Anahit Adamyan: To me, Avetik is unique in every way

This interview was originally published in Armenian by Mediamax on June 14, 2022. It has been translated for publication in the Weekly by Dr. Ara Nazarian.

Anahit Adamyan is the wife of Avetik Chalabyan, a co-founder of the Arar Foundation and a member of the “Consolidation” movement who was arrested on May 14.

Avetik Chalabyan and Anahid Adamyan in Tsaghkadzor, April 10, 2022 (Photo: Official Facebook page of Avetik Chalabyan)

Tell us about yourself. How did you meet Avetik?

I was born in Abovyan in a family of engineers. My mother is Russian, and we mainly spoke Russian at home, but my father categorically decided that we would go to an Armenian school. And at that time people sent their children to Russian schools, and in many cases, parents started learning Russian together with their children. But it was the opposite in our house. My mother studied Armenian with us.

I did very well in school, but historical subjects were not my favorites. I liked math. I graduated from Yerevan State University’s (YSU) Faculty of Economics, after which I studied at the American University of Armenia (AUA). Avetik and I met there, where he had also applied to the AUA following his work at the YSU Faculty of Physics.

It was impossible not to notice Avetik. He always had a habit of asking difficult questions, sometimes even in a positive sense, “upsetting” the lecturers. I noticed Avetik in the classroom for the first time, when the lecturer was trying to say something, and he was constantly asking questions, interrupting the lesson. I thought, who is this guy who is preventing the lecture from going on as planned. It turned out that we found ourselves in a common circle of friends; we even found out that we were born on the same day, a few years apart. Thus began our closer relationship. We have been married for 21 years and have four children.

What was Avetik’s family life like?

Avetik was born in Yerevan in a family of physicists and grew up in a very typical Yerevan environment in the yard of a multilevel building in front of the “Russia Cinema.” From a young age, he had various interests, even contradictory and seemingly incompatible. For example, he took both painting and boxing classes. But his greatest interests were Armenian, world history, military history and military strategies.

One of Avetik’s characteristics is being constructive and rational, which was also manifested when choosing a profession. His father says that things came easily to him where challenging problems were easy exercises for him. Realizing that he did not want to study theoretical physics, he changed his major and first studied at the AUA, then in 2001 he received his MBA from the University of North Carolina.

He is an exceptional person for me with personality traits that I have always admired. He is a knowledgeable, reserved and balanced leader whose opinion is valued by everyone. For many years, he worked in the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Armenia. He has always excelled in effective negotiations, fair and impartial decision-making, reasoned debate and other important skills.

You lived in the USA for a while, then in Russia, but returned to Armenia. How did you make that decision?

We were studying in the United States and had no doubt that we would return. After living in the US for many years, Avetik received an offer from the Moscow branch of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, triggering our move to Russia. We lived in Moscow for about 20 years, but never thought we would settle there permanently. We always knew that one day we would return. We spent the summer months here, and all four of our children grew up under the care of their grandparents.

While living and working in Moscow, Avetik always implemented pro-Armenian programs in Moscow, Armenia and in Artsakh. He took an active part in public life and implemented initiatives supporting young people, students and various other groups.

Through the efforts and initiative of Avetik and his supporters, the Aybik Educational and Cultural Center was established in Moscow, serving as a platform for new educational opportunities for Armenian children and closer ties with the Armenian community.

Then Repat Armenia was founded, the main goal of which is to unite the potential of the Diaspora and support repatriates. Many people who have returned to Armenia state that they made their decision to repatriate within the framework of meetings with Repat Armenia.

Why did Avetik decide to get involved in politics?

After the war in April 2016, many things changed for him dramatically. From that time on, he knew that a new war was imminent and that we must be prepared for it, militarily and physically and spiritually. The obvious danger on the one hand and the obvious inaction on the other caused significant pain for him. His programs aimed at Artsakh and the army expanded after the 2016 war and continue to this day.

He decided to get involved in politics from the second half of 2018 because he saw a gap and realized that, only in that way, could he have a meaningful impact. Before that he tried to help remotely, but there was a condition from McKinsey that he should either be involved in politics or continue his consulting activities. He chose to work for the homeland.

Avetik was born in Armenia, studied in the US and worked and lived in Russia. He has no dislike for any culture or politics. Most importantly, his vision and activities are pro-Armenia and pro-Artsakh.

If you follow his interviews or articles, you will see that unfortunately his predictions and warnings have come true. Today, he has a vision for the country’s development – build a strong and stable army that will serve as a deterrent to our enemies and take every effort toward building a strong military, sparing little toward that goal. He has explored means to cooperate with various entities, including the Ministry of Defense since 2016.

Of course, many of these programs and initiatives are not discussed publicly, but informed people are aware of them. Avetik was doing everything for the army, for Artsakh and Armenia, but there came a moment when everything started to collapse before his eyes, and he simply could not but fight based on his character and values. We were ready for any kind of difficulty. We discussed all possible developments, including arrest and pressure and agreed that none would be an obstacle, because Avetik’s motivation is patriotism, and his work is for Armenia and Artsakh.

Ara Nazarian, PhD

Ara Nazarian, PhD

Ara Nazarian is an associate professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a degree in mechanical engineering, followed by graduate degrees from Boston University, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Harvard University. He has been involved in the Armenian community for over a decade, having served in a variety of capacities at the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society, the Armenian Cultural and Educational Center, Armenian National Committee of America, St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

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