Earlier this summer, a minor kerfuffle over an exhibition of artworks by famed Armenian filmmaker Sergei Parajanov (1924-1990) underscored a more serious problem facing Armenian culture and Armenia in general -- and, by extension, many of the former Soviet republics. Parajanov, born Sarkis Hovsepi Parajaniants, was one of the great Soviet-era filmmakers and an important force in 20th-century cinema. Simply put, the dispute lay in the fact that the exhibition at GiIbert Albert in New York City (June 16-30) was sponsored by the Russian American Cultural Foundation (RAF) as part of its Russian Heritage Month, although Parajanov was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, to an Armenian family. He is buried at the Pantheon in Komitas Park, Yerevan's equivalent of Père Lachaise.
The irony, of course, is that Parajanov ... was neither an ethnic Russian nor did he ever consider himself Russian. Actually, it was the Russian-Soviet state that condemned him as a public enemy and a criminal, primarily due to his sexual orientation and also his art. He was imprisoned and sent to w...
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