The 2001 census sets the number of Udis in Armenia at 200. Despite being a tiny fraction of a nevertheless small community of 11,000 spread across former Soviet Union, those were good times. No updated figures are available and a survey carried out by the community itself counted barely 23 individuals in Noyemberyan, one in neighboring Debetavan, two in Bagratashen and one in Yerevan. The wish to gather under a single roof is large. Udis gradually forget their past.
“Udis are not officially recognized as an ethnic minority, a recognition granted to groups which systematically work to preserve their identity,” explains Hranush Kharatyan, Yerevan-based ethnographer who has conducted research on the community. Udis have not worked in this direction and the lack of a clear legislative framework has not helped the group.
“Our nation is dying out, soon there will be no Udis left,” sighs Vyachislav. “But it’s our fault too. I have four daughters and eight grandchildren. I rarely talk about our past at home. I don’t know why.”
Recent history has not helped. At the end of the 1980s the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno Karabakh spilled. In the Azerbaijani city of Sumgayit, scores of Armenians were killed and Udis who were part of the Armenian Apostolic Church, who had Armenian surnames or spoke Armenian, fled. The USSR was still breathing and soon the Communist authorities tried to push for the Udis to go back to Azerbaijan. A few did, the rest moved to Russia, and some stayed on.