The international ethnographic expedition of the Russian Geographical Society within the framework of the project "Modern Ethnoworld: Horizons of the Caucasus" has completed its work in the Republic of Armenia. It was studying the peculiarities of everyday life and traditions, religious and social life, preservation and dissemination of the Russian language, literature, and cultural heritage of ethnic Russians living on the territory of Armenia. The participants of the expedition organized many events that contribute to the establishment of relations with compatriots abroad, strengthening friendly ties between the peoples of the two countries.
The organizers of the expedition were the Penza Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society and the Branch of the Russian Geographical Society in the Republic of North Ossetia–Alania. The project was supported by the Executive Directorate of the Russian Geographical Society, the Penza Regional Fund for Scientific and Technical Development, North Ossetian State University, and the Government of the Penza Region.
The project "Modern Ethnoworld: Horizons of the Caucasus" was a continuation of earlier expeditions to Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan) and Transcaucasia (Abkhazia). It is noteworthy that such research expedition by the Russian Geographical Society have not been conducted since the collapse of the USSR.
The expedition party, headed by the head of the Penza Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society Igor Pantyushov, included expedition administrator Olga Ilyina, scientific secretary of the project Demid Ermishin, journalist Oleg Tkachev, analysts Fatima Khatsaeva and Zalina Plieva. In the period from November 7 to 16, 2022, the members of the expedition traveled along the route Yerevan – Sevan – Lermontovo – Fioletovo. They studied the places of compact residence of compatriots in Armenia, interviewed representatives of various categories of citizens, held working meetings with heads of universities, research and spiritual centers. At these events, ways to expand cooperation in various fields were discussed.
Visits to schools with in-depth study of the Russian language, communication with students and teachers of these educational institutions became particularly significant events. Meetings with representatives of religious centers and rectors of church parishes played an important role in the study.
Working with compatriots is an important direction of Russia's foreign policy and is subject to careful study – up to the point of introducing this topic into official scientific circulation. The Russian Embassy in Armenia and the representative office of Rossotrudnichestvo in the Republic of Armenia provided great support to the participants of the RGS’s expedition. The expedition members held working meetings with Adviser to the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation Alexander Novikov, and Vadim Fefilov, head of the Rossotrudnichestvo representative office in Armenia. There they received the necessary recommendations for the expedition.
A particularly interesting phenomenon highlighted by the expedition participants is the Russian Molokan communities, in which our compatriots live compactly, preserving national traditions for more than two centuries. Also memorable was the study of the life and traditions of the inhabitants of the village of Fioletovo, where more than 1,400 ethnic Russians, natives of the Tambov Province, live. Their main occupation is agriculture. There is a Russian school and a house-museum in the village, which is more than 150 years old.
As a result of the expedition, photo exhibitions will be held in Penza and Vladikavkaz in December. At the opening of the exhibitions, the results of the work within the framework of the project will be announced.
Extensive coverage of the results of the expedition is also planned. The results of the project will be reflected in various publications and on partner websites. The participants of the expedition noted that during the trip they managed to collect valuable practical material. Later it will be used in scientific, educational, and international activities.