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Troubles for him began after successfully passing the exams. He came to the pulpit to clarify the final date of his defense. Vinogradov met him unusually coldly and, in the course of the conversation, stunned him with a casual remark, saying that it would be better for Vardan to write a work on Armenian philology.

– What actually happened? Vardan asked in bewilderment.

The head of the department did not fail to dryly explain:

– You see, in your work there are references to secret documents. This complicates the protection, it cannot be open. We received an official order to organize a closed defense. It will take place on December 17, 1899.

It immediately became clear that Mandelstam automatically dropped out of the list of possible opponents — he had not yet managed to get a Ph.D. Immediately informing Andrei Nikolaevich about this, Vardan was very surprised when, in September, after returning from Feodosia, he was handed a review of the dissertation signed by Mandelstam at the department. It turns out that, having arrived on vacation, Andrei Nikolaevich considered it his duty to write a review and attach a petition to it: “Please consider me a participant in the dispute and read out my review. Dragoman of the Russian Embassy in Turkey A. Mandelstam. Moscow. August 29, 1899”.