By Hovsep Daghdigian
Mets Tagher is a village in the Hadrut district of Artsakh/Nagorno Karabagh. Legend indicates that settlers were brought to the region from Tigranagert (in Artsakh) by a priest named Daniel Gzhetsi in the 5-6th c, settling with the local inhabitants. Gzhetsi established the first “free” community called Kazh; It is not clear: “free” from what or whom? According to my slightly dated “Discovered Paradise, Karabagh Guide” (2006) the village boasts fine examples of civil architecture which, indeed, it does.
The road from Stepanakert through Karmir Shuga to the access road to Meds Tagher is fine, with the exception of a few spots that need repaving. The access road to the village is unpaved but entirely passable. As we drove by some spectacular cliffs the village appeared in the distance, with its Soorp Amenaprgitch (All Saviors) church clearly visible. The inscription over the door of the recently renovated church indicates 1846. However, a document posted within the church indicates that Soorp Amenaprgitch existed here in the 13thc. In the 19thc a new church was built on the site with efforts to preserve the surviving elements of the old church.
We met the family in the house next to the church. They were relatives of USSR Air Marshal Armenag Khudiakov (1), head of the Soviet Air Force ‘till 1950. He was the Soviet Union’s highest ranking air force officer, and was born in that house. During Stalin’s infamous purges, Khudiakov was falsely accused of being an “enemy of the state”. This designation indicated that the accused individual was too powerful or too popular and, if he or she wished, potentially could pose a threat to Stalin. Khudiakov was executed. After Stalin’s death and the subsequent execution of Soviet Secret Police chief Berria, a trial of Khudiakov was held. He was found innocent of any crime. As a friend commented, “How nice!”
Within the village (2) is a museum dedicated to Air Marshal Armenag Khudiakov, with his jet fighter mounted outside. The museum and plane dedicated to this Armenian hero were established only after Artsakh won its independence from Azerbaijan. Inside the museum there is information about Khudiakov, his uniform, and photographs both of him and of recent Armenian freedom fighters. The museum and plane could use some renovation but, given the situation, its existence is an example of the heroism of Artsakh’s people and their resolve to remember and honor our heroes.
(1) In Russia Khudiakov was known as “Air Marshal Khanferyants”.
(2) Handmade products from Medz Tagher village are available at Karabagh Carpets, 35 Mashtots Ave,Yerevan