MOSCOW/YEREVAN — Lawyer, public figure Gayane Georgyan, was born in Tbilisi and raised in Russia. She is the director of the branch for the CIS and EAEU countries of the Helsinki International Commercial Arbitration. Since 2018, she has been managing the Victoria International Charitable Foundation, founded by her. Over the past two years, the foundation has carried out a number of social and cultural projects in the field of preservation, promotion and restoration of cultural values of world importance. Three books have been published – Dadivank: A Revived Miracle (2018, in Armenian, English, Russian, there is also unpublished French translation), Armenian Frescoes (both are by a group of authors, in Armenian) and The Restoration of Wall Paintings in Several Armenian Churches of First Christian Ages (by Ara Zarian and Christine Lamoureux, in Armenian and English, 2019). Gayane lives between Moscow and Yerevan, she has four daughters and is actively involved in the cultural life of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh.
Dear Gayane, although you are a lawyer, you initiate Armenian cultural projects. Why is that?
The main mission of a lawyer is to protect the weak, defend the rights of the disadvantaged and deprived people. Therefore, for me, jurisprudence is directly related to the protection of culture, values of world importance, to which the rich cultural heritage of Armenia, including Artsakh, belongs undoubtedly. I discovered the multifaceted Armenian culture upon my return to my historical homeland. And it was like a journey into a wonderland, where all the beauties and pearls of our centuries-old, unique, unparalleled Armenian culture opened for me door after door.
Artsakh occupies an important place in your charitable pursuits…
When your life, thinking, knowledge are formed in a foreign land, when you grow up in several cultures and when you consider yourself, first of all, a man of the world and a symbiosis of many cultures and traditions, then a moment comes when all this accumulates in you, and you realize that sooner or late you must return your debt to your country and the people. This is your duty, and when they say to me: “Oh, thank you,” I say: “I must be thankful to God and my parents that I was born an Armenian.” And my belonging to my centuries-old culture could not leave me indifferent and ignore the pain and those weak points that we, unfortunately, have. I will frankly say that it was Artsakh and especially the Dadivank Monastery that caused me to have the idea of establishing a fund and two important projects – “Armenian Values in World Heritage” and the unprecedented “Armenian Frescoes an Integral Part of the World Heritage.” This all happened from the period when I set out to find images of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Armenian churches. Why exactly was Saint Nicholas interested? This is a common Christian saint revered all over the world, but I noticed the absence of his image in our churches, which was strange for me. As the first Christian country in the world, I was sure that there must be the iconic portrait of this saint somewhere, and it would be something unique. And so it happened. My long search led me to the Dadivank monastery, where Saint Nicholas the Miracleworker appeared in the form of an 800-year-old unique fresco. The first thing I said after the shock of what I saw was: “The world must learn about this!” I decided that this would be a book, myself being a person far from art history or publishing, but at the call of my heart and soul.
And on your initiative, in 2018 the illustrated book Dadivank: A Revived Miracle was published, a unique work that comprehensively represents this monument of Armenian architecture and the image of the All-Christian Saint Nicholas the Miracleworker in Armenia. It is interesting that in the 13th century, Princess Arzu built the Dadivank cathedral church, and in the 21st century, another Armenian woman spares no effort to make it known all over the world. Already at that time you were alarmed about the endangered state of this masterpiece of architecture, located in the zone risk and raised the issue of its documentation.