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Zaruhi Mejlumyan

Artsakh Family Start New Life in Arzni: Returning to Talish Appears Unlikely

When you enter the yard of the Khalapyan family in Arzni, relocated from their village of Talish in northwestern Artsakh due to recent fighting, you’d think there’s always been a garden there, full of growing things.

Mrs. Svetlana Khalapyan and her two sons have only been in Arzni, a village in Armenia’s Kotayk Province, for a month. But they started working the small plot the second day after arriving from Artsakh. Afterwards, they purchased some piglets and chickens.

69 year-old Mrs. Khalapyan hails from the Artsakh village of Chailou. She married a man from Talish and gave birth to twelve children. All have married except the two sons, Seryozha and Stepan, now living with her.

On April 2, Mrs. Khalapyan’s birthday, the family left Talish due to the fighting. It’s the second time she’s been forced to flee Talish on a temporary basis. Almost all the other residents of Talish also left.

“I always think about those last days. I don’t want to talk about it,” she says/

The family first moved to Masis and then to Vanadzor, eventually winding up in Arzni. “The air is good. Just like our village,” notes Mrs. Khalapyan, adding that they’re a family used to having their own land and house.

The Arzni municipality has rented them and abandoned house for 25,000 AMD ($53) per month.

The woman relates how her son Seryozha recently returned to Talish to collect some essential items from their home. One of those items was a photo of his mother’s father, now deceased.

“The boy knew that the photo was important. Now that it’s here, this place is my home,” says Mrs. Khalapyan.

Mrs. Khalapyan has no illusions about returning to Talish. It’s a question of safety.

“If things change, if the houses are repaired…but as of now, even if they scatter gold on Talish, it won’t work,” she says.

Seryozha remembers how in 1992, at the age of four, the family was forced to flee Talish the first time. He doesn’t rule out the chance that if they return, they’ll have to leave for a third time. This is why the young man can’t imagine returning.

“The same will be repeated. Let me live and work here, so that I can enjoy what I create,” Seryozha says, adding that people lived well in Talish. “You can say we lived one hundred times better than people in Yerevan. But now, they’ve fled, leaving it all behind.”

Seryozha served just under three years in the Artsakh armed forces. He then left for Russia in search of seasonal work.

He has some pretty definite thoughts on how to finally resolve the Karabakh conflict. “I would decide to immediately restart the war. Let this or that side win. It’s better than having a victim a day in this so-called peace.”

P.S. An bank account at ACBA has been opened by the Khalapyan family at the Abovyan branch (#220302449362000). With donations received, the family has been able to pay three months’ of rent at once. They would like to also purchase more livestock. Seryozha and Stepan are also interested in work opportunities in addition to the small scale farming they now do.