Born in the village of Verin Agoulis, in the Goghtn region, southern Nakhijevan, Kristapor Mikayelian graduated from the Normal School (teacher’s school) in Tiflis (Tbilisi). He then attended Moscow Agricultural Institute, where he met Simon Zavarian and became involved in Russian revolutionary groups.
Interrupting his studies, in 1887, he returned to Tiflis, where he began an active campaign of organizing and training laborers and Western Armenian immigrants. He taught them to read and write, he instructed them in the use of arms, also imparting revolutionary
In Tiflis, he established the Yeritasard Hayastan (Young Armenia) organization in an effort to provide support to and unite various Armenian activist groups.
Kristapor became the prime mover in the unification of Armenian revolutionary groups into a “Federation of Armenian Revolutionaries” in 1890. It soon thereafter coalesced into an organization in and of itself: Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Hay Heghapokhakan Dashnaktsoutiun). He was to remain a member of its Bureau, the highest executive body, for the remainder of his life.
Accused of being a revolutionary, Kristapor was arrested in spring 1891 by the Russian authorities and exiled to Bessarabia (now in Moldova and Ukraine), where, with Simon Zavarian, who was also in exile, he published the first issues of Droshak (Banner, or Flag), which was to become the central organ of the party.
For the next several years he operated in the Transcaucasus, eventually moving to Galatz (Galati), Romania, where he published the third issue of the Droshak newspaper. He served as its editor for many years, based in Geneva from 1898 onward, and also directed the political relations and propaganda efforts of the party. He also published the bi-monthly Pro Armenia with the cooperation of the French intellectual and political elite.
Kristapor conceived and headed the Potorik (Tempest) operation to raise funds for the party from wealthy Armenians, if necessary through coercive methods.
In 1904, Kristapor assumed leadership of the ARF’s plot to assassinate the “Bloody Sultan,” Abdul Hamid II. He was killed in 1905, the victim of an explosion while testing handheld bombs on Mt. Vitosh (Vitosha), near Sofia, Bulgaria. He was 46 years old.
Until his death, Kristapor remained the central figure of the Dashnaktsoutiun.
If in order to justify their indifference people say, “What can I do?” when they have never tried to find out what, in general, there is to do or they have ignored the advice that sought to remind them of their most elementary of responsibilities…
If people try to explain their position toward you by saying that they are “unfamiliar with your work,” when they have taken no step whatsoever, and wish to take no steps, to familiarize themselves with that work…
When some oppose you, maintaining that they do not consider “your actions appropriate for reaching the objective,” when they in fact have no idea of the method of your struggle and often have no way of knowing, because first, through time your tactics change, and second, it must remain an internal, classified matter…
If some people would have you believe that they “profess other convictions,” when in fact they do nothing in accordance with any convictions, or in the name of “supreme interests” they only poison public opinion or day and night fill the air with talk in the name of the “surplus labor” of the workers, but when faced with the “surplus blood” of an entire people they remain cold-hearted stoics; if men, with foolishness characteristic of madmen, continuously reject the clear merits of others when they themselves, with the most daring impudence, demand unconditional respect for their conspicuous shortcomings, their charlatanism, and their arrogant, egotistic mindset…
Then, forgive us, for in any of those cases, we cannot consider ourselves as dealing with an opposition worthy of notice.
From “Patmakan Charik” (Historical Evils), Droshak,
No. 3, 1901