10 April 2003, 13:40

Dro (Kanayan, Drastamat Martirosovich)

Armenian military leader and politician.

Born May 1, 1883, in the village of Igdir, Surmalin County, Erivani Province. Graduated from Russian gimnasia in Erivani (now Yerevan), and entered Military College in Pyatigorsk in 1902. In 1903, herded with Armenian national liberation movement and joined the Dashnaktsutyun Party. On May 11, 1905, participated in a terrorist attack aimed at governor general Nakashidze in Baku, who was considered by the Armenian population as the main hatemonger and stirrer-up of the confrontation between the Armenians and the Azerbaijani. In 1905-1906, participated in defense of Armenian communities from assaults and pogroms organized by the Azerbaijanis and the Turks. Also, being a Dashnaktsutyun activist, took part in elaborating the program for Armenian issue solution. Starting 1907, acting as an entrepreneur and a small business owner ("Suren Effendi" company) in Bayazet, carried out clandestine arms and ammunition transportation for Armenian guerilla detachments in Western Armenia.

During the WWI, D.M. Kanayan commanded the 2nd Armenian volunteer detachment within the Russian Army in the Caucasian Front. Distinguished by the commandment for the Van operation.

In 1917, occupied the position of the Commissar of Armenian Corps. In 1918, during the Armeno-Georgian conflict, was a commander of a large joint detachment of Armenian Army in the city of Lori. In late May 1918, participated most actively in the siege and conquest of the Turkish Army military commands during the battle of Bashaparan.

In 1920, general Dro was appointed the Military Minister of the Republic of Armenia. After the establishment of the Soviet power in Armenia, was appointed commander-in-chief ad interim of the Soviet Armenia troops. In February 1921, participated in the rebellion against the communist regime and upon its suppression emigrated, settling in Romania.

While in emigration, D.M. Kanayan continued his political activities. Before the start of the WWII, had contacted with the German authorities and participated actively in creating battalions of Armenian Legion within Wehrmacht, being appointed the commander of the Legion. Even though the Dashnaktsutyun Party administration opposed cooperating with the Nazi, several Dashnaktsutyun members having military education and experience of military campaigns in Europe, the Balkans, Middle East, and the Caucasus joined the Armenian Legion together with general Dro.

Upon the end of the War, general Dro emigrated to the USA where he continued his social and political activities for solving the Armenian issue and organizing assistance to Armenian immigrants.

In 1947, at the World Congress of Dashnaktsutyun Party, general Dro was forgiven because managed to justify his cooperation with the Nazi with solid arguments and was re-elected the member of Dashnaktsutyun Bureau.

General Dro spent the last days of his life in Beirut, Lebanon. Deceased on March 8, 1956, and was initially buried in Boston, USA.

In late May 2000, general Dro's ashes were transported to Armenia and buried in the Memorial Cemetery of the Battle of Bashaparan participants.

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