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Aghasi Khanjian (Armenian: Աղասի Խանջյան; Russian: Агаси Гевондович Ханджян, Agasi Gevondovich Khandzhyan) (January 30, 1901 – July 6, 1936) was First Secretary of the Communist Party of Armenia from May 1930 to July 1936.[1]

Aghasi Khanjian
Aghasi Khanjian 1934.jpg
Khanjian in 1934
First Secretary of the
Communist Party of Armenia
In office
May 1930 – July 1936
Preceded byHaykaz Kostanyan
Succeeded byAmatuni Vartapetyan
Personal details
BornJanuary 30, 1901
Van, Ottoman Empire
DiedJuly 6, 1936(1936-07-06) (aged 35)
Nestor Lakoba, Nikita Khrushchev, Lavrenti Beria and Aghasi Khanjian during the opening of the Moscow Metro in 1936. The same year he was arrested and executed by Beria. Beria in that year also killed Lakoba. 17 years later, Khrushchev would have Beria killed



Khanjian was born in the city of Van, Ottoman Empire (today eastern Turkey).[2] With the onslaught of the Armenian Genocide, his family emigrated from the city in 1915 and settled in Russian Armenia.[1][3] In 1917-19, he was one of the organizers of Spartak, the Marxist student's union of Armenia. He later served as the secretary of the Armenian Bolshevik underground committee.[3]

In 1920, Khanjian became First Secretary of the Yerevan City Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia and in 1930, the first secretary of the Armenian Communist Party.[3] He proved to be a charismatic Soviet politician and was very popular among the Armenian populace.[1] He was a friend and supporter of many Armenian intellectuals, including Yeghishe Charents (who dedicated a poem to him), Axel Bakunts and Gurgen Mahari.[3] Khanjian also tried unsuccessfully to have Moscow annex Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.[4] He was arrested in 1936 and died while being interrogated.[5] Ronald Grigor Suny describes the circumstances of his death as follows:

But by the mid-1930s Khanjian had come into conflict with the most powerful party leader in Transcaucasia, Lavrenti Beria, a Georgian close to Stalin. Early in July 1936 Khanjian was called to Tiflis. Suddenly and unexpectedly it was announced that the Armenian party chief had committed suicide.[2] Though the circumstances of his death are murky, it is believed that Beria had ordered Khanjian's death to remove a threat to his own monopoly of power.[6]

According to Robert Conquest, Khanjian was shot by Beria when he visited the latter's office.[7]

Along with an entire generation of intellectual Armenian communist leaders (such as Vagarshak Ter-Vaganyan), Khanjian was denounced as an enemy of the people during the Great Purge.[1]

Khanjian was officially rehabilitated after the death of Joseph Stalin.

Aghasi Khanjian's commemorative plaque in Yerevan.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Zev Katz, Rosemarie Rogers, Frederic Harned. Handbook of Major Soviet Nationalities. New York: Free Press, 1975, pp. 146-47.
  2. ^ a b Suny 1993, p. 156.
  3. ^ a b c d (in Russian) Great Soviet Encyclopedia. Aghasi Khanjian[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Armenian History: History of Artsakh, Part 2[permanent dead link], Yuri Babayan
  5. ^ Khronos biography.
  6. ^ Ronald Grigor Suny, "Soviet Armenia," The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume II: Foreign Dominion to Statehood: The Fifteenth Century to the Twentieth Century, ed. Richard G. Hovannisian. New York: St Martin's Press, 1997, p. 362.
  7. ^ Robert Conquest, The Great Terror: A Reassessment. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, p. 225.


  • Suny, Ronald Grigor (1993). Looking Toward Ararat: Armenia in Modern History. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0253207739.