Garegin Nzhdeh (real surname Ter-Harutyunyan) studied at the Russian 7-year school in Nakhichevan, then at the Russian Gymnasium in Tbilisi (Georgia) at the St. Petersburg University. In 1907 he graduated from the Sofia Officer’s School, joined the Armenian Revolutionary Federation party and left it in 1937. In 1908 he returned to the Caucasus. In 1909 he was arrested by the tsarist police (for carrying weapons), in 1912 he was released from prison and left for Bulgaria.
He took part in the 1st Balkan War (1912-13). He formed an Armenian volunteer detachment together with Andranik (271 soldiers) and fought against the Turks as part of the volunteering union of the Bulgarian army.
During the First World War (1914-18) he was appointed as Deputy Commander of the 2nd volunteer regiment Dro (Drastamat Kanayan). He moved to Alexandropol in 1916 after closing the volunteer regiments. In 1918 he took part in the Battle of Gharakilisa (May 24-28) with a hundred cavalry.
He was the commander of the armed forces of Zangezur (present-day Syunik region of the Republic of Armenia) from October 1919, which in November resisted the Turkish-Tatar troops.
Nzhdeh liberated Kapan, Sisian and Goris in September-November 1920.
On December 25, the autonomy of Syunik was proclaimed, Nzhdeh was elected as a commander of Syunik. In July 1921, after receiving permission to annex Syunik to Soviet Armenia, Nzhdeh left for Iran in a small contingent, leaving for Sofia in 1922. He lived in the United States from 1932 to 1934, where he developed the Tribal Religion Doctrine and started the movement of the same name.
Nzhdeh was arrested after the Soviet army entered Bulgaria on October 10, September 1944. He was transferred to Bucharest, then to Moscow, and was imprisoned in Lubyanka Prison. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison in November 1946. In 1948 he was transferred to Vladimir Prison (Russia), where he died (December 21) and was buried in the cemetery next to the prison.
In 1983, Nzhdeh’s body was secretly transferred to Yerevan, a relic of which was buried on the slope of Khustup, and in 1987 in the yard of Spitakavor St. Astvatsatsin Monastery (near the village of Vernashen, Vayots Dzor region). On April 26, 2005, part of the body was reburied in Kapan for military honors, where a memorial to Nzhdeh was created.