Capital city: Artazor
Official language: Kovka
Inter-ethnic language: Russian
Religion: Kovka Orthodox Church (Oriental Orthodoxy)
Government: Unitary dominant-party parliamentary republic
President: Varvara Kevrank
Prime Minister: Markar Kosorov
Legislature: Kovka Parliament
Area: 53,364 km²
GDP: $114.7 billion (PPP), $32.2 billion (nominal)
GDP per capita: $20,008 (PPP), $5,621 (nominal)
Gini: 25.9 (low)
HDI: 0.802 (very high)
Currency: Kovka Davorin (Đ) (KOD)
Time zone: UTC +4
Date format: dd.mm.yyyy
Drives on the: right
Calling code: +997
Internet TLD: .ko
Kovkastan (Kovka: Ковкaстан), officially the Kovka Republic (Kovka: Ковкa Ханублика), is a landlocked sovereign state and former Soviet republic in the South Caucasus. It borders Georgia to the northwest, Russia to the north, Azerbaijan to the east, Armenia and the partially recognised Republic of Artsakh to the south, and Turkey to the west. A relatively small country, Kovkastan's territory covers less than 55 thousand kilometres squared and is home to over 5 million people. Its capital and largest city is Artazor.
The nation operates as a unitary parliamentary republic and is typically considered a 'hybrid regime' or 'guided democracy'. The chief executive is the Prime Minister, who must command a majority in the country's unicameral legislature, either outright or through forming coalitions. Parliamentary elections occur at least every 5 years (or earlier if Parliament wills it). Seats are allocated under a semi-proportional system using parallel voting. 2/3 of seats are determined by constituency based first-past-the-past, while the remaining 1/3 are assigned proportionally to the popular vote.
The Republican Party of National Restoration is the dominant party in Kovkastan, having been in power since the 2008 parliamentary elections. Their leader Markar Kosorov has been the country's Prime Minister ever since. His premiership has been marred by criticisms of authoritarianism by international observers, with the country's democratic institutions allegedly weakening under his rule. Nevertheless, his economic and secular reforms have led to an increased standard of living, better working conditions, and higher productivity.
Kovkastan is a secular state; however, the majority of citizens report adherence to the Kovka Orthodox Church, a branch of Oriental Orthodoxy. There is also a prominent minority of Eastern Orthodox Christians and Shi'ite Muslims. Folk religions and paganism are also common especially in rural areas and many synthesise their Christian faith with native pagan traditions. Kovka is the official language and has its own script, reputedly created by early medieval linguist Mesrop Mashtots. However, due to the complexity of the native script, during the Imperial Russian and Soviet period, the language underwent Cyrillisation. Today, the Cyrillic alphabet is the dominant writing system; however, the original script is still commonly used.
The nation maintains good relations with its regional allies Russia, Armenia, Iran, and Syria; however, relations are cold with Turkey and Azerbaijan, semi-frequently escalating into border skirmishes. The hostility stems from massacres perpetrated by the Ottomans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with ethnic tensions occasionally exploding into pogroms, especially during and after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Kovkastan is a member of numerous international organisations, including the Non-Aligned Movement, Eurasian Economic Union, Collective Security Treaty Organisation, and the Council of Europe.
The earliest recorded name for the Kovka homeland is Kovk, derived from the pre-Christian pagan God of the same name. During the Middle Ages, the endonym Kovkastan became widely used, with the notable addition of the Persian suffix -stan. Literally translated, Kovkastan can either mean Land of Kovk/God or Land of the Kovkas.
In English, Kovkastan is sometimes known by the exonym the Caucarus, which itself derived from the medieval Russian exonym Kavkarossiya. In recent years, the use of the Caucarus to refer to Kovkastan has ceased in an official capacity due to its pejorative connotations. Within Kovkastan, it is seen as undermining the culture, sovereignty, and independence of the Kovka people. Since the 1999 constitutional changes, the Kovka Republic has been the official title of the nation.
medal of King Velank
Kovkastan has been settled since at least 4000 BC and comprised its present-day territories, much of Azerbaijan, and southern Dagestan. Little is known of the nation's prehistory due to the lack of contemporary written records, and as such the origins of the Kovka homeland as an ethnic, geographical, and linguistic concept is uncertain. The bulk of the modern understanding of early Kovkastan comes from historical records written in the early medieval period. This work while Christian contained accounts of pagan folklore, myths, and rituals; most of which continued to be practised alongside Christianity.
There was a plurality of pagan traditions active in Kovkastan, often overlapping with and borrowing from each other. Zoroastrianism became particularly prominent in the region as a result of Persian influence. It is almost certain features from Zoroastrianism were absorbed into the broader Kovka pagan tradition, as well as elements from other contemporary religious traditions, such as Mesopotamian and Greek. To this day, the pagan traditions unique to Kovkastan remain an important part of the Kovka national identity.
It is believed ancient Kovkastan reached its zenith in the 7th century BC when it was ruled by King Velank, who according to Neo-Assyrian and Median sources was a 'great warrior-king of the northern mountains'. Despite there being some evidence to suggest the ancient Kovkas kept records, there is a distinct lack of historical documents, leaving historians to postulate the majority were destroyed by the Kovkas themselves or their enemies. It is likely that the ancient Kovka kingdom was engaged in a perpetual state of war with the Scythians, and this is where Velank's reputation as a 'warrior-king' originated.
From the 1st century BC, Roman influence grew in Kovkastan; however, they were never conquered outright, and were instead ruled as a vassal. In historic east Kovkastan present-day Azerbaijan the world's easternmost known evidence of the Romans can be found. Rome's relationship with Kovkastan was enduring, but by 250 AD its influence had all but diminished, only briefly being re-established half a century later.
Following the end of the Roman era, the Arsacid dynasty of Kovkastan a branch of the Parthian Arsacid dynasty was established. Vachagan I the Brave widely believed to be the son of Vologases VI, the last king of the Parthian Empire was the first King of this dynasty. Together with the Arsacid rulers of neighbouring Iberia (eastern Georgia) and Armenia, they formed a pan-Arsacid family federation. In reality, the Kovka kings had little real power. The Sassanids who had conquered Kovkastan permitted the existence of the Arsacid monarchy but effectively all power was vested in the Sassanid military governor of the territory.
A decade after the Christianisation of Armenia in 301 AD, King Urnayr of Kovkastan became the first in his line to convert to Christianity. He declared Christianity the state religion and is accredited as the founder of the Kovka Orthodox Church, one of the world's oldest active Christian churches. In the mid-5th century, Sassanid King Yazdegerd II ordered all Christians in his Empire to convert to Zoroastrianism, fearful they may ally with the newly Christianised Rome against him. The Kovkas, Armenians, and Georgians rebelled, leading to the Battle of Avarayr which resulted in a Pyrrhic Sassanid military victory. The persecution of Christians persisted in the Sassanid Empire; however, the Kovka Arsacid's dynasty maintained their Christian faith until the house's extinction in 510 with the death of Vachagan III the Pious.
By 628 AD, Kovkastan still under Sassanid suzerainty had a new ruling dynasty, the Mihranids. The Mihranids claimed to be of Sasanian Persian origin but in truth were likely of Parthian descent. Varaz Grigor was the first known King of this dynasty, who notably became a Christian after converting from Zoroastrianism, continuing Kovkastan's Christian tradition established by the Arsacids. During this period, Kovkastan became the site of many wars between the Sassanids, Byzantines, and Khazars. The latter two often allied against the Sassanids.
King Javanshir son of Varaz Grigor fought with the Sassanid Empire against the Arabs during the Muslim conquest of Persia, where he earned the reputation as a brave and intelligent ruler. Nevertheless, the Sassanid Empire fell to the Rashidun Caliphate, leading Javanshir to ally with the Byzantines. Stuck between the Arabs to the south and the Khazars to the north, he was eventually forced to recognise the Caliph's suzerainty. In 680, Javanshir was assassinated by rival nobles whose power he sought to curtail. The Mihranid dynasty survived under Muslim suzerainty until 822.
During the Islamic era, Kovkastan as a nation had diminished greatly, both in power and size. Like neighbouring Armenia and Georgia, the Kovkas maintained their Christian faith; however, they were largely unsuccessful at rebuilding their kingdom. In this period, Kovkastan was typically a vassal of a greater power; ranging from Georgia and Armenia to the Seljuks and Mongols. Total Kovka independence during this time was rare and short-lived. To further add to the difficulties of the Kovkas, the Caspian expeditions of the Rus' led to the destruction of many settlements.
As the medieval period drew to a close, the shifting territories of Kovkastan began to stabilise. In response to Turkic invasion and settlement, the Kovkas fled present-day Azerbaijan and Dagestan, condensing into their western territories (which broadly correspond to present-day Kovkastan and western Turkey). While the majority of Kovkas remained Christian in this time, significant numbers converted to Islam. Understandably, few Islamic Kovkas partook in the westward exodus, and over time were absorbed into Islamic Turkic and non-Turkic ethnic groups (such as the Azerbaijanis and Lezgins respectively).
Kovka militiamen, c. 1890
In the 16th century, Kovkastan was divided between the Ottoman and Safavid empires. Conflict was prevalent between the two competing powers, and up until the 17th century control of Kovkastan frequently alternated. Eventually, the Ottomans consolidated their control over Western Kovkastan, as the Safavids did over the East. However, by 1828, the Persians were forced to cede their Kovka territories to Russia following a series of defeats.
In the Ottoman Empire, the situation for Kovkas was initially quite good. They were granted a degree of autonomy and had integrated relatively well into Ottoman society. However, as a religious minority, they became the target of increasing persecution. Under the rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, Armenians were massacred in state-sponsored attacks; however, the killings were extended to other Christian populations, including Kovkas and Assyrians. Between 1894 to 1897, up to 400,000 people were murdered.
As a consequence, militias purposed with defending settlements targeted by the Ottoman state were established. The most radical militias campaigned for separatism from the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of an independent Kovka republic, whereas the less radical demanded greater autonomy or admission into the Russian Empire where the East Kovkas fared better. The Kovka self-defence militias worked extensively with the Armenian fedayi to repel Ottoman offensives; however, a lack of structure and ideological differences hindered their effectiveness.
Following the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 which overthrew the government of Sultan Hamid II, the situation of Kovkas and other Christian peoples in the Ottoman Empire looked as if it would improve. As a result of increasing international pressure, the Young Turk government seemed willing to implement the reforms necessary to prevent future mistreatment of Christian minorities within the Ottoman Empire.
World War I and aftermath
Kovka soldiers, c. 1917
The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 led to direct confrontation between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire in the Caucasus and Persian campaigns. This caused the new Ottoman government to view the Christian peoples they ruled with the same distrust of the previous government; a sentiment further aggravated by the Imperial Russian Army's Kovka and Armenian volunteer units. Along with the Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks, Kovkas were forcibly relocated by the Ottoman government, resulting in the deaths of ~500,000 Kovkas alone.
The deportees were subject to horrific abuses, including forced labour, death marches, robbery, and massacre. The Kovka militias remained active during this time, aiming to halt and sabotage the activities of the Young Turk government. The killings from 1914 to 1923 are described as a genocide by most Western and Russian historians. Controversially, the Turkish government maintains its denial of the genocide; a leading cause for the persisting antagonism between Turkey and Kovkastan.
Kovka Bolsheviks, c. 1920
Consequently, under the leadership of left-wing nationalist Krikor Azarank, the Kovka Democratic Republic was created. The fledgling Kovka state was riddled with problems, including numerous territorial disputes and an influx of refugees fleeing Ottoman persecution. The Entente Powers sought to help the country, with the Treaty of Sθvres supporting Kovka independence and decreed the unification of Ottoman-controlled Kovkastan with the Kovka Democratic Republic.
However, following a defeat to the Ankara Government of Turkey in the September of 1920, Kovkastan was forced to give up its claim of the lands ceded to it by the Treaty of Sθvres. This proved a major point of frustration and caused great division within the government. Meanwhile, as the state lost the ability to effectively govern, Bolshevism begun to gain widespread support and elements of the military mutinied. With the internal situation in Kovkastan deteriorating, the Red Army prepared its invasion. On 19 September 1920, the Kovka Soviet Socialist Republic was formed.