Who are the Armenians of Ukraine? Корреспондент addresses the Armenian community of Ukraine

The Корреспондент newspaper is starting a new series devoted to ethnic minorities in Ukraine, and this time it’s about the Armenians, who are one of the most consolidated nations in Ukraine.

Based on the results of the last census held in Ukraine in 2001, nearly 100,000 Armenians live in Ukraine. The Armenians settled in Kiev Rusia in the early 11th century, and the historically largest Armenian communities were established in Podol, Galichina and Crimea.

After the collapse of the USSR, the number of Armenians living in Ukraine increased two-and-a-half times. The Nagorno-Karabakh war, the Chechen war and the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict made the Armenians leave the Caucasus with their families.

Currently, Donetsk region is the most highly Armenian-populated region with nearly 16,000 Armenians. There are also many Armenians in Kharkovshchina and Dnepropetrovshchina.

“It’s easier to find jobs in the East. There is industry, and if you have a brain and two hands, you won’t be unemployed,” resident of Lugansk region Hakob Hakobyan says. Hakobyan has a restaurant serving Armenian and Ukrainian meals.

The most famous owner of restaurants is Vardges Arzumanyan from Lvov. His Restaron Group includes Taron, Kentavr and Mons Pius restaurants. Arzumanyan restores traditional recipes for meals prepared by the Armenians of Lvov with the help of ancient Polish archives and collects menus, which includes the menu of a 3rd class passenger of the Titanic.

The Armenians of Ukraine are involved in different spheres. The wealthiest of them is Oleg Mkrtchyan, who is the General Director of Donbas’s Industrial Union metal producing company. Nver Mkhitaryan heads Kiev’s Познякижилстрой (Poznyakizhilstroy) construction firm, Alexander Davtyan is one of the owners of DAD Investment Group and is involved in construction and hotel business in Kharkov. Another citizen of Kharkov, Arsen Avakov has been one of the owners of Bazis Bank.

Until recently, the Armenians of Ukraine didn’t have a joint organization. Today, Deputy Vilen Shatvoryan’s Union of Armenians of Ukraine consolidates all Armenian communities in Ukraine. The Union’s key objectives are development of the Diaspora and the preservation of Armenian language, culture and traditions. The construction of the Armenian church in Donetsk is underway. The restoration of the Armenian temple of Lvov is also an important issue. It is 650 years old and hasn’t been renovated for more than one-and-a-half century.

“We keep in touch with all the communities, the priest of the church in Lvov and even have contacts with the Armenians of Lebanon. We also know the politicians in Ukraine,” Arzumanyan says. Today, there are 3 deputies of Armenian origin in the Supreme Rada, including Vilen Shatvoryan, Nver Mkhitaryan and Arsen Avakov.


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