Mets Tagher is a village in the Hadrut district of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabagh Republic/NKR). Legend indicates that settlers were brought to the region from Tigranakert (in Artsakh) by a priest named Daniel Gzhetsi in the 5th-6th centuries, settling with the local inhabitants. Gzhetsi established the first “free” community called Kazh; It is not clear: “free” from what or whom? According to my slightly dated Discovered Paradise, Karabagh Guide (2006), the village boasts fine examples of civil architecture which, indeed, it does.
The road from Stepanakert through Karmir Shuga to the access road to Mets Tagher is fine, with the exception of a few spots that need repaving. The access road to the village is unpaved but entirely passable. As we drove by some spectacular cliffs, the village appeared in the distance, with its Surp Amenaprgitch (All Saviors) church clearly visible. The inscription over the door of the recently renovated church indicates 1846. However, a document posted within the church indicates that Surp Amenaprgitch existed here in the 13th century. In the 19th century, a new church was built on the site, with efforts to preserve the surviving elements of the old church.
We met the family in the house next to the church. They were relatives of USSR Air Marshal Armenag Khudiakov1, head of the Soviet Air Force until 1950. He was the Soviet Union’s highest ranking air force officer, and was born in that house. During Stalin’s infamous purges, Khudiakov was falsely accused of being an “enemy of the state.” This designation indicated that the accused individual was too powerful or too popular and, if he or she wished, potentially could pose a threat to Stalin. Khudiakov was executed. After Stalin’s death and the subsequent execution of Soviet Secret Police Chief Berria, a trial of Khudiakov was held. He was found innocent of any crime. As a friend commented, “How nice!”
Within the village2 is a museum dedicated to Air Marshal Armenag Khudiakov, with his jet fighter mounted outside. The museum and plane dedicated to this Armenian hero were established only after Artsakh won its independence from Azerbaijan. Inside the museum there is information about Khudiakov, his uniform, and photographs both of him and of recent Armenian freedom fighters. The museum and plane could use some renovation but, given the situation, its existence is an example of the heroism of Artsakh’s people and their resolve to remember and honor our heroes.
1- In Russia Khudiakov was known as “Air Marshal Khanferyants.”
2- Handmade products from Mets Tagher village are available at Karabagh Carpets, located at 35 Mashtots Ave., in Yerevan.