EŁIKEAN (Yeqīkīān), GRIGOR E. (1880-1951; pseud. V. Vasakuni, P. Andrēasean, V. Turean, G. Margarean, G. Astłuni, and Hnčʿakean), an active figure in Persian and Armenian politics, the press, and literature during the first half of the 20th century. Ełikean fled oppression in his native Ottoman empire in December 1896. Radicalized, he was forced to leave the Caucasus for Persia in 1902. He joined the Armenian Social-Democratic Hnčʿakean party and formed its first group in Rašt in 1904 (Dehgān, pp. vi, xxvi; Markʿsist, p. 89; M. M., pp. 186-87; Ṣadr Hāšemī, Jarāyed o majallāt I, pp. 343-44). In 1910, after party work in the Caucasus, the United States, and the Ottoman empire, he went to Anzalī (q.v.), where, with the aid of Key Ostovān, he translated the Hnčʿakean party program into Persian. Ełikean was instrumental in the establishment on 29 October 1910 of a Persian group attached to the local Hnčʿakean branch (Astłuni, August 1913, p. 2; idem, 1930, pp. 192-93; Kitur, I, pp. 401-2; “Socio-démocrates persans à Anzali,” 1911; Neẓām-Māfī, pp. 213-22). On 7 January 1911 this group officially adopted the name Ferqa-ye sosīāl-demokrāt-e šoʿba-ye Anzalī, Dasta-ye Īrānīān. Shortly thereafter, Ełikean presented his views to the Persian regent, Mīrzā Abu’l-Qāsem Khan Nāṣer-al-Molk. This report, as well as Ełikean’s interpretation of social democracy, were published as separate brochures (Astłuni, 1930, p. 193; Chaqueri, 1988, pp. 23-24; Ełikean, 1910, pp. 100-4; Social-Democratic Party of Persia, “Naẓarīyāt-e emrūzī,” pp. 5-9). By the end of 1911 the party had been able to establish new branches only in Lāhījān and Āstārā. Lack of funds and strong leadership, as well as harassment by established Persian and Armenian parties, adversely affected the growth of the party (Astłuni, August 1913, p. 2; idem, December 1913, pp. 1-2; idem, 1930, pp. 130). Over the next few years, Ełikean organized a Hnčʿakean party branch in Qazvīn, gave lectures in Tehran, established a Persian middle school in Anzalī, and taught at a state school in Rašt (Astłuni, 1930, pp. 194-97; Chaqueri, 1988, p. 31; Dehgān, p. ix; Ełikean, January 1939, p. 163; Sōc. Dēm. Hnčʿakean, 1931, p. 221; M. M., p. 190; L-ean, p. 1; F.O. 248/1176, 20 October 1917). Ełikean frequently served as advisor and translator to Mīrzā Kūček Khan, founder of the Jangalī movement in Gīlān (1914-21; Chaqueri, 1995, index). As a local notable, Ełikean was influential in maintaining peace in Rašt during several occupations by foreign forces. He helped arrange an agreement between the Jangalīs and the local Armenians and periodically interceded with Kūček Khan on the Armenians’ behalf. Ełikean’s concern over the Ottoman Turkish threat to Armenians’ safety and Persian sovereignty led him to make diplomatic efforts to unite and assist all opponents of the Turks, including the English and the Soviets (Vasakuni, April 1919-September 1920; idem, February-March 1920; idem, June-October 1920; Chaqueri, 1988, pp. 31-35; Ełikean, 1938-40; see bibliography for F.O. and ARF references). In November 1920 he was appointed head of the Council on Education for the Soviet Socialist Republic of Persia, founded in Rašt, and supervised all schools, orphanages, poorhouses, and hotels in the province of Gīlān. He attempted to preserve educational ties with the rest of Persia but quit after an uphill struggle against Russo-Caucasian Bolsheviks (Ełikean, 1938-40; idem, 1363 Š./1984, pp. 349-58; M. M., p. 192). For the last thirty years of his life, Ełikean fought Soviet influence among Armenians and in Persia. Partly for this reason the Hnčʿakean party expelled him in 1938 (Ełikean, 1930, pp. 37-44; idem, 1938-40; Hnčʿakean, pp. 8-9; Kitur, ed., I, pp. 513-14, 519-20, 528, II, pp. 179, 295, 605-7; M. M. pp. 191-92; Martuni, pp. 107, 117-23; Agabekov, pp. 33-34, 76, 81). In Persia Ełikean was the editor of the newspapers Īrān-e kabīr, Āsīā-ye wosṭā, Saʿādat-e bašar, and Īrān-e konūnī, and contributed toward other newspapers. He also criticized the growing sympathy of the Persian government toward Germany and Turkey. He proposed an alliance of Persians, Armenians, Kurds, and Afghans as belonging to a common ethnic and cultural heritage (Ṣadr Hāšemī, Jarāʾed o majallat I, p. 241; Chaqueri, 1988, p. 36). Concerned about the growing power of the shah, Ełikean joined a diverse group of newspaper editors called the Freedom front (Jabha-ye āzādī) at the end of World War II, but fearing the influence of the pro-Soviet Tūda Party, he soon resigned and joined a new coalition of anti-Tūda journalists called the Independence front (Jabha-ye esteqlāl) (Barzīn, pp. 17, 70-71; Chaqueri, 1988, pp. 35-36; Dehgān, pp. xiii-xix; Ełikean, 1926, p. 4; Elwell-Sutton, p. 80; Ṣadr Hāšemī, Jarāʾed o majallāt I, pp. 146-47, 341-43). Ełikean was a translator, a prolific writer of fiction, political commentator, and essayist in both Persian and Armenian (Chaqueri, 1988, p. 36; Dehgān, pp. xix-xxii, xxvii; M. M., pp. 186-93; Ṣadr Hāšemī, Jarāʾed o majallāt I, p. 345; Sepānlū, p. 207). His memoirs are an important primary source on the Jangalī movement.
Bibliography (for cited works not given in detail, see “Short References”):
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Originally Published: December 15, 1998
Last Updated: December 13, 2011
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Vol. VIII, Fasc. 4, pp. 364-365