SIX TO EIGHT CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF
ARMENIAN CIVIL SOCIETY AMIDST THE
CARNIVALIZATION OF HISTORY
1. Note: Leninakan and Yerevan, December 1991
Instead of an audacious, romantic nation, we must become a cold, realistic and pragmatic nation whose each step must be circumspect, based on concrete and faultless calculation . . . We must create direct connections with our neighbors such as Iran and Turkey ... It is in this region that we must survive ... the Middle East, the Caucasus, the Black Sea basin, the southern regions of Russia and Ukraine will be our larger economic and political region. This will be our eco¬nomic and political geopolitics.
—President Levon Ter-Petrossian
Revolutionary processes are always buffeted by both internal and external dynamics. While the democratic movement is the focus of these interviews, the specter of war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh hovers constantly. A major population exchange on the order of three hundred thousand people from each side had already occurred between Azerbaijan and Armenia with all the attendant physical, emotional, economic, political, psychological and symbolic-ideological traumas of killings and atrocities. December 1991 was still a moment of hope: Azerbaijan had cut off gas supplies to Armenia, and the economy was grinding to a halt, but the government of Armenia was determined to break the mold of past demonization of «the Turks» and to find accommodations with its neighbors, including, if possible, with the still-unstable government of Azerbaijan. By summer 1992 when Azerbaijan had retaken a number of villages in Nagorno-Karabakh, there was increasing pressure upon the government of President Levon Ter-Petrossian to declare Nagorno-Karabakh's independence and to ignore the danger that such a dec¬laration might draw Turkey into the conflict against Armenia. Ter-Petrossian resisted. It is such resistance, and the search for negotiating partners, that this paper honors.
The sensitivity of Armenian-Turkic relations is such that some readers have complained that we have not given sufficient attention to the Azerbaijani side. But this paper is not an account of Armenian-Turkic conflicts; it is an account of the internal transformations of Armenia, based entirely upon interviews with Armenian leaders of the transition at several levels of society. We have very strong feelings of regard for both Turkic speakers and Armenians, and the nasty fighting between them is a matter for great sorrow and one for negotiation, not for the idle taking of sides.
We interviewed six leaders, three former communists and three intellec¬tuals from the leadership of the independent democratic movement. They are six of our «characters»; we, of course, are two more; anthropologist Levon Abrahamian, through his writings, provides a ninth voice in the following text; and anthropologist Haroutian Maroutian, who helped us with one of the interviews, provided access to the visual materials used by, and now documents of, the democratic movement. We attempt to weave a braided structure in the following essay: introduction, three interviews, a second ana¬lytic section, three more interviews, and an analytic recap. The three analytic commentaries focus respectively on the historical trajectory, revolutionary processes, and local-global positioning.
Levon Ter-Petrossian, the president, orientalist Hambartsoom Galstian the mayor of Yerevan, anthropologist Rouben Shugarian, foreign affairs aide to the president, art historian Karlen Hambartsumian, the mayor or Work Committee head of Leninakan
Hanoush Hacopian, member of Parliament and former Komsomol head Rouben Durian, vice minister of construction, civil engineer.
2. Ritual Prologue: A Break in the Carnivalization of History?
The tight-rope walker/dancer [Seiltanzer] had begun his work. . . . Just as he was in the middle of his course, the little door opened again and a brightly dressed fellow like a buffoon sprang out and followed the former with rapid steps. «Forward, lame-foot, he cried in a terrible voice, forward sluggard, creeper, pallid-face! . . . The market square and the people were like the sea when a storm comes in: all flew apart and over one one another.
It is as though we are looking at a kaleidoscope, composed of frag¬ments of historical revolutions ... themselves composed of pages ripped at random from the various pages of a history textbook.
—Levon A. Abrahamian
One hesitates to see Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin as Nietzsche’s two tightrope dancers, Yeltsin vaulting over Gorbachev, causing the latter to lose his balance and plunge to his (political) demise. Zarathustra comforts the dying man, assuring him that there is no hell to fear in an afterlife, and more importantly that the lack of an afterlife does not mean that his life was a meaningless animal existence, like that of a Russian dancing bear («not much more than an animal which has been taught to dance by blows and starva¬tion») Zarathustra honors him for daring to dedicate his calling/occupation [Beruf] to danger, for being willing to perish in its demands.
But a comment by Armenian anthropologist Levon Abrahamian both brings Nietzsche's scene into ethnographic focus and reminds us of the preliminary analytic power that a ritual analysis may deliver for thinking through the ambivalent turmoil of the «Last Days of the Soviet Union» (Karl Krauss, like Nietzsche, can help us appreciate the intertextuality of the two fin-de-siecles of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries). Abrahamian meditates on the dualisms—carnivalesque inversions, symbolic ambivalences or bringing of contradiction into the open, and competition between repetitive versus re-structuring outcomes—encoded in the ritual structures employed by societies in times of crisis. He illustrates with both his brilliant Bakhtinian caricatures of the Soviet past and his analyses of the theatricalization of the demonstra¬tions in Theater Square  in Yerevan during the 1988 nine-month (February to November) gestation, or first phase, of the present revolutionary process. To set the stage, like Nietzsche, he reminds us of the tightrope walkers who used to be public entertainers:
In Armenia today, it may be discerned in performances of the last traditional tightrope walkers, when the Father, or rope-walking hero, takes his place above, on the rope, while at the bottom, often on the shadow of the rope, the Son or helper-fool, a shadow of a hero, ineptly imitates him. Interestingly, the foolish helper often reverses top and bottom, literally standing on his head. It is also noteworthy that in life he is generally a former rope-walker, not uncommonly the father of the young hero enthroned above. [Abrahamian 1990b: 62]
Hero-Jester (the same reversible structure is used in rodeos, that ritual of transformation from the skills of craftsmen-cowboys and matadors facing death to industrialized ranching and show business, where hero is amateur and clown is professional) is also the pair in the carnival rites of dethronement analyzed by Mikhail Bakhtin for Europe and by Max Gluckman and Victor Turner for Africa.
Abrahamian wants us to pay attention to the fact that in such rites there are often competing scripts, that the outcome is not certain: in the traditional rites, the king-hero is debased temporarily in a rite that vents built-up antago¬nisms and theatricalizes the categories and divisions of society, but then rein-stalls the king and the social structure of authority. However, rites can get out of hand, they can become «happenings,» they can in the play of the liminal or carnival period of the rite restructure the elements of society so that what comes out of the rite is something new, not the old structure. These latter are what often come to be called revolutions, which in turn have been analyzed both for their symbolic structures which, although drawing from the past, mobilize people in very new ways, and for their underlying social structural processes that can explain the shifts in social power that make the outcomes novel.
Ter-Petrosian addresses the crowd with his back to the last Communist leadership.
Abrahamian’s own quip should be read as one on the ways in which revo¬lutions are immersed in history, drawing lessons, “borrowing disguises and languages,” adapting tactics and avoiding mistakes from predecessors, but also set within “world-historical time” so that no contemporary revolution could be just a replay of a past revolution.” Karl Marx noted that nineteenth-century revolutions were quite different structurally from eighteenth-century bourgeois revolutions, although they borrowed slogans from the latter (as well as from classical times); he and Engels eventually described the failed 1848 revolution in Paris as a death knell of the revolutionary tactics of preindustrial working classes (a point more recently amplified by William Sewell). The so- called peasant or Maoist revolutions of the midtwentieth century (China, Viet¬nam, Naxilites in India) take on a different form, one quite different from the self-styled “dictatorship of the proletariat” or Bolshevik revolution of the USSR, although they claimed to draw upon the same Marxist inspiration. At the end of the twentieth century, beginning in the penultimate decade with the Islamic revolution of Iran (which continues to reverberate through countries with majority Muslim populations) and definitively in the final decade with the collapse of the Soviet Empire, a new form of revolution is emerging, one that draws upon so-called social movements built around successive moments of ecological, democratic, and economic focus, albeit still bedevilled and leveraged with violent nationalist fantasies.
Armenia provides a particularly vivid example of the stages of this emer¬gent form, an emergence that anthropologist Abrahamian, who is also a po¬litical cartoonist, beautifully caricatures in one of the images he contributed to the Theater Square posters and visual tools of the Armenian struggle The scene is of a woman barber (Russia), who cannot fly, clipping the wings of a little bird whose feathers are the tricolors of Armenia, so that it cannot join the free-flying birds of the Baltic republics and Eastern Europe.
Last Communist leadership on dais.
SEIZURE OF SYMBOLIC POWER
Lenin Square, 7 November 1988
Crowd turns its back on the last Communist leadership.
All of the republics of the former Soviet Union have clipped wings, as is noted repeatedly in the interviews below, above all because of the imperial divide-and-rule way the Soviet Empire “integrated” the economies of the republics with suppliers in far distant places, but also because of the divide-and-rule politics of the Soviet Empire which devastatingly exacerbated instead of calming the conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan when the autono¬mous oblast of Nagorno-Karabakh tested the constitution of the USSR under perestroika by voting to secede from Azerbaijan and join Armenia. This was the first major democratic test perestroika. Unlike Lithuania, which tested the Soviet Empire by declaring secession from the empire (invoking their illegal incorporation into the Soviet Union in the first place), Armenians in Karabakh and in Armenia (who also were incorporated into the Russian and Soviet empires by force) opted to press within the Soviet constitutional struc¬ture for redress, reminding the Soviet center as well of promises in the 1920s by both Stalin and the Baku Soviet that Karabakh would be placed under Armenian jurisdiction; President Ter-Petrossian, two days after the referen¬dum on independence, and one day after the Armenian Parliament's unani¬mous vote to declare sovereignty outside the Soviet Union, even signed an accord with Azerbaijan agreeing to negotiate in preference to fighting (So¬viet clumsiness in regard to this issue has now been repeated in Checheno-Ingushetia and Tataristan, and threatens other areas as well.) The Soviets backed up the blockage of natural gas and food supplies through Azerbaijan to Armenia through much of 1991, stood by as Azerbaijan continued to shell Stepanakert, the capital of
Karabakh, and did little to prevent the stirring-up Soviet barber clips the wings of the newly independent republics; still, they fly away. Cartoon by Levon Abrahamian.
of nationalist antagonisms that led to massacres of Armenians at Sumgait and Baku, and then to major population transfers between Armenia and Azerbai¬jan (some two to three hundred thousand refugees coming to Armenia from their homes in Azerbaijan); three years ago a half million Armenians lived in Azerbaijan and almost as many Azerbaijanis lived in Armenia, today there are virtually no Azerbaijanis in Armenia and only one hundred thousand Ar¬menians remain (in the autonomous oblast of Karabakh) in Azerbaijan 
Armenia privatized agriculture immediately with a resultant immediate im-provement in harvests, and moved relatively easily toward a new democracy, but it remains clipped-winged by the economic blocks to industrial privatiza¬tion and reorganization of governmental spending, among which are the lack of fuel to run any industry at the moment, and the closure of the two major revenue-producing industries for reasons of ecological safety: the huge syn¬thetic rubber chemical plant at Nayirit (the only such plant in the former USSR, and one of twelve such plants globally); and the Medzamor nuclear
power plant which used to sell energy for hard currency to Turkey, but which is of the same dangerous design as the Chernobyl plant.
Interlude: Abrahamian on Three Eras of Carnivalization of Russian and Soviet History
Archaic forms of carnival. In the old days, Russian czars Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great practiced comic «rituals of reversal» both to assert their political functions and because they enjoyed the masquerade: «Having passed through purgative rituals, having purified himself through laughter (it's not accidental that laughter is an essential part of any carnival performance), the Czar-Father emerges even more powerful and wise, and the society in his custody becomes even more tenacious.»
Soviet forms of carnival. If Stalin engaged in such play, it was only among his entourage. The carnivalization of history began in earnest only with the death of the Father (Stalin) and the advent of his jester Son-Fool (Khrushchev):
It is said that, during the the nightly gatherings at [Stalin's] dacha at Kuntsevo, Khrushchev would dance the hopak [a peasant dance]. It is possible that Khrushchev at this time was acting the fool to win the trust of the Father, but... he maintained this remarkable quality during the entire epoch of the Son, when there was no longer any point in dissembling . . . [Even his appearance fit the role:] he was over sixty, yet he seemed very strong, agile, and jolly to the point of mischief. His broad face with two warts and enormous bald skull, large snub nose, and protruding ears might easily have be¬longed to a peasant from a central Russian village. This impres¬sion . . . was strengthened by a solid corpulent body and long arms which were almost constantly gesticulating . . . [His behavior fit, too:] he changed the places of the low and the high: he slammed his shoe (a low object) on the rostrum of the world's supreme forum (the topmost object); he conferred the supreme title of Hero on «low» people; he himself climbed on top of the mausoleum and thus made himself stand above the Father; moreover, he toppled the Father from his ritual pharaon-style visible immortality down into the invisible moral grave. Let us also note the vulgar and mysterious «give them their gruel» uttered from high podiums, and Khrushchev's thought¬less policy of growing corn everywhere, ... his campaign to chemi¬calize [khimizatsia] the country mocking Lenin's campaign of electrification, not forgetting that khimitchit has an additional mean¬ing, mudrit [making too complex].
According to the logic of the carnival, the Jester-Czar must be replaced with the Father-Czar. So the Brezhnev epoch came . . .
However, the Son was succeeded not by a True Father, but by a substitute ... a False Czar, an Impostor. For the first time, perhaps, the False Father was a real cartoon image of the Father. Whereas the Father wrote volumes, the False Father authored only three booklets (in fact, he didn't write even those). Whereas the former fought for and won the Big Land, the latter fought only for a Little Land [Af¬ghanistan]. The former had a foreign accent, and the latter had a speech defect. The famous mustache of the Father had a cartoonlike analogue in the False Father: the equally famous eyebrows. A joke demonstrates the relationship: at a meeting in the intimate circles of the Politburo, Brezhnev takes off his eyebrows, attaches them be¬neath his nose and begins speaking with a Georgian accent. Even the Impostor's birthday was a bit earlier (19 December) than the birthday of the Father (21 December).
After a False Father there must always be a Real Father. Per¬haps, this Father was Andropov (let's remind ourselves about his first mass-scale minirepressions against the violators of work discipline). However his rule was too short to be given the status of a historical epoch. His rule didn't give rise to anecdotes or result in a myth¬ology . . . The next ruler, Chernenko, left even less of a trace in history.
Perestroika Carnival: Gorbachev
Now we are living through the perestroika epoch, the nature of which will be reflected in a mythological image of its leader . . . and we are witnessing the setting-in of a pattern where, as was the case in ancient times, the ruler combines in his person both the Father and the Son, the Czar and Jester ... On the one hand, [Gorbachev] is simple and common, easily mixes with the people. Besides, he has a certain carnivallike zest which makes him akin to Khrushchev, though not as colorful ... On the other hand . . . combined with an apparent sign: a birthmark on the forehead, resembling a heavenly sign marking the future king, an attribute of the Junior Son in fairy tales. A certain duality manifests itself in the circumstance that the birthmark gets carefully painted over on official photographs but is a special feature on cartoons.
Many people saw a real threat of the return of the Father in the recent rushed election of Gorbachev as the country's president . . . Many signs of a reckless Son-Merrymaker [on the other hand] can be seen in the structure of Gorbachev's policy of democratization and glasnost which generally carries many signs of a carnival and a strik¬ingly similar in pattern to archaic festivals. Even the words making up the ... triad - glasnost, democratization, perestroika—form the familiar pattern of transition from chaos into cosmos. The root of the Russian word glasnost-glas [voice]—implies a message aimed at
the avid listener, rather than some impartial freedom of speech. Sig¬nificantly, the Armenian equivalent of the notion of glasnost is a derivative of the word meaning “city square,” which is exactly where people came out to celebrate the feast of glasnost, just as they used to hold a carnival back in the middle ages . . . The slogan promoting “acceleration” was a logical continuation of the festival of the Stakhanovite movement. . . However, this slogan was quickly committed to oblivion following the explosion at the ill-starred Cher¬nobyl power station which had been built with “acceleration.”
After some frantic search in the realm of mythology, a holiday was announced which symbolized a ritual chaos from which cosmos was supposed to miraculously appear. The holiday was called in all spheres, including the economy. But a holiday in the economy means the destruction of the latter.
Gorbachev arrived in Leninakan devastated by an earthquake and announced that the city would be rebuilt within two years. It reminds one of a fairy tale where the Junior Son undertakes to build a city overnight, hoping to be aided by some miraculous agents . . . Archi¬tects were immediately found who ruined centuries old ploughland to build new prefab blocks of flats. [Abrahamian 1990a, 1990c]
Despite the relatively desperate objective plight of the country: the clipped-wing little birds are still delighted to fly away. (Another of the cartoons from Theater Square shows a former prisoner running away from his cage, but his body has been cut into disconnected pieces by running through the bars of the cage in the process of escape. See also the black humor of Mayor Galstian in the interview below”)
The stages of revolution that brought about the final demise of the Soviet Union are worth interrogating in order to get a sense of the emergent new forms of revolution (see section 4).
3. Personnel from the Old Regime
A. Guess Who, You Know Who — Harnush Hacopian 
One of eight women in the 260-member Armenian parliament, Hacopian received us in the refectory underneath the parliament, a good place to meet and watch other members of Parliament. (For instance, the minister of trade stopped by our table to joke, “Excuse me, she is my lover: according to Vozni [”Porcupine,” a satirical journal], we’ve been seen dancing together.” They briefly discuss the fact that he is still a member of Parliament and must step down from it and from chairing the important Finance Committee. A little later the chair of the Social Welfare Committee, an economist, stopped by and we briefly interviewed him about the role of economists in the new gov¬ernment and the availability of trustworthy statistics: those from the 1920s were fairly good quality, the later ones were more corrupt, but those who sift through them can recognize the patterns and degree of biases.) Overhead the loudspeakers let us keep track of proceedings on the floor, and Hacopian would pause from time to time in our conversation to pay attention to the names being proposed as deputy speaker, and to comment on why each was proposed with the sureness of a practiced pol.
Cut apart in the process of escaping the Soviet cage.
She freely discussed the trans¬formation of the political system and how she, as a very visible communist leader, has survived as well as her liabilities; for instance, she lost out to a noncommunist for the chair of the Social Welfare Committee: “In the election for committee chair, I came in second to him because the communist members were afraid to stand up for themselves and he was from the Harasha (All-Armenia Movement).” When we showed her picture to Russian emigre friends in the United States several reacted strongly as if they could read in her face the evils of the past and they dismissed a government that could still retain such figures. But as she points out, not only was the Party, after all, an ordinary route of being active in society under the communist state, but her own family has had a checkered career often running afoul of the Party, mir¬roring the uncertainties of individuals, families, and nationalities under the shifting demands of the Soviet regime. She is used to being challenged: in 1988 she visited Houston as part of a delegation of cosmonauts to the Johnson Space Center, and was whisked away by local young Armenians and sub¬jected to hours of intense grilling. She studied mathematics in school and taught computer programming at the university for nine years, by which time she was already important in the Komsomol organization.
HACOPIAN: There are no real parties functioning yet. Fifty-one percent of eligible voters must vote for an election to be deemed valid. This is a pas¬sive rule, and it would be better just to have those who are politically active voting, so this rule was removed for the presidential election. In that elec¬tion, 78 percent of eligible voters participated.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: What constituency do you represent?
HACOPIAN: Kamo, near Lake Sevan: five villages with a population of eleven thousand. Seven thousand five hundred voted, 6,800 for me. I had two opponents, one a judge-lawyer and one a factory director. I was born in Kamo, and as head of Komsomol was well known throughout the republic. I had been in the political arena for ten years, as an old senator in the previous parliament, elected in 1985. (There are about seventy people from the old parliament left in the new one. One of these is also a woman; she was head of the Party.) So I did not need to introduce myself in the election
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Wasn’t your past role in the Communist Party and Komsomol a reason for people to have voted against you?
HACOPIAN: In May 1990 when I was reelected, the communist leadership was still in place. Levon Ter-Petrossian had campaigned already for a year against that leadership. And during 1989-90 I had begun to recognize that Komsomol could no longer hold a monopoly on youth organizations, that it would be dissolved and many organizations would emerge. In August 1990 there was already campaigning against Leninism, against communism, and against Komsomol as the sole youth organization. The struggle against us was tremendous. Harasha supported the lawyer in the election campaign against me. But the issues of Karabakh, of the earthquake, and of the pro¬cess of democratization were major activities for the young communists. These three things were the reason that they couldn't strike home against Komsomol, because we were doing concrete work. We mobilized to send people to the earthquake region. I could spend hours telling you about these activities. At the All-Union Congress of Komsomol, I gave a speech on Kara¬bakh in the Politburo of Komsomol. The Azerbaijani delegate kept disrupt¬ing me. His disruptions and my answers were carried in the newspapers. This had a major impact in Armenia, so I never had any doubts about my election chances.
I only went to Kamo two or three times before the election. Now, as a deputy and by law, I go one to two times a month to meet with constituents.
I announce in the papers when I will be there and available to meet with people, the days and times I will visit each village. It's usually three days each time, and usually on the weekends (because people have to work dur¬ing the week). I'm on the health and social welfare committee in Parliament which keeps me very busy: the constituents are very tense and their nerves are wound up because of the energy crisis and the inflation of prices.
We discussed the reorganization of the political system at the city level and its relation to the state. Hacopian pointed to four issues. First, the old Soviet system claimed to have separation of legislative and administrative bodies, but in practice these were merged in the municipal or regional Gortskom [workers' director or mayor]. At the state level this separation has already been effected: Ter-Petrossian is president, Babken Ararktsian is head of Par¬liament. But cities like Yerevan and Leninakan still have single executive officers who also perform legislative functions. Second, there should be, in a small republic like Armenia, only one legislative body. Third, the Gortskom is still elected by the soviet, and should be elected through direct elections. A rationalized version of the present system would properly be something like the prefectural system of France, where the president picks representatives in different regions. Hacopian thinks this the best system, but the present parlia¬ment would block it, if only because thirty Gortskom leaders are in the parlia¬ment. Fourth, parties need to develop. She disagreed with the Gortskom of Leninakan, who had suggested to us that a mayoral system might emerge with the privatization of industry and the development of independent interest groups that a mayor would adjudicate among. Hacopian believes that change will come rather from rearrangement of political power, that economic pres¬sures have a secondary force since all enterprises must conform to the laws of the state, for example, in regard to taxes as an instrument of shaping the political economy.
The eight member Social Welfare Committee, on which she serves, has been looking especially at French and American laws on mother and child protection, maternity leave, pensions, unemployment compensation, and so on. Under the Soviet system, there was said to be no unemployment, so no welfare funds existed. In this and other areas, the new laws are much more liberal than under the Soviet system.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: How are committee assignments made?
HACOPIAN: Parliament decides what committees to establish, and how many . . . There are sixteen committees. One can serve on only one com¬mittee. It is a permanent position; one gets paid one's salary through being on a committee. One hundred fifteen deputies are members. There are also special ad hoc committees. Some deputies also work as mayors and so are not on committees.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Can you explain the dispute over the election-appointment Ararktsian as Speaker of Parliament.
HACOPIAN: When Ter-Petrossian became president, Ararktsian was his deputy speaker. Ter-Petrossian told Parliament—after they could not agree on his successor—that he thought Ararktsian should succeed. The opposi¬tion said it was not right for the president to tell Parliament what to do, but I think he has a perfect right to say what he wants. In any case, yesterday Parliament voted 136 votes to confirm Ararktsian as speaker.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Is there a feminist movement?
HACOPIAN: No, not in the Western sense. There's a women's advisory council, left over from the communist days. It was established by Gorbachev for Raisa. It had branches in factories and work places; before there was only an All-Union association.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: What are the two or three most important enterprises that generate revenue for the state?
HACOPIAN: Nayirit, of course — the mistake was to close it—and Alaverdi (chemical plants). It should be made more ecologically sound, not closed. Then second, the atomic power plant which was stupidly closed. If we hadn't closed the plant we wouldn't be in this energy crisis. Third, the hydroelectric plant that produces generators and is the largest employer with ten thousand workers. The director was the first secretary of the Communist Party, and a smart man. Nayirit was a monopoly and sold in dollars. Before it can be fully on-line again it should be made ecologically safe, but it should be opened.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Did the atomic power plant sell energy to Turkey?
HACOPIAN: Yes, to both Turkey and Azerbaijan. Shutting it did not make it any less dangerous if, say, there is an earthquake. The uranium is still there. I agree with the president's policies. On 20 October 1990 at the All-Union Congress, the name of Komsomol was changed and it was the end of Komsomol. But before that, in August, I had already been elected M.P. I am in complete agreement with the leadership, with the President Ter Petros-sian's politics. In February the process for independence was first set up and I was one of the main proindependence debaters. In August, Levon [Ter-Petrossian] was in Moscow and said, «The Center has died,» and I agreed. To save the economy, the new agreement is the best thing; look at Georgia! One of the main complaints of the opposition in Georgia is that Gamsakhurdia is not signing the Alma Alta agreement. We may be politi¬cally independent, but our economies are integrated, there are friendships and cultural ties; one cannot just erase three hundred years.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Is there fear that experienced personnel will be lost in the reaction against the communists?
HACOPIAN: In the beginning the fear was great. Unfortunately, there were communist leaders who were bad, and this reflected on others who were also ousted. But others are recognized as experienced and good people. Khosrow Harootunian, who was just nominated upstairs as Deputy Speaker, was a member of the Communist Party, as was Vice President Gagik Harootunian, who was head of the economic division in the Party. As we go on, attitudes are changing: what is cared for is education and experience. Personally, be¬fore, people looked at me as an enemy, but now we're relatives. I try to do what will be good. I will follow whoever is right: I'm not a Party member now, I'm resting from all that. I was devoted; I loved and believed in what I was doing. I was so devoted that my eyes were closed in a way. I could not see certain things, if millions were stolen.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Do you now believe the accusations?
HACOPIAN: Some of them, yes. I could not have known certain of the things. Some I wasn't in a position to know, and many were done secretly. But another ideology has not yet been born better than communism. I mean the values of equality, brotherhood, justice. No other, better ideology exists. As a young person, I believed and devoted myself. It is different from the corruption and misuse of the ideology. Communism didn't survive; it was built wrong economically.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Could it be done otherwise, to achieve the goals of the ideology?
HACOPIAN: Only if there is a strong economy, a good standard of living. Only after these are secured can people pay attention to the humanitarian and benevolent goals.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Are you from an old communist family?
HACOPIAN: My father was a philosopher, my mother director of a school. Both were in the Party. My brother was a top-level person in industry and became a regional director of the Party. One sister is a historian and is not a communist. Another sister is an engineer and is a communist. Remember, there was only one Party and all those who were active were in it. If you were normal, worked well, and were not in the Communist Party, it was strange. In my fourth year at university I was elected into the Party, and I became head of Komsomol. Through those means, I was active and could do something. It was the only mechanism to do active work; there was not a multiparty structure.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: How about at the time of the revolution?
HACOPIAN: In the 1920s my grandfather was accused of being Dashnak [a party outlawed by the Communists] simply because he was from the area of Nazdeh (the famous guerrilla). For years, they oppressed my father for be¬ing the son of a Dashnaki; now they are pressing us because we were com¬munist. Ter-Petrossian doesn't look at party affiliation. I worked with him, he knows me, he's for those who are just.
B. Caught in Between: Vice Minister of Construction Durian
Durian was in Iran in 1982-83 as part of a Soviet construction team building a power plant in Esfahan. His eyes lift up with animated memories. The team comprised some three hundred Soviets, thirty of whom were Arme¬nians. The job was done like international development projects everywhere, including the aid to Armenia after the earthquake from it's fraternal Soviet republics: it was cheaper and easier to bring in everything from the Soviet Union except sand; and the team members developed condescending atti¬tudes about the locals. The other Soviets were not allowed to mix with the local population because there were so many Afghan refugees in the city, and there was fear that they would attempt to kidnap or kill Soviets. Each evening after work, the Soviets were allowed to go to the shops along the street for fifteen minutes, but then they had to go in. The Armenians, however, looked like Iranians and so were free to go where they liked. There were several Armenian construction firms in Esfahan, and Durian socialized with their owners. It was the time of the Iran-Iraq War. Esfahan was being bombed by Soviet-built Iraqi MIGs. Iran was firing back with Soviet-built missiles. «We sold to both sides, and there I was caught in the middle.» The contract required the Soviets to hire five Iranians for each Soviet: it was a time of high unemployment in Iran. «Armenians and Iranians are brothers: same blood. They've been Muslims only for thirteen centuries, and we've been Christian for only seventeen centuries. Before that we were all the same. One day the minister of energy paid a visit to our office. He did not realize I spoke Persian, and he commented to one of the other Iranians, 'That fellow looks just like us.' So I said in Persian, 'Maybe it's you who looks like us: I'm Armenian.» Durian concluded that Armenia should forge strong ties with Iran. His sentiments are seconded in the interviews with Galstian and Ter-Petrossian below.
Karlen is one of those Soviet names composed of Karl (Marx) plus Len(in). Other such names include Melsik (the acronym of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin), Lendrush (Lenin plus darosh, «flag»; originally Lentrosh for Lenin, Trotsky, and Shaumain, the leader of Baku), and the feminine Ninel (Lenin spelled backwards). We met Hambartsumian in his office in the temporary city hall, a building composed of metal boxes [(domiks] brought in after the earthquake as temporary buildings, stacked in a two-story row, and referred to locally as «the labyrinth.» There was, of course, no heat, and we all sat in our overcoats watching the steam of our words and breathing.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Tell us about the economy here now after the politi¬cal changes. For instance, the big textile mill of Leninakan under the Soviet economic system was supplied with its cotton from Kazakhstan. The earth¬quake destroyed the mill, and it is being rebuilt. But is it being rebuilt differ¬ently, and will its supply and marketing be different?
HAMBARTSUMIAN: The old ties have been cut. In the old system, the ties with Kazakhstan were arranged through special funds, and allocation was done centrally. Now all such relations must be based on mutual agreement. They send cotton, we send manufactured goods like irons for pressing clothes. They've been raising the price of their cotton, so we have had to raise prices too. Such ties are not at the beginning stages. Negotiations will not be at the plant level, but at the national level, through the national Arme¬nian government.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Tell us if there has been a change in the personnel running the city. Are they, as in Yerevan, intellectuals, members of the Karabakh or All-Armenia Movement?
HAMBARTSUMIAN: They are mainly young; a few older ones are left. No, it's not like the government in Yerevan. One vice mayor was in the All-Armenia Movement, but otherwise not. The people in city government here were in positions of power in the local region.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Tell us about your own background.
HAMBARTSUMIAN: I was the head of a factory. It was the compressor fac¬tory; it collapsed in the earthquake. I also have been vice mayor for the last eight years. I have been elected twice since the quake. The first time it was more by appointment, but the second time I was elected.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Were there opponents in the elections, platforms?
HAMBARTSUMIAN: Yes, there were eight opponents. Sure, there were plat-forms, but we are not really that far to have real platforms. It is mainly he who is best known who gets elected. We still need to develop democratic understanding among the people. Actually, my title is not mayor, techni¬cally I am the head of the Committee for Work. Moscow has a mayor. I was selected by deputies (or city councillors) over three days: on the first day I got sixty-one votes, and then on the third day I got eighty-one deputies' votes. I need seventy-five. There are 150 deputies or city councillors. The system in the past was like this, too. Our self-criticism is that the old system is still in place. The problem is the same with the head of Parliament. [The reference is to the deadlock over the election of the head of Parliament when Ter-Petrossian was elected president and vacated the parliamentary speaker-ship. After a period of deadlock, Ter-Petrossian, arguing that the struggle was delaying important government business, after some time appointed a new speaker, the man who had been his deputy speaker. There was much criticism of this, some members of Parliament saying that there was no need for such an authoritarian measure: so what if there was no speaker for a while.]
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Is there talk about home rule? True local government? HAMBARTSUMIAN: Parliament would have to give us home rule. Maybe it would come after economic reorganization gets a little further along. So far privatization has occurred only in land. It must happen next in industry. At that point, we'll be forced to have a mayor. All industry at the moment is still state owned; and all decisions are made in Yerevan. In the villages, Soviets have disappeared: they serve no purpose any more, and this will happen in town as well, and then there will be a mayor. My main job is to coordinate state agencies. But once industries are private, there will be a need to manage competing interests.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: What are the main industries in Leninakan?
HUMBARTSUMIAN: There are thirty-seven factories. Two are completely shut down—the compressor factory and a refrigerator factory—because they are in a part of town with a seismic rating beyond our construction code capacities. The other factories are working at about twenty-five percent ca¬pacity, a few have been relocated. [Buildings were supposed to be able to withstand eight on the Bal scale. The compressor factory was built in an area rated ten, one point above standard building techniques. The textile mill, which was in an area rated nine, was almost completely destroyed by the quake.]
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Did the Russian military base here help the econ¬omy, and what will be the effects as the Russian troops are withdrawn?
HUMBARTSUMIAN: No, the military did not contribute to the local econ¬omy: it was a closed enclave. It provided no jobs, put no money into the local economy. It was like a small city within the city. It had its own stores.
FISCHER/GRIGORiAN: Why then was Leninakan reputed to be better off than Yerevan? [People from Yerevan would come to Leninakan to shop for things like sausages which were in plentiful supply. Leninakan had a meat-processing plant.]
HAMBARTSUMIAN: Leninakan was not better off, I don't think. Maybe if there was more in the bazaar it was because Leninakan is closer to the agri¬cultural areas of Georgia and Azerbaijan. But basically there were the same goods as in the stores in Yerevan.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: What about the role of repatriates in Leninakan?
HAMBARTSUMIAN: Beginning in 1946-47, they were a positive influence because of their educational and technical level. We were not allowed to develop the individual. They brought with them crafts and artistic talents which they pursued mainly in their homes. The present situation would be even bleaker without them. [Because of their connections to the Armenian diaspora?] No. [Because they were businessmen?] No, but they provided roots to the idea of the possibility that one can be a businessman.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: What about the recent refugees from Azerbaijan? Are any of them intellectuals or white collar workers?
HAMBARTSUMIAN: There were some three thousand of them; a thousand before the quake. The central government allocated a thousand to us. After the quake, the number rose to 3300. They do construction work, a few are in industry. None of them are white collar or intellectual.
I see from your questions that we could go on for a long time on these topics, but the minister is coming to discuss preparations for the New Year, to try to see that everyone has something on their table. The New Year plan¬ning will be difficult. [One of the vice mayors enters and is introduced.] See, all my assistants are in their early thirties, all but one come from a communist past. We think we do a better job because of this experience. Sure, favor taking existed in the past, and still does. [As we shake hands and open the door to leave, we see a crowd of people are outside waiting to get in. There are five vice mayors, whose responsibilities are divided like minis¬tries: one is in charge of stores, another education and medicine, another housing. One was a child of repatriates from western Armenia, whose par¬ents were exiled to Siberia in the 1940s]
4. Political Sociology Intermission: Intellectuals and the Second Pivot
The “stages” of revolution that brought about the demise of the Soviet Union are worth interrogating in order to get a sense of the emergent new forms of revolution. As in classical revolutions, what has been called a second pivot is required as both a catalyst of ideas for change and as a place from which new leadership can emerge. The second pivot is a major group within the ancien regime regime, or parallel to the state structure, that can break away from the old structure, deny it legitimacy, and provide new ideas. Some commentators expected such a second pivot in the Soviet Union to develop from techno¬crats and perhaps military officers, but in the actual event, it came rather from scientists (like Andrei Sakharov) and scholars (orientalist Ter-Petrossian, musicologist Landsbergis in Lithuania, and somewhat less happily, literary scholar Zviad Gamsakhurdia in Georgia). In Armenia, the eleven-member steering committee of the All-Armenia Movement was composed of seven Ph.D. candidates, a writer, a journalist, and two teachers (see the interview below with one of these, Galstian, now mayor of Yerevan). Geoffrey Hosk-ing, in a lucid article on the structure of the revolution of 1988-89, points out that Gorbachev’s political reform of 1988 created this second pivot as a politically potent force by allowing groups of citizens to nominate candidates for election, and by 1989 these had developed into several political move¬ments. Hosking traces the roots of the second pivot to the «informals» [neformaly] of the 1980s, various protest groups using publicity-seeking tactics of picket lines, placards, circulating petitions, getting onto glasnost-liberalized television, and rock concerts. Among these rock bands, of course, is Stas Namin (Anastas Mikoyan, Jr., the grandson of the Soviet negotiator in the Kennedy years and chairman of the Supreme Soviet until removed by Brezhnev; also grand nephew of Artyoum Mikoyan, the designer of the MIG jet fighter; also grandson of Gregory Haroutunian, the Armenian politi-cian who raised the issue of Karabakh with Stalin and was an opponent of Khrushchev's agrarian policies). Stas Namin has been a countercultural figure for the last twenty years: under glasnost he collaborated with Frank Zappa and Keith Richards and in 1990 organized the «Landing in the Glasnost Nest» rock festival with Motley Crue, the Scorpions, and Ozzie Osborne, in Moscow's Lenin Stadium; released an LP, «Rock Aid Armenia,» with Deep Purple, Genesis, Rush, and Black Sabbath; and created a Children of Ar¬menia Fund.
More important as sources of ideas were the various study circles [kruzhki] formed in many cities by younger scholars in their late twenties to early for¬ties. Tucked away in various academic institutes they investigated such topics as market economics, constitutional politics, and folklore ethnography as ways of remobilizing people. Hosking singles out the group that proved to be critical to Yeltsin's career in Moscow: the Klub Perestroika formed in 1987 from a seminar at the Institute of Mathematical Economics in Moscow. This group discussed new laws on economic enterprises, formed task forces to advise workers how to make use of their rights under new enterprise laws, to advise citizens whose civil rights were being threatened, and a key task force called Memorial to get public support for a memorial to Stalin's victims. Many of Yeltsin's advisors came from this group. Interestingly, Gorbachev was part of an earlier generation kruzhki of this sort deep within the bowels of the Communist Party in the 1970s, which tried to model the effects that vari¬ous political reforms might have; a number of this group came to despairing conclusions, but Gorbachev went ahead with the ideas developed there.
After 1988 these study circles and informals were able to form into popular fronts around issues of ecology and ethnicity or nationalism, and gradually more and more people from the Party and state apparatus transferred alle¬giance to them. Armenia again is a leading example. The disaster at Cherno¬byl in 1986 had brought the ecology issue into the open: pollution of the air and water, the series of ten or more major nuclear power accidents, the eco¬logical devastation of the gigantic irrigation projects—all these began to draw crowds willing to protest. In Armenia, the Greens Union, led by Hakob San-asarian, led major demonstrations in October 1987, and then almost weekly demonstrations through the summer of 1989 that came to include the ecology demands, the unification of Karabakh with Armenia, and democracy de¬mands; in December 1989 demonstrators blocked rail deliveries of supplies to the huge Nayirit chemical plant in Yerevan. Eventually the ecology move¬ment forced the shutting not only of this plant but of parts of several other chemical plants, and of the Medzamor nuclear power plant.
The Nayirit plant is a huge complex, originally built under Stalin in 1933 and updated with a new third production line in 1986. It is one of twelve plants worldwide, and the only plant in the Soviet Union, which produced chloroprene (also known as neoprene), a synthetic rubber used in high-tensile latexes. It employed over four thousand workers. The new production line used a DuPont and British Petroleum technology package, installed by a Japa¬nese contractor (Kobe Steel), modified to save costs, which meant that when DuPont did a study of the plant in late 1989, they found that it would require one hundred million dollars to bring the line up to world safety standards. It is estimated that at full capacity the Nayarit plant emits six hundred tons of solid waste per year, thirty-two tons of toxic liquid waste that is dumped into the Hrazten River, and an enormous amount of gases into the air, consisting of chloroprene, butadiene, and hydrocarbons. The epidemiological results are a miscarriage rate of 3.5 percent higher in the surrounding southern district of the city than in the rest of the city, a stillborn rate of 7.4 percent higher, and a pneumonia rate four times as high. After the plant was closed, the air quality in Yerevan improved dramatically, but in 1991 the new Parliament voted to reopen the plant out of desperation for state revenues. Similarly, there is now pressure to reopen the Medzamor nuclear reactor, located only some twenty-four kilometers from Yerevan, which used to sell energy to Turkey for hard currency. 
The ecology movements constituted the second of a four-stage sequence that Hosking sketches as being common to many of the independence and democracy movements in the Soviet Empire. The first stage he identifies as being around causes like historical preservation (for example, defense of a seventeenth-century merchant's house in Moscow against urban redevelop¬ment; of Hotel Angleterre in Leningrad). The tactics were picket lines, peti¬tions, placards, and importantly, appearances on TV under the more relaxed conditions of gfasnost. The groups, however, were still symbolically marked as marginal: pacifists, hippies, students, rock bands. The second stage was the ecology movement against nuclear power plants, noxious factory fumes, and large irrigation projects. After Chernobyl, adulterated foods, poisoned air, and contaminated drinking water were issues that brought sizeable num¬bers of people out in public demonstrations. The third stage was the move¬ment of the kruzhki into these campaigns. The fourth stage was then the formation of popular fronts which allowed apparatchiks to begin transferring their allegiances.
As Hosking points out, grievances of all sorts could be presented in the initial stages of these popular fronts as ethnic issues against Russian oppres¬sion, and all sorts of issues of misrule could thus accumulate into a large agenda. In Armenia the 1988 earthquake was seen as a form of Russian geno¬cide since the apartment buildings which collapsed were shoddily built (while older buildings survived); similarly, Ukrainians called Chernobyl a continua¬tion of Russian policies of genocide against them (a continuation of Stalin's purges and elimination of kulaks). Indeed the nuclear and chemical industries were charged as genocidal tactics of the Russian Empire, siting a dispropor¬tionate number of toxic and accident-prone industries outside of Russian territory.
TREMBLING OF THE EARTH, 7 DECEMBER, 1988
Nineteen hundred eighty-eight was the year of the formation of popular fronts: in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuanian, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Moldavia; and somewhat more slowly in Belorussia, Ukraine, and the central Asian republics. Demands included local control over economic affairs, en¬vironmental protection, teaching of local histories, cultures, and languages, and explicit recognition of the victims of Stalin. In the elections in 1988 and 1989, these oppositional fronts moved into power. (Russia itself is a different case since it could not have a popular front against an ethnically defined Rus¬sian oppression, but Hosking points out that the Memorial movement func¬tioned somewhat similarly, and it was in the demonstrations of this movement that Boris Yeltsin's popular base first emerged.
Armenia provides an interesting example of the shift from ethnic or nation¬alist framings of these movements into democratic movements (which we might designate the fifth stage). The problem of Karabakh helped bring a second wave of people into the streets of Yerevan, adding onto the ecology movements and accumulating into a broad nationalist agenda. But the evolu¬tion of the Karabakh movement and that of Armenia proper, while remaining intertwined, also began to diverge: for many Karabakh was and remains a nationalist issue, although for the All-Armenia Movement stress was laid on its status as a democratic issue of self-determination and right to equitable resources for development; but Armenia itself, under the All-Armenia Move¬ment (which evolved from the Karabakh Committee—the name change is significant) rapidly moved into a democracy movement, in which the basic issues were ones of restructuring the economy and the political system. (This transition to democratic processes has been much less smooth, for instance, in the cases of both Georgia and Azerbaijan. In Georgia, Gamsakhurdia, an increasingly authoritarian nationalist president, was forced from office by an armed rebellion by his prime minister and members of his national guard in early 1992  and in Azerbaijan, a weak authoritarian, former communist president, Ayaz Mutalibov, could not survive the nationalist passions over Karabakh being manipulated by various factions and was forced out of office in March of the same year.)
It is important to note that the philosophy of the All-Armenia Movement, especially under Levon Ter-Petrossian, deliberately refuses to elevate to sym¬bolic centrality the nationalist symbolism that has fueled much of the diaspora nationalism of the past seventy years.  There is a stress that one should not elevate a paranoia about pan-Turanist threats and therefore the need for big-power protection against neighbors, but that instead Armenia must construct normal relations with its neighboring states (Ter-Petrossian is interviewed be¬low). This means a refusal to fetishize the old demands of an international recognition of the genocide by the Ottomans and young Turks, or the old demands for territory now in eastern Turkey, but that instead Armenia must forge a pragmatic foreign policy. Domestically, the shift to the fifth phase involves a struggle between democrats and former Communist Party appara¬tchiks who either wanted to use nationalist power to stave off the perestroika initiatives from Moscow or who simply wanted to survive politically. In Ar¬menia this struggle is relatively benign (see interviews below); in other re¬publics it is a much more strenuous struggle.
Three elements of the revolutions of 1989 have been indicated so far. First, there was a sequencing of stages that begin with what are often called new social movements, movements that begin with seemingly apolitical issues of everyday life, like ecology, but which rapidly involve decision-making issues which lead to broad political change. These sequences seem to be different than the classic models of previous bourgeois, artisanal, proletarian, or peas¬ant revolutions in that they do not begin with political demands, they are not organized around cadres or cell structures, they do not rely on armed upris¬ings, and they do not invoke an ideology of the vanguard of the intellectuals. Second, intellectuals did play a critical role as a leading edge of the second pivot, but not in quite the form of «vanguards.» Vanguards traditionally in-volved codified ideologies and analyses and hierarchies of negotiation be¬tween groups conceived of as classes with easily identified interests.
Third, the media of communication, both the new electronic media and older print and theatrical forms, play a different role. Most dramatic are the new electronic media: the influence of the rock bands worked indirectly to prepare a mind-set among the young that was less willing to kowtow to au¬thority; the fax machines and Radio Echo from inside the Russian Parliament building that were crucial in blocking the right-wing coup attempt of August 1991 in Moscow worked directly. In Germany, the role of the intellectuals and the print and radio media converged in a moment of drama in November 1989 when the Writers Association called an open-air dialogue on media free¬dom and some five hundred thousand people showed up at Alexander Square, supporting the Leipzig radio reporters who had braved official censure to cover protests against Gorbachev's visit the preceding 9 October. This led to a period of democratic reform of the newspapers: editors and apparatchiks were driven out, new editors were elected by working journalists, assignments were worked out collectively, and letters sections were expanded for citizen participation, and when the government responded by cutting money and sup¬plies of paper, journalists worked out joint-venture agreements with West German publishers to get newsprint and supplies. These reforms were subse¬quently encoded in a new media law. Ironically, this heady democracy died through the unification with West Germany. Under West German law, co-management rights of workers are exempted in the case of «ideology busi-nesses» like the press; the Treuhand agency that is privatizing East Germany has delivered the newspapers into the ownership of West German media giants and parties now dominate the media (see Boyle 1992:133-39).
If the electronic media are the most novel, and if the print and radio media the most institutional, still perhaps the most dramatic forms of the new revo¬lutions are the theatrical street demonstrations. Increasingly in modern times, street demonstrations are not intended to be practical means of force: insofar as they evoke the street barricades of the 1830s or 1848, they do so as moral symbols. During the December 1991 fighting in Tbilisi, a common fear men¬tioned to us on the streets over and over was that this might turn into a Beirut, that using weapons indicated it was a fight between elites, a terrible develop¬ment away from what had begun as a democratic movement.  Levon Abramian again provides a guide to the theatricalized nature of street demonstrations in the nine-month gestation of what began as the Karabakh Committee and evolved into the All-Armenia Movement, from February to November 1988. The 19 February demonstration in Theater Square, Yerevan, called to support the Armenians in Karabakh, was already led by intellectuals of the second pivot, unlike the leaders in Karabakh itself who were local nationalists but still the old communist leadership. On 22 February, a half million people demanded the Central Committee of the Communist Party call for a meeting the Supreme Soviet. People streamed into the capital from the countryside and were met by ritual chants of «welcome guests» as the crowds swelled to a million. On 7 November, a full-scale second pivot revolution began.
Abrahamian notes that even the words glasnost and perestroika, and their Ar¬menian equivalents, hraparakaynutyun and verakarucum, already evoked a town-square, dialogic, staging. Theater Square is actually more round than square (2), like in the Armenian imagination the all-important temples of Zvartnots and Gagikashen that were once symbols of the great Armenian em¬pire (Zvartnots is memorialized today as well as the name of the airport of Yerevan.) Glasnost involves the root glas, «voice,» while hraparakaynutyun means a town square, and hraparak means democratization. Both the pre¬fixes in Russian, «pere», and Armenian, vera, mean restructuring, return, restoration. The strikes were verbal strikes: the word strike was chanted; the form of the chant was dialogic, question-answer («Karabakh is whose?» “Ours”). Trumpets began and ended the meetings/performances (and the trumpet became a visual icon on posters) using as the anthem a movie song, “Why Is the River Gurgling?” (a song about a man caught on the wrong side of the river, the Turkish side). Around the square, old opera and theater play¬bill posters were used to inscribe farcical reports of what was going on in the square and in the negotiations with the communists: humor calls attention to the instability of the rules. Hunger strikes were enacted as if at medieval fairgrounds: the hunger strikers wore orange shirts and sat or lay in covered booths; people brought flowers as if to saints or stars on a stage; people ob-served taboos on smoking and eating in the square in solidarity with the hunger strikers, and many also ate frugally at home; there were evening cere¬monies of leaving the strike with torches. Abrahamian uses a September dem¬onstration as a prime example. When a picket line was set up in the path of armored personnel carriers, the unarmed people sat in the street with their backs to the tanks. Only three youths (continually rotated) stood facing the tanks, the one in the center holding aloft the tricolor banner (of Armenia, of democratic traditions since the eighteenth-century bourgeois revolutions), the other two with their fists raised. (In the early demonstrations people used a two-Anger victory gesture. Later this turned into the fist of unity and resis¬tance.) In front of them they laid out the works of Lenin so that should the tanks move forward they would first have to crush those sacred books. Behind them stood a line of people holding hands around the square.
Theatricalization, of course, occurred on both sides, and a key turning point in the symbolic struggle took place on 7 November 1988. The Com¬munist Party leadership was on the dais of the square beneath the statue of Lenin: tapes were playing martial music, cheers and shouts of bravo. But the crowd was not shouting. It marched up to the dais, with Levon Ter-Petrossian in the front row. Amidst the noise of the tape, he began gesturing and talking to the communist leaders: «This is an insult to the Armenian people . . .» The first secretary, in one of those moments of history-defining miscalcula¬tions, ordered the tape turned off so he could hear and even passed down a microphone to Ter-Petrossian, who then turned his back on the communists and began addressing the crowd. The crowd hushed. It was a turning point.
Symbolic contestation operates not only theatrically but also visually, and in Theater Square a poster exhibition was mounted in June 1988, and it re¬mained up into July, until a military curfew was imposed. An analysis of this exhibit has been done by Stephanie Platz and a renewed exhibit has now been mounted by Haroot Harootunian at the Sardarabad Museum. Platz, a linguist and anthropologist, notes that the posters deploy the two languages, Russian and Armenian, quite differently: all Russian texts are primarily satirical and use indirection, while Armenian language texts “speak directly and overtly evoke an Armenian solidarity.” Thus, Russian texts rely on wordplay, hyper¬bole, analogy, recontextualization, oxymorons, and ellipsis, for example, through fascism,” or a poster mocking the Aeroflot ads by showing a map illustrating flights from Moscow to all the non-Russian republics’ capitals with the caption “Aeroflot: Fast! Cheap! Reliable!— for example, invoking not only the notorious unreliability of Aeroflot but more pointedly the Soviet military’s ability to occupy non-Russian republics quickly by air. Or a collage done from cutting out newspaper headings: in Armenian the poster says, “Our movement is irreversible”; in Russian, the newspaper Izvestia [knowledge] is pasted up without its first letter and with an added prefix be, yielding Bezvestia [without knowledge]; the official Mos-cow TV news program “Vremya” is modified to read “Bremya” [burden], frow&z [truth] becomes Krivda [crooked], and the newspaper Trud [labor] becomes Trup [corpse].
Poster caption: «Perestroika Rubix Cube.» «Beginning»: two figures break out and sweep out the refuse of the past. «Process»: colorful hopes of glasnost. «End»: the two figures are in reversed cages.
POSTER DISPLAY, THEATER SQUARE, June-July 1988
Fish poster caption: «What rots from the head, yet gets cleaned out at the arse?» (Communism). Cow poster caption: «A red cow cannot change its hide.»
Equally importantly, Platz notes the way evil is represented in a palimpsest fusion of three oppressors of Armenians: the Soviets, nineteenth-century Turks, and contemporary Azerbaijanis. Genocide furthermore becomes an integrative symbol of «root paradigm» that assimilates a variety of kinds of suffering: there was not only the physical genocide at the end of the Ottoman empire («Turks»), and the killings in Sumgait and Baku in 1988 by Azerbai¬janis (also «Turks») of Armenians which sparked intensified fighting over Karabakh, but also: (1) the Azerbaijanization of Nakhichevan is called a «white genocide,» that is, one that operates by erasure of evidence of Arme¬nian residence; (2) the air pollution of Yerevan is called «ecological geno¬cide»; (4) the assimilationist policies of Azerbaijan were called «cultural genocide.» This is troublesome insofar as all pragmatic people in this part of the world recognize that Armenians must find ways of living peacefully with their surrounding Turkish-speaking and Muslim neighbors.
But note that the posters and banners also indicate how there can be move¬ment in the mobilization of symbols: especially the notion that fighting and negotiation can overcome perennial mourning and disempowerment. Al¬though the rhetoric of paranoia about pan-Turanism and equation of evils with imagery of nineteenth-century Turks with sabers, turbans, and tumed-up shoes can become frozen, it is important to note that the identification of a series of evils over time tends to shift blame to political systems that lack accountability rather than to fix blame on historical events, persons, or places. Certainly the leadership of the present Armenian government under President Ter-Petrossian—sometimes in sharp contrast to the older rhetoric of diaspora Armenians in the West — has emphasized pragmatic negotiation of conflicts and has refused to indulge in demonizing others or idealizing the self.
5. Intellectual-Activists A.
Galstian is an anthropologist who wrote a Ph.D. thesis on Russian and Ar¬menian bilingualism. A member of the eleven-person All-Armenia Movement steering committee along with Levon Ter-Petrossian, he is famous for, among other things, being the first to announce that the First Secretary of the Com¬munist Party of Armenia was a political corpse: still occupying a title and office, but politically dead.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Tell us about the strategies of the Karabakh Committee.
GALSTIAN: It had a modest beginning; it attempted to organize a mass of people. It tried to guard against overextending itself. It tried to focus efforts on Sumgait, and to protect against a Sumgait happening here. Only later did there develop ideas about strategy, and did it develop into a movement and a party. Only on 29 May did a party or a political organization emerge. There were eleven members who divided into two sections: one section was led by Manuelian and was more nationalist; the other was led by Ashot Manucher-ian and was more focused on democratic issues. The Manuelian section comprised three people—Vazgen Manukian, David Vartanian, and Babken Ararktsian—who had worked together since the 1960s on nationalist issues, cultural issues, historical legitimacy, genocide, Armenian issues. The Manu-charian section comprised also three friends who had been together for twenty years and worked on direction, on issues of and just elections in Komsomol and on issues of democracy. I think it was the balance between these two issues that brought success. There were five others.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: In those early days, did you have contacts with movements elsewhere, for example, in the Baltics, Lithuania?
GALSTIAN: Yes, by the second half of 1988, contacts started with the pre-Baltics, with Russia, and with what became later the popular front in Azer¬baijan. In the summer of 1988 we had a number of meetings.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Was there ever a thought that there could be a popu¬lar front that united all these movements?
GALSTIAN: From the beginning it was clear that a single democratic move¬ment couldn't work across the Soviet Union. There were major differences among the groups. [There was an attempt more recently in May 1991 in a meeting in Kishinev, Moldavia, to create an Assembly of Popular Fronts and Movements for Republics, the so-called Kishinev Forum, composed of the Baltics, Georgia, Moldavia, and Armenia.]
FISHER/GRIGORIAN: What was the background of the leadership? Were most academics? Outside the Party?
GALSTIAN: Seven were Ph.D. candidates, one was a writer, one was a journalist, two were teachers. None had held leadership roles in the Party except Ashot Manucharian who was for two months head of Komsomol, and then was thrown out. Two had been in the Communist Party; one of these was thrown out, and the other left.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: What about the leadership in the city government?
GALSTIAN: I look for three qualities: that people be professional, sincere, and strong. I don't care what political point of view they have. I don't see my role as a political position—it is an economic issue. Even regarding Ar¬menian politics on the national level, on the governmental level there are no political biases. Two of my seven vice mayors have Communist Party pasts. Different department heads come from the Communist Party leadership. What counts is professionalism. We lack people who do it chinovnik [under¬standing and accepting hierarchy].
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: What is the main economic problem now?
GALSTIAN: I don't know if it's the weather or my mood, but things cannot get any worse than they are now. We have only a two-day supply of fuel left to burn. I just was with the president discussing this. If Azerbaijan doesn't turn on the gas, and it is clear they won't, there will be a catastrophe here. The railroads are closed, there is no heating fuel, energy is at the point of finishing. If there's natural gas, everyone turns on hot plates, wires overload, everything goes bust, breaks. Foodstuffs are getting less and less. All indus¬trial production has stopped for the last ten days. There are no salaries. There is no money in the republic. Even if Azerbaijan opened the railroads, we have no money to buy gas and food. Ten days ago I was the only one saying serious steps needed to be taken against Azerbaijan. Today the whole government is saying this. Everything possible needs to be done, even de¬claring war. We will meet about this again in two days. [Typical Armenian black humor; how would one fight a war without fuel?]
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Is the president in contact with the president of Azerbaijan?
GALSTIAN: Yes, I think he is in occasional contact. But that does not mean anything. Azerbaijan has two weapons against which we have no de¬fense: the gas line and the railroad. We have nothing to block these weap¬ons. We must figure out something else. As time goes by, we're struggling with time. Azerbaijan won't just open the gas line. And even if they did, they would only find an excuse to close it again four days later. It's funny to put hope in humanitarian reason. Between these two republics, what is working is the idea of war.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: What about Russia?
GALSTIAN: Russia has enough problems of her own.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: What about the U.N.?
GALSTIAN: [Shrugs dismissively.] Russia cannot do anything. It is the same state that Russia was: collapsing from within. I have been to Russia a lot recently. In the outer regions they want to break away from the center and form a miniature confederation within Russia. In the Far East and Sibe¬ria, the Communist Party is still in the leadership positions. Yeltsin is trying to change things but it is very difficult. I fear that this winter, or next winter, we will see starvation in Russia, and an uprising of the starving Russian.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: What about Iran?
GALSTIAN: I was recently in Iran. In seventy years, this was the first of¬ficial delegation from Armenia. It is an interesting country, but we have to be careful about relations between us. It is the only theocratic country that works by sharia. I could talk for hours about Iran. Today's fundamentalists can only last another six or seven years. Even they are conscious of this. Today interesting things are going on there. I talked to the head of the Mostasafan Foundation, who was formerly the head of the Revolutionary Guards. Even such people who were radical realize that being so closed-off is detrimental, and want to begin relations with Christian Armenia. Even the shouting of the slogan, «Death to America» has become routine, and is done without any real feeling. They used to have three «Death to» slo¬gans—to America, to the Soviet Union, and to Israel—now that the Soviet Union has dropped away, they are left with only two. I was staying at the Hilton, now called Azadi, and the slogan «Death to America» is written across the front, but even those who work there say things were good during the American period. In order for there to be progress, Iran will have to take steps with Russia and America. The top leaders are realistic. When we met with them and with Ayatollah Malakuti, their style in talking was such that one felt phrases like «in the name of the Islamic revolution» and so on were just paying lip service, diplomatic phrases, without much meaning. [The phone rings, and he takes a call from the president. In a second he has phones to both ears. Haroot Harootunian takes the opportunity to point out that Iran cannot send or sell gas directly to Armenia, even if it wanted, be¬cause no pipeline comes directly across the Armenia-Iran border, and it would take two years to build a bridge for a pipeline] Azerbaijan is dealing primarily with Turkey, and Iran is upset about this. To develop a balance in the region, Iran will perhaps have to look to Armenia. Iran would find it more profitable to look to Armenia because Christian Armenia has no de¬mands on Iran. Within Iran there are eighteen to twenty million Turkish speakers: Iran is upset by [former Soviet] Azerbaijan's slogan, «One people, one state» [i.e., including Iranian Azerbaijan].
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Has your anthropological training helped in dealing with these issues?
It helped in Iran maybe. I don't know if it helps here. Before I went to Iran, Haroutian gave me a book on the etiquette of Middle Eastern peoples. Whoever was with me did not catch on to the style of saying a lot without meaning much. [Laughs and imitates:] “From the south of the Arax to the north of the Arax River, the Armenian people are rising . . . Khomeini is the guiding sun of the revolution ...» If they like this style of speech, well, why not cater to their style? Iran is a rich country. They have the essentials to become the second most important partner for Armenia in the region after Russia. It seems their economy has a good future.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: What about Turkey? Could it serve as a stabilizing force in the region? It wouldn't want war in its backyard.
GALSTIAN: Turkey is complex, and I am not so familiar with the Turkish issues right now. But Turkey is not interested in war on its borders, no. Aya-tollah Malakuti, the leader of the Iranian Azeris and Khomeini's representa¬tive to the Azeris told me [laughs]: you got rid of one shaitan, don't fall in to the hands of another shaitan. Thinking about everything, even given this dismal situation, Armenia is in a better situation than the other republics, except the Baltics, because we've taken major political steps, we've given land to the peasants—this year we've gotten four to five times more harvest than in the past—we've started privatizing production [industry], there's no internal conflict and we have an elected government. Compare in Georgia, where there is civil war, and there may be the same in Azerbaijan soon. Don't worry about it, it's been a hard day, and I enjoy talking about it.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: If we can be of any help from the outside . . .
MAROUTIAN: They live in Houston, Texas. Have them send oil.
GALSTIAN: Yes, send oil. |Laughs.] Houston is a sister city to Baku. «Yerevan's sister city is Cambridge, Massachusetts. How did this happen? Ye¬revan, a city with one and a half million people; Cambridge has only one hundred thousand. I guess we were persuaded because it is a good city, a university town, book stores. I was in Cambridge: oh, to be young and to study at Harvard. Now it is possible to send students there; when we were young, Moscow was where we could go. I did graduate work in Moscow at the Institute of Ethnography. The structure of education and scientific research must change. These institutions did not feel like real places of research, they were more places of prestige—correct me if I'm wrong, Harout. Since salaries were low, the people who worked there had other means (with some exceptions, like your friends, Harout): they were children or wives of highly placed people. True researchers were squeezed out: they couldn't support a family in such a place. With a few exceptions, people in these institutes, even in the political sphere during the movement, were not able to properly decide what was happening: they were conservative; they were stuck in the middle.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: How can that structure be changed?
GALSTIAN: The challenge of national issues will lead to a burst of professionalism.
GALSTIAN: New people, new ways of thinking, free people—if you do not feel free, you cannot be professional, strong.
FiscHER/GkiGORiAN: But if children now go to school only on and off? In Leninakan the schools have been closed for a month.
GALSTIAN: You are taking an extreme situation. It's an extreme situation that is causing what you describe. You are conflating spiritual freedom and the realities. We will have a generation without fear. We are now at point zero; before we were below zero. This year it is cold; but it won't always be like this. Don't worry: we've lived through a lot. We've lived through the Soviet period.
MAROUTIAN: Would you call this a bourgeois revolution?
GALSTIAN: Leave aside such Marxist words, let's stick to the word demo-cran'c. . . . The important thing is, we've worked to privatize land and indus¬try, and we're trying to set up a society in which the rights of people are re¬spected. Human rights—in New York, they like to talk about human rights.
GRIGORIAN: [chiding]: What? You're doing what you learned in Iran?
GALSTIAN: OK, OK. The situation is that the garbage of society is also rising: crime, legal nihilism, corruption. In the past there was fear of author¬ity, but no respect for authority. We took away the fear, but there is not yet the respect. To bring respect, we need to pass proper laws, and then have a strong government which can defend the laws. It is now no longer the com¬munist economy, but the laws remain the old communist ones. So many take advantage, and the line between can and cannot remains blurry, a situation pregnant with danger.
We walked across the street from the Academy of Sciences to the Parliamen¬tary Office Building. Security was minimal. No one was at the gatehouse. We walked up the stairs. Inside the main door two uniformed guards had little slips of paper with the names of people to be expected. We walked up to the third floor where Ashot Andinian, the head of the media office, was standing outside his office waiting for us. He welcomed us into his office to await a signal from the president. His office was the warmest in the building, he said, because at night the guards use it and have hot plates going. Rouben Shugar-ian, the Assistant to the President for Foreign Affairs, came in and sat and chatted while we waited. He had some interesting observations to make about the transitional nature of the present government, and the role of the diaspora. He had been with the president's office only two months. Earlier he was with the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, and before that he had been a spokesperson for the All-Armenia Movement.
In an article summing up the first year of the Ter-Petrossian government, he listed five areas of success: (1) avoiding of civil war by managing to persuade the Armenian National Army to give up its arms; (2) economic reorganization in two sectors: land privatization within the first few months of the new government and movement towards privatization of small- and medium-sized state enterprises; (3) introduction of the beginnings of a mul¬tiparty system of government: seven parties have been registered, and fifteen more are beginning the process of registration; (4) peaceful separation from the Soviet Union by working within constitutional frameworks, by comply¬ing, for instance, with the demand by Moscow that a referendum on indepen¬dence be put off for a six-month deliberation period between it and the earlier resolution for independence, and by issuing a declaration on independence rather than of independence; (5) in foreign affairs, Ter-Petrossian was the first to meet with Yeltsin after Yeltsin was elected president, and travelled as well to Georgia, France, and Italy. Most importantly, Ter-Petrossian signed an accord with Azerbaijan brokered by Russia and Kazakhstan in an attempt to negotiate a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh struggles, including a willingness to yield claims to soveignty if Azerbaijan would grant greater home rule. This willingness to pursue a pragmatic nonconfrontational course cost the government the services of its first prime minister.
Rouben laughed when asked about his training and if he had a particular specialty background in foreign affairs. He is a Ph.D. in art history.
SHUGARIAN: None of us are professionals . . . We are transitional people. In five years the government must be staffed with professionals . . . We have help from abroad: you know, of course, about Rafi Hovanessian [the thirty-two-year-old Minister of Foreign Affairs, a California lawyer, and son of the head of the Middle East Center at U.C.L.A.]. Then as head of the European Department, we now have Christopher Gastapian from France, an expert in international relations. Soon the head of the North American Department will be Mathew Dermanuelian (former director of the Project Hope earth¬quake relief project). [A key drafter of the new Armenian constitution was also an American, Vartkes Yeghiayan, of Glendale, California. He sought advice from another American, Bernard Siegan of the University of San Diego, who drew up the new Bulgarian constitution.]
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Yes, but these are only a few individuals. How can you get people like Rafi to leave very well-paid jobs to come work for 450 rubles a month?
SHUGARIAN: [smiling]: Whenever you say such things, I remember the example of Israel.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Are you only looking to the West for help? What about the diaspora in Beirut, Iran, India? Are you asking them to come back too?
SHUGARIAN: Well, sure. I guess first we look to the West for technical assistance, to the civilized world and then to Oriental countries.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: [laughing]: «Civilized»!? [Shugarian laughs in acknowledgment.] «Developing»?
SHUGARIAN: Armenia is not resource poor. We have resources. We are not yearning for help. What we need are partnerships. We have had official visits from Iran and Turkey. As for the Confederation of Slavonic States, we have expressed interest in joining, but a number of issues need clarification. For instance, customs and hard currency policies need to be coordinated, but the question is how? Also, Yeltsin's counsellor, Galina Staravoytova, has observed that if all the republics end up wanting to join the confederation, the Ukraine has indicated it may withdraw, feeling that would be too many. Things have been very tense the last few days regarding Azerbaijan. [There has been more bombing of Stepanakert by the Azerbaijanis. This morning, Azerbaijanis were taken off a train and taken hostage, and five Armenian train engineers were then seized by the Azerbaijanis. Later in the day, the television reported that Armenians had seized a number of Azerbaijani spe¬cial forces.] President Ter-Petrossian warns of instability: everytime he stabi¬lizes things, something else occurs. He has imposed a curfew on the border area of Meghri and Navajehan [where the latest incidents have occurred].
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Is the president in contact with his counterpart in Azerbaijan?
SHUGARIAN: Yes, he has had phone conversations with the president of Azerbaijan, but the internal politics of Azerbaijan are not stable, and it is not clear that President Mutalibov will be able to survive. Both he and the oppo¬sition are stirring up nationalism in an effort to gain control. The same is true in Georgia: Gamsakhurdia is unstable. Georgia is trying to be the most independent country in the world. It has declared that it will take a quarter of all goods shipped through its territory . . . Azerbaijan has cut natural gas supplies, and is demanding dollars for any such supplies, although it is not their gas but only being transshipped through their territory. [We were called into the president's office. Rouben came along as a translator for the presi¬dent, who speaks French but not much English.]
Ter-Petrossian is a «repatriate»: he came to Armenia from Western Armenia (Syria), when he was a year old in 1946. [Ter-Petrossian is the western Armenian linguistic form; Der-Petrossian would be the eastern Armenian equivalent]. He graduated from Yerevan State University in 1968, obtained an MA. from Leningrad in Armenian and Syrian philology, and a Ph.D. in 1987 in philology, also from Leningrad. He is the author of six books and over seventy articles in Armenian, Russian, and French. Married to a Russian Jewish woman, he was not part of the first Karabakh Committee, but was a key member of the second one, which became the All-Armenia Movement. A thin, chain-smoking intellectual in those days, he became a hero in the 7 November 1988 demonstrations in Theater Square (see p. 30 above).
Immediately after the 1988 earthquake, Ter-Petrossian and the other leaders of the All-Armenia Movement were imprisoned. Released on 31 May 1989, he was elected to the Supreme Soviet of Armenia in August, and in February 1990 became a member of its presidium. Reelected to the Armenian Parlia¬ment on 20 May, he was elected president on 4 August by the Armenian supreme soviet, defeating Communist Party chief Vladimir Movsisyan on the fourth ballot.
The interview began with some general observations about the two key problems of shifting from a totalitarian state to a European-style community of independent states, and from a command economy to a self-regulating market system. Armenia was in the forefront of supporting a new economic and political alliance, but firm in rejecting Yeltsin's first idea of a core of Slavic and central Asian states with a secondary peripheral tier of states like Armenia. As to the role of the Armenian diaspora in helping with these tran¬sitions, the president noted three components: (1) in terms of investment, the diaspora behaves like investors anywhere, and will not help much until con¬ditions for the penetration of capital are met—political stability, economic reforms, and guarantees; (2) there is an emotional reaction in the diaspora to the changes in Armenia, but aside from some help with earthquake recon¬struction and other specific projects, it is only an emotional reaction; (3) ex-pertise from diaspora is welcome—for example, Rafi Hovanessian and the about-to-be-named Minister of Energy, Sebough Tashjian (fifty-six years old, born in Jerusalem, and the manager of cost engineering at Southern California Edison)—as is help in shaping international public opinion especially in France and the United States, where there are strong Armenian communities. As to the extraordinary role of intellectuals from the academy in the new government, the president noted two different issues: first, the new political and economic system has no specialists corresponding to the new demands, a problem common to all the successor states of the Soviet Union; and second, there is no reserve pool of leaders with experience and ideas because there were no political parties. The Communist Party was closely interconnected with the administrative system, and so was distorted. Gradually, as a multi¬party system develops, government officials will come from new parties. In the meantime, everything possible is being done to invite specialists from abroad, to send their own people abroad for training, and to establish new training facilities such as the recently opened American University of Armenia.
Asked about the difficulties of repatriates adjusting to Armenia and why so many do not stay, the president, referring to the hundred thousand Armenians who immigrated to Armenia after World War II, and the more recent three hundred thousand from Azerbaijan, noted that apart from the normal difficul¬ties of adaptation and the pressure that people feel to give political rather than social meaning to their patterns of emigration, there has been discrimination and tension because the repatriates in the past represented private property. They were largely petit bourgeois, tradesmen and craftsmen, who were de¬prived of the freedom to pursue their previous activities. This has now changed, and emigration from Armenia for these reasons will stop, although it will continue because of the harsh conditions for the immediate and indefi¬nite future. Being probed for psychological dimensions of the repatriate con¬dition and asked about his own family, the president claimed never to have felt psychologically different or like an outsider (although born in Aleppo, he came to Armenia as a toddler).
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: There is another comparative angle regarding both repatriates and the diaspora. Both Israel and Greece are countries with large diasporas and with repatriates who have helped to shape their new econo¬mies and political systems. Do these countries provide models of any sort? They both have also experienced difficulties and tensions with their repatriates.
TER-PETROSSIAN: Israel, well the kibbutz was like our kolhoz. The col¬lective farm was started with the so-called kibbutz, the kolkhoz, the state farm . . . Yes, of course, problem arise with repatriates, but I am interested in results, was it gainful for Israel and Greece or not? Can you show me that bringing in repatriates was bad in the long run for either Greece or Israel? I see that in the society both in Israel and in Greece, serious social problems can arise between local people and newcomers, but did the state eventually benefit from it or not? . . . Armenia will have more possibilities of repatria¬tion first of all from Armenians in the Soviet diaspora.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: In thinking about Israel as a model, one might not think so much about the kibbutz, but rather that Israel has staked its eco¬nomic future on being part of the high-tech economy. In order to do that it has needed a fair amount of state intervention in deciding what to subsidize or support, and this is an effective strategy for emphasizing the basic science needed for high technology.
TER-PETROSSIAN: Well, yes, a mixed economy. Here too we will have that. FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: For instance, the textile mill in Leninakan that is being rebuilt after the earthquake and gets its cotton from Kazakhstan. Is there not a problem of low-technology industry placing Armenia in a potential colo¬nial position in the world economy.
TER-PETROSSIAN: The situation is one of circumstance, not psychology. We are always ready for the new technology, but we need credit and reserves for it; at the moment we have no means.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: The other part of the question, say regarding the tex¬tile mill, is what role Armenia will play in connecting with the East, and whether Armenia wants to play such a role.
TER-PETROSSIAN: You said rightly that we receive raw material from far republics such as those in central Asia, but this is not a partial thing, this is a common phenomenon. The economy of Armenia has been built so that we were in better relationships with far republics such as Ukraine, central Asia, than with near republics. We have more serious connections with Lithuania and Ukraine than with Georgia and Azerbaijan. This is an extraordinary phenomenon.
SHUGARIAN: It is not a natural phenomenon.
TER-PETROSSIAN: And we have to look forward to bringing these eco¬nomic connections geographically close to each other. From this point of view, it is quite natural that we must create serious economic connections with our outside neighbors such as Iran and Turkey. And in this direction we took some decisive steps from the first day of the creation of our authority. We do not only look at the East or the West. I would like to say that we must manage to create very close relations in our region first.
FISCHER/GRIGORIAN: Can Iran or Turkey realistically be economic part¬ners for Armenia?
TER-PETROSSIAN: We have just sent a mission to Iran. It is in this region that we must survive. It is not so much a reorientation as it is making denser connections. I am sure that the Middle East, the Caucasus, the Black Sea basin, the southern regions of Russia and Ukraine will be our economic and political regions: this will be our economic and political geopolitics.
6. Recap: Restaging Global-Local Interlocutors: Repatriates, Expatriates, Anthropologists, Therapists, and Musicians/Artists
An important part of the transformation of the Armenian polity is its reposi¬tioning in the global community. The interviews above are framed in the prologue and intermission by considerations of the «new revolutionary pro¬cesses» of the last days of the Soviet Union, which is a kind of «internalist» account of processes contained within national boundaries (of the former USSR of the Armenian nation-state). In the interviews with Vice Minister Durian, Mayor Galstian, and President Ter-Petrossian, these transformations were also framed through a kind of «externalist» account of global proces¬ses. All six interviews locate themselves in global-local points of restructuring metonymically sited/sighted among the roles of repatriates, expatriates, anthropologist/ethnographers, therapists, and musicians, filmmakers, and creative writers.
As we have already noted, there have been several major migrations of Ar¬menians to the Republic of Armenia in this century. Three of the most impor¬tant were the large migrations after the First World War (the village north of Yerevan, Musa Dagh, is named after the Anatolian village made famous by Franz Werfel's novel The Forfy Days of Musa Dagh, after the Second World War (President Levon Ter-Petrossian is one of these, the minister of culture is another; people were recruited after World War II so that Armenia would not fall beneath the minimum required for an autonomous USSR member repub¬lic: some 250,000 people came), and today after the population exchange between Azerabaijan and Armenia, which brought some 300,000 from Azer¬baijan. These populations have brought various kinds of skills and sensibili¬ties to the country. Armenia has funded scholarships to bring members of the diaspora to Armenia for training. Rafi Balian, the physiatrist who headed Project Hope's team in Armenia during 1992, now a Canadian but born in Beirut, received his medical degree in Yerevan on such a fellowship. (Due to the civil war in Lebanon, he migrated to Canada instead of returning to Leb¬anon.) Armenia gave twenty-one such fellowships each year in medicine. As noted above, Armenia has been able to draw on a select few individuals from the diaspora to help with the process of constructing a new polity: the foreign minister, the energy minister, the director of the foreign ministry's North American division, the director of the research department of the parliament, the drafter of the new constitution, a few others from the Armenian commu¬nity in North America, and a few others from France. A few wealthy Arme¬nians, such as Charles Azanour(ian) in France and Kirk Kevorkian in the United States, have been instrumental in organizing earthquake relief, as has the Armenian community as a collectivity.
Like Greece and Israel, Armenia has a large diaspora. It exists not only in the West but also in the other republics of the former Soviet Union. The latter diaspora is estimated at one-and-a-half million people. An Armenian, Abel Aganbegyan, was the chief economist for Gorbachev. A Cypriot Ar¬menian is currently (1992) the chief UN. negotiator among the warring factions of Afghanistan. Greece and Israel may provide some models for Armenia, but conceptually it is perhaps more important to recognize that almost all lands of the «Old World» have such diasporas. The influence of repatriates, temporary returnees, remittances, and lobbying efforts is some¬thing that is largely known only anecdotally, except in the case of economic calculations of remittances that appear as major items in the economic balance sheets of nations.
The influence of guest workers and international crews of various kinds of expatriates has also become a major component of the economy of most coun¬tries, including even such «homogeneous» ones as Japan. In the aftermath of the 7 December 1988 earthquake that completely destroyed the town of Spitak and devasted much of Leninakan, Armenia's second largest city, as well as damaging a third industrial city, Kirokavan, various kinds of expatriate help was dispatched to northern Armenia both from within the Soviet Union and from the West. Compare the observations of Vice Minister for Construction Durian in the interviews with our arrival scene at Yerevan's Zvartnots Airport.
Standing in line on narrow steps guarded still by Russian customs agents, we found ourselves with Yugoslav contractors for a new Red Cross-donated hospital, paid for by the Swiss, and an Austrian employee of an American air-conditioning multinational subcontractor on that project. The project man¬ager, a friendly Yugoslav woman, engaged in the usual expatriate chatter about the inability of the locals to do anything right, to exercise any labor discipline, to get things done on time, and so on, and how things were difficult with the electricity shortages due to the ethnic conflicts over Karabakh. All materials and all personnel were flown in from Europe on the fourteen-month project nearing completion. Asked what part of Yugoslavia she was from and what she thought about the events going on there, Oh, she replied, Yugoslavia was nothing like Armenia, she was from Bosnia-Herzegovina where every¬thing was quiet, where Muslims and Christians lived peacefully side by side, what was going on in Serbia and Croatia was strange beyond belief, such hate, such lack of love, her generation had seen nothing like this, she knew it only from the TV. (So much for the travails of Sarajevo both as the flashpoint of World War I, and in the present, not to mention the devastation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the coming months.) Standing next to her, another member of her team, was the head of the Vienna office of Tran, the LaCrosse, Wisconsin-based air-conditioning and heating company. Tran's Vienna office has been operating in Eastern Europe for the last decade, and also in Kuwait and Iraq: Tran did the air-conditioning for Saddam Hussein's bunker. The head of the Vienna office, although Viennese, had grown up in South Africa the son of a heating and plumbing engineer and had all the behavioral characteristics of an Anglophone.
We headed for Leninakan, a palimpsest of global-local layerings. Locals joke that the name derives not from Lenin, but rather from len [big] and beran [mouth], and refers to glibness of tongue and quickness of wit that is said to characterize its people. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the name was changed back to an ancient Armenian name, Gumry or Gumayri. In the nine¬teenth century this was Alexandropol: Czar Alexander built a girls' school and a school for merchants here. The old buildings of the town have the aura of the old Russian and Victorian worlds. They are known for their black tuff stone, ornate rainspouts, and wrought-iron balustrades. Under the Soviets, Leninakan was an army garrison. Although a quarter the size of Yerevan, it was known as a place of sophistication and good living, with more commodi¬ties and food. The buildings that collapsed in the earthquake were mainly those built in the 1960s and 1970s with shoddy Soviet prefab construction. The characteristic prefab concrete wall panels have led to Leninakani black humor: A man to his wife as they lie buried in a collapsed building says, «I'm cold.» She replies, «So, pull another panel over you.» Or, «You're from Leninakan?» «Sure. What, I should wear a panel as identification?»
After the earthquake, construction teams were sent from Kazakhistan, Lith¬uania, and elsewhere to help rebuild. Like international construction crews, they brought their own equipment and material. They put up a whole new section of apartment buildings on the outskirts of town. But when political and economic conditions worsened in their home republics, they left, taking their machinery with them and leaving many buildings unfinished. Crews from Lithuania built an entire village or subdivision with pitched rooves look¬ing very northern, very unlike Armenia. The Austrians also built a new vil¬lage of detached cottages for handicapped victims, with a kindergarten, and streets named Franz Werfel, Mozart, and so on, although the cottages have steps instead of ramps and the doorways don't look big enough for wheel¬chairs. The French donated a new telephone switchboard, but not the cables to hook it up to outside grids. The Danes built a clinic, the British a school. The telephone example is but one of many examples of well-intentioned do¬nations that were uncoordinated and thus less useful than they should have been. The Red Cross hospital was designed for specialized therapies that are not needed. The Joint Distribution Committee is building a clinic for oc¬cupational therapy and Project Hope is training therapists in a struggle to introduce a new field to the health care system against tremendous resistance. Reconstruction, of course, is also being vigorously pursued by local residents; government loans are available to rebuild older sections of town in the tradi¬tional style; others are building fancy new housing on the outskirts of town.
The authors, both anthropologists were of course interested in their counter¬parts, some of whom have played active roles in the democracy movement: Galstian, Abrahamian, and Maroutian are three who are given some prominence in these pages. The Institute of Ethnography provides a paradoxical insight into the structure of probably many former Soviet institutes.
The scene: a freezing December day, academics gallantly welcome a visitor and all sit in overcoats in offices without heat or electricity trying to pretend that all is normal. The «normality» problematized here is a Utopian future defined by not being under economic blockade, by having passed through the transition from an archaic academy into a free market of ideas, and by being in constant interaction with colleagues around the world.
Folklorist Sarkis Harootunian is the assistant director of the institute. We asked him how folklore is being analyzed, what theoretical lines of inquiry seem currently most useful. He replied that under the Soviets, folklore had been stifled by theory, and now people just wanted to collect. Folklore col¬lected and organized through Soviet categories now has been devalued as «false folklore»; today, folklorists concentrate on «nonfalse», authentic, «traditional» folklore. The problem with this natural reaction, he went on, is that it leads to a strange lapse: the Soviet period tends to get omitted, but much folklore was produced, including jokes. Under Brezhnev, oddly enough, jokes were freer. For example, a man stands in line muttering, «It's all his fault.» He goes to another line this time for bread, and continues to mutter, «It's all his fault.» By the time he is in a third line he is getting angrier, and the KGB has been alerted. They hustle him off for interrogation. Who is the referent of his? The man looks at them: «Why, Hitler, of course.» The KGB interrogators say, «OK, you can go.» The man says, «Wait, who did you think I meant?» The KGB interrogators, now embarrassed, say, «No, no, never mind.»
We met with Vardumian, the head of the ethnography department of the institute, and as many of the staff as were available, some nine persons, sitting in chairs around the edges of the room. As people introduced themselves and the subjects on which they work, an interesting dualism began to emerge not unlike that which Sarkis Harootunian had alluded to in folklore. While on the one hand anthropologists/ethnographers have been leading figures both as ac¬tivists in and as analysts of the democracy movement, on the other hand, qua ethnography the grey scholastic categories of descriptivism seemed to form an occupational shell. Thus Haroutian Maroutian, the energetic and creative documentor of the democracy movement and curator of the exhibit of posters and banners, described himself as a specialist on house types. His coworker on the exhibit, Svetlana Poghosian, similarly introduced herself as a specialist on costumes (and indeed was responsible for the lovely costumes in the Sardarabad Museum). A third man worked on the demography of Armenian communities in the nineteenth century; a fourth cataloged traditional sports; a fifth worked on traditional crafts. Two women worked on particular ethnic groups: a Russian woman worked on the minority of fifty thousand Russians who once were in Armenia; sadly, she said, there were now only twenty-five thousand left; no one else expressed any sadness. A man, who arrived late in a jocular yet serious way introduced himself as a specialist on traditional transportation systems and accused Derenik Vardumian, the head of the de¬partment, of having condemned him to waste his career on this meaningless subject; it was a dispute conducted with the feel of having been aired often over the years, both friendly and exasperated.
Most interesting was the late Zaven Kharatian, who tragically and suddenly died in the winter of 1992 at the height of his powers and just as his skills could have been put to real use. He was just finishing a series of studies of marriage and life-cycle rituals analyzed in structuralist terms and was about to initiate an interdisciplinary set of studies with psychiatrists and psycholo¬gists of the earthquake victims and post-traumatic stress and coping. The difference, he quipped at one point, between Malinowskian anthropology and Soviet ethnography was that Malinowskian students went to learn from other cultures while Soviet anthropologists went to teach other cultures.
More seriously, ethnography in the hands of such creative persons as Abrahamian, Maroutian, Kharatian, and Galstian might be seen as having a double life: a procrustean one of dusty and safe muscology and an inquisitive, interactive one with the contemporary issues of Armenian social and cultural development.
Like anthropologists/ethnographers, therapists provide a dual access to inter¬nal organization and external discourses. Therapists need to work within the local health organizations, yet physical therapy in particular is something new to the Soviet Union, where in the past it has been limited to massage, where the physically disabled have not been encouraged to seek independence, and where they have been shut away in homes or institutions. Here we have a case of the internal-external dialectic of new expertise touched on in the interview with President Ter-Petrossian.
We attended a meeting called by the Joint Distribution Committee (which Grigorian directs) and Project Hope teams with the doctors who head the local hospitals. Most of the latter were women, who arrived in elegant fur coats and hats at the J.D.C. temporary clinic. There was, of course, no heat or electricity (except for two kerosene stoves in two back rooms). So we all sat in a freezing, candle-lit room, while presentations were made by repatri¬ates, expatriates, and locally trained therapists. The latter, primarily young women, carry little authority. They attempted to demonstrate techniques of exercise with a young boy patient. (What might have been more dramatic would be a video demonstration of the changes a patient can undergo over a period of time.) The doctors seemed mostly unmoved. The physical therapy now is not so much for earthquake victims as for the normal problems that any society suffers: muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and so on. And the voung therapists carry on with their caseloads as best they can.
Other kinds of therapy might be important as well. One of the translators for the J. DC. clinic talked about a series of problems since the earthquake, compounded by the economic blockade. Schools are regressing: you cannot have classes when the children have to sit in coats and gloves and daydream only about going home where it might be warmer. Many of the children are traumatized and depressed. There are two clinics where children are encour¬aged to draw and talk about the earthquake. Some the children say, «Why study? I might be dead tomorrow.» The translator, a young woman in her twenties, lost a sibling and in-laws, and says, «As a child, one heard about massacres and war when every family lost someone, but I thought it would never happen to me. People don't talk about their losses. At first, people did not say, Did you lose someone? but, How many did you lose? Now they don't talk about it. Everyone has their own grief.»
But if there are serious difficulties, there is also joie-de-vivre expressed in food and in music of all kinds. Saturday mornings there is an open-air arts and crafts market in one of the main parks of Yerevan. An old man sat on a chair on the sidewalk playing a cello.
Loris Chaknavorian, a young conductor, has returned to Armenia for three years to transform the symphony. His concerts pack the hall. When we went, he did not conduct, but his young assistant began the concert by thanking us for coming despite the cold. «We will warm you with music, don't give up.» The audience sat in their overcoats, and at intermission the violinists gathered around a small space heater to try to warm their hands.
Christmas Eve we were invited to a wonderful dinner party at the home of Roman Yessaian, an architect and former head of the Design Institute in Ye¬revan. There we met the newly elected president of the composer's union of Armenia, who regaled us with his music on Roman's piano. Present also was a television journalist. Earlier that evening we had been guests at another, equally wonderful Christmas dinner party given by the physician mentioned above with Project Hope. He invited a twelve-year-old neighbor girl to play: a concert-quality artist, who already had been abroad in several tours, she enthralled us, playing on a valuable old violin owned by the state and lent to her for her use. Also at the table was a young composer, a repatriate from Syria, who had come to Armenia for training.
Music and the arts—as also referred to in allusions to Saroyan, Egoyan, et al. in our subtitles—provide not only Utopian and aesthetic escape from the harshness of everyday life, but they also help transform that harshness into vehicles of contemplation, critique, and rededication.
1. At a Christmas Eve dinner (American, not Armenian Christmas) in Yerevan,
1991, the television was on as we waited for Mikhail Gorbachev to resign and ac¬
knowledge the fait accompli of the demise of the USSR. When his image would ap¬
pear, people would gently gibe us. “There’s yowr friend, the one Bush likes so much.”
We shrugged and smiled and tried to reply, like Zarathustra, that he had served his
function, and we honored him for that, but that he had been, like Nietzsche's first
tightrope walker, too slow and conservative for the task. He had disappointed Arme¬
nians, too, as we well understood, failing to support Nagorno-Karabakh in its consti¬
tutional right to secede from Azerbaijan and join Armenia, making wildly unrealistic
promises about rebuilding the earthquake-devastated city of Leninakan, and failing to
do anything about the natural gas and economic blockade imposed on Armenia by
2. Karl Krauss, Dig letzten Tage der Menschheit (The last days of mankind; 1992).
Rather than belabor the parallels between the end of the Austrian Empire and the end
of the Soviet Empire, one might consider the ethnographic comic or carnivalesque
technique of seeing through words. Erich Heller comments, «the technique of Karl
Krauss, if indeed it was technique, was literal quotation. He took the material of
experience as it was: the coffee-house conversation of the journalists, the stock ex¬
change rendezvous of the racketeers, the fragments of talk that reached his ear in the
streets of Vienna, the judgment of the law courts, the leading articles of the news¬
papers and the chatter of their readers ... not by recasting, shaping, modifying his
material. No, he quoted verbatim. 'The most improbable deeds which are here re¬
ported,' he says in the preface to The law Days of Mankind, 'really happened, I have
registered only what was done.'» His cast of characters, not unlike Nietzsche's cari¬
catures, are «troglodytes living in the skyscrapers of history, barbarians having at their
disposal all the amenities and high explosives of technical progress, fishmongers act¬
ing the role of Napoleon, ammunitions salesmen crossing Rubicons, and hired scrib¬
blers tapping out the heroic phrases of the bards» (1975:243-44, 248). Compare
Abrahamian's analysis below of the triad of slogan words in Gorbachev's glasnost
3. Also called Opera Square, but as Abramian notes, the name Theater Square
came to be used during the demonstrations, appropriate to the turning of the square
into a highly theatricalized set.
4. For a lucid exposition of Marx’s theories of revolution as they are set within
world-historical time, see Elster 1985.
5. For an analysis of both the symbolic, theatrical form and the stages or social
processes of the Iranian revolution, see Fischer 1980.
6. The unfortunate name social movement;—unfortunate because so lacking in
descriptive specificity—has come to designate the various political movements organized with the idea that more important than the political dramas at the governmental level are changes in the fundamental social relations of everyday life. Thus these movements often spend much time trying to institutionalize decentralized modes of decision making, more ecologically sound life-styles, and so on, rather than focusing all their energy on short-term instrumental political battles. The Green Party move¬ments in Europe are often taken as a key example.
7. An exhibit of posters, banners, photos, and cartoons from Theater Square in
Yerevan, from the period of mass demonstrations, has been curated by anthropologist
Haroot Harootunian, et al., and is currently on display at the National Museum of
Armenia at Sardarabad.
8. On 23 September 1991, Ter-Petrossian signed an agreement with President Mu-
talibov of Azerbaijan, brokered by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Kazakhistan
President Nazarbayev. This agreement called for noninterference in internal affairs of
sovereign states, observance of civil rights, return of deportees, and the yielding of
Armenia's claims to Karabakh in exchange for greater self-rule by the Armenian ma¬
9. The claims to Karabakh themselves constitute an interesting study in the use of
ethnohistory for purposes of legitimization (Platz 1990). IKarabakh is a Turkish word;
the old Armenian name for the area is Artsakh; in Persian the highlands were called
garmsir while the lowlands were called sardsir. It appears that Turkic pastoralists used
the lowlands in the winter and the highlands in the summer, while the mountain vil¬
lages of Armenians were agricultural; that is, there was a sharing of territory by two
different ecological regimes and ethnicities. Platz notes that ethnohistorical claims go
back much further: Armenians claim Karabakh was part of historic Armenia since the
fourth century B.C.; Azerbaijanis claim to be descended from Caucasian Albanians (no
longer extant) who after the Muslim invasions of the seventh century c.E. assimilated
into other Islamic Caucasian populations. Armenians say that Karbakh has been con¬
tinuously and predominantly inhabited by Armenians, and that such Albanian popu¬
lation as lived in the area was absorbed into the Armenian population through the
Christianization of the fourth to fifth centuries c.E. More relevant recent history in¬
cludes the massacre of thousands in Shusha (then the capital of Karabakh) by Ottoman
troops on their way to Baku in the early decades of the twentieth century; in response
to Armenian protests, the Baku Soviet and Stalin announced that Karabakh would be
placed under Armenian jurisdiction, but this was never done. Representations were
made again to Khrushchev in the 1950s. Apart from ethnic-nationalist claims, the
Armenians of Karabakh have felt that their blast has been deliberately underdeveloped
by the policies of Azerbaijan. It was the communist leadership of Karbakh that voted
for transfer to Armenia in 1988. The Azerbaijani Supreme Soviet denied the legality
of the vote. The first secretaries of the Communist Party of both Azerbaijan and Ar¬
menia were dismissed as the dispute escalated, but nothing was done to stop the rioting
and violence that erupted with the massacre of at least twenty-six Armenians in the
industrial town of Sumgait and then continued through the summer of 1988, reaching
a peak in the systematic killing of Armenians in Baku.
10. Armenia has approximately 3.7 million people, of which 45 percent live in the
cities, 32 percent work in the industrial sector, 13 percent in the agricultural sector.
By April 1991 only 120 kolkhozy and soukhozy remained of the thousand such agrarian units. Eighteen percent of Armenia's economic output comes from mining with 40 percent of the USSRs molybdenum, and significant amounts of copper, alu-minum selenium, tellurium, silver, gold, rock salt, and construction stone (Armenia was the largest supplier of construction stone in the USSR, especially of pink and grey tuff, gypsum, limestone, and bentonite). Armenia's chemical industry produced syn¬thetic rubber, polyvinyl and acetate-cellulose plastics, and acetate fibers, with big plant complexes in Nayarit (Yerevan), Alaverdi, and Kirovan (a seven thousand-ton West German plant installed in 1977). Energy has come from hydroelectric (5 per¬cent), thermal electric (dependent on gas transported through Azerbaijan), and nuclear power plants (Szalkowski 1992.)
11. In December 1991 people were still in good spirits. By March complaining had
become a daily hum as electricity dwindled to fifteen minutes at odd times of the day
or night, as money began to run out, as food prices shot up, as benzine became hard
to find, and as the dangers of expanded war intensified.
12. May William Saroyan forgive the purloining of his title, but perhaps he would
agree that his people enact the Human Comedy as vigorously in Armenia as in Ar¬
13. Two hundred forty have been elected so far; twenty seats remain to be elected
from Karabakh. Each thus represents ten to thirteen thousand constituents.
14. This tag, in the lighthearted mood of alluding to the richness of Armenian
literary and artistic production, is purloined from the remarkable 1992 film The Adjuster, by Atom Egoyan, ostensibly about an insurance adjuster but poetically about
the dilemmas of displacement and reconstruction.
15. Crane Brinton’s Anatomy of Revolution (1938) remains one of the best accounts
of the stages of revolution in what he called the four great modem democratic revolu¬
tions (the English, the American, the French, and the Russian), to be modified, of
course, by the observations of changes in the form of revolutions noted above. Hosk-
ing identifies the Long Parliament in the English revolution, the Estates General in the
French revolution, and the Duma in the Russian revolution as such second pivots
16. Hosking cites Lithuanian emigre political scientist Alexander Shtromas’s Po-
litical Change and Social Development: The case of Soviet Union (Frankfurt: Peter
Lang, 1981) as both among the first to apply the idea of a second pivot to Soviet
society, and to suggest that it would be found among the military and technocrats.
17. Alexander Zinoviev, a Soviet exile living in Germany after having been
stripped of his citizenship and position in the Russian Academy of Sciences, among
other things, for his merciless satire of the communist system in the novel Yawning
Heights (1978), described this group in a lecture and private conversations at Rice
University in 1987. He was extremely pessimistic about the sincerity and outcome of
Gorbachev's glasnost, saying that the kruzhki had modelled all the things that Gor¬
bachev was trying and the outcomes in the model were disastrous.
18. These figures are from Berberian 1991.
19. Memorial sponsored a week of conscience in November 1988, erecting a “wall
of memory” (a la the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, or Yad
Vashem in Jerusalem) where thousands of pictures of victims of Stalin and the gulag
were pinned up, where people came to seek relatives and leave notes. A poll asked who should lead the movement, and the only politician to receive votes was Yeltsin. The Memorial group then organized political meetings for him, rescuing him from the political exile to which he had been consigned by his purge from the Central Commit¬tee in 1987. In 1990, Yeltsin, with the advice of members of the Memorial group, was able to shift his base to the «Democratic Russia» electoral bloc, invoking Sakharov's proposal for a new Soviet constitution and declaring sovereignty for Russia over against the Soviet federation. Yeltsin was narrowly elected speaker of the Russian parliament, but the following year was able to be popularly elected as president. Hosk-ing points out that «Democratic Russia» functioned well enough against the appara¬tchiks, but is not a functioning political party with an agenda, and there has been a fissioning into many splinter groups.
20. As in other republics, the leadership came from “second-pivot” intellectuals:
Gamsakhurdia was a literary scholar; so were his colleagues, who ousted him. Gam-
sakhurdia began living full-time in a bunker in the Parliament in September 1991.
Full-scale fighting broke out 22 December and on 6 January 1992, Gamsakhurdia fled
in a Mercedes, accompanied by sixty armed men, first to Azerbaijan and then to
Armenia, before slipping back into Georgia. At least ninety people had been killed in
the fighting and 700 wounded. Former Georgian Communist Party boss and former
liberal Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze was called back in February 1992
to help head the now-irregularly constituted rump government.
21. See Malkasian’s review of the edited volume of nine essays by leaders of the
All-Armenia Movement, Armenia at the Crossroads: Democracy and Nationhood
in the Post-Soviet Era, edited by Gerard J. Libaridian. Libaridian is an American-
Armenian, a Ph.D. from U.C.L.A., and former head of the Zoryan Institute in Cam¬
bridge, Massachusetts, who now directs the Department of Research and Analysis of
the Armenian Parliament.
22. Disagreement over such issues caused the resignation of Prime Minister Vazgen
Manukian, particularly over the signing of an agreement with Azerbaijan on 23 Sep¬
tember 1991 that traded a territorial claim by Armenia for greater self-rule by Kara-
bakh’s Armenians. The cease-fire that went with the agreement was violated on the
following day, and Azerbaijani President Mutalibov refused to discuss the breach.
23. In Armenia, where developments in Georgia were watched with care, people
analyzed the situation structurally, pointing out that Armenia was lucky to have es¬
caped the fate of Georgia. There had been a moment, a number of people said, when
a figure quite similar to Gamsakhurdia might have been elected—the nationalist Paruyr
Hayrikian—who, however, was exiled from the country to Los Angeles from 1988-
90, but then returned to Armenia and is an elected member of Parliament. He garnered
7.6 percent of the vote for president (Ter-Petrossian took 82.3 percent). The structural
situation was the appeal of otherwise untested nationalists for a public that wished
only to elect someone who had not been a communist.
24. Note also that the acronym of the Karabakh Committee of Russian Intellectuals
in Moscow, KRIK, spells the Russian word for “shout.” Yelena Bonner, widow of
Andrei Sakharov, was a member (she is half Armenian).
25. See also his paper written to accompany his slide documentation, “Armenian Genocide, Popular Memory, and Changes in Stereotype based on the Karabakh Move-men! Banners and Posters.» Typescript.
26. Over 25,000 died in the earthquake, 30,000 were injured, 500,000 were left homeless.
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