Soviet cinema as a mirror of the Armenian-Azerbaijani tragedy

Soviet cinema as a mirror of the Armenian-Azerbaijani tragedy

The peoples inhabiting the South Caucasus have a centuries-old experience of living together in peace and harmony. For centuries Christians, Muslims, Jews; representatives of different confessions and peoples lived without knowing any wars or enmity. Alas, for the last 200 years the Transcaucasia resembles a powder keg with strife on ethnic grounds, where the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict seems to be more acute.

 This year, 115 years have passed since one of the most tragic events in Transcaucasia, which became the first bloody clash between Azerbaijanis and Armenians in history, which is listed in the archives of Tsarist times as the "Armenian-Tatar massacre". Although the reasons for the tragedy in 1905 and the current enmity are different, it was the events of the early 20th century that sowed the first seeds of hatred, sowing in the historical memory of both peoples and becoming a catalyst for further clashes.

Much can be learned about the events of those days from the tragic novel "The Bloody Years" by Mamed Said Ordubadi, written three years after the massacres in Baku and a number of other cities of Azerbaijan. However, in the following years, Soviet cinema left at least two masterpieces that the general public never paid due attention to and in which the directors showed the absurdity of the national policy of the tsarist authorities, which led to bloodshed in the South Caucasus.

The first motion picture "Baku People" directed by Viktor Turin, filmed in 1938 by "Azerfilm", tells about the struggle of workers for their rights, which turned into strikes on oil rigs in 1905. According to the plot, during the actions of the Baku workers against the oil owners, a strong friendship is struck between the driller Jafar and the Bolshevik Vanechka and his comrades - Zakharych and Ruben. Jafar ends up at an underground meeting of the Bolshevik organization. The police, having learned about the meeting, arrest all the participants and throw them into a Baku prison. The anti-popular policy of the tsarist officials played an important role in the reasons that prompted Jafar to side with the revolutionaries. In one of the plots, the enemy of the revolution, driller Ignatiy Trofimovich, encourages a fight between children of Azerbaijanis and Armenians, which broke out because of a child's prank when one child stole candy from another. The old man, personifying in the film the anti-popular policy of tsarism, instead of pacifying the childish temper, encourages them to fight. Having twisted one with the words "They are all like that, Armenians, they strive to pull off: beat, beat him", the old man Trofimich first calls on the Azeri to abuse his peer, and then grabs him and already calls on the Armenian boy to beat the "Tatar". Perhaps this is the most touching and at the same time tragic scene in the entire film. The grief-stricken father of the Azerbaijani Jafar appeals to the paramedic, but he refuses to accept the child, citing the fact that he does not examine the children of the revolutionaries. So the director showed the national policy of tsarism, which encouraged violence on national grounds.

The film "Personally Known" is the brainchild of "Armenfilm", filmed in 1957 by director Erasmus Karamyan. The picture tells the story of the revolutionary Bolshevik S.A. Ter-Petrosyan, known as Kamo (1882-1922). The film also shows the absurdity of the policy of the tsarist command in the multinational Caucasus, the violation of the rights of Armenians and Azerbaijanis by tsarist officials.

In one of the scenes, the tsarist command alternately receives the elders of the Armenians and Azerbaijanis of Tiflis. Both communities are alarmed by the tense interethnic situation over the massacre in Baku and have come to ask for help to prevent bloodshed. However, the commander of the Tiflis garrison, adjutant wing Gavril Petrovich, in which one can guess the features of the governor of the imperial court in the Caucasus, Count Vorontsov-Dashkov, receives a delegation of Armenians, and instead of taking measures to prevent violence, the situation is even more heated, saying that Armenian regions are in danger. He promises to issue weapons so that the Armenians can defend themselves against the "Tatars", according to the adjutant wing, "sincere enemies of the Armenians." Later, the same promises with the issuance of weapons are given to the elders of Azerbaijanis, who are agitated by the threat of violence. In this film, the director also reveals the essence of the policy of the tsarist authorities in the Caucasus, which led to bloodshed.

This policy has greatly exacerbated interethnic tensions in the South Caucasus, and both films show how the authorities, instead of impartial administration, acted on the principle of "divide and rule." It is reliably known that the massacre in Baku, which began after the murder of Azerbaijani Agarza Babayev, shook the entire region, resulting in massacres in several large cities of the Caucasus. Many sources put the main blame on the high military command of the tsarist authorities in Transcaucasia, which not only failed to take timely action to neutralize the unrest, but also contributed to the massacre. It is known that the pro-Armenian governor Vorontsov-Dashkov pursued an open anti-Turkic policy. Until today, many sources consider the incitement of the tsarist secret police as the main cause of the massacre.


Vestnik Kavkaza

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