History Matters: What Kremlin’s Focusing Means for Armenia


History Matters: What Kremlin’s Focusing Means for Armenia

Text: Tigran Zakaryan


Russian President Vladimir Putin, at a recent televised meeting with representatives of the Russia, Land of Opportunities platform, suggested that the legendary founder of the Kievyan Rus, Scandinavian Ryurik had Slavic roots. “There is an opinion that Ryurik’s mother was Slav or something like that,” Putin said, adding that “he or his relatives were somehow related to the Slavs and Slavic lands”. 

This is not the first time that the Russian leader ventured into history, upholding contested theories. However, what matters here is not proving or dismissing his point but the fact that he considered this matter worthy of attention amid other pressing issues on the plate. Let us also not forget that the military operation started following a speech by the Russian leader, which consisted greatly of his reflections on the origins of the Ukrainian state. 
This once again proves that a nation’s founding myths are very powerful, and their strength only grows as that country is engaged in a tough standoff.  

Having all this in mind it is no wonder that the recent memorandum signed in Moscow by the Armenian and the Russian leaders contains a clause saying that “the agreeing parties continue adhering coordinated approaches towards the common past, expressed their resolve to continue fighting revisionism regarding the outcomes of the World War 2 and distortions of history.”  A keen observer would not have missed the centrality of World War 2 in the current ideology of the Russian state. Moreover, Moscow is extremely interested in bringing the historical narratives in neighboring states in line with the Russian one. 

This is to be understood clearly by the Armenian officials and the political elite in general. The previous experience of Aliyev’s attempts at denigrating the figure of Garegin Nzhdeh and attacking Armenia in general on the grounds of “glorifying Nazi supporters” suggests that the Azerbaijani leadership is fully aware of Moscow’s sensitivity in historical matters. This is to be taken as a fact and it is up to Armenian diplomats, officials, experts, and politicians from all camps to try to safeguard Armenian-Russian relations from such accusations based on historical and political false arguments.