This chapter focuses on the cleric and intellectual named Gavril Aivazovskii. It investigates how the tsarist authorities navigated internal Armenian tensions surrounding visions of national identity based on religious and secular principles. It also uncovers the government's alliance with the Armenian Church against U.S. and European proselytizers. The chapter contends that St. Petersburg continued to promote itself as the defender of Western Armenians during the Russo-Ottoman War, which confirms that the first cracks in the political symbiosis had already appeared in the mid-1870s. It examines the imperial officials' negotiation of delicate Armenian debates about their national identity, the state's continued partnership with Ejmiatsin in various international contexts, and the first signs of Russian hesitation about Armenian socio-political reliability.