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Gayane Shagoyan met with Movses Harutyunyan and his sister Lamara (Paytsar by passport) on May 20, 2012 in Horom village of Shirak Marz.

The maternal grandfather of Harutyun and Lamara, Tono Harutyunyan, who lived in Nor Kyank village managed to evade the arrests of 1930s due to the brother of his son-in-law. “In [19]37 my aunt’s husband was a party member. He came with a warning that a plot was being made and my grandfather, who was a very wealthy man, fled to Georgia… we never learned about his whereabouts… no news about him whatsoever, we don’t even know where he is buried… The whole property was confiscated and transferred to the kolkhoz. The kolkhoz was already established… He had three daughters; all of them married. He did not have a son, a boy which is why nobody tried to find him.

Harutyun’s father, Movsisyan Andranik fell captive during the World War II and spent four years in a concentration camp. His family was exiled to Altai Krai in 1949. In the village the father went by the name of Zalevos, although his children are unaware of the reason he was given such a strange second name. Nevertheless, in order to make his grave identifiable they decided to engrave his non-official name on the gravestone – Lalayan Zalevos. “Had they written Andranik, nobody would recognize the grave because nobody called him by real name”.

Harutyun tells that, “In [19]41 dad was already on the frontline and was taken prisoner in the same year in the city of Gomel, in Belarus… He was held in a concentration camp between [19]41 and [19]45. I was born in [19]46. My sister is five years older than me. She was born here, I was born here as well but our three sisters were born there [in Siberia]. That’s why they were called by Russian names “Lyuba”, “Tamara”, “Anya”. In [19]49, in July, I was a three year old kid. We are eight siblings in the family, two boys and six girls… but we were still five back then and I was the youngest one.

In [19]49, they came to the village by car. Armed soldiers surrounded the house and even guarded the roof so that nobody could escape through the chimney. They parked the car right in front of the house for us load our belongings, as if we had much to take. My father was watering the household plot and some soldiers went after him. They brought him with the hands behind the back and wouldn’t let anyone close to us. Three families were taken from the village, there is no one left now, I am the only repressed here. I was living in the city but after the quake [earthquake of 1988] I left everything behind and moved here.

My mother used to tell that they pushed the people into closed freight cars, not just one family, several families from Artik… and elsewhere. They took us to Artik in lorries”. Lamara adds, “When they put us into the vehicle we were so happy, we had never had a ride before… You see, we did not realize what was happening to us. That’s how they took us to Artik and loaded into the train wagons – all closed up”.

Harutyun continues, “Mother would tell that it was hot in the car and I was suffocating. There were small windows and the elder children and my father would squeeze my legs out to give me at least some sense of relief. They had a handful of barley at the bottom of the sack. The children were hungry so my father found pieces of wood, some sliver and was about to make a fire inside the wagon in order to somewhat roast the barley for the kids. When smoke came out the doors of the wagon opened and some soldiers sprang in. Father confessed that the fire was his idea and was hit with the butt of a rifle. The soldiers carried him away despite the cries of mom and the children. However in 40 minutes or so he returned with a sack on his shoulder. I do not know where exactly we were; most probably it was in Ulyanovsk in Russia. He was taken to the commandant of the place who used to be second-in-command of a company during the war. I even remember his surname – Varantsov. As dad was dragged into his room the commandant rose to his feet, “Movsisyan Andranik, is that you?”, they hugged, “What’s going on here?”. Father said what was already obvious and the commandant offered to help him. Dad said there was nothing he could do, except to give him a sack of bread so that the children wouldn’t starve. Well, he was a commandant of a city, you know, he practically ruled the place. He ordered a bag of bread to be given to dad and he returned to the train”. Lamara recalls, “The cars were sealed all the way until Russia, all windows and doors were shut. As soon as we reached Russia they allowed to open them. That’s how we got to Altai Krai and all the way to Perviy Aleysk, Svyoklosovkhoz. We lived in barracks. Barracks 13, 12…”.

Harutyan says, “Until 1953, my parents periodically went and signed in at the Commandant’s office. They would also come with inspections once a month to check if we were in place. I must say that not everybody was a war prisoner among the exiles. There was a man, who, I can tell with hundred percent certainty, was not a prisoner but a fascist police affiliate. My father knew him and although he [Harutyun’s father] was summoned to Artik several times for interrogation, he did not turn him in. I know who informed on my father, so did my dad. The man lived for 90 years and went blind before his death. Whenever my father passed near his house he would say, “I wish he lived long, went blind and only then kicked the bucket”. That is exactly how it happened. Now I live in the village in good conscience, whereas the children of that informer did not linger here. He had five sons and none of them stayed here. Their door has been locked and nobody ever shows up.

I would say I was voiceless until this revolution [independence of Armenia in 1991-1992]. They drafted me to the army thrice. I would go to the gathering station in Yerevan and they would send me back. I had no idea why. My mom… we didn’t even have chicken then, it was 1965, people didn’t have much, if anything at all. My mom would send some food with me, I would eat it there and come back home. Later I found out they did not want to enlist me because that meant I would get a rifle. All my friends served in combatant units but I served in a working battalion for three years. Then I realized why they didn’t accept me; I was a diligent soldier and was going to join the party in [19]65. For that I needed my records and I contacted my father asking to send them over. Compiling all the required documents I applied but as they learnt about my schooling in Altai Krai, I was enlisted to a working battalion”.

Lamara concludes, “In spite of all the suffering, it is fortunate that father returned to the village with all his children instead of moving elsewhere as many other people did. It was good that he returned to his native village”.

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