“Dark Years” in Armenia (Part 1)

Armenian history has different pages and stages, but one of them needs a special attention. Though that period lasted only 3-4 years, but the impact was so deep,  that the life and fate of a several generations in Armenia has changed greatly and Armenians began to divide their lives “before” and “after”. Years from 1993 to 1995 in Armenia are called in different ways “starving”, “cold”, “horrible”, but the most common one is  “dark”.

Try to pronounce the expression “Dark years” in the presence of any resident of Yerevan and you’ll see how the smile on their faces goes and a dark grief comes instead. During those years Armenia lived a big tragedy, which was ignored by the whole world.  Armenians were saying good bye to their previous lives, but at that moment it felt like with life itself. The collapse of Soviet union costed millions of destroyed lives. Soviet union collapsed and buried with itself the hole common economy between 15 republics. On one hand destroyed and paralyzed economy, one the other hand war in Nagorno- Karabakh, natural gas couldn’t be delivered to Armenia, because it went though the territory of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan has closed it, all railways didn’t work,Turkey also closed border with Armenia. There was a territorial conflict between Georgia and Russia, so Armenia couldn’t receive help from Russia through the territory of Georgia. The only open port was Gerorgian port Poti, which just phisically couldn’t supply all the necessary things to Armenia. In a word Armenia was in a total blockade.

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Electricity

On the begining of January 1992, began constant power outages. Day by day they became more often and longer, 6, 7, 10, 16 hours a day, until in November it was officaly declared that electricity would be only an hour a day. In this situation Armenians lived two years. All kinds of house appliances and equipment became just a furniture. But there were exceptions, during the New year Armenians had two days working electricity and one more exception, when someone dyed, only that house had electricity for 3 days. There is even a joke of those times, when one neighbor asks the other one “Hey I need an electricity to do something, can you borrow me the dead corpse of your relative?”

But Armenians wouldn’t be Armenians, if even in those situations they couldn’t find interesting solutions. Those people who had cars they used it in a different way, as long as there was no gas, cars couldn’t be used as a transport, but our drivers removed batteries from cars connected them to TV sets. In the evenings houses of those who had car batteries, were full of people. All neighbors from the whole building and the whole family came together to watch the American soap opera “Santa Barbara”. Those who watched another episode of that soap opera, should retell it to those who hadn’t watched it. This was the one and only entertainment for people. American producers and authors of that soap opera can’t even imagine how their movie episodes filled dark and cold days of millions of Armenians.

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But except of entertainment there was another big problem, as long as there was no electricity and gas, it became impossible to cook. Nobody knew how to make something to eat. So the only method was wood-burning stove. It was a little metal in which wood was burning. But at the same time there was no wood on sale, so hopeless people began to cut tress in the streets, nobody wanted that, but there was no another solution, otherwise they were gonna die of hunger and cold.

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The story of those years is a big one, there were lots of spheres in everyday life that had changed greatly. People learnt to live for the passing day. Future was something unreal. There was not even a word about future for them those times.

So, this much for today. I’ll continue to write about those years next week. It’s horribly sad and unreal, but at the same time full of interesting solutions and stories.