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An Armenian Village Where Residents Don't Curse And Don't Watch TV
epress.am 11.09.2011 18:02
Blond and blue-eyed, in the mountains of Armenia, they are like aliens from another planet. All around, the villages of Vahagni, Gamzachiman (Margahovit), Debet and suddenly - the village of Fioletovo, writes a Moskovsky Komsomolets correspondent who recent visited the village and shared his impressions with his readers.
"There is not a single antenna on the roofs. Here, they don't watch TV, don't read newspapers, don't drink vodka, don't smoke, and don't use obscene language. For almost two centuries, living in Fioletovo are Russian Old Believers - the Molokans. They have Old Testament names. 'Entering the spirit' - experiencing a prayer ecstasy - they bounce, which is why they are also called 'jumpers'.
"Neighbors respect them for their hard work and pathological honesty.
The cabbage they prepare with salt in oak tubs is famous not only in the Caucasus.
"The Molokan village appears suddenly around the bend. We stop in front of an old man with a beard. His transparent, ice-like eyes draw you on and don't let you go. He is selling potatoes near the main road.
"Also, rushing toward us are women from the neighboring stalls. They all wear dresses with collars up to their throats and white starched aprons.
"Feeling the cold eye of the camera lens on them, they immediately cover their faces with their hands. Photo cameras, like radios and television, are considered evil. They don't accept the church hierarchy, manmade churches, Orthodox rites; they don't like holy books or icons. They don't make the sign of the cross when they pray and don't accept baptism.
"They were called Molokans because during Lent, unlike other Orthodox groups, they ate dairy products (the word "moloko" comes from the word "milk" in Russian).
"There are just two streets in the village, 380 households, and less than 1.5 thousand people.
"In 1840, 195 men and 194 women moved here from Tambov guberniya (province in Russia). They left their homes under the decree of Nikolai I of Russia. They decided to remove from the Orthodox world those groups who worship God only in spirit.
"The authorities thought that the Molokons would dissolve among the different peoples of the Caucasus, but the opposite happened: These Spiritual Christians united by faith were able to create a corner of Russia in a foreign country.
"After the rich black soil of Tambov, the Molokans got fallow earth.
To cultivate gardens, they had to carry fertile soil in wheelbarrows from the valley.
"The Armenians, in turn, learned carpentry and blacksmithing from the immigrants.
"After marriage, Molokans are supposed to let their beards grow. Head of the village administration Alexei Novikov, however, is clean-shaven and has on a completely modern suit. Locals selling milk and potatoes on the road manage to whisper, "Idolater, he keeps a Satan television in his house and a computer in his workplace."
"I am responsible for the village; I cannot remain without communication and information," said the village leader in his own defense. "As soon as I get out of the house, the entire village asks me, 'What's new in the world?'"
"Novikov, in the Molokans' opinion, is also an "adulterer". Families here are traditionally strong, and he has divorced and remarried - the second time with a newcomer Molokan, Sarah Abramovna from the Republic of Mordovia in Russia.
"According to Fioletovo residents, the real power in the village belongs to shephard Nikolai Sukovitsini. Everything - family, work, community - are carried out only with the approval of the 86-year-old community leader.
"During the entire existence of the village, there have been only 10 marriages with Armenians. Before the Karabakh conflict, there were three marriages with Azerbaijanis. But in very few cases have those marriages been successful. Many divorced: the men then remarried Molokan women, while women remained alone with their children.
Successful mixed marriages are rare.
"Local authorities have always treated the Molokans well. They even planted a birch grove between the two Russian-populated villages, Lermontova and Fioletovo, so residents can be reminded of their historical homeland. Natural gas was installed in Fioletovo. The only Russian state school in the country operates in the village. The Russian embassy in Armenia provides the school with Russian textbooks, while after graduation, students can be accepted into the Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University with 8 points (as compared to the 19 points required by students in the rest of the country).
"It's interesting that the Molokan children are taught literary Russian by Armenian teachers, who come from neighboring Vanadzor.
"Until recently, Molokans, didn't seek to continue their studies in higher education institutions.
"The Armenian language is part of the curriculum in the village school: all are taught to understand the spoken language, but speak with difficulty.
"A good half of the village is employed outside the village. In Yerevan, the men are hired to repair apartments, while women clean houses. Many Molokans work in the construction of gas pipelines in Tyumen and Surgut. They are readily hired by teams of welders who need reliable, sober workers."
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