Ararat Melkonyan was 19 years old when his family was exiled from Arevik village of Armenia’s Shirak region to Altai Krai in Russia by the order of Joseph Stalin. Melkonyan was then a first-year student at the College of Textile Technology in Leninakan.
Since 2006, June 14 has been celebrated in Armenia as the Day of Remembrance of the Repressed. Over 1500 repressed people live in Armenia today, with the number of their descendants reaching 8000-10 000.
Stating1949, 13 000 Armenians were arrested and exiled by the order of Stalin. Many others were shot dead. Ararat Melkonyan says for14 days his family travelled by train. He was one of the lucky ones who were allowed to continue studies, at the same time working in constriction.
Although in the 1950s, the Soviet Union denounced Stalin’s dictatorial rule, human rights activist Vardan Harutyunyan says today the Armenia leadership does not differ greatly from the political figures of the 1930s. He cited the controversial plans to erect a monument to Anastas Mikoyan, a a Soviet-era statesman and a close associate of Joseph Stalin, as an example.