No one can tell if it happened by chance or not, but the childhood of three heads of the Russian Foreign Ministry since the end of 1990s to present is associated with the Caucasus. Yevgeny Primakov, who headed the Foreign Ministry in 1996-1998, was born in Kiev, but he spent childhood and adolescence in Tbilisi. He wrote in his memoirs: “I grew up in Tbilisi, I really love this city, this country. It’s very hard for me that I can’t just get on a plane, fly there for a day and come back. When I leave this post I will definitely go there from time to time.”
Son of Tbilisi Armenian Sergey Lavrov, who became the head of Russian diplomacy in 2004, also didn’t hide his Caucasian origin. In 2005, at a meeting with students of the Russian-Armenian Slavic University, one of the students asked Lavrov whether his Armenian roots help him in his work. Lavrov said: “Actually, my roots are in Georgia – my father is from Tbilisi, but it’s true that I have Armenian blood.”
Even though Lavrov’s predecessor Igor Ivanov was born in Moscow, he spent first seven years of his life in Georgia, until he enrolled in the Suvorov military school. His mother, Eliko (Elena) Sagirashvili, is a native of Georgian village Akhmeta, located in the Pankisi Gorge.
“There were five of us: Eliko was the eldest, she was born in 1909, and I was the youngest, born in 1925,” Igor Ivanov’s uncle Levan Davidovich Sagirashvili told in an interview with Kommersant. Eliko was very smart, she was sent to study in Moscow. There she met Sergey Ivanov and they got married. Their children, Igor and Nina, visited me every summer until they grew up… Eliko rose to the rank of police major. She was the head of traffic police of the Soviet district of Moscow.”
Elena Davidovna died in Moscow in 1982. It is said that Igor Ivanov’s father lived for some time in Azerbaijan and died there. His patronymic is never mentioned in the available documents. “Sergey Ivanov – military man, colonel,” is all that is written. Meanwhile, According to Kommersant, Ivanov’s father’s name was Sergey Vyacheslavovich, and according to the portal “Russia for Everyone” – Sergey Emelyanovich. Information of the last source was never confirmed, but it’s interesting.
Sergey Emelyanovich Ivanov lived and worked in Saatli region of Azerbaijan for a long time. He was buried there in 1975. During the Great Patriotic War, Ivanov has participated in the reconstruction of railway infrastructure. In 1943 this sector was militarized, Ivanov became part of the Railway Troops and received the rank of officer. After arriving in Azerbaijan he lived in a house built for railroad workers. Sergey Emelyanovich had another family in Saatli.
Sergey Emelyanovich Ivanov’s house
“I heard he had a son from another woman, who works at high state post. But Sergey never talked about it, so we never asked. He ofter spoke about the war, about books. He was very cheerful, kind-hearted man. I remember as if it happened yesterday, my daughter read poems about the war, and his eyes were filled with tears,” Saatli resident Muzaffar Mammadov recalls.
Sergey Emelyanovich Ivanov with members of Saatli Komsomol (1967)
Local residents also tell that in 1960 Igor Ivanov visited Baku, where he met with his father. When Sergei Emelyanovich died, Igor Sergeyevich was far away – he worked in the Soviet embassy in Spain. I fully accept the criticism of the fact that I didn’t come here earlier. I won’t look for any excuses, won’t try to explain why it happened,” Igor Ivanov, said on September 2, 1999, during his visit to Baku as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia. Did he mean just intergovernmental relations or also something else remains a mystery.