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National Pride Has Little to Do with Morality, Culturologist Says

In an interview with Hrapark.am, Yerevan-based culturologist Vardan Jaloyan said he considers the Yelk opposition bloc’s initiative on renaming the streets of Yerevan an attempt to change public memory.

“We have to always understand what kind of memory we want to preserve. Should our Soviet past be erased from our memory at all? That’s a doubtful question. I say this because the Soviet past had a strong impact on our psychology and behavior. This, I believe, should not be forgotten. The new names might be better than the Soviet one, but nevertheless, Yerevan was built during the years of Soviet power, and it would be wrong not to preserve the historical memory. The new names should exist in parallel to [to the old ones]. If someone has negative feelings about the Soviet past, then they can use the new ones. But it is also necessary to preserve the memory of the Soviet times. Perhaps the Soviet past has affected our psychology, and in this sense we have issues with this past,” Jaloyan said.

To the reporter’s comment that among the communists there were also worthy figures and thus many believe that their names should not be changed, the culturologist replied; “I do not really see much difference between the brutality of the Bolsheviks and the Dashnaks. For example, it is known that in Zangezur violence was committed by both Nzhdeh and the Bolsheviks. There are no heroes in history. Every politician has both positive and negatives sides. I don’t think the Bolshevik and Communist leaders were any exception. Only in some obvious cases is a person characterized by society as an executioner. And it is not right to name a street after an executioner. In this case, it is necessary to stand up and say: ‘This person is an executioner- he did bad things.’ For example, for me, Tigran the Great is a tyrant and an executioner. I can demand that no streets or schools in the Republic of Armenia are named after Tigran the Great.”

The reporter that Tigran the Great is mentioned in our history as a kind who expanded the country’s borders and founded the “from sea to sea” Armenia. “That’s is national pride; but national pride has little to do with morality. We can remember that, but we have to also remember that like, like all tyrants, he did all this with brutality. He is a slave-owning era tyrant. We must distinguish national pride from morality and state that he is a tyrant,” Jaloyan insisted.