Armenians in Crimea

Armenians have maintained a presence in the Crimea since the Middle Ages. The first wave of Armenian immigration into this area began during the mid-eleventh century and, over time, as political, economic and social conditions in Armenia proper failed to improve, newer waves followed them. Today, between 10 and 20 thousand Armenians live in the peninsula.

Armenians in Crimea
Total population
10,000 (8,700 in the ARC and 1,300 in Sevastopol)[1]20,000 (estimates)[2][3]
Regions with significant populations
Sevastopol, Feodosia, Armyansk, Simferopol, Evpatoria, Kerch, Yalta, Sevastopol, Sudak
Armenian, Russian, Ukrainian
Armenian Apostolic, Armenian Catholicism, Evangelicalism and Protestantism
Related ethnic groups
Armenian, Hamshenis, Cherkesogai groups


Early communities

In an ethnic and national sense, the Crimea has been a host to wide group of peoples. Historians and other scholars have dated the Armenian presence in the Crimea to the eighth century and have distinguished three distinctive stages of their settlement in the region. The Crimea was under the control of the Byzantine Empire during this time and some Armenian troops serving in the Byzantine military were stationed here. In the course of the next two centuries, Armenians from their homeland in the Armenian Highlands and other Byzantine cities came to settle here as well.[4]

As life grew more unbearable in Armenia proper following the destructive Seljuk raids of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, many Armenians were forced to migrate to Byzantium and elsewhere and with some of them eventually settling in the Crimea. They founded new homes in Kaffa (modern Feodosia),[5] Solhat, Karasubazar (Belogorsk), and Orabazar (Armyansk), with Kaffa at its center. The stability of the region allowed many of them to engage in agriculture and commercial activity. Even when the region came under Mongol control in the mid-thirteenth century, their economic life was left largely undisturbed. The Armenians' ties to commercial interests also greatly benefited the Genoese when they secured their economic domination there in the late thirteenth century.[6] The widening economic opportunities in the Crimea attracted more Armenians to settle there. According to Genoese sources, in 1316 Armenians had three churches (two Armenian Apostolic and one Catholic) of their own in Kaffa.[6]

As the foreign wars in Armenia continued unabated, greater numbers of Armenians chose to settle in the Crimea, to the degree that some Western sources began to refer to the region as Armenia Maritima and the Sea of Azov as Lacus armeniacus.[7] A rich literary tradition and the art of illuminated manuscript writing were created. The Armenian Church played a central role in Armenian social life, and in 1330 it counted 44 churches under its jurisdiction.[8] From the fourteenth to eighteenth centuries, the Armenians formed the second largest ethnic group after the Tatars. Many of them began to speak Tatar as their home language, writing it in Armenian script.[9]

The flourishing of the community came to an abrupt end, however, when the Ottoman Turks took the region in 1475. Many Armenians were killed, enslaved, or fled the peninsula and as many as sixteen Armenian churches were converted to mosques, as the Armenians were subordinated to the rule of the Crimean khanate, which remained an ally of the Ottoman Empire.[10] Despite this, there remained in the sixteenth century Armenian communities Kaffa, Karasubazar, Balaklava, Gezlev, Perekop and Surkhat. From 1778-1779, more than 22,000 Armenians resettled in Azov province and on the coast of the Dnieper and Samara, leading to gradual economic decline. In 1783, the Russian Empire conquered the Crimean khanate. Russian authorities encouraged the settlement of foreign colonists, including Armenians, into the Crimea. This led to a fresh wave of Armenian immigrants, reviving former colonies. In 1913, their numbers hovered around 9,000 and approximately 14,000-15,000 in 1914. The resettlement of Armenians on the peninsula lasted until the First World War and the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1923. The immigrants of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were largely from Western Armenia and the various regions of Ottoman Empire.

Soviet era

In 1919, there were 16,907 Armenians living in the Crimea. In 1930, in the newly established Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, there were two Armenian national districts, and on the peninsula there were approximately 13,000 Armenians.[11] According to the All-Union census of 1989, the number of Armenians living in the Crimea had dwindled down 2,794.[12] On May 29, 1944, Commissar of Internal Affairs of the Soviet Union, Lavrentiy Beria, introduce a specious report to Joseph Stalin, "Armenians live in various parts of the peninsula. An Armenian committee, established by Germans, actively cooperates with Nazi Germany and is carrying out anti-Soviet [acts]." Later on, he suggested to deport all Bulgarians, Greeks and Armenians from Crimea. On June 2, 1944, he signed Directorate 5984, entitled "The Deportation of German satellites - Bulgars, Greeks and Armenians from Crimea." This resolution deported 37,000 Bulgarians, Greeks and Armenians. The Armenians were sent to Perm Oblast, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Omsk Oblast, Kemerovo Oblast, Bashkortostan, Tatarstan and Kazakhstan.[13]

In 1989, the communal life of the Crimea's Armenians was institutionalized with the formation of one of the peninsula's first national-cultural associations, the Armenian Luys (Light) Society. Later, after re-registration in 1996, it was renamed the Crimean Armenian Society. At present, the Crimean Armenian Society consists of 14 regional offices, coordinated by the National Council of Crimean Armenians. The highest governing body is the National Congress, which convenes at least once every four years. Operational management of the society is carried out by the executive committee, which functions in the periods between meetings of the National Council. The society runs the Luys Cultural and Ethnographic Center and publishes a monthly newspaper, Dove Masis. The one-hour Armenian-language program "Barev" airs twice a month on Crimean television, and radio broadcasts are made five times a week. There are Armenian churches in Yalta, Feodosia and Evpatoria, while the first Armenian secondary school opened in 1998 in Simferopol.


Armenians in the Crimea are currently concentrated in the cities of Simferopol, Evpatoria, Feodosia, Kerch, Yalta, Sevastopol, Sudak. The Armenia Diaspora Encyclopedia estimated that there were 20,000 Armenians living in the region as of 2003.[2]

Feodosia (Kaffa)

In the 1470s, Armenians comprised two thirds of the total population of Kaffa (numbering 46,000 out of 70,000).[14] Until 1941 Armenians in Feodosia formed more than 20% of the total population of the city. According to the Feodosia Office of Statistics, there are only 557 Armenians living in Greater Feodosia itself.[5]

Community life

The community has taken a very lively role in affairs concerning Armenia and Armenians and has contributed greatly to the region.[15] This is seen more prominently in the context of Turkish foreign policy interests in the Crimea.[16]

The Armenian community of the Crimea forms one of the most important centers of the Armenian Diaspora in the Black Sea region. Its members attach a great importance to Armenia and its foreign policy interests.


Saint Hripsime Church of Yalta

Ялта Церква вірменська
Вірменська церква (Ялта) 02

Surp Khach Monastery

Stary Krym Monastyr Surb Chacz

Armenian Church in Feodosia

Feodosia Armenian church01
Feodosia Armenian church02
Feodosia Armenian church03
Feodosia Armenian church04


Cultural heritage

Churches and cathedrals

Surb-Khach monastery, Staryi Krym, Ukraine.jpeg
Ruins of the medieval Surb-Khach monastery near Staryi Krym, Crimea.

The Armenians were mostly adherents of the Armenian Apostolic Church. There were a number of churches built in Yalta (Saint Hripsime Church of Yalta), Feodosia and Yevpatoria.[17] Construction activity took place from the 14th century and according to one manuscript the monastery of Gamchak had been built by the fifteenth century in Kafa.

In Kaffa, there were a number of Armenian schools, dozens of churches, banks, trading houses, caravanserai, and craftshops. The town served as a spiritual center for the Crimean Armenians, and its stature grew so prominently that in 1438 the Armenians of Kafa were invited to send representatives to the Ferrara-Florence Cathedral (Florence ecumenical council).

The second largest Armenian population after Kaffa in the same period was Surkhat. The name Surkhat is probably a distorted form of the name of the Armenian monastery Surb-Khach (Holy Cross). There were many Armenian churches, schools, neighborhoods here as well. Other major settlements included Sudak, where until the last quarter of the fifteenth century and near the monastery Surb-Khach there was a small Armenian town called Kazarat. Armenian princes kept the troops there and on a contractual basis to defend Kafa.[18]

The social life of the Crimean Armenians surged in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They organized themselves into community organizations. Wealthy Armenians and the church tried to "raise" the nation to the level of modern civilization, and to carry out charitable activities. The source of money and material welfare of the church were grants, wills, offering.[19]

The church's role in the colonies was to some extent becoming secularized. In 1842, the Catholicos in Crimea lost his position to the Chief Guardian of the Crimean Armenian churches.[20]

Notable natives

See also


  1. ^ Statistics on the Demographics of Ukraine Archived July 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. State Statistics Committee of Ukraine.
  2. ^ a b (in Armenian) Հայ սփյուռք հանրագիտարան (The Armenia Diaspora Encyclopedia). Hovhannes M. Ayvazyan (ed.). Yerevan: Haykakan Hanragitaran Publishing, 2003, p. 601.
  3. ^ (in Russian) В Крыму проживает до 20 тысяч армян, – информация Габриеляна
  4. ^ Maksoudian, Krikor (1997). "Armenian Communities in Eastern Europe" in The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume II: Foreign Dominion to Statehood: The Fifteenth Century to the Twentieth Century, ed. Richard G. Hovannisian, New York: St. Martin's Press, p. 52. ISBN 1-4039-6422-X.
  5. ^ a b (in Ukrainian) "Народы Феодосии: Крымские армяне: Барев" [The Armenians of the Crimea]. The People of Feodosia.
  6. ^ a b Maksoudian. "Armenian Communities", p. 53.
  7. ^ Maksoudian. "Armenian Communities", p. 55.
  8. ^ Maksoudian. "Armenian Communities", pp. 56, 58.
  9. ^ Philip D. Curtin, Cross-Cultural Trade in World History (Cambridge University Press, 1984: ISBN 0521269318), p. 186.
  10. ^ Maksoudian. "Armenian Communities", p. 56.
  11. ^ (in Russian) «Этнография народов Крыма» - Этносы Крыма: Армяне
  12. ^ (in Russian) Ethnic Groups in the Russian Federation: Armenia.
  13. ^ Movsisyan, Jivan (24 June 1998). Ղրիմահայոց ողբերգությունը [The Tragedy of Crimean Armenians]. Azg Daily (in Armenian). Yerevan.
  14. ^ See Maksoudian. "Armenian Communities", p. 54.
  15. ^ Своим постановлением №1322-4/05 от 19 мая 2005г. Верховная Рада Автономной Республики Крым решила считать 24 апреля Днем памяти жертв трагедии армянского народа. 22 апреля 2007г. состоялся круглый стол «Геноцид армян, без права на забвение». Организаторами и учредителями круглого стола стал Комитет армянской молодежи Крыма при поддержки Крымского армянского общества и Русского культурного центра. По словам председателя Крымского армянского общества Олега Габриэляна (Симферополь, 24 апреля 2007г.) «У армян нет чувства реванша к турецкому государству, мы хотим обозначить для себя и жителей Крыма, что армянская диаспора развивается»
  16. ^ «Влияние Турции на Крым охватывает все сферы жизни полуострова, как политические, так экономические и культурологические. Однако в последние годы наибольшее участие Турции в жизни Крыма специалисты отмечают в экономике. Именно экономическую составляющую считают превалирующей во взаимоотношениях Крыма и Турции и политологи и экономисты. Эксперты отмечают большой интерес Турции к реализации крупномасштабных программ по развитию туристско-рекреационного комплекса автономии, к строительству отелей. На встрече с руководством Автономной Республики Крым премьер-министр Турецкой Республики Реджеп Тайип Эрдоган сказал: «Крым – это та часть территории Украины, которая ближе всего расположена к Турции и является связующим звеном наших стран. Турецкие деньги могли бы превратить крымские берега во вторую Анталию с ее более чем комфортными местами для отдыха»» (Влияние Турции на экономику Крыма: экономический обзор
  17. ^ Таврический Национальный Университет им.Вернадского. Этнография народов Крыма:армяне. Численность и районы проживания.
  18. ^ Таврический Национальный Университет им.Вернадского. Этнография народов Крыма:армяне. Первые поселения.
  19. ^ Таврический Национальный Университет им.Вернадского. Этнография народов Крыма:армяне. Общественная жизнь
  20. ^ Таврический Национальный Университет им.Вернадского. Этнография народов Крыма:армяне. Деятельность церкви.

External links

Armenian language

The Armenian language (classical: հայերէն; reformed: հայերեն [hɑjɛˈɾɛn] hayeren) is an Indo-European language spoken primarily by Armenians. It is the official language of Armenia. Historically being spoken throughout the Armenian Highlands, today, Armenian is widely spoken throughout the Armenian diaspora. Armenian is written in its own writing system, the Armenian alphabet, introduced in 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots.

Armenians in Ukraine

Armenians in Ukraine are ethnic Armenians who live in Ukraine. They number 99,894 according to the 2001 Ukrainian census. However, the country is also host to a number of Armenian guest workers which has yet to be ascertained. The Armenian population in Ukraine has nearly doubled since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1989, largely due to instability in the Caucasus. Today, Ukraine is home to the 5th largest Armenian community in the world.

Gabriel Aivazovsky

Gabriel Aivazovsky (Gabriel Ayvazyan, Armenian: Գաբրիել Հայվազյան, Russian: Гаврии́л Константи́нович Айвазо́вский), (22 May 1812 – 20 April 1879), was an Armenian Archbishop, scientist, historian, and the brother of the artist Ivan Aivazovsky.

Ivan Aivazovsky

Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky (Russian: Ива́н Константи́нович Айвазо́вский; 29 July 1817 – 2 May 1900) was a Russian Romantic painter who is considered one of the greatest masters of marine art. Baptized as Hovhannes Aivazian, he was born into an Armenian family in the Black Sea port of Feodosia in Crimea and was mostly based there.

Following his education at the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg, Aivazovsky traveled to Europe and lived briefly in Italy in the early 1840s. He then returned to Russia and was appointed the main painter of the Russian Navy. Aivazovsky had close ties with the military and political elite of the Russian Empire and often attended military maneuvers. He was sponsored by the state and was well-regarded during his lifetime. The saying "worthy of Aivazovsky's brush", popularized by Anton Chekhov, was used in Russia for describing something lovely. He remains highly popular in Russia.One of the most prominent Russian artists of his time, Aivazovsky was also popular outside Russia. He held numerous solo exhibitions in Europe and the United States. During his almost 60-year career, he created around 6,000 paintings, making him one of the most prolific artists of his time. The vast majority of his works are seascapes, but he often depicted battle scenes, Armenian themes, and portraiture. Most of Aivazovsky's works are kept in Russian, Ukrainian and Armenian museums as well as private collections.

List of Indo-European languages

The Indo-European languages include some 449 (SIL estimate, 2018 edition) languages and dialects spoken by about or more than 3.5 billion people (roughly half of the world population). Most of the major languages belonging to language branches and groups of Europe, and Western and southern Asia, belong to the Indo-European language family. Therefore, Indo-European is the biggest language family in the world by number of mother tongue speakers (but not by number of languages in which it is the 3rd or 5th biggest). Eight of the top ten biggest languages, by number of native speakers, are Indo-European. One of these languages, English, is the De facto World Lingua Franca with an estimate of over one billion second language speakers.

Each subfamily or linguistic branch in this list contains many subgroups and individual languages.

Indo-European language family has 10 known branches or subfamilies, of which eight are living and two are extinct. The relation of Indo-European branches, how they are related to one another and branched from the ancestral proto-language is a matter of further research and not yet well known.

There are some individual Indo-European languages that are unclassified within the language family, they are not yet classified in a branch and could be members of their own branch.

The 449 Indo-European languages identified in the SIL estimate, 2018 edition, are mostly living languages, however, if all the known extinct Indo-European languages are added, they number more than 800. This list includes all known Indo-European languages, living and extinct.

A distinction between a language and a dialect is not clear-cut and simple because there is, in many cases, several dialect continuums, transitional dialects and languages and also because there is no consensual standard to what amount of vocabulary, grammar , pronunciation and prosody differences there is a language or there is a dialect (mutual intelligibility can be a standard but there are closely related languages that are also mutual intelligible to some degree, even if it is an asymmetric intelligibility). Because of this, in this list, several dialect groups and some individual dialects of languages are shown (in italics), especially if a language is or was spoken by a large number of people and over a big land area, but also if it has or had divergent dialects.

The ancestral population and language, Proto-Indo-Europeans that spoke Proto-Indo-European, estimated to have lived about 4500 BCE (6500 BP), at some time in the past, starting about 4000 BCE (6000 BP) expanded through migration and cultural influence. This started a complex process of population blend or population replacement, acculturation and language change of peoples in many regions of western and southern Eurasia.

This process gave origin to many languages and branches of this language family.

At the end of the second millennium BC Indo-European speakers were many millions and lived in a vast geographical area in most of western and southern Eurasia (including western Central Asia).

In the following two millennia the number of speakers of Indo-European languages increased even further.

In geographical area, Indo-European languages remained spoken in big land areas, although most of western Central Asia and Asia Minor was lost to another language family (mainly Turkic) due to Turkic expansion, conquests and settlement (after the middle of the first millennium AD and the beginning and middle of the second millennium AD respectively) and also to Mongol invasions and conquests (that changed Central Asia ethnolinguistic composition). Another land area lost to non-Indo-European languages was today's Hungary due to Magyar/Hungarian (Uralic language speakers) conquest and settlement.

However, in the second half of the second millennium AD, Indo-European languages expanded their territories to North Asia (Siberia), through Russian expansion, and North America, South America, Australia and New Zealand as the result of the age of European discoveries and European conquests through the expansions of the Portuguese, Spanish, French, English and the Dutch (these peoples had the biggest continental or maritime empires in the world and their countries were major powers).

The contact between different peoples and languages, especially as a result of the European discoveries, also gave origin to the many pidgins, creoles and mixed languages that are mainly based in Indo-European languages (many of which are spoken in island groups and coastal regions).

Martiros of Crimea

Martiros of Crimea or Martiros Ghrimetsi (Armenian: Մարտիրոս Ղրիմեցի) was an Armenian writer, poet, historian and a priest of the 17th century. He is well known for his satirical work.

Martiros of Crimea has left a number of poems, which are considered to be a part of the Armenian cultural heritage. He has also written a book about the history of the Armenians in Crimea, which is a significant historical source.

Traditional areas of
Armenian settlement
Former Soviet Union
Middle East

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