Russia criticized Armenia on Friday to have a statue erected in Yerevan representing an Armenian nationalist who fought against the Bolsheviks, before collaborating with Nazi Germany.
A spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the statue of Garegin Njdeh is “not compatible with the idea of honoring the memory of the heroes” of the Second World War. The Republican Party rejected the criticism.
Born in the Russian Empire in 1886, Njdeh became an Armenian nationalist activist from an early age. He spent several years in Russian prisons. He was pardoned by Russian authorities before ordering one of Armenian volunteer units who fought the Ottoman Turkish army alongside Russian troops during World War II.
Njdeh has become one of the leading commanders of the independent Armenian Republic formed in 1918 after the Bolshevik revolution. In late 1920, he went up armed resistance against the takeover of the republic by the Bolshevik Russia to Zangezur, a mountainous region that is now the south of Armenia. Njdeh and his followers ended the resistance and fled to neighboring Persia in July 1921 after receiving assurances that the region would not be incorporated into Soviet Azerbaijan.
Njdeh was one of exiled Armenian leaders who have pledged allegiance to Nazi Germany in 1942 with the stated purpose of saving the Soviet Armenia of possible Turkish invasion in the event, they considered very likely to Soviet defeat the Third Reich. However, so-called Armenian Legion has never played a major role in the military operations of the Wehrmacht.
In 1948, a Soviet court sentenced him to 25 years in prison on charges that stemmed primarily from its activities “against-revolutionaries” from 1920 to 1921, rather than collaboration with Nazi Germany. He died in a Soviet prison in 1955.
Njdeh was rehabilitated in Armenia after the last communist government of the Republic was removed from power in 1990. The first post-communist Armenian government appointed a metro station and the square in Yerevan on its behalf in the years that followed .
Is credited to Njdeh for preserving the Armenian control of Zangezur, a border strategic region of Iran. It is also revered by many in the country as the founder of a new form of Armenian nationalism that emerged in the 1930s.
His ideology focuses on armed self-defense. The Republican Party (HHK) married this ideology.
The HHK, now led by President Serzh Sargsyan, played a role in the decision of the Yerevan municipality to place the statue of Njdeh in the city center. The statue was unveiled on May 28 in the presence of Sarkisian and other senior officials.
“We can not understand why this statue was erected,” said Maria Zakharova, the spokesman for the Russian Foreign Minister, at a press conference in Moscow.
Zakharova said that the Russian government is firmly opposed to “any revival, or other events glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and extremism.”
Just five days before the erection of the statue of Nzdeh, authorities unveiled a statue of another Soviet Marshal of Armenia, Hamazasp Babajanian. Sargsyan attended the ceremony.
While criticizing the statue of Njdeh, Zakharova said that on May 9, the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany by the Soviets, remains a holiday in Armenia. This is “the main indicator of the Yerevan position on preserving the historical truth about the Great Patriotic War,” she said.
The Armenian party in power was quick to reject the Russian critic. “Garegin Njdeh is one of the greatest heroes of the Armenian nation,” said the HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov. He said the Njdeh activities have always been aimed at “liberation, salvation and independence of the Armenian people.”
Sharmazanov also played down links nationalist leader with the Wehrmacht. He argued that the Soviet Union itself had signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany in 1939.
Claire © armenews.com