Under Russian and Soviet rule

Russia’s conquest of the Caucasus brought the northern fringe of historic Armenia into the Russian Empire. At that time, the population of this area was predominantly Azerbaijani. But in the first half of the 19th century the Russian government encouraged a massive migration of Armenians from Ottoman Turkey into Russian-held territory. This resulted in an area with a predominantly Armenian population in the southern Caucasus that would become Soviet (and post-Soviet) Armenia in the 20th century.

Two nationalist parties

In the late 19th century, Armenians seeking to improve the position of their people in Ottoman Turkey created two nationalist parties.

  • Hunchaks: who were socialist as well as nationalist.
  • Dashnaks: who are still active in Armenian politics today.

Both Hunchaks and Dashnaks resorted to terrorism against the Ottomans. The result was a series of massacres in 1894-96, in which many Armenians were killed.

Armenian genocide

During World War One, Ottoman Turkey was allied with Germany against Russia, France, and Britain. The Ottoman government accused Armenians of being in league with the Russian enemy, and in 1915 ordered that they bed eported. Deportees were marched until they died of hunger, thirst, and exhaustion—or were killed outright by police, soldiers, or bandits. It is estimated that 1,500,000 Armenians perished. Armenians consider the “deportation” as genocide. Even today the memory of this collective trauma marks the psychology of Armenians.

Independent Armenian republic

By the end of 1916 most Turkish Armenia was under Russian occupation. Following the fall of the Czarist regime, war-weary Russian soldiers abandoned the front. Armenian volunteer militias replaced the Russian soldiers, enabling the Dashnaks to proclaim an independent Armenian republic in the spring of 1918, which was initially part of the short-livedTranscaucasian Federation (February - May 1918).

Armenia attacked

At the end of 1920, Armenia was attacked from the south and west by forces of the new post-Ottoman Turkish government. At the same time, the Red Army attacked Armenia from the north and east, and Soviet rule was proclaimed in the part of Armenia formerly under Czarist rule. A Dashnak uprising in February 1921 was temporarily successful, but Soviet rule was re-imposed by the summer of 1921. Soviet Russia and Turkey negotiated an agreement that (among other things)confirmed the borders of the Soviet republic set up in “Russian”Armenia.

The flag of the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic.

The flag of the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic.

Soviet Armenia was included along with Soviet Azerbaijan and Georgia inthe Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, which existed from 1922 to 1936. Soviet Armenia preserved the symbols and appearance of Armenian sovereignty, although the reality was communistrule.