Tall Armenian Tale


The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


  An Unknown "Deportation"  
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Russia considers them illegal

28 Feb 2003 02:03
Fifty years on, Stalin's last victims want to go home


By Oliver Bullough

NIZHNEBAKANSKAYA, Russia, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Kocho Gasanov has 12 medals, a scarred scalp and a mangled foot to prove how he fought to defend the broad plains of Southern Russia against Hitler's invading armies.

The grey-bearded veteran is also unwelcome in this rural province near the Black Sea that he once helped defend.

Gasanov is a Meskhetian Turk and his people -- down to the three-year-old peeping round the door with her huge dark eyes -- are still paying for Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's decision to deport them en masse in the last days of World War Two.

"We still do not understand. We fought for Stalin and then he threw us out. Why did he do that? The young men were all away at the front. He deported a defenceless people," said Gasanov, veering between Russian and Turkish in his anger.

Stalin, who died 50 years ago next week, accused the Meskhetians of collaborating with the Germans and had them herded into railway wagons for the month-long, wintry journey to Central Asia.

During his four-decade rule, Stalin uprooted millions in a brutal re-engineering of Soviet society which by then made up the world's most expansive empire.

But the Meskhetians -- originally from the west side of Georgia just across the border with Turkey -- are one of the last peoples deported by Stalin to remain in exile, denied the all-important internal passports and access to state services.

"They said that we sold out our homeland to the Nazis, but how could we have done? The Germans never came to Georgia," Gasanov said.

Ethnic violence in the last days of the Soviet Union drove them into a second exile, and 13,000 ended up in Russia's southern Krasnodar region.

There too, they have been caught up in ethnic politics.


The Krasnodar region governor has played up anti-immigrant issues and the Meskhetians say they are frequently harassed by police.

"You can work out whether an immigrant is illegal or legal from his surname...Surnames that end in -yan, -dze, -shvili or -ogli are illegal and so are the people who carry them," governor Alexander Tkachyov told local reporters.

Those endings are typically Armenian, Georgian and Turkish.

The United Nations, on the other hand, considers Meskhetians Russian citizens and has expressed grave concern over the local government's behaviour.

But while Russia considers them illegal, the government in their Caucasus homeland of nearby Georgia says it has no room for them.

Ethnic clashes have been rife across Russia since the Soviet Union collapsed 11 years ago, with darker skinned immigrants from the Caucasus frequently the target.

But the Muslim Meskhetians say they may be immigrants, but not by choice.

"We are a good people, we don't drink, we work hard, why should it be like this?" asked Sarvar Tedorov, who heads the Meskhetian civil rights group Vatan.

The Krasnodar government refuses to legally register the Meskhetians, saying they should move back to Georgia.

Denied legal registration, the Meskhetians are effectively refused state housing, benefits, medical care, state-owned land and passports. They cannot travel abroad or even around Russia.

It also leaves them open to bribe demands from police, who can arrest anyone without correct papers.

"It's worst for the children. They have no passports, and cannot get certificates when they finish school," said Vatan activist Murad Chukadze, 45.

"Registration is like air, you cannot live without it. We are effectively being kept under house arrest," he said, sitting at a traditional low table spread with teapots, cake and nuts.

The majority live on small-holdings with a few cows, chickens and sheep, but maintain their traditions with brightly coloured wall hangings, floor cushions and endless cups of tea.


Some of Krasnodar's Meskhetians have emigrated to Turkey, and others have gone to parts of Georgia, but most insist they want Russian citizenship before deciding where they will live.

"We are not saying we want to go to Georgia. We want our rights and then we will decide. I can go or stay, that is for me to choose," said Tedorov.

War veteran Gasanov, who alone in his family possesses a Russian passport as a reward for his role in the war, says he will not move back to Georgia until his whole people can.

"I would never go back as an individual. I would only go back if all the others who were thrown out were allowed back also," he said.

Russian media speculated that Washington could offer the Meskhetians asylum after a U.S. delegation visited the Krasnodar area and Meskhetian activists last year.

U.S. officials would not comment on the suggestions, and most observers say such an offer would offend the Kremlin.

No other country was likely to have the clout to pressure Moscow into finally forgiving the Meskhetians for a crime they never committed, Tedorov said, and Stalin's malign legacy would continue to overshadow his people.

"Stalin may be dead," he said. "But Stalinism lives on."







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...Is to expose the mythological “Armenian genocide,” from the years 1915-16. A wartime tragedy involving the losses of so many has been turned into a politicized story of “exclusive victimhood,” and because of the prevailing prejudice against Turks, along with Turkish indifference, those in the world, particularly in the West, have been quick to accept these terribly defamatory claims involving the worst crime against humanity. Few stop to investigate below the surface that those regarded as the innocent victims, the Armenians, while seeking to establish an independent state, have been the ones to commit systematic ethnic cleansing against those who did not fit into their racial/religious ideal: Muslims, Jews, and even fellow Armenians who had converted to Islam. Criminals as Dro, Antranik, Keri, Armen Garo and Soghoman Tehlirian (the assassin of Talat Pasha, one of the three Young Turk leaders, along with Enver and Jemal) contributed toward the deaths (via massacres, atrocities, and forced deportation) of countless innocents, numbering over half a million. What determines genocide is not the number of casualties or the cruelty of the persecutions, but the intent to destroy a group, the members of which are guilty of nothing beyond being members of that group. The Armenians suffered their fate of resettlement not for their ethnicity, having co-existed and prospered in the Ottoman Empire for centuries, but because they rebelled against their dying Ottoman nation during WWI (World War I); a rebellion that even their leaders of the period, such as Boghos Nubar and Hovhannes Katchaznouni, have admitted. Yet the hypocritical world rarely bothers to look beneath the surface, not only because of anti-Turkish prejudice, but because of Armenian wealth and intimidation tactics. As a result, these libelous lies, sometimes belonging in the category of “genocide studies,” have become part of the school curricula of many regions. Armenian scholars such as Vahakn Dadrian, Peter Balakian, Richard Hovannisian, Dennis Papazian and Levon Marashlian have been known to dishonestly present only one side of their story, as long as their genocide becomes affirmed. They have enlisted the help of "genocide scholars," such as Roger Smith, Robert Melson, Samantha Power, and Israel Charny… and particularly  those of Turkish extraction, such as Taner Akcam and Fatma Muge Gocek, who justify their alliance with those who actively work to harm the interests of their native country, with the claim that such efforts will help make Turkey more" democratic." On the other side of this coin are genuine scholars who consider all the relevant data, as true scholars have a duty to do, such as Justin McCarthy, Bernard Lewis, Heath Lowry, Erich Feigl and Guenter Lewy. The unscrupulous genocide industry, not having the facts on its side, makes a practice of attacking the messenger instead of the message, vilifying these professors as “deniers” and "agents of the Turkish government." The truth means so little to the pro-genocide believers, some even resort to the forgeries of the Naim-Andonian telegrams or sources  based on false evidence, as Franz Werfel’s The Forty Days of Musa Dagh. Naturally, there is no end to the hearsay "evidence" of the prejudiced pro-Christian people from the period, including missionaries and Near East Relief representatives, Arnold Toynbee, Lord Bryce, Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and so many others. When the rare Westerner opted to look at the issues objectively, such as Admirals Mark Bristol and Colby Chester, they were quick to be branded as “Turcophiles” by the propagandists. The sad thing is, even those who don’t consider themselves as bigots are quick to accept the deceptive claims of Armenian propaganda, because deep down people feel the Turks are natural killers and during times when Turks were victims, they do not rate as equal and deserving human beings. This is the main reason why the myth of this genocide has become the common wisdom.