Aghasi Khanjian

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Khanjian in 1934

Aghasi Khanjian (Armenian: Աղասի Խանջյան; Russian: Агаси Гевондович Ханджян, Agasi Gevondovich Khandzhyan) (January 30, 1901 – July 6, 1936), was First Secretary of the Communist Party of Armenia from May 1930 to July 1936.[1]

Khanjian was born in the city of Van, Ottoman Empire (today eastern Turkey). With the onslaught of the Armenian Genocide, his family emigrated from the city in 1915 and settled in Russian Armenia.[1][2] In 1917-19, he was one of the organizers of Spartak, the Marxist student's union of Armenia. He later served as the secretary of the Armenian Bolshevik underground committee.[2]

In 1920, Khanjian became secretary of the Yerevan city committee and in 1930, the first secretary of the Armenian Communist Party.[2] He proved to be a charismatic Soviet politician and was very popular among the Armenian populace.[1] He was a friend and supporter of many Armenian intellectuals, including Yeghishe Charents (who dedicated a poem to him), Axel Bakunts and Gurgen Mahari.[2] Khanjian also tried unsuccessfully to have Moscow reunite Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia.[3] He was arrested in 1936 and died while being interrogated.[4] Richard G. Hovannisian describes the circumstances of his death as follows:

But by the mid-1930s Khanjian had come into conflict with the most powerful party leader in Transcaucasia, Lavrenti Beria, a Georgian close to Stalin. Early in July 1936 Khanjian was called to Tiflis. Suddenly and unexpectedly it was announced that the Armenian party chief had committed suicide. Though the circumstances of his death are murky, it is believed that Beria had ordered Khanjian's death to remove a threat to his own monopoly of power.[5]

Along with an entire generation of intellectual Armenian communist leaders (such as Vagarshak Ter-Vaganyan), Khanjian was denounced as an enemy of the people during the Great Purge.[1][6]


  1. ^ a b c d Zev Katz, Rosemarie Rogers, Frederic Harned. Handbook of Major Soviet Nationalities, p. 146-7. ISBN 0-02-917090-7
  2. ^ a b c d (Russian) Great Soviet Encyclopedia. Aghasi Khanjian
  3. ^ Armenian History: History of Artsakh, Part 2, Yuri Babayan
  4. ^ Khronos biography.
  5. ^ Richard G. Hovannisian, The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times: Foreign Dominion to Statehood (Palgrave Macmillan, 1997: ISBN 0-312-10168-6), p. 362.
  6. ^ Cornell, Svante E. “The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict.” Report no. 46, Department of East European Studies, Uppsala University, 1999.

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