Recently, an information campaign has been raised by the Armenian nationalists about the alleged "destruction of Christian monuments by Azerbaijanis" in liberated Karabakh. Although in reality, everything is exactly the opposite. All churches and Christian cultural monuments in the liberated Azerbaijani lands have been taken under the protection of the state, the process of their falsification has been suspended, efforts are being made to restore and restore their original appearance.
Moreover, even the newly built Armenian churches built during the occupation and erected on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, albeit illegally and illegally, without the permission of the Azerbaijani authorities, but in the zone of compact settlement of Azerbaijani citizens of Armenian nationality, the Azerbaijani state takes under its protection. Since he understands that his citizens of Armenian nationality will in the future have a need for church buildings in places of compact residence.
The issue is more complicated with the buildings built by the occupiers without permission in the territories during the occupation of Karabakh by Armenia, where the Armenian population never lived. Here, the occupants destroyed most of the houses of Azerbaijanis, as well as all the mosques (more than 60 mosques) and cemeteries. But here, on the land previously turned into a desert, the invaders, naturally illegally, erected certain structures, which they called “Armenian churches”. In relation to some of them, they even began to invent that these were "restored ancient churches", although there is no evidence that there was once a church of the invaders on this place. These structures have not been legalized in any way and were specially built so as to interfere with the process of restoration of Azerbaijani villages and cities turned into ruins. Some of these structures, along with the surrounding area, are also mined.
As a result, perhaps in the process of the initial restoration of the architectural appearance of the destroyed Azerbaijani cities and villages, some of these structures will be dismantled, since they are nowhere “suitable” according to documents and are not legalized in any way, according to Azerbaijani legislation. The Armenian community of Azerbaijan in Karabakh, located in the territories where the order is maintained with the help of Russian peacekeepers, while under the influence of Armenian nationalists and separatists, does not provide any official requests or documents for the legalization of these structures. Although, if such documents are provided and if the citizens of Azerbaijan of Armenian nationality give a convincing justification that they need these buildings and structures for worship, the issue will be settled. Also, of course, if it is proved that the new church was not built on a "random place", but on an ancient foundation, or the ancient Albanian church was restored from ruins (albeit "in the Armenian interpretation"), then the object will also be taken under the protection of the Azerbaijani state...
However, another thing is interesting: why exactly on the “church question” do the Armenian nationalists, claiming the Georgian and Azerbaijani lands. To do this, you need to turn to history.
Armenian nationalism is unique in many ways - it has no real state history under it. Myths about "Great Armenia" are only myths composed at best in the 18-19 centuries, not supported by any historical documents and, most importantly, not even reflected in the Armenian folklore (which, moreover, is mostly borrowed from the Turkic peoples)...
For centuries, there was only one "Armenian" structure - the Monophysite church organization, which from the 15th century had a residence in the ancient Turkic Christian village of Uchkilisa or Echmiadzin. This residence was presented to the Armenian religious leaders by the Azerbaijani ruler Jahan Shah Kara-Koyunlu. It was with the expansion of the Echmiadzin Catholicosat, which unfolded approximately since the 18th century, that the “gathering of the Armenian nation” from various tribes, ethnically not united by anything, except for the confession of the Armenian-Gregorian persuasion, was connected.
First of all, the Echmiadzin Catholicosate sought to subjugate the independent Albanian Church, and it finally succeeded only during the establishment of the rule of the Russian Empire in the Caucasus in 1836.
It was through church expansion that Armenian nationalists were able to subdue and "Armenianize" the ancient Christian population of Azerbaijan, primarily Nagorno-Karabakh (by a miracle, only the Udins managed to preserve their national identity). It is clear that it was the churches that became the "outposts" of both Armenization and the seizure of Azerbaijani lands. For this, the Armenian nationalists did not disdain the most blatant falsification, rebuilding and disfiguring the seized Albanian temples, knocking down frescoes, and removing stones with ancient inscriptions testifying to the Albanian origin of the shrines and instead of inserting fake "new-made" slabs with fabricated inscriptions.
At the same time, having appropriated the richest heritage of the Albanian Church "through church channels" and declared claims to the lands where Albanian Christians lived, the Armenian nationalists according to a similar scheme - by appropriating churches and falsifications, began to try to appropriate Georgian lands as well.
As a result, currently only officially Armenian religious organizations (Echmiadzin and Armenian Catholics) claim 465 Georgian churches throughout Georgia. Unofficially, the falsifiers classify at least 650 Georgian churches as “Armenian” in Georgia alone, not to mention dozens of Georgian churches on the territory of the Republic of Armenia, which is either appropriated and declared “Armenian”, or are desolate and destroyed.
In the course of the "case", the Armenian authorities do not even allow the Orthodox Patriarchate of Georgia to approach the crumbling Georgian churches on the territory of the Republic of Armenia. For the sake of appropriating one of the most ancient Georgian monasteries of Khujabi, the Armenian side even arbitrarily "moved" the border into the depths of Georgia by 500 meters and today does not allow Georgian priests, pilgrims, or restorers to visit this crumbling monastery.
Well-known Georgian historian and researcher Academician Bondo Arveladze wrote about how Georgian churches were “turned into Armenian” in his work “Armenian or Georgian churches in Georgia?!
“… One cannot but refer to the monograph of the untimely deceased historian and cleric Georgy Bochoridze's “ A Trip to Samtskhe-Saatabago ”(1992). Giorgi Bochoridze was the first qualified scientist after Ekvt. Takaishvili, who described this region (ethnic, religious pictures, proverbs, epitaphs, epigraphic material, etc.). Every line of his monograph is saturated with burning tears. Even seemingly insignificant details do not hide from his gaze. For example, about the small one-nave church of St. George in the village. He writes to Ude: “The western window has been closed up and on top of it lies a small stone with an Armenian inscription, placed during the renovation” (p. 64). It is a fact that an Armenian builder when renovating a Georgian church, inserted a stone with an Armenian inscription. Consciously or unconsciously, it doesn't matter. The result is the same. Apparently, the Armenian craftsmen showed an increased national inclination during the construction and renovation of the Georgian church...
According to the 80-year-old elder Jacob Balakhashvili, the historian recorded the fact that images of the king and queen brought from the village of Fetobani and a stone with an inscription were embedded in the wall of an Armenian school in the village of Tskaltbila. The researcher hastily set off for an examination and saw the head of the Tskaltbil Armenian school, a certain Yervand Simonyan, and a teacher, Hakob Abrahamyan. He explained the purpose of his visit but received a polite refusal. Bochoridze began to insist on permission to inspect the premises. On examination above the door, I found a stone that had previously been above the window, with holes carved according to tradition. There I noticed another stone, plastered with lime. The researcher asked to clean it from the layers. The payment was agreed upon, and after cleaning, a beautiful bas-relief with a model of the church appeared. Then the head Simonyan admitted that something is depicted on the stones and two or three letters are visible. At the request of Giorgi Bochoridze to remove the stones for a certain fee, a refusal was received. Head Yervand Simonyan demanded permission from Akhaltsikhe. And he considered the power of attorney received by Georgy Bochoridze in Tbilisi to be insufficient. "The head of the department, Yervand Simonyan, after long insistence, writes Georgy Bochoridze, agreed in words, but interfered with the matter in all possible ways." In a village with three hundred smokes, G. Bochoridze could not find a person who would agree to remove the stone. It turns out that Yervand Simonyan warned his fellow villagers not to take up this business. Walking from yard to yard gave no results. “From the very beginning, when they tried to hide the stone, I felt that things were bad, that it was no longer possible to leave the stone in place. Until now, it was hidden, no one knew about it, but now it has been revealed. If you leave and return again, the stone may no longer be found, it may be destroyed. Therefore, I decided, even if I didn’t have a penny left in my pocket, to throw the stone to a safe place in any way, ”notes Giorgi Bochoridze. Moreover, Yervand Simonyan suspiciously insisted that he first examine other places and then return. Finally, out of patience, Giorgi Bochoridze took up the stone himself. Seeing this, two Armenian peasants agreed to help him with 20 rubles. So that they would not cheat and break the stone during the removal, G. Bochoridze asked to put wooden trestles, but in the whole village, there was nothing of the kind. Therefore, the earth was raked to the wall, the stone was safely removed, but now the problem was to transport it to Valais. The Armenian peasants are demanding more and more stones for the transfer of stones. With such torment, the stones were somehow delivered to Valais: “I dragged them into the courtyard of the old church. A lot of people gathered, young and old, men and women. They removed the stone from the cart, saw that it was plastered with lime, and scolded the residents of Tskaltbil for doing it. I ordered water to be brought. The lime has been washed off. The large stone gleamed with purity, and a beautiful bas-relief appeared. This made me happy, and I began to look for the inscription, but I could not find it anywhere ... In the meantime, the second stone was also washed. I was told earlier that the Georgian inscription was scraped out. I did not believe the words of the Armenian teacher that only two or three letters remained under the cross. I thought it was an ordinary signature under the cross, but in fact there was a text on the stone in twelve lines, later scraped out, despite the fact that the cross was left, and three or four letters were preserved on the sides of it.
It was very sorry and insulting, but what can you do, out of 12 whole lines, even ten letters could not be read ... Transportation of stones from Tskaltbila to Val (3 versts) cost me 72 rubles, and for unloading stones from the cart, transferring, washing and installing in the church the rollers did not take a penny from me, ”writes Georgy Bochoridze. I dwelled on this sad, and not only sad event in such detail because it clearly shows the negative attitude of some Armenians of Samtskhe-Javakheti (and, unfortunately, not only this region) to Georgian historical monuments. There is a clear tendency to scrape out, erase all information about Georgians, and declare them to be ours.
Surprisingly, they know that they are newcomers, they know that this or that historical or non-historical monument is not theirs, but they still declare their property. While the Greeks, Jews and others never made such groundless claims. Acad. N. Berdzenishvili points to the fact of scraping off an inscription from a church in the village of Foka and concludes: “We also meet sad examples of similar crimes in other places in Javakheti” (“Questions of the History of Georgia”, 1967, volume IV, p. 248). Let's follow Giorgi Bochoridze again: “The inscription on the stone was specially erased by some instrument. These are stones with inscriptions from the village of Agaris Tskaro. In Akhaltsikhe there are two churches of St. Stephen, one in the vicinity of Daramagla, on the site of the present Armenian Church of St. Stephen, in ancient times it was a Georgian church, the Armenian church is new ”(p. 166). The second, according to the reference map, in the vicinity of Rabat, was built in the 1840s, probably Armenian ”. Georgy Bochoridze notes: “Akhaltsikhe Church of the Holy Sign. The building is new, built on the site of a Georgian church. Dome ".
According to the reference map, there are only 127 Armenian churches in Samtskhe-Javakheti. Of these, 40 were built before 1800. It turns out that over a hundred years (1800-1900) the Armenians “built” 87 churches in this region. In the XX century. for obvious reasons, few churches were built in Samtskhe-Javakheti (as well as in other places). Meanwhile, it turns out that in Akhalkalaki, Akhaltsikhe, Adigensky, Aspindza and Borjomi districts, Armenians built one or more churches a year.
It should be borne in mind that churches are fundamental, solid structures, not hastily built temporary huts. Building churches at such a pace with the then slow movement and manual labor is impossible to imagine.
Not only in the last century, but also today, in the conditions of mechanized construction, in such a short period of time it is unthinkable to erect so many buildings, especially church buildings.
What's the matter?
The fact is that the Armenians took advantage of the “soft knighthood” of the Georgians, took up the Georgian churches, and used them as they wanted. According to numerous sources, Acad. Takaishvili, acad. S. Jikia, "Some Meskha" (Ivane Gvaramadze), Iv. Rostomashvili, "A certain monk" (according to our assumption, Mose Janashvili) and others, who arrived in Samtskhe-Javakheti, Trialeti (Tsalka), Kvemo-Kartli (Gogarani), Armenians shamelessly took possession of the Georgian churches in the places of new settlements and turned them into Armenian ones. That is why, like mushrooms after rain, these regions are dotted with "Armenian" churches. There were cases, and quite a few, when some Georgian churches were dismantled and new Armenian churches were built from material from them (well-hewn stones, etc.) ... "
This is how it turns out that Georgian churches turned into Armenian ones.
But maybe the Armenian nationalists really are "a very devout Christian people." As soon as they see an ancient church or its ruins, is it immediately restored? Are churches being built where they live to pray to God and lead a godly Christian lifestyle? No matter how it is!
There is a clear tendency - Armenian nationalists are “very big Christians” and worry about allegedly “Armenian” Christian shrines on those lands where, with the help of churches, they can make claims to these foreign lands. And where with the help of the churches it was not possible to make a claim, then they do not "bother" and completely forget that they are "Christians."
For example, the Armenian settlers in Abkhazia. About the same number of Armenians lived and live here as there were in Nagorno-Karabakh before the occupation, and there are more Armenians than now in Samtskhe-Javakheti. Where we will remind as many as 127 churches they rank as "Armenian".
It would seem that if the Armenians are such “pious Christians”, then in Abkhazia there should be no less “Armenian” churches (since there are more Armenians here than in Samtskhe-Javkheti). Moreover, Armenians from the same country, from Turkey, moved to Samtskhe-Jvakheti and Abkhazia. But for a long time, the Abkhaz Armenians, unlike the "Javakhk" ones, did not have ANY CHURCH.
There are dozens of Armenian villages in Abkhazia. In Sukhumi, Pitsunda, Gulripsha, Ochamchira, the Armenians after the expulsion of the Georgians became an absolute majority. Armenians are not poor here. But churches have not been built and are not being built. And even the Georgians did not seek to appropriate. In general, they did and do without churches.
Only under the separatist regime did the Abkhaz Armenians build one church in Gagra for the whole of Abkhazia, which they do not particularly go to.
What's the matter? Is it possible that in the seaside climate, “pious ancient Christians”, Armenians suddenly become atheists? And building churches in Karabakh "in the desert", on the ruins of Azerbaijani cities and villages, do they even think about building churches in the densely populated Armenian villages of Abkhazia, and in the same city of Sukhumi, where they already have the majority of the population?
Everything is explained simply. They tried to appropriate the Georgian churches and pass them off as "Armenian" Armenian nationalists only where it was possible to make claims to Georgian lands in this way. They say “Armenia has always been here”. But in their insolence, they set clear "lines" for themselves so as not to spoil relations with the Abkhaz nationalists and separatists "cultivated" by them.
As a result, for example, in Megrelian Zugdidi, there are churches that Echmiadzin officially claims, and in neighboring Abkhazia, the Armenians have not yet put forward official claims to Georgian churches, the local churches are "donated" to Abkhaz separatists.
The Armenian initiators of the "partition of Georgia" most likely understood that it would be such a provocative lie to pass off as "Armenian" Georgian churches in Abkhazia, where the first Armenians appeared at the end of the 19th century, and even more so to declare these lands "ancient Armenia" even the Abkhaz separatists. And at that time they didn’t need this “internal conflict of interests”.
Therefore, it was in Abkhazia, through the churches, that the Armenian nationalists did not seize these Georgian lands. They captured them through artificial incitement of enmity between the fraternal Abkhaz and Georgian peoples and by supporting separatism. And only now, when Abkhazia is almost in their hands, they could begin to "justify" the ownership of churches in Abkhazia to Armenians, but they can do without it. Indeed, without any churches in the neighboring Krasnodar Territory of Russia, they also become the dominant ethnic group.
Those. it turns out that without claims to foreign lands in order to pray to God, Armenian nationalists do not especially need churches. In reality, they did not need a church built in the same, almost equal to the ground, Azerbaijani Jabrayil, especially since it was one of the 5 regions that, in any peaceful resolution of the conflict, should have been transferred to Azerbaijan. By this very construction, the Armenian invaders simply made it clear that they were not going to give away foreign lands “in an amicable way”.