One-Man Army Fights Corruption, Falsehood in ROA

In the aftermath of the elections in February 2008 and March 1-2 tragedy, Keghart.com was among the few North American Armenian "independents" warning the public that the present regime in Armenia will eventually succumb to foreign pressures to assert its legitimacy for a variety of socio-economic and political reasons.

That trend became more apparent following the Russo-Georgian war. A number of articles and essays were published then, and a couple of panel discussions were organized to drive home the obvious fact that Armenia was heading towards an unhealthy future, to say the least, and there was the need for a concerted action. It is only following the announcement of the Protocols that certain circles got "agitated". Where were they all along?

If a lone individual like Bruce Tasker could smell the coming events, how come power-sharing partners could not?

Bruce Tasker’s Debating the ‘Karabakh Deal, 5 December 2008, is reproduced, as it is relevant to the events unfolding today. Please note the date it was written. In addition, his article Armenia – Too Little, Too Late, 23 October 2009, is belatedly being published (see below) as the text was "embedded" and was not noticed earlier. Keghart.com submits its apologies for its "clumsiness".

In the aftermath of the elections in February 2008 and March 1-2 tragedy, Keghart.com was among the few North American Armenian "independents" warning the public that the present regime in Armenia will eventually succumb to foreign pressures to assert its legitimacy for a variety of socio-economic and political reasons.

That trend became more apparent following the Russo-Georgian war. A number of articles and essays were published then, and a couple of panel discussions were organized to drive home the obvious fact that Armenia was heading towards an unhealthy future, to say the least, and there was the need for a concerted action. It is only following the announcement of the Protocols that certain circles got "agitated". Where were they all along?

If a lone individual like Bruce Tasker could smell the coming events, how come power-sharing partners could not?

Bruce Tasker’s Debating the ‘Karabakh Deal, 5 December 2008, is reproduced, as it is relevant to the events unfolding today. Please note the date it was written. In addition, his article Armenia – Too Little, Too Late, 23 October 2009, is belatedly being published (see below) as the text was "embedded" and was not noticed earlier. Keghart.com submits its apologies for its "clumsiness".

Prior to that article, a month before the Protocols, in a message dated 31 July 2009 Tasker wrote, “I must say that life in the Armenian countryside is far preferable to me than what life has become in Yerevan. Looking now at Yerevan through an outsiders eyes is a new experience and on the rare occasions I visit Yerevan I feel most uncomfortable in what has become a ‘police state’, so I do all I can to get away as quickly as possible.

Essentially I have finished my World Bank effort and my activist work on the Armenian regime sell-out of Genocide and now soon to be completed Karabakh, so I am taking a back seat and watching how the rest of Armenia tackles the problems. At least most of Armenia, and particularly the Diaspora are aware of the problems, but I am afraid there is little hope for success.
The WB/IMF are continuing their politically motivated agendas, pumping more than a billion dollars into Armenia, purportedly for the development of small and medium enterprise, but watching on as the money flows freely into the pockets of regime cronies. Tigran Davtian has eventually admitted that Armenia will be over-burdened with external debt for the next 40 years, which of course has been the crux of my anti-corruption campaign through the past five years.”

Debating the ‘Karabakh Deal’

By Bruce Tasker, Yerevan, Armenia, 5 December 2008

Two years ago, when I embarked on my publicity campaign to expose World Bank Armenian corruption, I assumed I would receive numerous complaints and a level of abuse. But I have been pleasantly surprised that comments on my work have been to the greatest extent very supportive, and among hundreds of messages of thanks and encouragement, I have received only a couple of complaints. Attacks are therefore not unexpected and I do not find them obstructive; to the contrary they provide the opportunity for healthy discussion.
Serzh Sargsyan, in his determination to fight corruption in Armenia, promised to look at my action with the Bank last year. But he declined to meet with Dr. Beatrice Edwards when she came from Washington to Armenia to discuss the matter. So I decided to extend my campaign to cover the Karabakh issue, which I have argued has for several years been at the core of the highly corrupt WB/IMF agenda, a critical issue for Armenia – now combined with Genocide.

Dikran Abrahamian decided to support my efforts, through his highly rated ‘Keghart.com’, and there the debate has taken off in earnest, to which I respond as follows:

Re: Bagrad (Bernhard) Nazarian
With respect to the Armenian newspaper Haykakan Jamanak: if I am put in the same mindless idiotic category, then I thank Bagrad for that; Haykakan Jamanak provides a great deal of valuable and verified information which would not otherwise be made available. The regime prefers to deal with deception, as covered in considerable and verified detail in my article Karabakh/Genocide – The Deception, which links to just a few classic examples. My personal experience with Haykakan Jamanak was in December 2007 when they covered my action in Washington against World Bank corruption in Armenia. Their editor-in-chief insisted on studying my suitcase full of evidentiary documents before he would write a single word. That was contrary to Aristomene Varoudakis, the present WB Country Manager, who gathered reporters to try and discredit my claims, only having to apologise afterwards to myself and Dr. Beatrice Edwards, who had travelled from Washington for the meeting, admitting he had NOT seen any of the project or claim documents.

I am sure your readers will be as intrigued as I am with Bagrad’s question: Is there any concrete report about the journalist who got beaten up? Any evidence as to who he is, who beat him and why? How can he purport to be an authority when he asks such ridiculous questions, especially when he goes on with his “experience of corruption in Armenia/Artsakh being minimal”? All other official sources report that corruption is very high in Armenia and it has been escalating alarmingly for the past several years.

Re: Avedis Kevorkian boycott
I agree with his logic, it is money from the Diaspora which finances the regime’s corrupt activities and strengthens their grip over society. In February it was estimated to be a central pot in the region of $6-8 million every day – after they have all taken out their personal millions. Today that pot is much less, and that is the crux of Armenia’s present economic crisis, which mostly affects the corrupt construction sector, and is why many of their money-laundering constructions are at a standstill. The problem is akin to the three US car giants; give them the money knowing most of it will be taken out by the management, or cut off the cash flow and be blamed for causing the workers to suffer. In Armenia, the people will suffer in either event, either a bit more now if the money is cut off, or a lot more in the longer term if the Diaspora keeps funding the regime.

Benjamin Franklin said so appropriately in 1755 – “They, who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”. I agree with him.

Re: Armen Araratian
He is right that I know little about what actually is in the minds of near seven million Armenians. But I do know what is in the minds of Robert Kocharian, Serzh Sargsyan and Eduard Nalbandian, and it is for that reason I continue with this campaign, to try and stop them selling Karabakh (and it now appears also Genocide), which whether he likes to believe it or not, they are well into the process of doing. If Armen does not realise it by now, then he will find out very soon.

I applaud his statement that “We know our lesson well, rest assured.[…] Not an inch of land will be ceded”. But unfortunately I can not see how Armen and the other seven million Armenians are going to stop the regime; after Armen and his 7+ million sat back and watched how Kocharian stole most of Armenia’s state assets. I trust he now realizes that that part of the equation is already history, as eventually do most of the 2+ million Armenians left in Armenia. But only after my four-year fight (not simply talk) against corruption and comprehensive publicity campaign, in Armenia, the US and the UK, based on my in-depth investigations for a Parliamentary Commission. In fact, looking at today’s news from Helsinki, I see that snipers are already being removed from the conflict line, based on November 6th agreements reached in Moscow. Armen should have no doubt that this is the start of the capitulation.

Re: Bagrad Nazarian
“Mr. Tasker has the complete freedom to speak as much […] as he likes as no one in Armenia ("the Kocharian/Sargsyan regime", etc.) seems to limit his freedom” Firstly, the regime knows me very well and they know that what I write is very near to the truth, possibly even under-stated, otherwise they would have put a stop to me long before. Secondly Bagrad will be pleased to learn that the regime has trumped up a $65,000 penalty for my persistence with this issue. The court case was on the 21st November, when the judge’s off-the-record comment to me was ‘I’ll be kicked out of court if I support this ridiculous claim’. My next court hearing is on the 19th December, when no doubt the regime will put more pressure on the judge. So there will probably be a nice Christmas present waiting for me.

Re: Papken Harutunian’s “Armenians are not a tribe that their leader can decide their future for them”:
Allow me quote from Galust Sahakyan’s 3rd December 2008 statement, which is covered in the news article The President Decides No Matter What – “The fact of the matter is that it makes no difference – who said that the people will decide, for example, the Karabakh conflict? The president will be the one to decide."

The debate goes on, hoping for the right conclusion – for Armenia, Karabakh and the peoples living in the surrounding territories – and for that matter, Azerbaijan.

Bruce Tasker, Still fighting with GAP in Washington to reduce corruption in Armenia

Armenia – Too Little, Too Late
By Bruce Tasker, Yerevan, Armenia, 23 October 2009

The political crisis Armenia faces today is the result of a comprehensive and relentless program, in preparation since the turn of the century. The alarm bells rang for me in 2004, when during my studies of World Bank and other donor projects for Vahan Hovhanissian’s Parliamentary Commission I found rampant corruption within the state system. Armenia’s Deputy Speaker promised to report the findings to the Armenian public, but the major problems were kept under wraps. More disturbing; the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were both clearly in collusion with Armenia’s President Kocharian, who controlled the entire program. Since the turn of the century the Bank and the IMF have been fabricating a rapidly growing economy for Armenia, fully aware that foreign investment, which headed the boom, was little more than Kocharian stripping Armenia of its state assets and illicitly transferring them to overseas entities, and the flourishing construction sector, which came in second, was mostly the laundering of ill-gotten gains by a small group of Sargsyan cronies. The scope and rampant nature of the corruption indicated that the collaborators were not only after personal or collective gain – there was political motivation.

The World Bank and the IMF paid lip-service to the parliamentary commission findings, so the corruption not only continued, but escalated. It was clear that Armenia’s economy was destined to crash and a political crisis was looming, with a group of Brits running the agenda for the international community, led by Roger Robinson at the World Bank and Jimmy McHugh at the IMF. By January 2007, the situation had deteriorated alarmingly, foreign investment declined in line with the loss of Armenia’s state assets and the construction sector was moving toward collapse. I initiated my ‘Blowing the World Bank Whistle’ campaign in an attempt to force an international inquiry into the affair, backed in Washington by the ‘Government Accountability Project’ (GAP) and by the incumbent British Ambassador in Armenia, Mr. Tony Cantor. Despite the high-level international backing and two years of pressure, the Bank’s internal watchdog body, the Department of Institutional Integrity (INT), managed to evade a full investigation. [Evidently, only the White house has sufficient influence to introduce the changes needed in a highly corrupt World Bank]. By the February 2008 Presidential elections construction was at a virtual standstill; Armenia’s economy was in deep trouble long before the international financial crisis.

The Bank and the IMF have been driving this highly corrupt agenda in order to consolidate Karabakhi dominance in Yerevan, reasoning that Kocharian was the only person able to reach a suitable settlement on Karabakh for Armenia. Kocharian had backed the infamous ‘Goble Plan’ shortly after he was brought from Karabakh to become Armenia’s Prime Minister in 1997; he was ready to isolate Armenia from Iran through a swap of Armenia’s Iranian border territory at Meghri for a Lachin corridor to Karabakh. That was eventually quashed at a Key West meeting in 2001, in response to pressure from what was left of Armenia’s senior politicians after the October 1999 Parliamentary slaughters. The Minsk Group took over as mediator and since then, despite promise after promise, Kocharian managed to wriggle out of signing on to the Minsk-backed plan, which he had negotiated on behalf of Armenia and Karabakh. He preferred to pass that dubious honor on to his successor, so together with the various international players Kocharian backed the Sargsyan presidency, on the understanding he would finalize the deal. International support this time came firstly from UK’s ‘Populus’, which provided manipulated exit poll results in favor of Sargsyan, then from Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, who rushed to announce that the election had been conducted to European standards.
Sargsyan took over the presidency thanks to his March 1st show of force and after a ‘closed doors’ inauguration, the tottering Karabakhi regime again looked again to the UK for support. John Prescott co-chaired the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) group, established to study the disgraceful election events; falsifications, fraud, killings, political prisoners, media intimidation, etc., etc. But despite farcical responses to numerous CoE warnings, the Karabakhi regime again came out safe and sound. This inexorable international support served to increased pressure on Sargsyan to commit to the Minsk-backed Karabakh deal, so the momentum grew, with one secretive Sargsyan or Nalbandian meeting after another and a string of Sargsyan/Nalbandian lies and denials.

Attention was distracted from the Karabakh issue in August 2008, with the conflict in South Ossetia. Russia, long annoyed by Georgia’s pro-US politics, was now angered by the US insistence that Moscow started the aggression, so it took steps to enable a potential Russian isolation of Georgia. First step was an alternative Black Sea route for Armenia; hence the rush to open the border, with Moscow applying its considerable influence in both Ankara and Yerevan. (Other steps included bringing the Iranian/Armenian gas pipeline online, with transfer of ownership to Russia, and offers from Moscow to purchase Azerbaijan’s oil and gas exports at higher than world prices).Turkey jumped at the chance to embellish its image on the international stage and to avoid a virtually inevitable US President Obama recognition of the Armenian genocide. Soccer diplomacy followed with Turkey offering a variety of high-value incentives to the Armenian regime to go along with the three demands it has been repeating since it closed the border in 1993: (1) a commission of historians; (2) final Armenian acceptance of the Armenian /Turkish border; (3) Armenian agreement to a resolution on the Karabakhi conflict. On the eve of 24th April genocide day, Armenia’s Nalbandian gave Obama the excuse he needed to renege on his genocide recognition promise, Obama heaved a massive sigh of relief and Sargsyan proceeded to sign on to the [three] Turkish demands – now awaiting a convenient moment to capitulate on the third – Karabakh.

The World Bank and the IMF came back into play in response to White House support for more than a billion dollars in credits. Later, the Asian development Bank, also dominated by the White House, added a further $700+ hundred million. The UK had used its influence to block European action against Armenia’s bandit regime, whilst the US had shown its appreciation by extending $2 billion or so in credits. Add to that another $500 million from Moscow, plus major incentives from Ankara, and no doubt other very juicy ‘under-the-table’ carrots from Baku, and the pot starts to look very much like a $5 billion+ bonanza.

The vast majority of Armenians, in Armenia and throughout the Diaspora, are not only outraged at this ‘sell-out’ by the illegitimate Sargsyan regime, they are appalled by the way in which the various members of the international community are using the Armenian/Turkish and the Karabakh issues to serve their own political agendas. The Karabakh issue must be resolved, but for the Armenian regime to resolved it in such a secretive and highly devious manner is contemptible. More contemptible is how the regime could put Armenia’s genocide and possible rights to historical lands under question; that must surely have no reasonable explanation for any patriotic Armenian.

I have been raising awareness of this Karabakhi takeover of Armenia for the past five years. More than fifteen thousand Karabakhis now dominate economic life in Yerevan; twice as many dominate the business lives of Armenians in Moscow. Of the 130,000 Karabakhis in Karabakh at the end of the 1991/3 war with Azerbaijan, only an estimated 50,000 are left. Since the turn of the century, dozens of apartment blocks have been built in and around Yerevan, new accommodation for more than 25,000 residents, at a time when Armenia has seen mass outward migration. Moreover, throughout the Kocharian Presidency, up to 20,000 under-privileged Armenians have been moved to the surrounding territories. The apartments are owned predominantly by the regime, bought and sold through fictitious contracts between regime cronies to create flourishing real estate statistics, when occupancy in these buildings is actually less than
10%. The regime has prepared the stage for thousands more Karabakhis to move to Yerevan, where apartments await them, with mortgages for those who may need them – using the internationally-backed finance package. Whirlwind Sargsyan trips to the Armenian Diaspora will do nothing to stop this program; they are simply designed to satisfy the needs of the international players, who know too well the disastrous ramifications for Armenia.

The plan has been in preparation for several years, now coming to full realization, a complete Karabakhi takeover of Armenia, and
implemented in strict accordance with ‘Queensbury Rules’ – but unfortunately not the Marquis of.

Armenians in Armenia and throughout the Diaspora – I am afraid you have left it too late to turn back the tide, the Karabakhi clan already dominates life in Yerevan and throughout Armenia, and its domination grows, thanks to not a little help from their friends in the international community.

Bruce Tasker
Parliamentary Expert (2004), A Brit Resident in Armenia since 1994, Still ‘Blowing the World Bank Whistle’

 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
 

4 comments
  1. Seeds of oligarchy
    Mr. Tasker’s relatively extensive exposition for a website article raises several questions but I would like to limit only to one.

    One wonders whether instead of Kocharian-Sargsyan, what Mr. Tasker calls "Karabakhi clan", some other non-Karabakhi people were at the helm of the government, wouldn’t the same problems arise?

    I realize that the question is hypothetical, and the answer too would be, but one should take into consideration the fact that  the seeds of such an unruly oligarchy were there almost right from the beginning, before Kocharian and Sargsyan came to the scene.

    1. Extensive exposition
      Shavarsh – The extensive exposition to which I assume you refer actually includes an introduction and a number of references to previous articles and comments, which unbeknown to me were included by Keghart. (I have no complaints) My October submission to Keghart was simply: ”Armenia – Too Little, Too Late”. I hope I have answered your other question in my reply to Noubar.

  2. Land for peace
    The fraudulent elections of 2008 staged by Kocharian-Sarkissian pair, and not allowing people to make their democratic choice freely, set the stage for a regime in search of legitimacy. Only foreign source could provide it.

    On the other hand if LTP were to come to power, would it have been any better? It’s doubtful, given the history of oligarchs taking root during his stewardship. Yet part of his legitimacy would have been provided by the people and probably that could have made a modest difference.

    With respect to Karabakh it’s hard to say whether it would have made any difference. The concept of returning liberated lands to Azerbaijan, land for peace, was hatched up during LTP’s term. Wasn’t it?

    1. Karabakh must be resolved
      Noubar – I write that the Karabakh issue must be resolved and yes, the concept of returning liberated lands to Azerbaijan was hatched up during LTP’s term, on the understanding that Karabakh was to get the highest level of autonomy. Kocharian forced LTP out of office specifically on that issue, promising a better result for Armenia and Karabakh. That turned out to be the Goble plan, also referred to in this article. The difference if LTP had come to power is that he was determined to expose Kocharian – on a number of issues, some of which I mention in my article and including October 1999 and 1st March 2008. The Karabakh issue would have gone ahead, but hopefully with more dignity as, despite his many failings, LTP did gain an enviable reputation as an international statesman. LTP would certainly not have sold out on Armenia’s Genocide, as Sargsyan has done.

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