Paruyr Hayrikyan (Traditional Armenian: Պարոյր Հայրիկեան, Eastern Armenian: Պարույր Հայրիկյան, born July 5, 1949, Yerevan) is an Armenian politician and former Soviet dissident. Hayrikyan is one of the founders and most active leaders of the democratic movement in the Soviet Union. He is also a writer and an accomplished composer. He is the author of several patriotic songs popular in Armenia and Armenian Diaspora.
Hayrikyan is a descendant of natives of Van and Constantinople. While he was in Nubarashen secondary school, Hayrikyan established the Union of Armenian Youth. In 1966 Hayrikyan was admitted to the Yerevan Polytechnic Institute. In 1967, he became a member of Armenia's underground National United Party (NUP). As a member of NUP Hayrikyan founded a new youth organization called Shant. Hayrikyan risen to head of the NUP in 1968. He managed to establish several groups of the NUP, and to publish 5,000 copies of Erkounk (Torments) newspaper. The newspaper bore the motto: "Free Armenia or Death!" On March 29, 1969, Hayrikyan was arrested by KGB and sentenced to 4 years in prison in a special camp for political prisoners in Mordovia.
In Soviet times, Hayrikyan was placed several times in penal labor camps for his political views and activities (he spent about 18 years in Soviet prison).
In 1987, Paruyr Hayrikyan became leader and founder of the Union for National Self-Determination (UNSD) political party. He was eventually stripped of Soviet citizenship and exiled to Ethiopia after his accusations that the Soviet leadership instigated the Sumgait pogroms of Armenian population in Azerbaijan. In Addis Ababa Hayrikyan applied for and was granted asylum by the United States, where he remained for some time. During this period, Paruyr Hayrikyan acquired wide popularity, and was elected Chairman of the International Coordinating Center of the national democratic movement of the USSR, "Democracy and Independence". On May 20, 1990, while he was still in exile in the USA, he was elected a member of the Armenian Supreme Council. In 1990, following pressure of a group of United States senators led by Bob Dole, Mikhail Gorbachev restored Hayrikyan's citizenship and allowed him to return. Since then Hayrikyan has taken an active part in Armenian political life. As a candidate for Armenian presidential election, 1991 he was ranked second with 7% votes. Hayrikyan's supporters claimed that there were violations during the campaign, including an act of violence committed against him and his supporters in the village of Paravakar (Tavoush District). These charges were subsequently judged to be true by the Armenian court.
Since 1992, as an appointed Commandant of Goris, Hayrikyan took measures to ensure the efficient defense and organizing settlements of refugees in the Syunik and Artsakh. In 1995 he was re-elected to the Armenian Parliament as a leader of the UNSD faction. In the late 1990's Hayrikyan served as an Advisor to the President of Armenia, and from 1998 to 2003 he worked as ombudsman (Chairman of the Human Rights Committee) of Armenia:
The National United Party was founded in 1966 on April 24 by Haykaz Khachatryan, Stephan Zatikyan and Shahen Harutyunyan. When the founders of the party were imprisoned in 1968, Hayrikyan became the head of the National United Party (NUP). The main goals of (NUP) were independence of Soviet Armenia and Soviet Russia and the elimination of the consequences of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923). In 1973, the National United Party re-elected Hayrikyan as its president. In the same year, Hayrikyan wrote his seminal political pamphlet "The Road to Independence through Referendum Strategy." On February 12, 1974, he was again arrested. During the trial Hayrikyan conducted himself as a consistent supporter of independence and civic rights. According to Jewish writer Mikhail Heifetz, not only Armenians, but also many other Soviet dissidents were among the members and supporters of NUP (Viacheslav Chornovil, Vasyl Stus, Eduard Kuznetsov, and others). On November 22nd, 1974, after the Hayrikyan's new trial, Andrei Sakharov signed an Open letter supporting Hayrikian.
Union for National Self-Determination party was established by Paruyr Hayrikyan in September 1987. Union for National Self-Determination (UNSD) was the first openly operating democratic organization within the territory of the USSR. UNSD published the "Independence" weekly newspaper starting from October 24 of 1987. The "Independence" weekly newspaper was the first alternative political periodical in the Soviet Union.
Hayrikyan speaks Armenian, Russian, English and Latvian, and has a good command of French, Ukrainian and Lithuanian. Hayrikyan was married to Yelena Sirotenko, they have three children.
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