Ethnic group. Officially numbering over 1 million, Armenians are Russia’s seventh-largest nationality. Some estimates, however, suggest that upward of 2.9 million, many being unregistered guest workers, reside in the federation.
   Armenians are an Indo-European people from the Southern Caucasus; most are Christians, adhering to the Armenian Apostolic Church founded in the 4th century, though some confess Armenian Catholicism. Worldwide, there are more than 8 million Armenians; 3.2 million reside in the Republic of Armenia. Armenians have been settling across the Russian lands since the late medieval period, typically occupying positions as merchants and artisans. Armenians are particularly numerous in Moscow and the southern regions of the federation. In Stavropol Krai and Krasnodar Krai, they account for more than 5 percent of the local population; in some areas, entire villages are ethnically Armenian.
   Since 1991, Armenians, who are often of dark complexion, have been targeted for ethnic violence by neo-Nazis and ultranationalists. Punitive legal actions have also been taken against “non-Russian” merchants in recent years, which have disproportionately impacted urban Armenian communities. In a 2008 visit to the Armenian expatriate community in Moscow, Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan advocated a policy of assimilation for his co-nationals in an effort to combat xenophobia, stating: “Being a good Armenian means being a good Russian.”
   There are also important divisions within Russia’s Armenian community, particularly between “old” (pre-1985) Armenian settlers and newer, post-Soviet immigrants who fled the war in NagornoKarabakh. The Union of Armenians in Russia is the primary social organization catering to the diaspora. Since the mid-1990s, Russia has been granting citizenship to ethnic Armenians in the Javakheti region of Georgia, an action that has been criticized by Tbilisi as undermining the Caucasian state’s sovereignty.
   Andranik Migranyan, a key foreign policy advisor in the Yeltsin administration and author of the so-called Monroeski doctrine, is an ethnic Armenian.
   See also Christianity; Economy.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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