All five volumes of the Gyumri Book present biographies of the famous figures in Gyumri’s history who contributed to this city’s legacy. Gyumri is considered a cultural center of Armenia and the birthplace of great people, including mathematician and astrologist Anania Shirakatsi, talented poets like Avetik Isahakyan and Hovhannes Shiraz, composers like Nikoghayos, Armen Tigranyans, Azat Shisyan and great bard Sheram, the sculptor Sergei Merkourov and philosopher George Gurdjieff, along with many others. When the book’s editorial staff approached FAR’s Shirak Department Director Marina Bazayeva and requested permission to write an article about her and her family, she was honored. Marina’s grandfather, Galust Bazeyants had had a large trading business in the Caucasus. He was fluent in six languages and very patriotic, but at the same time he was quite cosmopolitan, a trait he inherited from his Greek mother. He traveled extensively and brought many new ideas and concepts to Alexandrapol (the former name of Gyumri between 1840 and 1924). One of his brave endeavors was to plant a city park in a place considered unfertile. It flourishes to this day. He did it while working at Gyumri’s Business College (now its Pedagogical Institute) located across the street from the Central Park. At the time, it was one of the world's first institutions of higher learning dedicated solely to business, and was renowned all throughout the Caucasus for its high educational standards. His wife Mariam, who was from Harberd, the ancient Armenian city in eastern Turkey, came from the very religious Keshishian family. (The word "keshish" means priest.) Harberd was the center of a large mission, Euphrates College, a theological seminary and a flourishing girls’ school. During the Genocide, Galust’s father Pavel was slaughtered while sitting right in front of their house in Alexandrapol. The remaining family members, including Galust, escaped to Russia where they changed their name to Bazayev and Bazayeva for males and females, respectively. After Galust’s death in 1928, Maria and her 11 children returned to Gyumri. Her elder sons, who received a medical education in Russia, worked as dentists and prosthodontists in a personal clinic with a Georgian named Liza, and an Azeri named Abbas who was married to Shushan, an Armenian. Marina’s father Robert, the youngest, continued the tradition and became a prosthodontist. Marina’s mother, Svetlana, also from an old family from Kars, was a pharmacologist, and a refined lady with love for poetry.
The family lived for years in the historical center, between the house where they lived before the Genocide and the Pedagogical Institute where Galust worked. They then bought a big mansion with a luxuriant garden adjacent to the Tsitoghtiants Museum where a Catholic Church is now being constructed. The Bazayevs’ extensive library was a place where the well-known Gyumretsi of different nationalities — Armenians, Azeri, Russians, Jews and Georgians — gathered for discussions, chess and backgammon tournaments, dinners and tea parties. Even Charles Aznavour’s aunt Arous Aznaurian, a prominent actress of the Gyumri Drama Theatre and a lady of exceptional beauty and charm, honored the Bazayevs with her visits.
During WWII Robert’s elder brother Sergei was recruited for the Soviet Army but did not return and was reported missing. Never losing the hope of finding him, the Bazayevs are still looking.