1 Aug 2020
Alternatives to State Approaches in Turkey and Russia: The Politics of Memory and Civic Activism in Comparison
This study focuses on different forms of civil memory activism and their broader consequences in two neighboring powers in the South Caucasus: Turkey and Russia. Civil memory activism is crucial not only for opening up a novel space for dealing with the past but also for strengthening civil society and non-state initiatives. Moreover, the notions of justice and truth that are very much at the heart of these forms of commemorative activism reveal tensions among the concrete demands of different stakeholders in the context of initiatives for reckoning with the past. (Kora 2010)
This study scrutinizes the complex relationship between civic activism focused on remembering the past and the demands of truth and justice of various stakeholders gathered around civic commemoration activities. Focusing on the memory scene of our case studies, Turkey and Russia, we will provide a detailed discussion on the complicated relationships among remembrance, forgetting, “normalization”, and demands for justice and truth.
Memory activism creates a civil space of remembrance that challenges the official narratives of the violent pasts, democratizes one-sided national accounts, and struggles for the inclusion of the unheard voices. On the one hand, memory activism destabilizes nationalistic accounts and opens up a space for alternative narratives, and on the other hand it builds a space of civic activism for resilience, struggle, and resistance (Schindel and Colombo 2014). Generally speaking, civic memorial initiatives use a wide-ranging repertoire of political mobilization and they have both specific and more general demands for remembrance, accountability, justice, and dealing with the past.
These initiatives reflect the plural demands of various political and social groups: some claim to represent the victims of the coups, like in Argentina, while others claim to represent victims of different ethno-political conflicts, as in Bosnia Herzegovina, South Africa, and Turkey. Some use more depoliticized vocabularies and rhetoric, in places like Cyprus where international NGOs have been active after the conflict (Kovras 2017), while others use relatively more politicized and militant tones, like in Nepal where the Maoist movement has political influence of over grassroots organizations and civic memory actors (Fullard 2008). All in all, these initiatives create an important civil space in relation to memory and commemorations, identity and citizenship, and past and future.
In our study, we chose two cases that are crucial considering their long lasting political influence over the Caucasus region and that illustrate different aspects and challenges of civic memory activism: Turkey and Russia. Given the fact that one of the most important events of these scenes is established in relation of the Armenian Genocide, it is at the core of our analysis. We scrutinize Turkey’s memory scene of the Armenian Genocide through civil initiatives on genocide commemoration whereas for Russia, we decided to focus on the civic memory activism of the Armenian diaspora. This choice, we believe, made it possible to concentrate on a more nuanced memory scene that reveals a deepened understanding of civic memory activism, revealing both its relations with Armenia and Russia. Also, civic memory initiatives regarding crucial historical periods of political violence in Russia and Turkey, like Stalin’s purges or recent history of the Kurdish conflict, are thoroughly evaluated.
For each case, we chose concrete examples of civic memory activism. For a deepened understanding of each case, we reviewed the press releases, declarations, and online data of the relevant organizations and/or initiatives. Moreover, for each of the cases we decided to conduct semistructured interviews with important organizers of the commemoration practices; we aimed to interview between two and five key individuals. (The list of the interviewees can be found in the Appendix.)
The Memory Scene in the Context of Turkey’s 2000s: Subtleties of Remembering and Forgetting
Turkey is a country where various forms of violence occurred on a wide range spectrum from the end of the 19th century and all through the 20th century. The Armenian Genocide of 1915, rigidly denied from the official perspective with the strong support of a denialist academic complex, and different forms of violence in the context of the Kurdish conflict constitute two main pillars of this spectrum. Especially after the commencement of armed conflict in 1984 between the Kurdish armed forces, PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan – Kurdistan Workers Party), and the Turkish armed forces, a conflict still ongoing despite several peace attempts, various forms of violence have occurred while the perpetrators have been protected with a shield of impunity.
Concerning the memory debate in the context of Turkey, the term amnesia is frequently used regarding the formation of a national memory. Accordingly, it is argued that forgetting establishes layers of amnesia concerning different violent experiences that occurred throughout the 20th century, including the Armenian Genocide, pogroms of non-Muslim communities, massacres of the Alevi (a sectarian minority group) community, and forms of violence in the context of the Kurdish conflict.
We argue that amnesia is not an appropriate term to define the Turkish case, instead, in line with Paul Bijl, I suggest using the notion of cultural aphasia. Unlike amnesia that is mostly perceived and understood in a binary opposition with remembering/memory, cultural aphasia “[…] makes clear how silences do not have to point towards oblivion or definitive forgetting, but to issues of the availability of language and possibilities for its expression.” (Bijl 2012, 449) Instead of amnesia, one can talk about a memory boost in Turkey, including several competing memories since political and social groups such as Islamists, feminists, Kurdish activists, and seculars all establish contentious fragments of memories (Özyürek 2007). All these narratives are not equal though; there are dominant frames of remembrance and these frames produce some experiences as memorable and others as non-memorable. They all do struggle, however, to erode cultural aphasia and provide a new vocabulary for narrating the violent experiences of the past. In this way, a new space of struggle was born for deepening the space of countermemory against the official, nationalist mnemonic politics, specifically at the beginning of the 2000s.
The early 2000s, in line with Turkey’s accession process to the European Union, refers to a window of opportunity when the pluralization of the national memory seemed possible. The new government elected in 2003, Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Justice and Development Party – AKP) with its popular leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was a new political actor that declared a political program of “democratization”, including more moderate and liberal approaches regarding the Kurdish conflict, and relations with Armenia. Moreover, again in the early 2000s, a new space of civil society was founded with the flourishing of new nongovernmental organizations supported by international funding institutions and EU bodies. These new generation of NGOs working more meticulously on memorial issues and dealing with the past combined with public intellectuals speaking up about past state crimes diversified the civic memory space. And finally, efforts of the Armenian community and their own organizations along with the Kurdish political movement’s institutionalization in the civic memory activism field strengthened the alternative memory scene of Turkey in this period.
Civic Memory Activism in Turkey: Specters of the Past, Conflicts of the Present
Turkey possesses a diversified and heterogeneous space of memory. Despite the cultural aphasia established very rigidly by the state and its various official institutions, several civil initiatives struggled to erode this aphasia and to find a new vocabulary for reflecting on and talking about the atrocities of the past. As we described above, as a result of the new political opening of the 2000s, several initiatives flourished for disseminating alternative narratives of the past. We have chosen two important examples of these initiatives, Saturday Mothers/Persons and the Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, that represent two most important issues of the memorial scene in Turkey, namely the Kurdish conflict and the Armenian Genocide.
One of the most important issues of the contentious memory space of Turkey is the Kurdish conflict. The Kurdish conflict commenced in 1984 and lasted more than 30 years and established a contentious space of memory, and narrative and truth regime in Turkey. Various forms of violence including extra-judicial executions and enforced disappearances, forced migration, widespread use of torture, and denial of civilians’ basic human rights due to security concerns created a diversified and intensified repertoire of violence. The 1990s were years when different forms of state violence were implemented vis-à-vis the Kurdish population in order to cut the links between the civilians and armed guerilla forces.
Enforced disappearance is one of the crucial state crimes of the 1990s. One can trace the roots of this crime to the Armenian Genocide, when on 24 April 1915 262 Armenian intellectuals, politicians, and notables living in the (then) capital of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul, were taken into custody; the fate of most of them remains unknown. After 1915, this strategy of state violence was implemented occasionally; however, the systematic implementation of enforced disappearances began with the 12 September 1980 coup d’état. During the 1980s, different components of the Turkish opposition such as students, trade unionists, and political activists which allegedly had organic ties with armed leftist movements was forcibly disappeared. During the 1990s, on the other hand, wellknown activists of the Kurdish movement and other “ordinary” Kurdish citizens were disappeared systematically in Kurdistan, most after being taken into custody in front of eyewitnesses.
After the increase in enforced disappearances during the 1990s, several families contacted İnsan Hakları Derneği (Human Rights Association – IHD), the first human rights institution in Turkey established after the coup d’état of 1980, where different stakeholders applied for the documentation of their violated rights and requested legal support. The family members of Hasan Ocak, whose tortured body had been found in a common grave after he was taken into custody, also contacted IHD.
After meetings with the Ocak family and human rights activists active in IHD they organized a sit-in on May 27 1995 in Galatasaray Square, one of the most crowded sites of Istanbul. The sit-in was organized as a silent event, without chanting any slogan, just reading the press release describing the urgent situation concerning the forcibly disappeared. Moreover, mothers of the disappeared who were few in number during the initial sit-in, carried photographs of their children as part of their struggle to tell the story of their loved ones.
After a while, the group named itself the Saturday Mothers/Persons and started to sit-in at the same place, Galatasaray Square, at the same day and hour, Saturday at noon. During our interview, one of the initial organizers, Filiz Koçali, narrated the commencement of the silent action as follows:
“Well, at that period of time, the family of Hasan Ocak, one of the enforced disappearances of the 1990s, was very active. After the discovery of his body in a common grave, other family members also began to contact us at IHD or Hasan Ocak’s family directly. Then, we understood the seriousness of the situation: there were hundreds of disappeared people and it was an ongoing process. Slowly, families began to gather at IHD and we, as human rights activists, were thinking about how we could make this urgent issue more visible. During our initial meetings one of the activists asked ‘Why not doing like Plaza del Mayo Mothers?’ And we decided to organize a silent sit-in that may be regular on Saturdays in Galatasaray Square. To be honest, I think initially none of us was thinking that it would be one of the most important civil memory initiatives of Turkey, which lasted more than 20 years. We were thinking that we’d be there, I don’t know, for several weeks or months maybe.”
During the initial search for Hasan Ocak, by mere coincidence some documents were found in the registers of the Forensic Medicine Institute referring to yet another forcibly disappeared person. The silent action of Saturday Mothers/Persons started within this context of immediacy which not only rendered this strategy visible but also made it a challenge to even use this tactic. Given that there were several feminists among the initial organizers of the event, the name of the sit-ins was determined as Saturday Mothers/Persons. However, in the larger public audience it has been widely named and referred to as Saturday Mothers.
Very quickly, Saturday Mothers/Persons decided to narrate the story of one individual, how he/she was forcibly disappeared, the place and date of the disappearance, the name of the perpetrators (if known), and the names of the political responsible, including the president, prime minister, minister of interior, minister of justice, and the responsible of security apparatus (Günaysu 2014). One of the interviewees, Eren Keskin, emphasized that relatives of the disappeared have contacted them a number of times. One day they received a phone call from IHD Diyarbakır branch, the biggest city of the Kurdish region, and were informed that several relatives of the disappeared would come to participate in the sitin. “When they came,” she added, “we all understood the obvious link between the enforced disappearances and the situation in Kurdistan, which we did not adequately understand previously. So many relatives of the disappeared came from Diyarbakır that Saturday, a whole bus full of women, that is how we understood that the situation was extremely urgent in Kurdistan and the implementation of this strategy was organically related to the Kurdish conflict.” Women, mostly mothers or wives of the disappeared, began to be the main actors of this countermemory initiative, with their narrative combining the components of their personal experiences with their political demands (Ahıska 2014, 171). Moreover, the Kurdish political movement began to include the issue of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in the repertoire of its own political struggle since the significant majority of the victims were disappeared with the claim that they were supporting Kurdish armed guerillas. It means that pro-Kurdish newspapers and various grassroots organizations and NGOs connected to the Kurdish political movement began to disseminate knowledge on the issue.
One of the initial organizers of the sit-ins emphasized that right from the start, the legal struggle of the disappeared was always considered an internal part of the Saturday Mothers’ action. The families participating in Saturday Mothers/Persons sit-ins were simultaneously in a legal struggle for the accountability of the perpetrators that remained fruitless during the 1990s. In all the press releases, these demands of justice were articulated as:
Stating the names of the perpetrator and the political cadres in relation to the disappeared;
Referring to other disappeared people related to the same perpetrators and political circle;
Telling the story of the futile legal attempts of the relatives (rejection of their petitions under different pretexts; refusal of the investigations; rejection of launching a legal procedure of the prosecutors etc.)
Repeating the demand of the investigation and trial concerning the perpetrators of the case.
The sit-ins continued for 200 weeks and had a broader effect as well; for instance, Sezen Aksu, one of the most acclaimed and popular singers of Turkey, wrote a song for the Saturday Mothers called “The Ballad of Saturday”, and a recording of this song was distributed as a supplement of the popular weekly magazine (Göral 2019). Mainstream television channels broadcasted the action at least once a month on prime-time news.
Despite this powerful effect, however, the sit-ins were also targeted by the police and official authorities. Police violence continued several weeks despite the persistence of the organizers, families, and other participants. On March 13, 1999 the families of the disappeared decided to stop the action due to the constant ill treatment and severe oppression to which they were subjected. Maside Ocak, sister of Hasan Ocak, said that the families were not terminating but solely suspending the action. Sheadded: “For us, every place is another Galatasaray Square; we will continue the search for our disappeared relatives.”
After the indictment of a high-profile legal case, the Ergenekon case where several army officers were tried due to an alleged plot against the government, the Saturday Mothers/Persons sit-ins recommenced on January 31, 2009. Most of the defendants of the Ergenekon case were simultaneously the perpetrators of the enforced disappearances that occurred during the 1990s. The new round of sit-ins was, therefore, initiated by a much more concrete demand for accountability and justice: incorporation of the crime of enforced disappearance in the indictment of Ergenekon case. Furthermore, the sit-ins were now taking place also in Kurdish cities such as Diyarbakır, Batman, Yüksekova and Cizre. During the initial period of the recommencement of the action, then-prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a meeting with the relatives of the disappeared and the representatives of the Saturday Mothers/Persons to discuss their demands. However, the demand of the relatives for enforced disappearance to be included in the indictment of the Ergenekon case was refused and with the resurgence of the armed conflict in the context of the Kurdish issue, the political situation has dramatically changed. As a result of the new political context of the Kurdish conflict, the sit-ins in the Batman, Yüksekova and Cizre were, for the most part, suspended; presently, they continue to be held only in Istanbul and Diyarbakır, in a partial manner.
Armenian Genocide Commemorations
The Armenian Genocide is an issue that has remained intact for a long time not only by the official commemoration practices but also by the civic memorial initiatives as well. The rigid denialism of the state was also accompanied by a striking ignorance or lack of interest of the oppositional circles as well, concerning the remembrance of the Armenian Genocide (Bayraktar 2015). Some crucial events like the founding of the first Armenian independent newspaper, Agos (mostly publishing in Turkish) in 1996, the founding of Aras Publishing House in 1993 which publishes important oeuvres of Armenian literature, and the publication activities of Belge Publishing House that offers important studies on the Armenian Genocide were all crucial during the 1990s. However, one would have to wait until the 2000s for the commemorations of the Armenian Genocide. With the launch of the European Union accession process and steps for normalization between Armenia and Turkey, the beginning of the 2000s provided a space for more debates and dialogue concerning the Armenian Genocide, although without using the word “genocide” most of the time. In 2005, the first civic activity concerning the Armenian Genocide using the word “genocide” and stating the demands of recognition and apology from the Turkish state was held by the Commission Against Racism and Discrimination (Commission) of the Human Rights Association (IHD) at a press meeting, in Istanbul. One of the interviewees, Ayşe Günaysu, informed us that, at that time, even the activists in the headquarters of IHD were not sure whether use of “genocide” was a good idea. Activists of the Commission used the word to insist on the importance of the recognition during the press meeting and it has been recorded as the first event that is dedicated to the recognition of genocide.
Hrant Dink and Agos had a tremendous impact on the recognition of the immense current problems of the Armenian population in Turkey and also deepened the debate on the historical background. However, it was after Hrant Dink’s assassination on January 19, 2007 that Armenian Genocide debate was intensified publicly. Unexpectedly, several hundred thousand of people attended his funeral chanting the slogan, “We are all Hrant, we are all Armenians”. This slogan, too radical even for the majority of oppositional groups, had a tremendous effect. In 2008, several intellectuals launched a signature campaign entitled I Apologize, with a short text as follows: “My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed to and the denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and for my share, I empathize with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers. I apologize to them.” This online petition, although the term “genocide” was not referred to, was signed by 5,000 people within the first 24 hours, and had collected over 30,000 signatories by January 2009.
In the meantime, the IHD commission continued its commemoration of the Armenian Genocide each 24 April after 2005. Commencing by 2010, the Commission continued its civic commemoration activity by going to Haydarpaşa Train Station, a symbolic memory space where Armenian intellectuals taken under custody on 24 April 1915 began their death journey. Right from the beginning, the Commission was very specific on its purpose. The purpose was not asking for empathy from Turkish society but rather insisting on official genocide recognition, with very specific demands. One of the organizers, Eren Keskin, stated: “As a human right defender I believe that we should not deceive ourselves by saying that we are waiting the society to be more open so that we can use some words like ‘genocide’. This society will never be more open. It is our duty to oblige different societal segments to use the appropriate terms by using such terms first ourselves concerning the crimes of the past and state violence. I think it is our first and primary duty.” That is why right from the beginning the Commission was very specific for the demands of the commemoration; the slogan was addressed to the state: “Armenian Genocide: Recognize! Make an Apology! Make Amends!”
Since 2010, a new initiative has been organizing a public commemoration on İstiklal Street, one of the most crowded places of Istanbul that inhabits Galatasaray Square as well. Mostly intellectuals who organized the I Apologize campaign were active in the organization of this public commemoration. The event was organized with the slogan “This pain belongs to all of us”; the word genocide is not mentioned in the press release; still, as the first public event it was extremely important. Almost two thousand people attended to the first public commemoration, a number was much higher than the initial organizers were expecting. The word “genocide” was referred to during the next public commemorations, but as one of the organizers, Meltem Oral, put it, what was important was being able to make this public commemoration instead of naming per se the events of 1915. The organizers took the name of The Platform of Commemorating 24 April and continued to organize the public commemorations as a platform in communication with the Commission of IHD.
The two different commemorations of the Armenian Genocide are still ongoing in Turkey despite the altered political atmosphere. Obviously, they refer to two different approaches in civil memorial activism; while the Commission of IHD struggles for more specific demands of recognition and justice, the Platform is more concerned with disseminating an idea of civil commemoration concerning the genocide.
Russia – The Memory Scene
Demands to open the archives and publish the real story of the mass atrocities committed by the USSR, as well as the real history of World War II (known as “the Great Patriotic War” in Russia), were among the main claims of the political transformation that took place in Russia between 1986 and 1993. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the de-legitimization of Stalin’s regime were generally perceived as two important achievements of the new Russian democracy in 1990s. At the same time, however, memories of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) and of Stalin’s Purges (1937-38) created a unique situation in the Russian collective memory.
Elisabeth Anstett has mentioned three commemorative aspects of political repression in Russia (Anstett 2011): societal – to re-live the traumatic experience of Soviet repression; political – to push the Russian state’s acceptance of its legal responsibilities and practical obligations in light of its past deeds; and, finally, symbolic or religious – to guarantee the “right to be named” as a victim, to obtain a place for mourning, first of all, for relatives. At the same time, the losses of World War II also seem to contradict this commemoration, mostly because of the aggressive historical politics of the USSR since the Brezhnev era, where Brezhnev has converted the day of mourning to a Day of Victory celebration with the endless military parades all over the country in order to cut off the discussion about the price of the victory as well as failure and serious mistakes of the state authority, i.e. Joseph Stalin.
Since the beginning of the 2000s, however, memory politics, and especially the attitude toward Stalin’s time in Russia, have slowly changed. Two juxtaposed memories, the memory of Stalin’s purges and of the Great Patriotic War, have created contested commemorative practices. The sphere of the commemoration of Stalin’s purges was predominantly occupied by non-governmental organizations. Memorial and the Sakharov Center are the most active actors of such commemoration politics. These NGOs’ approach to commemorative politics was and remains highly legalistic: they collect information about victims of the Stalin’s Great Terror in their archives, publish so-called “memory books,” and provide legal support for victims’ rehabilitation. The second dimension of their work is to create and support places of memory, mostly connected with the Great Terror. Although the popularity historical debates enjoyed during the 2000s has largely abated, commemorative practices continue to mobilize diverse groups of civil rights activists. The only new project, dated December 2014 – the Last Address – pertains to the last addresses of Nazi victims. It is a German initiative called Stolpersteine (“stumbling stones”) and it is based on the concept of “one name – one life – one sign.”
The second commemoration, the Great Patriotic War, has been mostly controlled by the Soviet, and later by the Russian, government. Nevertheless, in 2012 a group of activists from the Siberian state of Tomsk created the idea of an Immortal Regiment – a symbolic parade of the relatives of WWII veterans who bring the veterans’ portraits to the traditional Victory Parade held every 9th of May. The authorities’ attitude toward such projects is controversial. While the “Immortal Regiment” do not attack the historical policy of Russian government directly, “Memorial” – the most famous and influential human rights organization in the country –does precisely that, and the Russian government has responded. The Ministry of Justice has included members of the Memorial in its list of “foreign agents,” a common discriminatory practice of the government against independent NGOs. In a similar vein, Yuri Dmitriev, a historian and Memorial member from Karelia who discovered a place of mass execution of Gulag prisoners, was imprisoned on the basis of a fully fabricated accusation.
The Last Address project, by contrast, is being treated by the Russian state rather neutrally, if not quite positively as we demonstrate below. The situation with the Immortal Regiment, on the other hand, is different. The government has organized raids to attack the project and currently even most of the regional organization of the Immortal Regiment is controlled by the State and the ruling party, United Russia, to exhibit “patriotism” and “pride” instead of mourning and commemoration. Furthermore, the Russian government is attempting to use this Immortal Regiment project to promote its own political agenda abroad. In a nutshell, it can be argued the memory scene in Russia is highly contentious; if private commemoration of the repressions, such as the Last Address project, is limited but acceptable, everything connected with the Great Patriotic War remains controlled by the state with no independent initiatives allowed.
The Last Address Project
Sergey Parkhomenko, a journalist and civil rights activist, explained during his that he came up with the idea of Last Address after visiting Frankfurt, Germany, where he encountered several signs belonging to the aforementioned German memorial project, Stolperstein. Parkhomenko mentioned that he visited the human rights center Memorial in Moscow in the fall of 2013 and its director, Arseniy Roginsky, immediately responded: “We had been needing somebody like you. We have expected that somebody would come and tell us we need to do something like this.” The idea was simple – to establish a sign in the memory of those who had been arrested and then executed, and whose last address was in this building. Even though the project was rather positively received by the Moscow municipal authority – for example, Moscow’s vice-governor has granted personal appointment to Parkhomenko, no official permission has ever been granted. The project’s team, headed by Sergey, has decided to simply ignore this fact. By Russian law, only the building owner’s agreement is valid in order to obtain permission to install a plaque on a building’s wall, and that was how the project began in December of 2014. Chronologically, the project covers victims from 1918 to 1991. In other words, from the beginning of the Civil War in Russia and until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Most of the plaques, however, are devoted to victims of the Great Purges (1937-1938).
The main idea, as summarized by Parkhomenko, is to encourage people to talk about this tragedy using different categories. Currently the main issue in having this conversation is the fact that there are “two distinct bubbles of people, pro-Stalin and anti-Stalin”, that cannot find any common ground. Last Address is shifting the main focus of the conversation from general questions of politics and repression to the fate of the ordinary person. Within the context of Last Address, the question is not the number of executed people or the reality of the “plot against the Soviet state” but about whether there was a need in the first place to kill the simple housewife who lived at a particular address in order to support the Soviet state. “In this kind of conversation”, explained Parkhomenko, “we have a serious advantage.” The main idea for the project is not to assemble cities with millions of such signs, but rather to gather people around — to activate public discussion and public awareness about the Soviet regime’s atrocities.
The underlying idea behind the principle — only one story, one plaque, no collective commemoration and no “celebrities” — is, therefore, to commemorate those who otherwise have little chance of being remembered. The second important aspect is the legal status of the sign itself. By law, in order to establish a “memorial plaque” for a celebrity killed in Stalin’s purges, the applicant must go through a tedious bureaucratic procedure. As Parkhomenko stated, the project seeks to memorialize “ordinary people,” which is why the Last Address plaque is just an informative plaque. It consists only of a name, surname, date of birth, and affiliation. By design, there is no picture on the plaque – just an empty square instead of a likeness of the repressed person.
The project began in Moscow and has quickly been disseminated throughout the country. The project has decided to exclude all possible state funds and has only accepted money from private donors. An attempt by the authorities to investigate evidence of “foreign support” has been fruitless – the Ministry of Justice’s investigation did not find any evidence of “political activity” nor of “foreign support,” either of which is needed in order to include a Russian NGO in the list of “foreign agents”, with obviously grave repercussions. The next and most important step is to obtain permission from all building owners, usually through the collection of signatures. Sergey Parkhomenko has called this “silent neutrality” with regard to the authorities: “We are not asking them for anything, and the authorities do not intervene.” There were several stories of Last Address plaques disappearing, but in most cases, they were reinstalled later.
As for the media, its attitude toward the project in general was “abnormally positive,” Sergey Parkhomenko insisted. It looks like the Kremlin’s administration did not articulate any particular position with regard to the project and, therefore, in most media, even though fully controlled by the state, the project became local but not federal news. That is why general coverage of Last Address events has been rather positive – it was rather local event, but not the federal story.
Nikolay Ivanov believes that the most active subsection of the applicants, are representatives of the Russian intelligentsia. Families of actors, artists, academics are very actively joining the project. The reason for the serious mobilization of Russian intelligentsia around the project is the fact that they are angry about current tendencies to whitewash the Stalin Era and to shift the focus of public attention away from the atrocities and to substitute the question of Stalin’s repression to the “challenging question of internal and international politics of the Soviet Union.” There are practically no celebrities among the people who are already commemorated by a Last Address plaque, just ordinary citizens who were executed following the notorious “plan of execution” and who were never involved in any political or any anti-Soviet activities. Nevertheless, one of the most controversial points of the project is to formulate who is entitled to appear as a “victim” for being commemorated by Last Address. The main question here was: what should we do with “executors and murderers”? In fact, it was rather common during the time of the repressions that the executors should later be executed as well, during the next wave of repressions. The project decided to establish only two rules for such cases. The first rule is legal – the person to be commemorated must be rehabilitated, i.e. all official accusations must be legally removed and a person should be declared as innocent. The second rule is ethical – the person in question should not have been a member of quasi-legal tools of repression (so-called Troikas – three people who issued orders for execution). Here the project met with real difficult stories both in the legal and in the ethical sense. For example, Fanny Kaplan, the woman who had wounded Lenin in 1918, was immediately executed without any formal procedure at all and it is therefore difficult to apply for her rehabilitation. Also, victims of the Civil War are not considered victims of political repression—only those who were detained and executed as a citizen of Soviet Union are considered as such.
It cannot therefore be said that the project is free of challenges. In fact, its various instances of failure are connected with the pro-Stalinist position of the current inhabitants of a particular building, or with their position that “we do not want a cemetery here.” Likewise, it has encountered issues with obtaining special permission (although by law it is not required, but usually requested from the municipal administration) in different cities, and so on. Nevertheless, there are currently about nine hundred plaques in more than fifty cities of various nations, including the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and in late August the first Last Address plaque will appear in Germany – in commemoration of the victims of East German repression.
One of the weaknesses of the Russian civil rights movement is that it is mostly centralized. Most of its civic initiatives were born either in St Petersburg, or in Moscow. On the other hand, Immortal Regiment is a project that began in Tomsk, a city in the center of Siberia, quite far from the Russian capital. Three friends (Sergey Lapenkov and Igor Dmitriev among them) met near the Eternal Flame, the traditional veteran memorial found in most Russian cities and erected during Soviet times to commemorate fallen Soviet soldiers who never returned from the war. Traditionally 9 May, Victory Day, entails an orchestrated Military Parade, which originally consisted of a group of living war veterans who march in memory of the War and of their comrades. Year by year, the number of veterans has decreased dramatically, and their friends and families were disappointed by what has come to substitute for them – a parade of military personnel, long and empty speeches of city bureaucrats – and they have decided to make this day about those who had made it possible, the veterans. Because the grandfathers have already passed away, they decided to bring portraits of the veterans to the streets and create the idea of an Immortal Regiment. The idea, as Sergey Lapenkov points out in the interview, was “to say thank you to my grandpa” and to eliminate all this soulless bureaucracy from the parade and return it to the family mourning the memory of its relatives, victims of the most notorious war of the 20th century.
Coincidentally, three friends who were journalists from the Tomsk Media group were recently targeted by the Russian State because of their independent information policy. They had used media channels to distribute the Immortal Regiment idea and to share the common principles of the project with all stakeholders: a non-narrowly political project, based on the idea of personal engagement and relationship to the veterans. The second important point was that no donor or state funds are accepted. Personal responsibility might be strengthened if a person who is interested in commemorating his or her relatives, were to pay a relatively small amount of money only for a banner with the portrait of his grandfather or grandmother. Even a proposal from the local bank to provide financial support to the movement for advertising was rejected.
To encourage people to investigate the personal stories of the veterans, a dedicated website moypolk.ru (literally “myregiment.ru”) was created. This site has collected almost half a million stories, from long reading to short bios, that have allowed many to find relatives, to connect to fellow soldiers, and to share real stories of the war without censorship or oversight.
The first Immortal Regiment was organized in Tomsk in 2012, and by 2019 it covered the entire country. Since its inception, it has brought a feeling of unification – there was no rich and poor, no political opponents in the crowd, just people of one country who have decided to commemorate along with others who have made peace possible.
As Sergey Lapenkov pointed out, it has been a “horizontal initiative” since the very beginning. The organizers did not ask for anything from the authorities, only the permission to be represented in the Victory Day Parade as a separate rubric. The main idea was to allow people to selforganize the same project in the different cities of Russia without any narrowly political or ideological message. For those who decided to break the rules, the project’s organizers created a special subsection on the website called “guardroom” to publicize the stories of such violations.
The Russian authority decided to raid this project with the help of Nikolay Zemtsov, who assisted to control the Immortal Regiment and who pursues political interests (he recently became a deputy of the Russian State Duma for the ruling United Russia party) in order to combat “the negative influence” of the independent and horizontally organized project. Having been invited to organize the Immortal Regiment in Moscow, he registered his own organization of the same title and tried to substitute the local activists in regions to the peoples he has personally appointed. As Sergey Lapenkov explained, among the semi-official accusations against TV-2 (Tomsk independent channel, forcibly closed by the State authority) were the separation of Siberia from Russia, the collaboration with disgraced oligarch M. Khodorkovsky, and finally the attempt to control the “state narrative of the Great Patriotic War”.
Instead of volunteer work and free participation, the project’s organizers have received reports from various places and cities about pressure on schoolchildren, the organization of “patronage” by the ruling United Russia party for local Immortal Regiments, and the forcible replacement of local volunteers with “more constructive” (i.e., loyal to the government) persons. As a result, the project has started slowly changing its guiding principles – from family commemoration it has come to be more ideological. It is especially visible in the Immortal Regiment groups abroad, where the Russian government is trying to use it as a part of its soft power strategy.
Nevertheless, the situation is currently still more complicated. As Grigoriy Kunis, organizer of the local Immortal Regiment in St. Petersburg, has suggested “for most of the people in the country the change wasn’t challenged seriously, most of the people still visit this commemoration to publicly represent and uphold the main principle of the project, that is, private memory.” As Sergey Lapenkov summarizes “it is simply impossible to establish full control over the family with the family album of photographs.” He adds that “if and when I would like to say ‘thank you’ to my grandpa, there is nobody who can stop me and nobody who can fully control my personal memories.” Despite the fact that currently Immortal Regiment is still fully included in the official commemoration and is therefore totally controlled by the state, a number of its local initiatives remain independent and a substantial amount of people visit the event just to remember—not just celebrate the “Great Victory”, but rather to mourn and to commemorate. At the same time, the website continues to collect stories, encourage people to discuss the past with their children and great-grandchildren, and in this regard the raiders’ attack has failed. A number of people, including the organizers, have decided not to participate in this event any longer, and to concentrate instead either on other projects or on the Immortal Regiment’s website.
Both Last Address and Immortal Regiment are civic projects, arising from a feeling of civic patriotism and compassion for the victims. At the same time, Russia as a multi-cultural state also has memorial practices oriented to mobilize a particular ethnic and religious group and not the entire Russian society. The most powerful commemorative practice is the commemoration of a group trauma – genocide – and Soviet history produced the number of such atrocities, including genocide of Crimean Tartars, Chechens, Balkars, and others. And while Armenians were repressed not by the Soviet regime but Ottoman Turkey, the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide is the most commonly reproduced memory of genocide in Russia.
Russian Memory Scene of the Armenian Genocide
The multinational character of 21st century Russia makes minorityoriented self-organization a necessity. However, for the many decades of Soviet era, the policies and attitudes of the state have made it nearly impossible for national minorities to define themselves or their culture on the public level. The case of the Armenian diaspora was not an exception and the official organizations representing the Armenian minority were only founded during the late 1980s. The primal time for national communities in Russia started after the collapse of USSR that left its descendant, the Russian Federation, a state populated with more than hundred national groups, each one with its particular history and culture.
The celebration of these cultures might sometimes include the memory practices of the historical events significant for the group. The most notable one, perhaps, is the case of Armenian genocide commemoration. Like all other national minorities in Russia, Armenian diaspora associations focus on practicing their culture, language, history, and supporting Armenians living in Russia. The primary focus of these associations has been the commemoration of the Armenian genocide. These memory practices come in different forms and play important role in the Armenian genocide’s memory scene worldwide due to the Russian Federation being home to more than a million Armenians, according to population census of 2002, and according to Armenians’ Union of Russia the number is reaching above two million. This makes it likely the largest Armenian population beyond the Armenian Republic on the one hand, and one of the five biggest national groups in Russia on the other.
In a nutshell, the memory scene of the Armenian Genocide in Russia it is mostly controlled by the Armenian diaspora’s officials and Armenian Apostol Church, often as a part of their programs on Armenian culture and history. Two biggest and most influential diaspora’s representatives are the Armenians’ Union of Russia (Союз Армян России) and the Commonwealth of Russians and Armenians (Русско-Армянское содружество). Both organizations focus on different kinds of support for the Armenian community in Russia and are involved in some memory practices regarding the Armenian Genocide as well. For example, for the centennial of the genocide, Armenian’s Union of Russia organized a mobile photo-exhibition in Moscow (Armenians’ Union of Russia, 17/04/15).
Nevertheless, this type of old-school diaspora representation has slowly started to fade away. The younger generation of Armenians living in Russia offer a new take on memory politics in response to standardized activities of old-fashion NGOs that are criticized for having centralized and sole-controlled administration and a lack of openness. It also seems that “old NGOs”, due to their commitment to supporting the official relationship between Russia and Armenia, would inevitably become political at some point. Popular historical narrative portrays Russia, or more precisely the Russian Empire at the time, as a savior of Armenian people, explaining how Russian forces transferred Armenian refugees from the warzone, protected them, and mobilized financial resources to help Armenians in need (Darbinyan 2016). A century later, after a whole era of coexistence as parts of a unified country, the USSR, today’s Russian Federation supports the image of a big Christian brother watching over Armenia.
This makes it necessary for the powerful Russian-Armenian NGOs to show their support for the Russian government and adapt to the popular official narrative about Russian-Armenian relationship and Russian policies as well. That said, we would like to give an example of the commentary that the President of the Armenians’ Union of Russia made regarding very controversial legal initiative of “foreign agents”. His quite pro-Russian government statement showed support for regulations and forms of control that “illuminate destructive foreign interfere in the internal life of our country” (Armenians’ Union of Russia News 2012). When in fact such legal initiative could become a threat to any NGO that has ties outside Russian borders, which practically all of the national minorities’ communities do, Armenian NGOs being no exception. This is especially relevant now after the threat of Russian media scaring Russians off with “western influence everywhere” even in the context of Armenian “Velvet revolution” with the cases like one of Russia Today’s investigation into revolutionaries’ NATO camps in Yerevan and Michail Leontiev’s comments on Armenians for his Komsomolskaya Pravda interview (Russia Today, 12/02/19), (Komsomolskaya Pravda, 3/05/18).
The key influence in the genocide memory scene in Russia is still the Armenian Apostol Church. Because of the partly religion-based prosecution during the genocide, the Armenian Church plays a crucial role in the events connected to genocide commemoration. It also promotes initiatives for further genocide recognition on the international scene. Aside from providing yearly services coincided with anniversary of the genocide, the Church patronizes a museum that exposes cultural items related to Armenian culture, religion, and genocide. Armenian churches in other cities of Russia also support the genocide commemoration; for example, just recently in April 2019, on the territory of the Armenian Church in Yaroslavl, a commemoration manifestation was held in support of genocide recognition (Новости ОАР, 26/04/19). In many ways, the Armenian Church is the center of the genocide victims commemoration — for example, the only monuments dedicated to tragic events, in Moscow and in Rostov, are situated in Church complex areas. In a sense, as many other religions are the glue for the national communities in the multicultural space, the Armenian Church serves the community building role for the Armenians.
Another (more secular and independent) actor of the memorial scene, that participates in memorial practices is the Armenian Museum of Moscow. The Museum was opened in April of 2015 as the opening coincided with the genocide anniversary. The Museum has an exposition of various items related to Armenian culture, history, and the history of genocide itself. It also conducts conferences and lectures in collaboration with knowledgeable experts. Currently, the Museum is in the process of moving and its usual functioning is interrupted. However, the Museum has an impressive web-portal that provides visitors the possibility to see the whole exposition online.
During our interview with David, the deputy director of the Museum, I asked about the history and activity of the Museum. The museum was opened on the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. The initiator was a philanthropist named Ruben Grigoryan and the museum aimed to keep the memory of Armenian history alive, including the history of Armenian genocide. David informed us that the Museum received a strong public reaction from media in Russia, Armenia, and abroad because it was the biggest Armenian Genocide-oriented Museum outside of Armenia. Given that the exhibition was interrupted due to moving, the commemoration of the genocide is practiced via publications posted on their website. Also, various experts from Armenia and other countries continue to give lectures in the working lecture hall. The museum collaborates with the Armenian Museum of the Genocide in Yerevan and participates in different informational projects. It has also published the original edition of early 20th-century book dedicated to the Armenian Genocide entitled “The Blackest Page of Recent History” written by American author Herbert Adams Gibbons who witnessed mass-killings himself (Armenian Museum of Moscow’s Artifacts).
One of the organizations that regularly collaborates with Armenian Museum of Moscow is the Association of Armenian Youth of Moscow (Ассоциация Армянской Молодежи Москвы). It was founded in 2011 on students’ initiative and has already taken part in significant commemoration practices. The Association collaborates with the Consolidation of Armenians of Russia (Объединение Армян России) as well, the most recent organization, founded in 2018 as a younger and more progressive alternative to an old-school diaspora representation. They are actively collaborating with other organizations and maintain a website where they inform their readers about Armenian issues and post news about events dedicated to genocide commemoration.
Along with the Moscow’s museum the Consolidation participated in the organization of the genocide themed demonstration: the 19:15 (Новости ОАР, 22/04/19), which was supposed to be held on the territory of the Church and represent a “live map” of the Armenian territories in the Ottoman Empire and how people were forced to move from their homelands. Unfortunately, the demonstration was disrupted, as the Church administration forbid the implementation on its territory, officially due to concern for the safety of the participants; however, the organizers argue that the real reason was the personal conflict between the Archiepiscopal and the representative of one of the organizers (Новости ОАР, 24/04/19).
Many commemoration events were held by the Association of Armenian Youth on the centennial as well. Thus, in April 2015, the international forum for recognition and legal repercussions of the Armenian Genocide entitled “I Remember and Demand” was held by the Association of Armenian Youth of Moscow and included various representative from the aforementioned organizations as well as public officials like ambassadors and parliamentarians (Агентство Социальной Информации, 17/04/15).
One of the most significant events organized by the Association of Armenian Youth of Moscow was an action entitled Immortal Souls (quite similar to another Russian initiative Immortal Regiment) held in 2015 all over the Russian Federation. The event was comprised of demonstrations dedicated to victims of the genocide in 20 Russian cities and culminated with white balloons released in the sky at exactly 19:15—the year associated with the genocide—representing the souls of innocents killed in the Ottoman Empire. It was the first Armenian event that unified different parts of Russia for the genocide commemoration. (Association of Armenian Youth of Moscow, 25/02/16)
These civil initiatives are the examples of young Armenians taking charge of their history and finding ways to honor victims — most often their own great-great-grandparents — and using this tragedy to bring Russian Armenians together. It is important to mention that many Armenians who live in Russia today do not have another motherland, as their ancestors were forced to leave their homeland of historical Western Armenia and settle in today’s Russia. These acts of commemoration serve a way to feel connected and unified as well, which may be not so easy for a national group that is torn away from their historical land.
There are different ways to organize memory practices and some of them do not necessary include public expression on the streets or conferences in the lecture halls. Today, due to huge impact of the online channels and different social media platforms, it has become much more accessible to attract public attention to acute issues including civic memory activism. This was the case for Vadim Artyunov, journalist and producer from Russian city Rostov-on-Don, who is the founder of historiographic community – the informational analytical web-portal Antitopor or in English, Anti-Axe (Антитопор), that focuses on historic falsifications, including the denial of the Armenian genocide.
According to Vadim, this civil initiative developed spontaneously and started after he uploaded a few video-blogs about Armenian culture that gained interest and started discussion. Afterwards, noticing the influx of negative posts and comments from Turkish and Azerbaijani sides he decided to focus on the rebuff of the “informational expansion”. For six years, he and his followers have been writing articles, working with historic documents and producing video blogs about Armenian issue on their web site and popular social media, like Antitopor’s YouTube channel. Now this internet-community aims to struggle against historic falsifications by disseminating to the public eye stories and interviews and promoting historical facts. The portal and its social media counterparts release content related to Armenian culture, and history and life of Armenians in other countries as well.
Vadim says that despite having a broader spectrum of interest, the topic of genocide is still important among his writers. As he noted, 30 out of 250 issues that Antitopor releases are allocated to the Armenian Genocide. Apart from Antitopor’s work with historical documents, Vadim also conducts interviews, documents his travelling to places of historical importance for the memory of genocide and does research on the genocide interpretation in Turkey. This is the topic he studies during his travel blog-series in Turkish part of historical Armenia, where he explores how opposite the events of 1915 are interpreted there. He gives the particular example of the “Turkish genocide museum” – a museum that presents Turks as victims of the genocide of 1915 rather than Armenians. As another example of his research on Armenian Genocide, Vadim also mentioned his series of interviews conducted in Serbia with descendants of Sogomon Teylerian – a popular hero for Armenians who avenged victims of the Armenian genocide by assassinating one of the main organizers of mass-killings, Talaat-Pasha, in 2001.
The community also collaborates with the Armenian Museum of Moscow. However, as Vadim mentions, the portal struggles from lack of financial resources as most of its funding comes from Vadim himself. There is a need for more fiscal support and more engaged and capable writers to join the community of Antitopor for successful extension of its work, according to Vadim. The problem, Vadim noted in the context of successful genocide commemoration in general, is the lack of nonArmenian-language content and especially lack of Russian-language content from Armenians themselves.
The Antitopor community demonstrates how crucial the link is between a more committed personal involvement with technological development in the current civic memorial activism. Thanks to the access to Internet, people can now get information and spread information in the blink of an eye. Most importantly, it has become much easier to bring different communities together, which certainly gives hope for more knowledgeable and engaged generations to come. What is particularly interesting is that this case – rather than focusing on bringing Armenians together like previous examples – serves educational purposes by spreading information for anyone interested in the topic, which makes these memory practices more inclusive.
Therefore, we can divide memory practices of Russian Armenians in two main trends. The first one aims to keep memory inside the Armenian community – celebrating and honoring ancestors of today’s Armenians who suffered the purge of Armenian genocide. This type of memory activism also serves the purpose of self-identification for Armenians for whom commemoration Armenian genocide is a significant part of their culture, just as well as commemoration of the Holocaust is an important part of the Jewish community’s life. The second trend has to do with the outside recognition – bringing knowledge about the events through educational content. This type of memory practice is mostly addressed to non-Armenians, people who may not know about the genocide or have discrepant ideas about what happened more than hundred years ago and was swept under the rug by history as just another atrocity of WWI. In the end, both trends serve one purpose: to keep the memory inside and outside of the Armenian community and not to let the prosecution of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire remain “the forgotten genocide”.
Civic memory activism represents a diversified civil space. This heterogeneous space is comprised of different actors, different discourses, and various political affiliations. This plurality reflects the need for the coexistence of different forms of commemorations and memory activism. Civic memory activism includes some contradictions as well. On the one hand, over-politicization may be a hindrance for the plurality of memory activism. However, on the other hand constant de-politicization may also discomfit the stakeholders, who would like to remind others of the relation between their political affiliations and their experiences.
Different forms of nationalism represent other important conceptual and practical burdens for the deepening of the civic memory activism field. These fields are struggling against rigid forms of denialisms, ultrachauvinistic national historical narratives, and excessive occurrences of cultural aphasia, e.g. not a total amnesia but rather a selective lack of certain vocabularies. Therefore, trans-national collaboration is a necessity in order to prevent the establishment of alternative nationalisms and the ossification of the identities.
Finally, the dialectics of recognition and inclusion, demands of justice and memory may partially contradict each other. In other words, in one commemoration the emphasis may be on official recognition whereas for another memory activism’s ability to honor the commemoration may be more important. Different manipulations of the state apparatus for coopting and manipulating existing commemoration efforts or contradicting each other through different tactics and strategies also contribute to internal contentions.
Our concluding remarks for preserving the democratic plurality of civic memory activism space and for strengthening its transformative content may be cited as follows:
Respecting victims’ definitions and struggling for the recognition of the historical events with the appropriate terms. As argued by one of the interviewees, there should at least one initiative that names and defines the historical violence by the name given by the victims despite the importance of plurality.
Activists in the civic memory space may think about transnational approaches, relations, participations, and discourses in a more in-depth manner and such efforts may help for breaking the impact of diverse nationalisms. Organizing a commemoration regionally may be an excellent trial of transnational and regional solidarity. These steps are already realized in the context of several efforts of commemorations. However, framing them in a more organized manner may democratize the content and the forms of the memory activism in each of the examples.
More collaboration among different civil initiatives is crucial for the plurality of the field. In the event of Turkey, there are two different initiatives for the Armenian Genocide’s commemoration and they have different approaches on how to commemorate the genocide. However, they are in communication with each other despite their different approaches and criticisms. This kind of collaborative example should be developed while recognizing the existence of different perspectives, methods, and political positions.
As Russian case illustrates, not only state violence or intimidation but also cooptation within the official national narrative is a threat for civic memory activism. Relations and collaborations with historians that have a critical approach, or collaborations among different grassroots organizations, may strengthen civil initiatives vis-à-vis the state.
The Armenian diaspora experience reveals a crucial issue for civil memory activism: the importance of the use of innovative digital methods. In a world where digital media constantly gains more importance, online platforms became much more crucial in comparison to more conventional activism methods. For the engagements and involvement of young generations, these alternative methods of content-production and dissemination are very important. Therefore, activists should reflect more on non-conventional methods of data gathering, collecting, and disseminating.
The list of the interviewees:
Turkey Murat Çelikkan – Journalist, Director of Truth Justice Memory Center, Saturday Mothers/Persons; Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.
Ayşe Günaysu – Activist in Human Rights Association, Saturday Mothers/Persons; Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.
Eren Keskin – Director of Human Rights Association, Saturday Mothers/Persons; Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.
Filiz Koçali – Journalist, Saturday Mothers/Persons. Meltem Oral – Activist, Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Russia Nikolay Ivanov – Art historian, Berlin’ “Last address” project, Germany.
Georgii Kunis – Businessmen, civil rights activist, Immortal Regiment (2015-2017) St. Petersburg, Russia.
Sergey Lapenkov – Journalist, civil rights activists, Founder, Immortal Regiment, Moscow, Russia.
Sergey Parkhomenko – Journalist, Civil rights activists, Founder, Last Address project, Moscow, Russia.
Armenian Diaspora in Russia
Vadim Artyukov – Founder of the “Antitopor”. David Tonoyan – Deputy Director of the Armenian Museum of Moscow.
Ahıska, Meltem. 2014. “Counter-Movement, Space and Politics: How the Saturday Mothers of Turkey Make Enforced Disappearances Visible.” In Space and the Memories of Violence. Landscapes of Erasure, Disappearance and Exception, edited by Estela Schindel and Pamelo Colombo, 162-175. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Bayraktar, Seyhan. 2015. “The Grammar of Denial: State, Society, and Turkish–Armenian Relations.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 47, no. 4: 801-806.
Bijl, Paul. 2012. “Colonial Memory and Forgetting in the Netherlands and Indonesia.” Journal of Genocide Research 14, no. 3-4: 441-461.
Göral, Özgür Sevgi. 2019. Any Hopes for Truth? A Comparative Analysis of Enforced Disappearances and the Missing in the Middle East, North Africa and the Caucasus. Istanbul: Hafıza Merkezi Publications. Günaysu, Ayşe. 2014. “ ‘Cumartesi’ Nasıl Başladı, Neden Ara Verildi?” Bianet. October 24, 2014. Accessed August 7, 2019. https://m.bianet.org/bianet/yasam/159385-cumartesi-nasil-basladineden-ara-verildi
Kora, Andrieu. 2010. “Transitional Justice: A New Discipline in Human Rights, Violence de masse et Résistance.” Réseau de recherche. January 18, 2010. Accessed May 6, 2019. https://www.sciencespo.fr/mass-violence-war-massacreresistance/fr/document/transitional-justice-new-discipline-humanrights-0
Schindel, Estela, and Pamela Colombo. 2014. “Introduction: The MultiLayered Memories of Space.” In Space and the Memories of Violence. Landscapes of Erasure, Disappearance and Exception, edited by Estela Schindel and Pamela Colombo, 1-21. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Anstett, Elizabeth. 2011. “Memory of Political Repression in Post-Soviet Russia: The Example of the Gulag.” In Violence de Masse et Résistance (MV&R). Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence. Paris: SciencePo. https://www.sciencespo.fr/mass-violence-warmassacre-resistance/en/document/memory-political-repressionpost-soviet-russia-example-gulag
Armenian Diaspora in Russia
Association of Armenian Youth holds a forum dedicated to the 100-years anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. [Ассоциация армянской молодежи Москвы провела форум, приуроченный к 100-летию памяти жертв Геноцида армян] March 17, 2015. Russia, Агентство Социальной Информации. Accessed October 17, 2019. https://www.asi.org.ru/report/2015/04/17/assotsiatsiyaarmyanskoj-molodezhi-moskvy-provela-forum-priurochennyj-k100-letiyu-pamyati-zhertv-genotsida-armyan/
Commentary of the President of Armenians’ Union of Russia, Ar Abramyan on the legal initiative “for altering single elements of legislative acts that regulate the activities of NGOs that function as foreign agents. [Комментарий Президента Союза армян России Ара Абрамяна в отношении законопроекта «О внесении изменений в отдельные законодательные акты по Российской Федерации в части регулирования деятельности некоммерческих организаций, выполняющих функции иностранного агента»] 2012. Russia, Armenians’ Union of Russia. Accessed June 6, 2019. http://www.sarinfo.org/sarnews/10-0712.shtml
Darbinyan, A. 2016. Russia’s Humanitarian Response to the Armenian Genocide. Armenia, Armenian Weekly. May 20, 2016. Accessed April 11, 2019. https://armenianweekly.com/2016/05/20/darbinyan2016-april-magazine/
Events happening in Armenia are exclusively internal affairs of the country, The Russian Embassy in Yerevan states. [Происходящие в Армении события – исключительно внутренние вопросы страны, заявляют в Посольстве России в Ереване] May 5, 2018. Armenia: Sputnik. Accessed November 4, 2019. https://ru.armeniasputnik.am/politics/20180505/11871777/isklyuchi telno-vnutrennie-voprosy-armenii—zayavlenie-posolstvarossii.html
Fashion on revolution: how youth is taught to commit a coup with the help of western finances. [Мода на революцию: как молодёжь учат совершать госперевороты на западные деньги] February 12, 2019. Russia Today. Accessed August 15, 2019. https://russian.rt.com/world/article/601738-moda-na-revolyuciyu
Immortal souls. Event for the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide 2015. [Бессмертные души. Акция ко Дню памяти жертв геноцида армян 2015] 26/02/16. Association of Armenian Youth of Moscow YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=jxr36DceX6 M
In April, Armenians’ Union of Russia holds a mobile photo-exhibition in various places of Moscow to celebrate 100-years anniversary of the Armenian genocide. [В апреле, Союз Армян России проводит на различных площадках города Москвы передвижную фотовыставку, приуроченную к 100-летию Геноцида армян] March 7, 2015. Russia, Armenians’ Union of Russia. Accessed July 16, 2019. http://sarinfo.org/genocide100/07-04-15.shtml
In Yaroslavl, the event was held dedicated to the genocide anniversary. [В Ярославле прошло мероприятие, посвященное годовщине Геноцида армян] 26/04/19. Russia, Новости ОАР. September 6, 2019. https://oar.ru/novosti/vse-novosti/diaspora/v-yaroslavleproshlo-meropriyatie,-posvyashhennoe-godovshhine-genoczidaarmyan
Mikhail Leontiev: Armenians, you are idiots! Go drown yourselves! No one needs you… [Михаил Леонтьев: Армяне вы идиоты! Идите и топитесь, вы никому не нужны!] May 5, 2018.. Video of Komsomolskaya Pravda’s interview, conducted on 3d May, 2018. YouTube channel “Caspian Channel” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ophfIAXciWw
Naryshkin is representing Russia for 100-years anniversary of Gallipoli Battle in Turkey. [Нарышкин представит Россию на 100-летии битвы при Галлиполи в Турции] March 23, 2015. Russia, РИА Новости. Accessed November 11, 2019. https://ria.ru/20150423/1060326176.html
Reuters. Turkey’s Erdogan criticizes Putin over Armenian “genocide” comments. March 27, 2015. Accessed October 18, 2019. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-armeniarussia/turkeys-erdogan-criticises-putin-over-armenian-genocidecomments-idUSKBN0NI1AR20150427
‘The Blackest Page of the Newest History’ Book [КНИГА «САМАЯ ЧЕРНАЯ СТРАНИЦА НОВЕЙШЕЙ ИСТОРИИ»] Armenian Museum of Moscow. Artifacts. Accessed October 18, 2019. http://artifacts.armmuseum.ru/artefacts/detail/42215/
The event organized by Armenian Youth was disrupted. [Акция армянской молодежи была сорвана в Москве] March 24, 2019. Russia, Новости ОАР. Accessed https://oar.ru/novosti/novostioar/diaspora/akcziya-armyanskoj-molodezhi-byila-sorvana-vmoskve
The event of the Armenian Youth of Moscow. [Акция Армянской молодежи Москвы] 22/04/19. Russia, Новости ОАР. Accessed November 17, 2019. https://oar.ru/novosti/novostioar/kultura/akcziya-armyanskoj-molodezhi-moskvyi
*The featured photo of this articles is a snip from Cumartesi Anneleri 479. Hafta