a petit bourgeois Armenian nationalist party organized in August 1887 in Geneva by a group of Armenian students, including A. Nazarbekian (Lerents), M. Vartanian (Maro), H. Oganian, R. Khan-Azat, and G. Gafeian (Shmavon).
Originally called the Armenian Revolutionary Party, the party came to be known as Hnchak (the Bell) in November 1887, with the appearance of its publication of the same name. The Hnchak program proposed the liberation by armed rebellion of the Armenian people from the Turkish yoke and the creation of an independent Armenian state after the unification of Armenian lands. The economic part of the program recognized that the working people could be free only after they had taken control of all the means of production.
However, the Hnchak Party considered the social liberation of the Armenian people a distant goal and took the liberation of Turkish Armenia as a more immediate one. In the 1890’s the members of the party organized a series of armed uprisings in Turkish Armenia (1894, 1895, and 1896 in Sasun and elsewhere). Sultan Abdul-Hamid II responded by embarking on a policy of massive extermination of the Armenians. Basically, the social foundation of the Hnchak Party was the petite bourgeoisie, although certain parts of the working class and the intelligentsia, as well as representatives of the bourgeoisie, were members of the party. The party members proclaimed themselves Marxists and printed works by Marx and Engels in their publications. The failure of Hnchak activity in Turkey and the motley social composition of the party led to a de facto split within the party: True revolutionaries gradually deserted it for the RSDLP.
During the revolutionary years of 1905-07, left-wing revolutionary-democratic Hnchaks collaborated with the Bolsheviks in many areas of the Caucasus, including Baku and Yerevan. During the first Russian revolution the remaining members of the Hnchak Party became a reactionary bourgeois-nationalist clique, against which the Bolsheviks fought a decisive battle. In 1917 during the October Revolution the Hnchak Party opposed Soviet power. Progressive Hnchak organizations in the Middle East, Western Europe, and America support the peace-loving policies of the USSR and propagandize the successes of Soviet Armenia.
REFERENCESShaumian, S. G. Izbr. proizv., vol. 1. Moscow, 1957.
Ocherki istorii Kommunisticheskoi partii Armenii. Yerevan, 1967.
TS. P. AGHAIAN