YEREVAN, June 11 (The Conway Bulletin) – Armenia intends to honour Anastas Mikoyan, a senior member of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s government, by erecting a statue of him in the centre of Yerevan.
Many Armenians, though, are appalled by the decision to build a statue to Mikoyan — a man accused of signing the death warrants of hundreds of his countrymen in the 1930s during the so-called purges. They suspect it is part of a wider plot to curry favour with Russia where Stalin and his associates have experienced something of a resurgence in popularity.
Armenia views Russia as a key ally, ensuring that there is a military balance with Azerbaijan in the South Caucasus and offering the sugar-sweet potential of joining its Eurasian Economic Union, which also includes Kazakhstan and Belarus.
With a hint of dry irony, Alina Abrahamyan, a 35-year-old historian, said: “This is another brilliant example of crawling under Moscow’s feet. Or it is just Moscow’s decision to erect Mikoyan’s monument in its Armenian suburb?”
Mikoyan was a Bolshevik and Soviet statesman who served under Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, and Leonid Brezhnev. Mikoyan was the only Soviet politician to remain at the highest levels of power within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and some revere him for this.
Some others also say that Mikoyan was an adept politician who was able to argue the Soviet Union’s position among the top statesmen of the day.
“Mikoyan was a politician equal to Churchill. It was due to him that the world escaped a third World War, as he was the famously able to calm the Caribbean tensions down,” 70-year-old Maya Manouelian said. “But at the same time we know that he signed executions of so many Armenians. He, though, did not have an alternative as his political status forced him to do it.”
This story was first published in issue 188 of the weekly Conway Bulletin, a newssheet for Central Asia and the South Caucasus. Click here for more details.