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Vardan Hovhannisyan video collection

Call Number



1988-1994, inclusive



128 video_recordings 128 video recordings (30:16 hours)

Language of Materials

Armenian, Russian, Azerbaijani, French.


The Vardan Hovhannisyan video collection consists of films recorded or collected by cameraman and documentary filmmaker Vardan Hovhannisyan, primarily in Armenia and the surrounding Caucasus region, during the years leading up to and following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The collection comprises 128 separate film clips, documenting protests in Yerevan against the Soviet government in the waning days of the Gorbachev government, demands for independence for Armenia, protests against the Soviet reaction to the conflict in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, memorial marches and ceremonies for victims of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, footage of Armenian fighters in combat with Azerbaijani forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, and footage of the aftermath of the Spitak earthquake of 1988, in northern Armenia. Also includes footage of protests and similar events in Ukraine and Latvia.


Vardan Hovhannisyan is an Armenian filmmaker who founded the Bars Media Documentary Film Studio in Yerevan, Armenia in 1993. Between 1988 and 1991, he worked as a camera man, working on assignment for various news agencies, recording events related to the conflict in the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as events leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of Armenia.


The film footage is arranged in one series of mp.4 files, in the order in which they were received from the filmmaker. The films are numbered both by specific identifier numbers assigned for use in the NYU digital repository, and also by a sequential number (from 1 to 128) for use in this finding aid.

Scope and Contents

The Vardan Hovhannisyan video collection consists of films recorded or acquired by cameraman and documentary filmmaker Vardan Hovhannisyan in Armenia and the surrounding Caucasus region, during the years leading up to and following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The collection is not arranged in any distinct series, but contents can be loosely grouped into the following chronological and topical segments (with running time in hours and minutes for each group, and listing of numbered segments included in each category):

Protests against the Soviet authorities (circa 1988-1990): Most of this footage depicts protests in Yerevan, including rallies held in Opera Square, at which dissidents and nationalist leaders spoke, including future Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrosyan, then leader of the Pan-Armenian National Movement. Much of this footage includes speakers decrying the response of the Soviet authorities to the violence in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, persecution against Armenians in other parts of the Azerbaijan S.S.R., calls for unification of Nagorno-Karabakh with an independent Armenian republic, as well as calls for greater political liberalization, human rights, and protests against environmental pollution. Time: 10:27:29 Segments: 1-2, 5-12, 15-21, 24, 29-30, 34, 37-38, 44-51

Protests in other parts of the Soviet Union (circa 1988-1990): These include movements in Latvia and Ukraine, including coverage of a congress of representatives from various Soviet republics in Kiev, protests against the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and the aftermath of clashes in Riga, Latvia, between pro-Soviet forces and supporters of Latvian indepdendence in 1990. Time: 2:43:16 Segments: 22-23, 48, 52

Clashes between Armenian militia and Soviet forces, 27 May 1990: These segments document the aftermath of fighting between Armenian militia and forces of the Red Army, which broke out at Sovetashen (now Nubarashen), a suburb of Yerevan, and including footage of damage to a railway station, and footage of Soviet military forces moving through the city and sporadic fighting throughout the day, as well as funeral processions for Armenian fighters killed that day. Time: 1:55:35 Segments: 39-43

Nagorno-Karabakh—early fighting (circa 1988-1990): coverage of funerals of those killed in the fighting, footage of villages and civilians in affected areas, skirmishes, evaculations of civilians, as well as evacuations of Armenians from other areas of Azerbaijan after persecution. Time: 2:13:52 Segments: 13-14, 25-28, 31-33, 35-36

Spitak earthquake of December 1988, and its aftermath: Footage of the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the arrival of search and rescue teams from the United States and Western Europe, excavation of bodies from rubble of buildings, damage in Gyumri (Leninakan) and surrounding areas, as well as condolences sent from officials and church leaders in October 1989 to those who suffered from the Loma Prieta earthquake in Northern California. Time: 1:56:39 Segments: 3-4, 73-79

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict—latter stages (circa 1992-1994): includes segments focusing on more general aspects of the conflict, such as its impact on civilians and villages in the region, as well as footage depicting the actual fighting, with the cameraman (Hovhannisyan) embedded with Armenian militias fighting Azerbaijani forces. Time: 7:33:18 Segments: 53-72, 84-105

Post-Soviet Armenia (circa 1992-1994): includes footage of remembrance of the Armenian genocide, foreign aid workers, and footage of everyday life in Yerevan during the fuel blockade, circa winter 1993-1994. Time: 3:26:20 Segments: 80-83, 106-128

Conditions Governing Access

The collection may only be accessed onsite, at the New York University Abu Dhabi Library, on dedicated computer work stations.

Conditions Governing Use

The creator of the collection retains copyright to these materials.

Existence and Location of Originals

The original footage from which these copies were made is held by the creator, Vardan Hovhannisyan, and his company, Bars Media Documentary Film Studio, in Yerevan, Armenia (

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was reproduced, and copies were transferred to New York University, by Vardan Hovhannisyan, in 2014.

Collection processed by

Brad Bauer and Gurgen Tadevosyan

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 18:16:13 +0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Description is written in: English, Latin script.

Processing Information

The inventory for the Vardan Hovhannisyan video collection was created by Brad Bauer and Gurgen Tadevosyan in 2017 and 2018. Little metadata about the videos was transferred at the time of acquisition, so each film segment was viewed, and from that, some geographic locations, personalities, events, and dates were able to be identified, the remaining identifications are tentative.


NYU Abu Dhabi, Archives and Special Collections
NYU Abu Dhabi
New York University Abu Dhabi, C-2
P.O. 129188
Abu Dhabi