasporan Press on Mountainous Karabagh, 1923-1985

By Ara Sanjian

After the political and military turmoil of the First World War and its aftermath, including the genocide that mainly took place between 1915 and 1917, the Armenian survivors took with them to their new countries of residence in the early 1920s a nationalist ideology, which was pursued in the new conditions of exile, primarily by the three Armenian political parties which had outlived aforementioned turmoil – the Hunchakians, Dashnaks and Ramkavars.[1] These parties now propagated the belief that the area of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, formed in 1920-1921, around 11,500 square miles, fell short of national aspirations. The territory of the historical Armenian homeland had been many times larger and other segments of this historical homeland still remained under Turkish, Soviet Azerbaijani, Soviet Georgian, and Iranian control. Armenian activists in the Diaspora promoted a national ideal to gradually restore Armenian political sovereignty over all these territories and encourage the eventual return of all Armenians residing outside these areas to their ancestral land to live together as citizens of one nation-state.

Armenians had varying attitudes toward the four states mentioned, and these different postures affected the range of strategies proposed to recover each of these territories. All Armenians agreed that Turkey was the major enemy, and that the emancipation of Western Armenia[2] from Turkish rule was the most important task. On the other end of the spectrum, the issue of historically Armenian lands in Iran was raised very seldom.[3]

This article is part of an ongoing, more extensive research project regarding the Armenian quest for Mountainous Karabagh in the Soviet era. It will focus on the Mountainous Karabagh Autonomous Region which existed within the borders of Soviet Azerbaijan from 1923 to 1991. The article will also deal to some extent with the Azerbaijani-controlled territories of the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan and Mountainous Gandzak[4], as well as with the Georgian-controlled region of Akhalkalak, now more often called Javakhk.[5] These regions had an estimated total area of around 4-7 thousand square miles, and all, except Nakhichevan, still had Armenian majorities in the immediate aftermath of the Russian revolutions of 1917. They were described collectively as the ‘Internal Lands’ (nerk‘in hogher) because they fell – like Soviet Armenia – inside the borders of the Soviet Union and formed part of a single sovereign, albeit nominally federal, state.[6] Any re-allocation of these territories to Soviet Armenia would technically be the outcome of an internal Soviet political decision; it should not involve any military conflict, or international political bargaining and agreement.[7] We can say that these regions formed the second tier of Armenian irredentism in the Soviet era – in between the demands from Turkey and Iran. I will try to describe how the fate of Mountainous Karabagh was tackled by the various Armenian Diasporan publications, which represented the different shades of Armenian opinion outside the Soviet Union. The period covered in this article extends from the early years of Soviet domination in Transcaucasia, when the region’s political-administrative map was constructed in the early 1920s, to Mikhail Gorbachev’s becoming the new Secretary-General of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee in 1985, which provided Armenians with ample hope that the status of Mountainous Karabagh could be changed as part of the radical economic and political reforms advocated by the new leader in the Kremlin.

The absence of indexes for most of these periodicals makes it practically impossible to compile a comprehensive statistical and quantitative survey of all items dealing with Mountainous Karabagh over a period of about six decades. I have screened the periodicals Drōshak (Paris, 1925-1933), Vēm (Paris, 1933-1939), Sp‘iwŕk‘ (Beirut, 1958-1975) and Azdak Shabat‘ōreak (Beirut, 1969-1985) in full. Thereafter, the cross-references in the polemics published in other important periodicals from various Diasporan centers were traced, especially for specific time periods, when Mountainous Karabagh and the ‘internal lands’ were a hot topic in the press.[8] Moreover, I have attempted to fill some of the apparent gaps in the narrative by using published memoirs, internal political party documents, interviews with activists, and so on. Therefore, there is still room to uncover additional primary material and further refine the conclusions of this article.

The ‘Internal Lands’ in the Diasporan Press: A Brief Chronology

From the early 1920s and until the death of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1953, the staunchly anti-Soviet, Dashnak press was at the forefront of raising the Mountainous Karabagh issue in the Diaspora. The Dashnaks viewed the reluctance of Moscow to annex Mountainous Karabagh and the other ‘internal lands’ to Soviet Armenia as just another indicator that the Communist Party policies were inimical to Armenians, and they raised their voice loudly in this matter.

The Hunchakians and Ramkavars, on the other hand, were readier to cooperate with Soviet authorities in Yerevan and welcomed many of the measures undertaken by the Communist regime to improve life in Soviet Armenia. Despite sharing the same irredentist objectives of the Dashnaks, these two parties were more cautious in raising Armenian territorial claims within the Soviet borders. They tackled the issue of the ‘internal lands’ in public very rarely, and much less vocally. One such example was the cautious welcome of Hnch‘ak, the central organ of the Hunchakian Party, then published in Providence, Rhode Island, when the new Soviet constitution was promulgated in 1936. Soviet Armenia became a full union republic of the USSR with this constitution, but the ‘internal lands’ remained outside its borders.[9] Another instance was when, around the same time, the Ramkavar activist Arshak Ch‘ōpanian, living in France, privately tried unsuccessfully to encourage the Soviet Armenian Communist Party leader, Aghasi Khanjyan, to raise the same issue with the authorities in Moscow. Eventually, Khanjyan was liquidated during the Stalinist purges in 1936, and Ch‘ōpanian became a persona non grata in Soviet Armenia for the rest of the Stalin era.[10]

Armenian Diaspora
The front page of the Hunchakian daily Ararat (Beirut) on 24 April 1964, the 59th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide clearly identifying the Armenian irredentist desires: the ‘Wilsonian’ Western Armenia, plus Akhalkalak, Nakhichevan and Mountainous Karabagh.

The post-Stalin Soviet leaders allowed more regular contact between Soviet Armenia and the Diaspora, which made the latter increasingly susceptible to the subdued irredentist desires among the elites in Yerevan. Since this was already in tune with the decades-old, vibrant irredentism in the Diaspora, the period extending from the funeral of Catholicos Gevorg VI in Ejmiatsin in May 1954 to July 1959 gradually witnessed increasing behind-the-scenes interest toward this issue among pro-Soviet, anti-Dashnak factions as well. Hunchakians, Ramkavars and other Diasporans friendly toward Soviet Armenia gradually came out and joined calls for the annexation of Mountainous Karabagh and the other ‘internal lands.’ Simon Simonian, the future publisher of the Beirut weekly Sp‘iwŕk‘, the Yerevan-based author Derenik Demirchyan, Vazgen I, the new, Diasporan-born Catholicos of All Armenians, based in Ejmiatsin, the Ramkavar Party leadership in Beirut, including Barunak T‘ovmasian, the party’s leader, and Arsēn Kitur, the editor of Ararat, the Hunchakian daily in Beirut, all played pivotal, though not necessarily interconnected, roles in preparing the intellectual climate, which made Mountainous Karabagh and the ‘internal lands’ part of the Ramkavar and Hunchakian political agenda and a respectable topic in the non-Dashnak press. Simonian attended the funeral of Gevorg VI and discussed this issue when he met Demirchyan in Yerevan.[11] T‘ovmasian adds that, privately, Demirchyan also asked Armenian leaders in the Diaspora to openly appeal in favor of the cause of the ‘internal lands’, and give heart to those intellectuals in Soviet Armenia who felt strongly about the issue but were afraid to take a public stand.[12] Vazgen I claimed these territories for Soviet Armenia in a memorandum presented to the Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Bulganin after returning from a pastoral visit to the Diasporan communities in Lebanon, Egypt, Italy, France and the United Kingdom in February-May 1956.[13] The Ramkavars decided to pursue the issue in 1956-1957,[14] and T‘ovmasian broached this subject during his secret visit to Soviet Armenia in August-September 1957.[15] It was also one of the topics during T‘ovmasian’s meeting in Moscow with Daniel Solod, the acting head of the Middle East Department in the Soviet Foreign Ministry.[16] Finally, Kitur talked about the ‘internal lands’ in public during his visit to Armenia in late 1958.[17] Thereafter, articles by Kitur in Ararat in July-August 1959 and by Simonian in Sp‘iwŕk‘, from August that same year, instigated arguably the first-ever thorough public debate in the Diasporan press in the post-Stalin era on the necessity of demanding the ‘internal lands’ and the efficacy efficiency of various means to achieve that objective.

Subsequently, there was hardly a single year when this issue did not come up in the Diasporan press within one context or another. Periods of especially heightened interest were the following:

(a) the three months leading to the fortieth anniversary celebrations of the sovietization of Armenia, originally scheduled for November 29, 1960.[18]

(b) the period immediately following these celebrations, which were finally held in Yerevan on May 6-7, 1961 – after a delay of over five months but in the presence of the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. During his brief sojourn in Armenia’s capital, Khrushchev had a historically unique meeting with a select group of pro-Soviet community activists from the Armenian Diaspora who had been invited to attend the celebrations. The Hunchakian and Ramkavar representatives at this meeting seized the opportunity to remind Khrushchev of Armenian irredentist aspirations toward Western Armenia, Nakhichevan and Mountainous Karabagh.[19]

(c) the publication in Sp‘iwŕk‘ in December 1963 and in the Dashnak press a few months later of a petition to Khrushchev drawn up by 2500 inhabitants of Mountainous Karabagh and Armenians from adjacent regions in Azerbaijan.[20]

(d) the months following August 1966, when information leaked out of Yerevan to the effect that the Soviet Armenian government had officially appealed to Moscow to annex Mountainous Karabagh and that Moscow had reportedly responded positively, suggesting that Armenia and Azerbaijan should resolve the issue bilaterally, with Moscow approving any eventual agreement;[21] and, finally,

(e) the publication in the Dashnak newspaper Azdak in Beirut on 12 August 1967 of a new appeal from Mountainous Karabagh describing bloody Armenian-Azerbaijani inter-ethnic clashes in the region.[22]

The Mountainous Karabagh and ‘internal lands’ issues were also tackled – on a more theoretical level – in tracts published by the Diasporan political parties in the second half of the 1960s. The authors of these treatises attempted to offer detailed explanations of the positions of their respective parties on the various components of the Armenian territorial demands – from Turkey, but also from Soviet Azerbaijan and Soviet Georgia. The need to produce such expositions was probably generated by the unprecedented Diasporan political activism, especially among the youth, during and immediately after the worldwide commemorations of the fiftieth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in 1965. The Ramkavar publicist Gersam Aharonian’s lengthy analysis was first published in 75 installments in Zart‘ōnk‘ between January 1 and May 14, 1966, while the Hunchakian Zhirayr Nayiri (T‘ōsunian) followed with a similar series in Ararat in the summer of the same year. Both works were thereafter published in book format as well.[23] Five years later, in the wake of his party’s 13th General Representative Assembly, Aharonian came up with another detailed series, again first printed in Zart‘ōnk‘ and then published as a pamphlet titled RAKi khōsk‘ĕ [The Input of the Democratic Liberal Party] (Beirut: Atlas, 1971). Mountainous Karabagh and the ‘internal lands’ were also touched upon – again, within the broader context of Armenian irredentism – during separate, in-depth interviews given by Aharonian and Harut‘iwn Kuzhuni (Chērēchian), the leader of the Hunchakian Party, to two newly launched non-partisan periodicals published in Beirut in 1968 and 1971, respectively.[24]

After 1968, the space allocated to Mountainous Karabagh and the ‘internal lands’ in the Diasporan press decreased noticeably. This should probably be explained through the decrease in pressure from the ‘Karabagh lobby’ in Soviet Armenia, the most active members of which were now being persecuted by the Azerbaijani authorities and forced out of Mountainous Karabagh altogether.[25] A report published in 1969 in Azdak Shabat‘ōreak, the mouthpiece of the highest executive body of the Dashnak party, that Soviet Armenian leaders had tried but failed again in Moscow to acquire Mountainous Karabagh and other ‘internal lands’ elicited relatively little comment.[26] An April Fool’s Day joke published in Azdak in 1971 to the effect that Mountainous Karabagh had been attached to Armenia and that the annexation of the Azerbaijani-controlled Nakhichevan and Georgian-controlled Akhalkalak would follow soon did excite a few Lebanese Armenians for a few hours,[27] but later caused sharp criticism from all rival Armenian-language newspapers published in Beirut.[28] A new petition leaked from Mountainous Karabagh and first published abroad in the Dashnak daily Hayrenik‘ (Boston, MA) in 1972 also did not generate much interest even when reprinted by newspapers in other Diasporan communities.[29]

Armenian Diaspora
Front Page of the April Fool’s Day issue of the daily Azdak in 1971 which announced that Mountainous Karabagh was unified with Soviet Armenia.
Article in Azdak (1 April 1971) on the unification of the Autonomous Region of Karabagh with Armenia.

During the negotiations leading to the publication of a joint communiqué by the three Diasporan political parties on 14 September 1974 pledging to mark together the sixtieth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Dashnaks agreed to a Hunchakian suggestion that, starting from the date of the publication of the communiqué to the actual date of the anniversary, 24 April 1975, articles with anti-Soviet content, including territorial claims regarding Mountainous Karabagh and Nakhichevan, would not appear in their newspapers.[30] Thereafter, the Armenian Diasporan public remained unaware of the purges in 1975 carried out against so-called Armenian nationalists in Mountainous Karabagh by Heydar Aliyev, the Communist Party leader in Baku, and his underling in the region, Boris Kevorkov.[31] This ‘silence’ was only broken in the Diaspora with the publication of Yerevan-based novelist Sero Khanzadyan’s open letter to the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in 1977, demanding Mountainous Karabagh’s annexation to Soviet Armenia. This letter, printed in Beirut, first in Zart‘ōnk‘ on 15 October 1977 and two days later in Azdak, briefly made Mountainous Karabagh steal the newspaper headlines again.[32]

In November 1978, Ramkavar leaders visiting Yerevan were asked to publish abroad a new document related to Mountainous Karabagh.[33] It did not appear in Zart‘ōnk‘, but it is most probably the same source given privately by Ramkavars to Beirut-based historian Zawēn Msĕrlian (Zaven Messerlian) to be used in his book, Haykakan Harts‘i masin [On the Armenian Question], which was eventually published in December 1978.[34] A long series of articles, “Leŕnayin Gharabagh “Ink‘navar Marzi” – LGhIM – kazmaworman harts‘i shurjĕ” [On the Question of the Formation of the Mountainous Karabagh “Autonomous Region”], issued in fifteen installments from 2 February to 13 March 1979 in the Ramkavar newspaper Payk‘ar in Boston, MA, was probably also related to the same document. S. Gēorgian, obviously a pseudonym, was listed as the author of this series. Thereafter, day-to-day interest in the ‘internal lands’ remained minimal in the Diaporan press until the second half of 1987 when separate statements by Sergei Mikoyan, a Moscow-based historian of Latin America, and economist Abel Aganbekyan, both made during trips abroad, to the effect that the reform-minded policies of Gorbachev, the new Soviet leader, might also end with the annexation of Mountainous Karabagh to Armenia refueled Diasporan interest in this issue.[35]

Discourses in the Diasporan Press: Points of Consensus

In the second part of this article, I will compare the positions of the Dashnak, Ramkavar, Hunchakian parties, as well as Armenian Communists in the Diaspora, in the post-Stalin era (1953-1985).

The following arguments were common in the discourse adopted by the newspapers of the three Armenian parties:

  • internal borders among union republics did matter within the Soviet federal structure.
  • the maximum extent of Armenian territorial demands from Soviet Georgia and Azerbaijan – that they should eventually encompass Nakhichevan, Mountainous Karabagh, Mountainous Gandzak and Akhalkalak.
  • the ‘internal lands’ should be annexed immediately to Soviet Armenia. (This unanimity should be contrasted to the continuing disagreements between Dashnaks and their rivals throughout the Cold War years about the status of Western Armenia, whenever liberated from Turkey. The Dashnaks did not commit themselves to the joint Hunchakian-Ramkavar demand that Western Armenia, too, should be annexed to Soviet Armenia and, hence, to the Soviet Union.)
  • Soviet Armenia should have full republican sovereignty over these territories. (There were no calls for granting, say, Akhalkalak autonomy within Georgia as some sort of compromise. The only exception to this uncompromising stance was the readiness expressed by some Armenian publicists on a few occasions to maintain Nakhichevan’s autonomous status, because of its majority Azerbaijani population, but still under Soviet Armenian republican jurisdiction.)
  • the annexation of Mountainous Karabagh and Nakhichevan was deemed more urgent than the other ‘internal lands.’
  • the ‘internal lands’ were all historically part of the land of Armenia.
  • by demanding the annexation of these ‘internal lands’ to Soviet Armenians, Armenians were struggling to restore justice.
  • the Armenian territorial claims were based on the principle of national self-determination and the tenets of the Leninist nationalities policy.
  • geography, ethnic composition, common culture and even climate provided additional support to the Armenian claims.
  • while the recovery of Western Armenia was a priority for the Diaspora, it was obvious that little could be done to force Ankara to give these territories away in the prevailing Cold War conditions. In contrast, Moscow’s hands were not tied internationally to solve the ‘internal lands’ problem. (The only exception to this line of thought was Dashnak intellectual and activist Shawarsh Torik‘ian’s (Shavarsh Toriguian) argument, during a panel discussion held in the early 1970s in Beirut, that these territories could cause an international problem because of their geographical and strategic location.[36] Gersam Aharonian, too, argued occasionally that the annexation of Nakhichevan and Mountainous Karabagh to Soviet Armenia could alter the fragile balance on the Transcaucasian frontier, where the strength of the defenses against NATO was a Soviet priority.)[37]
  • Moscow was inconsistent in its championing of the principle of national self-determination abroad and its acceptance of continuing injustice at home.   The cover of the 1971 issue of the Beirut biweekly Eritasard Hay where Gersam Aharonian was interviewed.Aharonian, editor of the Ramkavar daily Zart‘ōnk‘, frequently discussed the ‘internal lands’ in his books and articles about the Armenian Cause.

All newspapers frequently referred to a few statements which Communist leaders, including Azerbaijan’s Nariman Narimanov, had made soon after Armenia’s sovietization in late 1920 about Soviet Azerbaijan’s readiness to cede Mountainous Karabagh and Nakhichevan to Armenia. However, these newspapers never deeply analyzed the political conditions under which these statements had been made and they did not try to explain thoroughly why these promises had not been kept.[38]

In the Khrushchev era (1953-1964) and the early years of Brezhnev’s tenure (1964-1982), there were also frequent references in many of these newspapers to internal border changes within the Soviet Union, without usually going deeply into the circumstances behind each case. These changes were alluded to simply to argue that the existing internal borders were not sacrosanct and could be changed. The changes reported and commented upon were the unification of the Crimea with Ukraine in February 1954,[39] the establishment of the Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) in 1956 on the basis of the former Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic,[40] the simultaneous restoration of the Chechen-Ingushetian and Kabardino-Balkarian autonomous republics, as well as the Karachai-Cherkessian and Kalmyk autonomous regions, all within the RSFSR, on 9 January 1957,[41] the slight expansion of the territory of Soviet Georgia as a result of these changes north of its border,[42] boundary adjustments among the Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in 1959,[43] the transfer of a cotton area in Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan in 1963,[44] and, finally, Kazakhstan reclaiming territory back from Uzbekistan in 1971 – eight years after it had ceded it in 1963.[45] Another instance of possible boundary adjustment, this time between two nominally sovereign states, Poland and the German Democratic Republic (GDR), also caught the attention of Armenian publicists in the Diaspora in February 1964. The official newspapers of the ruling parties – Pravda (Moscow), Trybuna Luda (Warsaw) and Neues Deutschland (East Berlin) – had all reported that Poland could return Szczecin to the Germans and receive instead Boryslav in the region of Lviv from Soviet Ukraine.[46] While both Poland and the GDR were outside the Soviet borders, the subordinate nature of their governments to the whims of the Kremlin was of course beyond any reasonable doubt.

In addition to these arguments on matters of principle, the newspapers usually agreed (with some variations) that the claims for the ‘internal lands’ were also based on immediate need: Soviet Armenia suffered from a shortage of land; it could not sustain its growing population, let alone house all the Armenians, who lived outside the confines of historical Armenia and who would return one day to their homeland. The same newspapers argued that, on the other hand, both Georgia and Azerbaijan did not have large internal and external Diasporas and did not suffer from a shortage of land. The implicit conclusion of such an argument would be that both Azerbaijan and Georgia could give away the territories claimed by Armenia at no economic cost to themselves.[47] In the 1960s, at the height of the process of decolonization, the perceived continuing injustice against the Armenians was also contrasted occasionally to the growing success of independence movements in Africa. Moreover, the newspapers expressed confidence that annexing the ‘internal lands’ to Armenia would enhance harmony and friendly cooperation within Transcaucasia.

Points of Disagreement

There were, however, certain points of consistent disagreement among the rival Diasporan political parties. The Dashnaks held the Soviets responsible for giving away these territories, while the Ramkavars and Hunchakians considered them innocent in this regard. The Ramkavars and Hunchakians laid the blame, instead, first and foremost on the enemies of Soviet rule in Transcaucasia between 1917 and 1920, i.e., the ruling anti-Communist parties in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as the Ottomans, the British and Nationalist Turks.[48]

The discrepancy between the letter of the federal Soviet structure as enshrined in the constitution and the reality of centralized rule by the Communist Party, where Russians held most prominent positions, also led to differing attitudes among the Diasporan parties towards the Soviet central government in Moscow and/or the republican leaderships in Georgia and Azerbaijan.

The Dashnaks held the Kremlin primarily responsible for the continuing injustice, strongly criticizing it. Soviet Russia, they said, was against the strengthening and future independence of Armenia, and that is why it kept the country fragmented. For the Dashnaks, the Soviet-Turkish rapprochement of the late 1960s was very ominous for Armenia. However, the Dashnak tone got gradually milder during the years that followed. For example, in the wake of Khanzadyan’s open letter in 1977, an article in Azdak underlined that they did not want to see the author categorized alongside Soviet dissidents, but that they wished and indeed saw him within the movement intent on correcting the wrongs inflicted upon the dispossessed Armenian people.[49]

The Ramkavars avoided any direct criticism of the Soviet government. They argued, instead, that Yerevan deserved a favor from Moscow because of decades-long cordial relationship between Armenians and Russians, and that the Kremlin had the influence to induce both Azerbaijan and Georgia to concede the ‘internal lands’ to neighboring Armenia. Despite the Ramkavar unhappiness with the Soviet-Turkish rapprochement in the 1960s, they saw it as transitory phase; they believed that the Pan-Turkist ideology in force in Turkey and among some of the Turkic intellectuals in the Soviet Union posed an existential threat to Russia. The Ramkavars also argued that the expansion of Armenian (and Georgian) territory was in Russian interests and that any solution favorable to Armenia would generate gratitude towards Moscow in the Diaspora.

The Hunchakians praised the Soviet experience more than the two other parties. They even argued that the Soviet-Turkish rapprochement of the late 1960s was not against Armenian interests; any rapprochement with Ankara might reactivate a Soviet role in re-negotiating the Turkish-Armenian boundaries.[50] When the Diasporans would repatriate in large numbers to Soviet Armenia, Hunchakian leaders said on more than one occasion, there would arise a need for additional territory and the ‘internal lands’ would certainly be recovered then.

The Dashnak press was usually hostile to Azerbaijan and Georgia as well. It constantly ridiculed the term ‘brotherly’ used by the Soviets to describe relations among union republics. Attacks against Azerbaijan and its Communist Party leader were particularly harsh after the publication of the 1967 petition; Azerbaijanis and their leaders were said to share all the negative traits Armenians perceived in Turks, both Ottoman and Kemalist.

The Ramkavars wavered in their approach toward Georgia and Azerbaijan. From an initial readiness to differentiate their attitudes toward Armenia from those of Turkey and an underlining of the necessity to maintain good relations with both, they gradually became more critical. Zart‘ōnk‘ argued from the late 1960s that Pan-Turkism was still alive among some (though not all) Azerbaijanis.

The Hunchakians refrained from criticizing the Georgians and Azerbaijanis. They interpreted the description ‘brotherly’ more like a desired objective that the Soviet system would accomplish gradually. It also constantly avoided the term ‘occupation’ when referring to the ‘internal lands.’ They hoped that the problem of ‘internal lands’ would be solved peacefully, in an atmosphere of growing friendship and mutual consent among the Transcaucasian nationalities.

Attitudes among the three parties also differed as regards the Communist authorities in Soviet Armenia. The Dashnaks were the least friendly, but even their hostile attitude softened in the 1960s as it became apparent gradually that the Yerevan leadership was pursuing the annexation of Mountainous Karabagh behind the scenes as much as possible. The Dashnaks argued that the Diaspora should raise its voice against injustice because Soviet Armenians could not do that. Up to the early 1960s, they had dismissed the patriotism of their Hunchakian and Ramkavar rivals in the Diaspora, but this position also changed gradually in favor of calls for unified action. The Ramkavars and Hunchakians, on the other hand, believed that the issue of ‘internal lands’ should be pursued first and foremost in Soviet Armenia, and that the Diasporans should support the Yerevan authorities in this regard. They and other pro-Soviet newspapers in the Diaspora consistently criticized the Dashnak approach as unconstructive, arguing that it might be counterproductive to continuously raise unnecessary clamor in the Diaspora.

Armenian Communists in the Diaspora rarely touched upon the topic of the ‘internal lands’ in their newspapers and that only during moments when the issue was being hotly debated in rival publications. Diasporan Communists reiterated the viewpoint that the Soviet system was not to blame for the ‘internal lands’ being outside Armenian jurisdiction. As a rule, they criticized the raising of these irredentist demands in the press and questioned the motives and arguments of those who did, often suggesting that the latter served the imperialist cause. The Communists had no problem, however, in encouraging Diasporan irredentism toward Western Armenia (in NATO territory).

Armenian Diaspora
A 1962 sketch of Simon Simonian, the publisher of Sp‘iwŕk‘, by the famous Armenian cartoonist Alexander Sarukhan. Karabagh is one of the folders Simonian is depicted carrying in this cartoon. Source: Sago Ognayan, Matenagitutʻiwn Sp‘iwŕk‘ shabatʻatʻertʻi, 1958-1978 [Bibliography of Spʻiwṛkʻ Weekly], Beirut: 1984.

The position of the independent Beirut weekly Sp‘iwŕk‘ and its publisher and editor, Simon Simonian, needs special attention. From the second half of the 1950s and for a full decade, i.e., during the Khrushchev era, Simonian was singled out by many of his Diasporan contemporaries as a publicist who carried high the torch of demanding the annexation of the ‘internal lands’ and outlined a distinctive position in this regard. He repeatedly urged Diasporan organizations, especially the Hunchakian and Ramkavar parties, to openly and persistently request from Moscow the transfer of the ‘internal lands’, especially Mountainous Karabagh, to Soviet Armenia.[51] In the early 1970s, however, Simonian noted on more than one occasion that he had stopped writing about this issue after 1965. He now believed that Armenians had missed the opportune moment. The Khrushchev era, with its audacities and “follies,” when some internal boundaries had been altered, had gone and it was replaced by a new era noted by Brezhnev’s preference for stability. Moreover, Soviet-Turkish relations had warmed in the second half of the 1960s and there were signs of growing nationalism among the other Soviet nationalities.[52]

A 1962 cartoon by Hamō Aptalian, published in Sp‘iwŕk‘, shows the sleeping Armenian fisherman missing an easy opportunity to catch fishes called Karabagh, Nakhichevan and Akhalkalak.

Not all Diasporan periodicals, however, were enthusiastic about harping regularly on the issue of the ‘internal lands.’ In addition to the Armenian Communist press in the Diaspora mentioned earlier, the Beirut weekly Nayiri, published and edited by Andranik Tsaŕukian, also stated on more than one occasion that writing frequently in the Diaspora about this question would only hinder the patient work that Armenian leaders inside the Soviet Union had to do to attain the desired goal.[53]

Additional Observations

In this third and last section, I will make a few observations on the prevailing intellectual climate among the Armenian political and intellectual elites in the Diaspora between 1953 and 1985.

As they advocated the issue of the ‘internal lands,’ Armenian publicists in the Diaspora, on both sides of the political divide, were not necessarily very careful when reproducing facts from Armenia’s recent history or those pertaining to its natural and political geography. They were also not persistent when gathering data about developments in Eastern Europe. The number of obvious factual mistakes, which appeared again and again in the press from the 1950s, diminished, however, as time went by. Some of them were indeed corrected in later years. Superlatives used frequently when describing the Armenians as “the only aggrieved people in the Soviet Union” can also be attributed to a lack of acquaintance by the newspaper editors with the Sovietological literature available in European languages this side of the Iron Curtain. Extremely few Diasporans visited Mountainous Karabagh or Nakhichevan during this period,[54] and most of the rumors that made onto the pages of Diasporan newspapers emanated from second- or third-hand sources in Armenia.

Differences in approach among the various Armenian periodicals across the Diaspora were conditioned more by political orientation rather than the place of publication. Indeed, newspapers speaking for the same party, but published in various countries, often reprinted each other’s articles on the ‘internal lands.’ Within this context, we should also note that none of the articles surveyed for this study made any comparisons with the experiences of their respective host societies. The only exception to this trend is a footnote added by the editors of Husaber, the Dashnak newspaper in Cairo, in 1972. When reprinting an article on Mountainous Karabagh, published originally in the Dashnak daily Armenia in Buenos Aires, the editors in Egypt compared the terrible crime of the Armenian deportations of the First World to the crimes committed after 1948 by Israel and the Zionists, with United States assistance, against the native population of Palestine. Israel was accused of trying to expel the Palestinians from their ancestral lands and replacing them with Jewish settlers.[55]

Finally, throughout the period 1953-1985, none of the articles dealing with the ‘internal lands’ ever discussed the possibility of future disintegration of the Soviet Union. During this research I have come across so far only one reference to the possibility of the future break-up of the Soviet Union. It was by Shawarsh Torik‘ian during a panel discussion in the early 1970s. According to a report in the press:

Prof. Shawarsh T‘orikian … after noting that these lands, due to their geographical and strategic position, could create an “international problem,” pointed out: “A solution should be found without a long delay, because if we leave [things as they are], the [Armenian] population will be emptied.” And finally, after mentioning that the Soviet Union could disintegrate and become divided, he concluded: “We must start working now…”[56]

Armenian Diaspora
A 1962 cartoon by Masis Araratian published in Nayiri (Beirut). On a hot summer day, when the editor is looking for a topic to fill the pages of his newspaper, his young assistant brings him the folder of the ‘internal lands.’


The Gorbachev era ushered in a new period of Armenian activism seeking Mountainous Karabagh’s unification with Soviet Armenia. This new stage of political activism inside the autonomous region turned into an intractable crisis for the Kremlin when the regional representative assembly of Mountainous Karabagh adopted a formal resolution to secede from Soviet Azerbaijan in February 1988. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union three years later, the future legal status of Mountainous Karabagh kindled a seemingly unending conflict between the two newly independent, neighboring states of Armenia and Azerbaijan. This dispute has caused so far three bloody wars in 1991-1994, 2016 and 2020. Even after so much bloodshed and suffering, the future status of Mountainous Karabagh remains to be determined at the international level. Throughout these years, with all their ups and downs, Armenian Diasporan organizations have consistently supported the efforts of Armenians in Mountainous Karabagh to break free from formal Azerbaijani control. This untiring backing in the Diaspora for Armenians in Mountainous Karabagh is also conditioned by decades of media interest which I have tried to describe and analyze in this short article.

ARA SANJIAN is Associate Professor of History and the Director of the Armenian Research Center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He studied for his master’s at Yerevan State University and received his PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the University of London. His research interests focus on the post-World War I history of Armenia, Turkey and the Arab states of Western Asia. He is the author of Turkey and Her Arab Neighbors, 1953-1958: A Study in the Origins and Failure of the Baghdad Pact (2001).

[1] For the early history of these parties in the late Ottoman era, see the following works in English: Louise Nalbandian, The Armenian Revolutionary Movement: The Development of Armenian Political Parties through the Nineteenth Century, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975; Anahide Ter Minassian, Nationalism and Socialism in the Armenian Revolutionary Movement, Cambridge, MA: Zoryan Institute, 1984; Razmik Panossian, The Armenians: From Kings and Priests to Merchants and Commissars (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), 200-261 passim; Houri Berberian, Roving Revolutionaries: Armenians and the Connected Revolutions in the Russian, Iranian, and Ottoman Worlds, Oakland, California: University of California Press, 2019.

[2] In the late Ottoman era, the term ‘Western Armenia’ denoted collectively the empire’s six north-eastern provinces – Van, Sebastia (Sivas), Karin (Erzerum), Baghēsh (Bitlis), Diyarbekir and Kharberd (Harput) – where Armenians lived in substantial numbers before the 1915 genocide. After 1920, the term was often used in the emergent Diaspora to describe the smaller area that, based on a provision of the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920, the United States President Woodrow Wilson had awarded as an arbiter to a projected independent and larger Armenian state which did not materialize eventually.

[3] For such a discussion, written immediately after the fiftieth anniversary commemorations of the Armenian Genocide, see Gersam Aharonian, Khoher hisnameaki awartin [Reflections at the End of the Fiftieth Anniversary] (Beirut: Atlas, 1966), 131-165 passim. Aharonian was the chief ideologue of the Ramkavar party at the time.

[4] By ‘Mountainous Gandzak’ Armenian writers in the Diaspora understood the heavily Armenian-inhabited, mountainous regions in the north and northwest of the former Russian imperial-era governorate of Elizavetpol (Armenian: Gandzak; Azerbaijani Turkish: Gəncə) from 1867 to 1917 which had not been attached to autonomous Mountainous Karabagh in 1923 but had remained part of Soviet Azerbaijan proper.

[5] Secondary literature on the regional histories of these areas is uneven. Since 1988, when the Mountainous Karabagh problem became an issue of international concern, many books have appeared in English dealing with the region’s history. See, for example, Gerard J. Libaridian, ed., The Karabagh File, Cambridge, MA: Zoryan, 1988; Christopher J. Walker, ed., Armenia and Karabagh: The Struggle for Unity, London: Minority Rights Publications, 1991; Levon Chorbajian, Patrick Donabedian and Claude Mutafian, The Caucasian Knot: The History and Geo-Politics of Nagorno-Karabagh, London: Zed Books, 1994; Thomas de Waal, Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through War and Peace, New York and London: New York University Press, 2003; and Tatul Hakobyan, Karabakh Diary: Green and Black: Neither War nor Peace, Antelias, 2010. Much less is available in English on the other regions claimed by Armenians. For a brief, general overview, see James Mandalian, “The Transcaucasian Armenian Irredenta”, Armenian Review, 14:2 (Summer, June 1961), 3-28. For pre-Soviet history of Nakhichevan, see Argam Ayvazyan, The Historical Monuments of Nakhichevan, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990; and George Bournoutian, The 1829-1832 Russian Surveys of the Khanate of Nakhichevan: A Primary Source on the Demography and Economy of an Iranian Province to Its Annexation by Russia, Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda, 2016. For Akhalkalak/Javakhk, see Ashot Melkonyan, Javakhk in the 19th Century and the 1st Quarter of the 20th Century: A Historical Research, Erevan: National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia, Institute of History, 2007. Since these territorial disputes erupted among the three main nationalities in Transcaucasia after the Bolshevik Revolution in October 1917, good summaries of diplomatic and military developments in the ensuing few years can be found in Firuz Kazemzadeh, The Struggle for Transcaucasia (1917-1921), New York and Oxford: Philosophical Library, 1951, Richard G. Hovannisian, The Republic of Armenia, vols. I-IV, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971-1996; and Arsène Saparov, From Conflict to Autonomy in the Caucasus: The Soviet Union and the Making of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno Karabakh, London and New York: Routledge, 2015.

[6] While the use of the term ‘internal lands’ became widespread from the late 1950s onward, we come across to descriptions like ‘internal boundary disputes’ (nerk‘in sahmanavēcher) and ‘internal borders’ (nerk‘in sahmanner) as early as the second half of the 1920s; see, for example, two separate articles penned by Simon Vrats‘ian: “Hayastanĕ (tiwer ew mtk‘er)” [Armenia (Numbers and Thoughts)], Hayrenik monthly 4:3 (January 1926), 55, and “Hayastani varch‘akan bazhanumĕ” [The Administrative Division of Armenia], Drōshak, 26:12 (December 1928), 307. In the 1960s, another term, ‘the four districts’ (ch‘ors gawaŕner) was also frequently used in the Diasporan press to describe Karabakh, Nakhichevan, Mountainous Gandzak and Akhalkalak as a single bloc, though this label seems to have disappeared by the 1970s.

[7] The only possible exception to this logic was the case of Nakhichevan. Article 3 of the Treaty of Moscow, which Soviet Russia and Kemalist/Nationalist Turkey signed in March 1921, made Nakhichevan an autonomous territory under the protection of Soviet Azerbaijan, on condition that the latter would not unilaterally concede its right as protector of this territory to any third party. This status for Nakhichevan was confirmed under Article 5 of the Treaty of Kars, signed by Kemalist Turkey and the Soviet Republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia in October 1921. However, the Kars Treaty makes no mention of the necessity to consult Turkey before any future change in the status of Nakhichevan; see Shavarsh Toriguian, The Armenian Question and International Law (Beirut: Hamaskaine Press, 1973), 199-200, 207. Surprisingly, during the period covered in this study, rarely did Armenian Diasporan publicists refer to this technicality when advocating the annexation of Nakhichevan to Soviet Armenia.

[8] These periodicals consisted mostly of newspapers issued by the Armenian political parties in the Diaspora: the Dashnak newspapers Alik‘ (Tehran), Azdak (Beirut), Haŕaj (Paris), Hayrenik‘ (Boston) and Husaber (Cairo), the Ramkavar Arew (Cairo), Payk‘ar (Boston) and Zartōnk‘ (Beirut), the Hunchakian Ararat (Beirut) and the Lebanese-Armenian Communist Haŕaj and Kanch‘ (both Beirut). Among the other periodicals consulted The Armenian Review (Boston), Bagin (Beirut) and Hayrenik‘ monthly were also Dashnak-affiliated. Finally, the independent daily Ayg, the Armenian Catholic weekly Masis, and the periodicals Ahekan, Eritasard Hay and Nayiri were used as well. The latter were all published in Beirut.

[9] “Sots‘ialistakan ardarut‘iwnĕ” [Socialist Justice], Hnch‘ak, no. 20, September 1936, pp. 1-2.

[10] Armenak Manukyan, Hay aŕak‘elakan ekeghets‘u bŕnadatvats‘ hogevorakannerĕ 1930-1938 tt. (ĕst PAK-i p‘astat‘ght‘eri) [The Repressed Clergymen of the Armenian Apostolical Church, 1930-1938 (Based on KGB Documents)] (Yerevan: Amrots‘, 1997), 56-57, 185-186; Eduard L. Melk‘onyan, Haykakan Baregorts‘akan Ěndhanur Miut‘yunĕ Khorhrdayin Hayastanum 1923-1937 tt. [The Armenian General Benevolent Union in Soviet Armenia (1923-1937)] (Yerevan: Noyyan tapan, 1999), 177-179; Karlen Dallak‘yan, Ramkavar Azatakan Kusakts‘utyan patmut‘yun [History of the Democratic Liberal Party], vol. I (1921-1940) (Yerevan: Gitut‘yun, 1999), 262-266, 306; idem., Hushapatum (Demk‘er, iroghut‘yunner, mtorumner) [Memoirs (Personalities, Facts, Thoughts)], (Yerevan, 1998), 30-32; Hranush Khaŕatyan, ““Nats‘ionalizmi” diskursĕ ev ts‘eghaspanut‘yan hishoghut‘yan t‘irakhavorumĕ k‘aghak‘akan bŕnut‘yunnerum” [The Discourse of “Nationalism” and the Targeting of Genocide Memory During Political Repressions], in Hranush Khaŕatyan, Gayane Shagoyan, Harut‘yun Marut‘yan and Levon Abrahamyan, Stalinyan bŕnachnshumnerĕ Hayastanum: patmut‘yun, hishoghut‘yun, aŕōrya [Stalin-Era Repressions in Armenia: History, Memory, Everyday Life] (Yerevan: Gitut‘yun, 2015), 60-61.

[11] Simon Simonian, “Haykakan hogheru harts‘ĕ. Z. Erkrord hushagirē” [The Question of Armenian Territories, VI: The Second Memorandum], Sp‘iwŕk‘, vol. 1, no. 34, 3 October 1959, p. 1.

[12] Prof. Barunak T‘ovmasian, Hayrenakan Ōragru‘tiwn 1957-1985 [Diaries of the Homeland] (Waltham, 1994), 29.

[13] See the full text of this memorandum in ‘Pisma Katolikosa vsekh armian Vazgena I Predsedateliu Soveta ministrov SSSR N. A. Bulganinu’ [The Letters of Vazgen I, Catholicos of All Armenians to N. A. Bulganin, Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers], Patma-banasirakan handes, 2 (2000), 249-255.

[14] “RAK-ē ew Haykakan “Nerk‘in Hogher”u Harts‘ē” [ADL and the Question of the Armenian ‘Internal Lands’], Payk‘ar monthly, 1:6 (September 1993), 30-33.

[15] T‘ovmasian, Hayrenakan Ōragru‘tiwn, 15-35 passim.

[16] T‘ovmasian, Hayrenakan Ōragru‘tiwn, 39. See Solod’s own report on the same meeting in National Archives of Armenia (NAA), fund 326, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Armenian SSR, register 1, file 249, ff. 1-5.

[17] Arsēn Kitur, “Libananēn – ur hayĕ hayun gayl ēr – dēpi S[ovetakan] Hayastan – ur hayĕ hayun eghbayr ēr” [From Lebanon – Where the Armenian was Wolf to the Armenian – to Soviet Armenia – where the Armenian was Brother to the Armenian], Ararat, vol. 22, no. 5102 (39), 25 December 1958.

[18] The rumor that Karabagh might be attached to Soviet Armenia as part of the scheduled celebrations first appeared in the Diasporan press in a short news item, “Maght‘eli bayts‘ iraw?’ [Desirable but True?], Haŕaj (Paris), new series, vol. 26, no. 4683, 25 August 1958, p. 1. Later, other Diasporan newspapers reported that the rumor was confirmed by travelers returning from Soviet Armenia, including the scholar Harut‘iwn Kiwrtian (H. Kurdian); see “Diwanagitut‘iwn… (Dardzeal mer zoyg gawaŕnerun masin)” [Diplomacy… (Again, On Our Two Districts], Husaber, vol. 46, no. 141, 15 September 1960, p. 1; “Ayts‘elut‘iwn” [Visit], Husaber, vol. 46, no. 146, 21 September 1960, p. 2. The reporter in Buenos Aires of the Paris-based weekly Kht‘an conveyed that Catholicos Vazgen I, who was on a pastoral visit to Argentina at the time, had said that “the return of the lands on the other side is expected day by day.” This item in Kht‘an was reprinted in both Husaber, vol. 46, no. 139, 13 September 1960, p. 2 and Sp‘iwŕk‘, vol. 2, no. 36, 17 September 1960, p. 6. Expectation eventually turned into disappointment when the fortieth anniversary was not properly celebrated on its exact date and, a month later, the Communist Party leader in Soviet Armenia was summarily replaced on December 28, 1960, without proper explanation being provided to the public on the causes behind his dismissal.

[19] Although the official communiqué about this meeting was extremely brief, news soon spread in the Diaspora especially after the three Hunchakian delegates had returned to Beirut and shared their experiences. Harut‘iwn Kuzhuni (Chērēchian) was the first to speak in public at a panel on June 23; see “Hayrenakan hushi erekoy” [An Evening of Recollections about the Homeland], Ararat, vol. 23, no. 5868 (192), 29 June 1961, p. 2. Beniamin Zhamkoch‘ian produced a 35-installment travelogue in Ararat from June 6 to July 18, while Zhirayr Nayiri (T‘ōsunian) published a book, Hayreni Kturi Tak [Under Native Roof], in 1962. Simonian’s weekly Sp‘iwŕk‘ took up the issue on several occasions on May 27, June 3 and July 22, while there were comments also in Zart‘ōnk‘ (May 9) and Ayg (July 2).

[20] “Hushagir Sovetakan Miut‘ean Ministrneri Soveti nakhagah, Sovetakan Miut‘ean Komunistakan Partiayi Kentkomi k‘artughar Ěnker N. S. Khrushch‘ovin” [Memorandum to N. S. Khrushchev, President of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union], Sp‘iwŕk‘, vol. 5, nos. 49-52, 31 December 1963, p. 2. The petition was reprinted in Haiastan (Paris), 21 May 1964 and Alik‘, 23-25 May 1964. It also appeared in Arkhiv Samizdata, doc. no. 1214. The petition was also carried as a news item on 2 July 1964, by both The Associated Press and United Press International. Immediately thereafter it was reported and commented upon by both The Boston Herald and The Boston Globe; “Gharabaghi hayerun boghok‘ĕ’ [Protest by Armenians of Karabagh], Azdak, vol. 38, no. 108 (9848), 11 July 1964, p, 1; “Amerikean dzaynasp‘iwŕ ew mamul kardzagangen gharabaghtsi hayeru hushagrin” [The American Radio and Press React to the Memorandum of Karabagh Armenians], Husaber, vol. 50, no. 88, 15 July 1964, pp. 1, 4.

[21] The news was first reported in “Gharabaghĕ Hayastanin kĕ veradardzui?” [Is Karabagh Being Returned to Armenia?], Haŕaj (Paris), 30 August 1966 and then taken up by other Diasporan newspapers. In addition to Sp‘iwŕk‘, ever enthusiastic on issues related to the ‘internal lands’, the debate was confined in this case largely to Dashnak newspapers and it continued intermittently until the end of the calendar year. It appears that Hunchakians and Ramkavars preferred not to comment in this case to unconfirmed leaks which directly involved the government in Soviet Armenia with which they had working relationships. On the other hand, the most detailed account of what transpired among the Soviet leaders in Yerevan, Baku and Moscow during these months is arguably Bagrat Ulubabian, Arts‘akhyan Goyapayk‘arĕ [Artsakh’s Struggle for Existence], vol. 1 (Yerevan: Gir Grots‘, 1994), 271-274.

[22] For details of these clashes, see excerpts in English translation of “An Appeal by Residents of Mountainous Karabagh to the People and Government of Armenia, Central Committee of the Party, and Public Authorities” in Libaridian, Karabagh File, 47-48. The Armenian original of the appeal was first printed in the Diaspora in “Erb geri ē hayapatkan Gharabaghĕ” [When Karabagh, Which Belongs to Armenians, Is Captive], Azdak, vol. 41, no. 136 (10790), 12 August 1967, p. 1. On this occasion, articles continued to appear in the Diaspora on the problems in Mountainous Karabagh until the end of the year, also fueled partly by a stopover in Baku by the Turkish Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel on September 20 during an extended visit to the Soviet Union. Demirel’s visit generated fears among Armenians in the Diaspora about the possible resurgence of pan-Turkist ideology along the Ankara-Baku axis. Yet again, Dashnak newspapers were the most active in pursuing the issue, with the Ramkavar Zart‘ōnk‘ confining itself to the symbolism and repercussions of Demirel’s visit.

[23] Gersam Aharonian, Khoher hisnameaki awartin [Reflections at the End of the Fiftieth Anniversary], Beirut: Atlas, 1966; Zhirayr Nayiri, Hnch‘akean kusakts‘ut‘iwnĕ ew haykakan hoghayin datĕ [The Hunchakian Party and the Armenian Territorial Cause], Beirut: Ararat, 1968.

[24] “Sots‘ial Demokrat Hnch‘akian Kusaktsut‘iwnĕ ew Hay Datĕ” [The Social Democratic Hunchakian Party and the Armenian Cause], Ahekan 68, 3:3-4 (1968), 84-109; “Ramkavar Azatakan Kusaktsut‘iwnĕ ew Hay Datĕ” [The Democratic Liberal Party and the Armenian Cause], ibid., 147-172; :Dēm aŕ dēm Gersam Aharoniani het” [Face to Face with Gersam Aharonian], Eritasard Hay, no. 30, 27 February 1971, pp. 3-12; “Dēm aŕ dēm Harut‘iwn Kuzhunii het” [Face to Face with Harutiun Kuzhuni], idem., no. 36, 27 June 1971, pp. 3-12 and no. 37, 10 July 1971, pp. 7-12.

[25] For some details of these purges, aee Eghishe Sargsyan, “Mot ants‘yali hetk‘erov” [On the Traces of the Recent Past], Nork‘, no. 12, 1989, p. 69; Ulubabian, Arts‘akhyan Goyapayk‘arĕ, 263-264 and 274-278; de Waal, Black Garden, 138.

[26] “Nerk‘in sahmanneru srbagrut‘ean masin” [On the Rectification of Internal Boundaries], Azdak Shabat‘ōreak, 1:6 (28 December 1969), 95.

[27] “Gharabaghi ink‘navar shrjanĕ kts‘uets‘aw Hayastani” [The Autonomous Region of Karabagh Was Annexed to Armenia], Azdak, vol. 45, no. 24 (11896), 1 April 1971, p. 1.

[28] A., “Gharabaghĕ … aŕants‘ April 1‐I” [Karabagh … without April Fool’s Day], Ararat, vol. 34, no. 8848 (118), 2 April 1971, p. 1; “Ayg”, “Anham “April 1” mĕ” [A Tasteless April Fool’s Day], Ayg, vol. 19, no. 5459, 2 April 1971, pp. 1, 4; G[ersam] A[haronian], “Khmbagrakan nshmarner… Anham, anchah ew anvayel katak…” [Editorial Notes… A Tasteless, Naughty and Improper Joke], Zart‘ōnk‘, vol. 34, no. 154 (10,011), 3 April 1971, p. 2; Harut‘iwn Matēian, “Minch‘ew erb ays koyr atelut‘iwnĕ” [Till When This Blind Enmity?], Kanch‘, no. 8 (3725), 10 April 1971, pp. 1, 8; Nshan Khoshafian, “April 1-i katak mĕ” [An April Fool’s Day Joke], Sp‘iwŕk‘, vol. 13, no. 14, 11 April 1971, pp. 1, 8; “Zroyts‘…” [Discussion…], Nayiri, vol. 18, no. 45, 11 April 1971, p. 8.

[29] “Tsanr, husahat vichak ē aprum Gharabaghĕ” [Karabagh Is in a Grave, Hopeless Situation], Hayrenik‘, vol. 74, no. 18272, 18 November 1972, էջ 1, 3. For a loose English translation of this appeal, see “Karapagh Armenians Decry Worsening Conditions Under Azerbaijan”, The Armenian Reporter, vol. 6, no. 5, 30 November 1972, pp. 1,3.

[30] See report by R. A. Torosian, Second Secretary at the Soviet Embassy in Damascus on his meeting on 19 November 1974 with Tigran Oskuni (Guyumchian), the editor of Azdak, in NAA, fund 326, register 1, file 550, ff. 2-3.

[31] For details of these purges, see Walker, Armenia and Karabagh, 120; Claude Mutafian, “Karabagh in the Twentieth Century”, in Chorbajian, Donabedian and Mutafian, Caucasian Knot, 146; Mark Malkasian, “Gha-ra-bagh!”: The Emergence of the National Democratic Movement in Armenia (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1996), 87 ; de Waal, Black Garden, 138-139; Hakobyan, Karabakh Diary, 44-45; Suha Bolukbasi, Azerbaijan: A Political History (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2011), 77.

[32] The open letter was quickly reprinted in other Diasporan newspapers in Athens, Boston, Cairo, Paris, Tehran and probably elsewhere. Its content would even eventually make the pages of The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor; see Raymond H. Anderson, “Armenians Ask Moscow for Help, Charging Azerbaijan With Bias”, New York Times, 11 December 1977, p. 10; Vahakn N. Dadrian. “Those Audacious Armenians”, Christian Science Monition, 10 January 1978, p. 27.

[33] T‘ovmasian, Hayrenakan Ōragru‘tiwn, p. 250.

[34] Msĕrlian recalls that he was not permitted by the Ramkavar leaders to quote directly from this unpublished essay. However, he added some new information from this source in the final draft of his book as the latter was already in the advanced stages of production (Personal interview with Msĕrlian, Beirut, 19 October 2002 and 5 August 2005).

[35] See texts of these statements as reported in Armenian Diasporan newspapers in Libaridian, Karabagh File, 69-71. See also “Haykakan pahanjatirut‘iwn; Ert‘ĕ pētk‘ ch‘ē khap‘anel “hanun patmakan ardarut‘ean haght‘anaki”” [Armenian Irredentism: The March Should Not Be Thwarted “For the Sake of the Victory of Historical Justice”], Drōshak, 18:13 (14 October 1987), 4-5.

[36] Pēpō Simonian, ed., Libananahayut‘ean ghekavari tiparnerēn Harut‘iwn Kuzhuni [An Archetype of the Lebanese-Armenian Leader: Harutiun Kuzhuni] (Beirut: Shirak Press, 2002), 279.

[37] See frequent references to this issue in Aharonian’s editorials over the years, like “Hayk[akan] Hanrapetut‘ean “nerk‘in sahmannerun harts‘ĕ”” [The “Question of Internal Boundaries” of the Armenian Republic], Zart‘ōnk‘, vol. 24, no. 34 (6853), 4 November 1960, p. 2; idem., Mets erazi chambun vray [On the Road to the Big Dream] (Beirut: Atlas, 1964), 206; idem., “RAK-i khōsk‘ĕ”,  Zart‘ōnk‘, vol. 23, no. 147 (9701), 24 March 1970, p. 2.

[38] For details on when and why these statements were issued see Arsène Saparov, ‘Why Autonomy? The Making of Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region 1918–1925’, Europe-Asia Studies, 64:2 (2012), 301-312.

[39] “RAK-ē ew Haykakan “Nerk‘in Hogher”u Harts‘ē”, 30-33; “Hayk[akan] Hanrapetut‘ean “nerk‘in sahmannerun” harts‘ĕ” [The Question of the “Internal Lands” of the Armenian Republic], Zart‘ōnk‘, vol. 24, no. 29 (6848), 29 October 1960, p. 2; “Sahmannerĕ anp‘op‘okheli ch‘en Sovet Miut‘ean mēj” [Borders Are Not Unalterable in the Soviet Union], Sp‘iwŕk‘, vol. 6, no, 5, 8 February 1964, p. 2; Zawēn Msĕrlean, “Aknark Haykakan Datĕ hetabndelu eghanaknerun shurj” [A Look at the Means to Pursue the Armenian Cause], Zart‘ōnk‘, vol. 27, no. 178 (7912), 29 April 1964, p. 2; Aharonian, Mets‘ erazi chambun vray, 205-207; Surēn Hovhannēsian, “Gharabaghi mijadēpĕ” [The Karabagh Incident], Hayrenik‘, vol. 69, no. 16794, 10 September 1967, pp. 2-3.

[40] Msĕrlean, “Aknark”, p. 2.

[41] Gabriēl Lazian, Hayastanĕ ew Hay Datĕ hay ew rus haraberut‘iwnneru loysin tak [Armenia and the Armenian Cause in Light of the Armenian-Russian Relations] (Cairo: Husaber Press, 1957), 357-359; Aharonian, Mets‘ erazi chambun vray, 205-207. The Kalmyk Autonomous Region was later elevated to the status of an autonomous republic.

[42] Aharonian, Khoher, pp. 143-144. Aharonian quotes from David M. Lang, A Modern History of Georgia (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1962).

[43] “Hayastani sahmannerun verak‘nnut‘iwnĕ” [The Revision of Armenia’s Borders], Azdak, vol. 33, no. 206 (8401), 2 November 1959, p. 3. “Sovet Miut‘ean’ karg mĕ hanrapetut‘eants‘ mēj teghi unets‘an sahmanayin srbagrut‘iwnner” [Boundary Corrections Were Made in Some of the Republics of the Soviet Union], Sp‘iwŕk‘, vol. 2, no. 38, 1 October 1960, p. 1; “Verstin Haweluats…” [Another Appendix], Husaber, vol. 46, no. 171, 20 October 1960, p. 1; “Mer “nats‘ionalistakan’’ hayrenasirut‘iwnĕ ew anonts‘ “ughghap‘aŕ” skzbunk‘aynut‘iwnĕ” [Our “Nationalistic” Patriotism and Their “Orthodox” Principledness], Ararat, vol. 24, no. 5672 (296), 5 November 1960, p. 2; “Sahmannerĕ anp‘op‘okheli ch‘en”, p. 2.

[44] “Hanun sovetakan petut‘ean shaheri” [For the Interests of the Soviet State], Alik‘, vol. 33, no. 44 (7419), 2 March 1963, p. 1; Hakob-Grigor, “Kargĕ erb Hayastanin piti gay…” [When Will Armenia’s Turn Come?], Payk‘ar, vol. 41, no. 159 (17477), 9 July 1963, p. 2; Simon Simonian, “Ayspēs kĕllan iskakan eghbayrnerĕ” [This Is How True Brothers Behave], Sp‘iwŕk‘, vol. 5, no. 29, 3 August 1963, p. 1; Hovhannēsian, “Gharabaghi mijadēpĕ”, pp.  2-3.

[45] Andranik Andrēasean, “Ardarut‘ean hamar” [For the Sake of Justice], Sp‘iwŕk‘, vol. 13, no. 37, 19 September 1971, p. 1.

[46] “Sahmannerĕ anp‘op‘okheli ch‘en”, p. 2; “Sovetakan Kaysrut‘ean nerk‘in sahmanneri khndirĕ, B. Leh-arewela-germanakan sahmanneri srbagrumĕ” [The Question of the Internal Boundaries of the Soviet Empire, II: The Correction of the Polish-East German Borders], Alik‘, vol. 34, no. 30 (7689), 9 February 1964, p. 1; Hakob-Grigor, “Dardzeal sahmanneru khndirĕ” [Again on the Question of Borders], Zart‘ōnk‘, vol. 27, no. 215 (7947), 10 June 1964, p. 2.

[47] It should be noted, however, that when Harut‘iwn Kuzhuni of the Hunchakian Party stated in front of Khrushchev in Yerevan in May 1961 that “as far as we are aware, there are no [other] Soviet people which have left half their nation abroad,” the Soviet leader interrupted him: “It is not right. If you say that to the Azerbaijanis, they will be hurt”; see “Sp‘yurk‘ahay mtavorakanneri het KhMKK Kentkomi Aŕajin K‘artughar, KhS’HM Nakhararneri Khorhrdi nakhagah N. S. Khrushchovi het kayats‘ats handipman sghagrut‘yunĕ” [The Stenographic Record of the Meeting of N. S. Khrushchev, the First Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee and the Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers, with Armenian Diasporan Intellectuals], Banber Hayastani arkhivneri, no. 1 (101) (2003), 155.

[48] Ottoman political influence was strong in Transcaucasia from May to October 1918. Thereafter, the British replaced them until the summer of 1919. The influence of Turkish Nationalists led by Mustafa Kemal was felt starting in 1920.

[49] Ara Abēlian, ‘Erb ughinerē mianan…’ [When Roads Come Together], Azdak, vol. 51, no. 267 (13935), 20 January 1978, p. 3.

[50] Nayiri, Hnch‘akean kusakts‘ut‘iwnĕ, 65.

[51] For a study on the coverage of the Mountainous Karabagh cause in Simonian’s weekly, see Tehmina Marut‘yan, “Arts‘akhyan himnaharts‘ĕ Simon Simonyani khmbagrats “Sp‘iwŕk‘” shabat‘at‘ert‘i ējerum” [The Question of Artsakh on the Pages of the Weekly Sp‘iwŕk‘ Edited by Simon Simonian], Gitakan ĕnt‘erts‘umner (Stepanakert: Artaskh State University, 2018), 181-190.

[52] Simon Simonian, “Khmbagri ōratetrēn” [From the Editor’s Diary], Sp‘iwŕk‘, vol. 12, no. 37, 13 September 1970, p.  2; idem., “Nikita Khrushch‘ewi mahĕ. Gharabaghi hamar” [The Death of Nikita Khrushchev: For Karabagh], Sp‘iwŕk‘, vol. 13, no. 37, 19 September 1971, p. 1; idem., “Azatagrut‘iwn T‘rk‘ahayastani ew veradardzum nerk‘in hogherun” [Liberation to Turkish Armenia and Return to the Internal Lands], Sp‘iwŕk‘, vol. 14, no. 33, 20 August 1972, p. 1.

[53] See, for example, “Hay Dat” [Armenian Cause], Nayiri, vol. 11, no. 48, 19 April 1964, pp. 1, 8; “Aŕajnahert‘ khndirĕ” [The Priority Issue], Nayiri, vol. 14, no. 20, 9 October 1966, p. 5; “Zroyts‘ Gharabaghi masin” [A Discussion About Karabagh] Nayiri, vol. 15, no. 17, 1 October 1967, pp. 1, 8; “Zroyts‘…” [Discussion…], Nayiri, vol. 18, no. 45, 11 April 1971, p. 8.

[54] One of the few who visited and published about his brief visit in the Diasporan press at the time was Hrand Simonian from Hollywood, California; see S[imon] S[imonian], “Hrand Simonian”, Sp‘iwŕk‘, vol. 13, no. 33, 22 August 1971, p. 1; Hrand Simonian, “Chambu not‘er. Bayts‘ es tesay naew … Gharabaghĕ” [Travel Notes: But I Also Saw … Karabagh], idem., p, 2; “Inch‘pēs pētk‘ ē hetabndel mer date” [How Should Our Cause Be Pursued?], Sp‘iwŕk‘, vol. 13, no. 35, 5 September 1971, p. 3. These articles are reprinted in Hrand Simonian, Hay dati zinuorner` law mtik ĕrēk‘ [Soldiers of the Armenian Cause, Listen Carefully!] (Los Angeles, CA, 1983), 53, 63-64.

[55] “Gharabaghi Hayastanēn anjatumin anardarut‘iwnĕ erb piti darmanui?” [When Will the Injustice of the Separation  of Karabagh from Armenia Be Rectified?], Husaber, vol. 58, no. 207, 12 December 1972, p. 1.  

[56] Quoted in Simonian, Libananahayut‘ean ghekavari tiparnerēn, p. 279.