Presentation of the Kanach Zham as Russian Orthodox Church and illegal rites performed there

On July 10, 2021, the Azerbaijani Telegram channel "Агдамский портвейн” (“Aghdam Port Wein") posted a photo from the Kanach Zham church in Shushi and wrote that the spokesman of the Diocese of Baku and Azerbaijan of the Russian Orthodox Church, Archpriest Konstantin Pominov, the head of the "Albanians-Udis" religious community Robert Mobili, and the bishop of the Catholic Church Vladimir Fekete held a service at the "Russian Orthodox" church.

The ceremony was also attended by deputies of the Azerbaijani Parliament, representatives of the Jewish community of Azerbaijan, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps and various international organizations of Azerbaijan (

Here is another fact of how the Armenian church of Kanach Zham in Shushi is being presented as a Russian Orthodox church. On July 13, Rizvan Huseynov, a senior researcher at the Institute of Human Rights of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan and the director of the  Caucasus History Center, wrote in his Telegram channel: “The restoration of the original state of the Orthodox church in Shusha, which during the occupation was turned into the Armenian  “Kanach Zham”, is underway” (

The publication emphasizes that the church is Russian Orthodox and that it is quickly "being restored" for the Christian Orthodox community of Azerbaijan to conduct religious services in it.The report, prepared on July 10 by the Azerbaijani SBC TV channel, also presents the event held at the Kanach Zham church in Shushi, adding that the heads of the religious communities of Azerbaijan during their visit to Shushi, visited all the churches that Azerbaijan is planning to “repair” after the “Armenian occupation”.

The report says that the Armenians falsified the origins of the churches of the "Christian community of Azerbaijan", including Kanach Zham, and Armenianized those. Azerbaijan is ready to restore them in accordance with the "true" historical sources (

Our answer 

Brothers Hovhannes and Baba Stepanyans-Hovnanents, who built the Church of St. Hovhannes the Baptist (or Kanach Zham) in Shushi in 1847 in memory of their brother Mkrtich, of course, could not have imagined that 175 years later, Azerbaijan, which would occupy their hometown, and would declare their church to be Russian and would hold a Russian Orthodox liturgy there.

Cultural genocide is not only destruction, but also falsification and distortion of history and religious and ritual affiliation, neglect of facts, memory erasure, the creation of an artificial cultural and religious set of rules.

We present the building inscription of the church, carved on two slabs of the western wall. We are not sure if they are still there. The photo was taken in 2005:“The church of St. Hovhannes the Baptist was built by the townpeople of Shushi, Messrs. Hovhannes and [1] Baba Stepanyans-Hovnanents. In the year of 1847 [2]"Read more about the church here: Շուշիի Հովհաննես Մկրտիչ եկեղեցի (Կանաչ ժամ) - Monument Watch

The liturgy held in the Kanach Zham church in the city of Shushi according to the Orthodox tradition clearly violates the religious and cultural rights of the Armenian Apostolic Church and hurts its religious feelings.

According to paragraph 3 of the 9th article of the Second protocol (1999) of the 1954 Hague Convention "On the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Time of Armed Conflicts", any alteration to, or change of use of, cultural property, including any modification of form of their usage and function, is prohibited. The change of the functional purpose of the cultural heritage violates the UNESCO provisions of the "Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage" (2003). According to Article 11, Parties undertake to respect intangible values, regardless of their origin and function.

Alteration of the function purposes of churches violates the rights of religious beliefs of the Armenian community, and the fundamental rights to preserve their religious and ceremonial character. This provision is supported by the 27th article of the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" and set up by the convention on the "Value of Cultural Heritage for Society" adopted by the Council of Europe in 2005 in Faro.