About Community

Life of Armenians in Adjaria became most active by the end of the 80s of the 19th century. A cultural center began functioning in Batumi just at that time, an Armenian musical institution was opened then, a drama troupe was created. In the first half of the 20s of the century, two newspapers used to be issued in Armenian, Armenian schools were successfully working in the capital. In 1923 an Artists Hall began its venture, and in 1931 Armenian State Theatre was formed on the basis of the functioning drama troupe. Since then Armenians have enthusiastically participated in the commerce-industrial life. Since 1880 colonial produce and various consumer goods were introduced by local firms, cloth-manufacturing as well as tobacco trade were organized. During the 20s of the last century the first leather processing Soviet factory producing sole leather and juft was initiated by the Armenians of Batumi. Since the end of the 30s to90s of the 20th century the Armenian community in Adjaria was practically at the standstill due to certain objective reasons.

An Armenian Apostolic church Surb Prkitc (St. Savior) was to be built in Batumi in 1889, the project of which was carried out by the Austrian architect Robert Marfield. The erection lasted several years because of the shortage of building material but the solemn illumination of the newly erected church took place already in 1900 thanks to the material support of the famous Armenian patron Mantashov. Nevertheless, in 1923 the church was dramatically closed under the unknown circumstances and from 1930 to 1958 the building of the church was used as a store for film/disc rent. In 1959 the Soviet government planned to pull down the building of the Armenian church, but thanks to the active support of the Armenian population of Adjaria and Catholicos of all Armenians Vazgen I, it was decided to maintain the building though they pulled down the fence surrounding the church as well as developed the territory around it. For 32 years (1959-1991) the building of the church has served as an Observatory. On March 3, 1992, according to the resolution of the municipality of Batumi, the building was passed to the Armenian charity fund “Veratsnund” (Rebirth). In the same year, the redecoration of the building of the church Surb Prkitc (St. Savior) was under way with the means of local Armenians and by 1998, with the support of hieromonk father Abgar the church was practically completely restored. Today, father superior of the church is priest Ararat (Hambalyan) who is the only representative of the Armenian Apostolic Church both in Batumi and Adjaria in general. The church has a Sunday school, a youth center and two musical groups.

The first official registration of the Armenians in Adjaria took place in 1992 under the name of “Charitable association of Armenians in Adjaria “Veratsnund”” which carried out various entertainments and events attached to national holydays of Georgia and Armenia. From 1998 to 2004 the Armenian community was headed by Armen Gevorkian. The newspaper “Akhbiur” (Source) is being published since 1994. For two years (2001-2003) Adjaria television has released a run-in in Armenian. Ten years ago less than 27 thousand Armenians lived in Batumi. Today the Armenian community of Adjaria is 10000 people. More than 7000 of them live in the capital city – Batumi. In 2004 structural changes took place in the administration of the Armenian community of Adjaria. “Union of Armenians of Adjaria” - a non-governmental organization was formed coordinating its work with the Armenian population of Adjaria and the Ministry of Diaspora of Armenia. Promoters of the “Union of Armenians of Adjaria” are the Administrative Board of the Union. Grigory Vardanyan is the president of the Union, the members are Arthur Hovhannesyan, Zaven Sahakian, Amalia Vardanyan, Edvard Mousayelyan, Anna Zananyna as well as nearly 120 people, 80 of which are young people. The “Youth Union” functioning under it consists of 150 people. Agreement on cooperation between State Universities of Batumi and Yerevan, agreement on friendship between Batumi and Vanadzor, Kabuleti and Alaverdi, Khelvachauri and Spitak, should be mentioned among the main projects and programs accomplished during the past five years. Certain youth activities are also worth mentioning. In may of 2008, under the municipality of Batumi was established a “House of Friendship” where national diasporas acting in Adjaria were united.

Four Armenian schools were functioning in Adjaria already in the beginning of the last century. Nevertheless, they were united into one in the middle of the 70s. In the beginning of the 80s, after the changes in the educational system of Georgia, Armenian schools were abolished in Batumi leaving only Armenian classes in Georgian secondary schools.

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