Letter from Yerevan: The tragedy of Armenia

The war with Azerbaijan in 2020, culminating in defeat and the loss of the ethnically Armenian territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, has psychologically debilitated the world’s oldest Christian state.

Some years ago, Kanye West, touring Armenia with his then wife Kim Kardashian, decided to do a concert by Swan Lake, a shallow pond in the centre of Yerevan. Midway through his impromptu performance, electrified by the energy of the crowd, he dived into the pool. A handful of entrepreneurial Armenians immediately bottled the water, sacralized by contact with Kanye, and put it for sale on the internet. “I called it holy water,” a young computer engineer in Yerevan told me. “Americans paid 200 dollars for it.”

Armenia is awash with nostalgia for the days when their tiny republic, having …


Kapil Komireddi

Kapil is a journalist, book critic and author. His first book, Malevolent Republic: A Short History of the New India (2019), was published to critical and commercial acclaim in India, the UK and the US. He has written from South Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East—including Syria, Pakistan and Palestine—and his work appears, among other publications, in The New York Times, The Critic, Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, The Economist, TIME, CNN, The Guardian and Le Monde diplomatique. He is a frequent contributor to The Spectator and an international affairs panellist on Monocle24 radio.