Rally around Oskanian

Avedis Kevorkian, Philadelphia, PA  USA, 7 october 2012

Some time ago, I wrote that all Armenians in the Diaspora should boycott Armenia and do everything in their power to get their host countries to also boycott Armenia and to put pressure on international agencies to also boycott Armenia––because of the rampant corruption in the country.

Naturally, I was attacked for expressing that view.

I am back again, and I say to all those Armenians who think that by supporting the crooks and thieves and thugs (hereafter CTTs) who are ruining Armenia no matter their criminal ways are, somehow, expressing a “love of the homeland, and we must not say anything unpleasant about the CTTs,” don’t bother to attack me and to criticize me and to defend our “beloved homeland.

Avedis Kevorkian, Philadelphia, PA  USA, 7 october 2012

Some time ago, I wrote that all Armenians in the Diaspora should boycott Armenia and do everything in their power to get their host countries to also boycott Armenia and to put pressure on international agencies to also boycott Armenia––because of the rampant corruption in the country.

Naturally, I was attacked for expressing that view.

I am back again, and I say to all those Armenians who think that by supporting the crooks and thieves and thugs (hereafter CTTs) who are ruining Armenia no matter their criminal ways are, somehow, expressing a “love of the homeland, and we must not say anything unpleasant about the CTTs,” don’t bother to attack me and to criticize me and to defend our “beloved homeland.

Don’t bother, because I am angry as I can be and still avoid obscenities.

What has touched me off this time is what the CTTs are doing to Vartan Oskanian, who is probably one of the few honest men in Yerevan and certainly not one of the CTTs.

The CTTs are accusing him of financial irregularities,  It appears that his Civilitas Organization received $2-million from Jon Huntsman and Oskanian is accused of money-laundering and other related crimes.

If the truth be told, the CTTs are obviously angry that $2-million came into Armenia and they didn’t get their filthy hands on it.  That Oskanian is using it honestly and and for good causes also rankles the CTTs.

But, obviously, the real reason is they fear that Oskanian would run for president of Armenia.  Why an intelligent, sensible, talented man should want to live in Armenia, much less want to be its President, is beyond me.

Perhaps, the CTTs should challenge Oskanian’s sanity and his right to walk the streets without a leash and a keeper, instead of challenging his honesty and integrity with obviously false charges.

But, these CTTs are really serious about the threat he poses to their kleptocratic regime.

That their case is weak––which doesn’t mean they will lose in the corrupt farce that is called the Armenian legal system––is evidenced by the fact that Oskanian’s Passport is not lifted, and the comment that was made by one of the CTTs that “Of course, Vartan is free to travel,” which is his/their coded words to Oskanian to self-banish himself from Armenia and not further embarrass the CTTs and not pose a threat in next year’s elections.

I understand that Huntsman, himself, has indicated that there has been nothing wrong in Oskanian’s handling of the money.  But in Armenia’s corrupt society, it is a matter of “Don’t bother me with facts, my mind is made up.”

So, you may ask, “Other than venting your spleen, why are you writing.”

I am glad you asked.

In addition to my earlier suggestion about boycotting Armenia, I think that everyone in the Diaspora who has access to Facebook, Twitter, and the other “social media” that have been used to topple corrupt Middle East governments and stir the juices of millions of others, use them to raise the loudest fuss about the wickedness now going on in Yerevan, and bring on the world’s condemnation.

Why am I so strongly on Oskanian’s side and so sure of his innocence?  I saw him in action while I was living in London and was overwhelmed by him.  Also, I was told by someone in the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (the UK’s State Department) that never had they seen anyone from an ”emerging nation” as impressive and as competent as Oskanian.

Admittedly, that didn’t change the UK’s views about Armenia (that is still influenced by Washington!) but the Brits knew they were dealing with someone quite remarkable.

Oskanian is now faced with a difficult dilemma.  Stay and be falsely imprisoned (apparently his “crime” could put him in jail for 20 years!) or leave the country and enable the CTTs to say that his departure “proves” their case-––and, of course, allow them to continue to rape the country.

So, if the Diaspora really gives a damn about Armenia, its path is clear: use the social media to raise a fuss and demand that the false charges against one of the best men in Armenia, Vartan Oskanian, be dropped, that his Parliamentary immunity be restored, and a heavy load be lifted from above his head.

Otherwise, all you people out there may end up lamenting the death of Armenia in your lifetimes.

And, what is also so sad, is just when Armenia was enjoying the concern of the world about what happened to the axe-murderer in Baku, the CTTs, so obsessed with their own corruption and greed, are now doing their best to smear their own country.

My mother used to say: “A fish begins to stink from its head,” and the stink of the Armenian fish is reaching the West because of the Armenian head.


  1. Defending Oskanian is the Duty of Every Armenian

    Sireli Avedis,

    It is hard to add anything to what you write. And in this case as well, your writing is complete, your arguments impeccable.

    Armenians around the world should now stand up, because enough is enough. And maybe it is late, and maybe we should have stood up as you so eloquently suggested, much earlier than now.

    But we must stand up not for Oskanian's sake. We must stand up for our own sake.

    Viken Attarian

  2. Not seeing in the dark and being dazzled during the day

    A mere 20 years ago, as part of the Soviet Union, no one privately owned a square foot of Yerevan. Nowadays there is not a square foot in Yerevan that is not privately owned by someone, who knew someone, dating way back to the infamous Interior Minister Vano Seradeghian, the trusted aid of Levon Der Bedrossian. If Yerevan could not be purchased, it surely could and was leased for earthly posterity.

    It’s this new post Soviet Armenia order that is now accusing Vartan Oskanian. The shadowy excuses and the timing coming forth from his accusers who are ruthless in their quest for more wealth and power to entrench themselves and their princelings' here and on, shed serious doubt on the just intent of this case and make it much more than a mere $141,000 misuse from an NGO.

    Vartan Oskanian is a rising star from Diaspora who is not meant to have a place on the sky high over Yerevan where the oligarchs rule. The rest of us are expected to admire them as the stars in the dark and be blinded by their dazzle during the day, something we cannot afford to do for history's sake.

  3. Stop your hateful brainwash

    Mr. American "who does not need Armenia to be an Armenian,"

    Stop your disgusting brainwash.  Last thing I would believe is that you care about Oskanian.

    All you care is to use his case to spew your poison on Armenia and its people. You can not care about Oskanian simply because unlike you he does not advocate boycotting Armenia, and unlike you he left his comfortable life in the USA to bring change in his homeland working with his compatriots. Finally, unlike you Oskanian believes in the future of Armenia; instead of seeing only "crooks, thieves and thugs" he embraces Armenia as it is, and he tries to change the ill system common to ex-soviet countries from within. While you are an absent person for Armenia, people like Oskanian strengthen our country through involvement even if that comes with personal sufferings.

    It is really regretful to note that your continuous racism towards Armenians in Armenia finds some support among Diasporan Armenians.  Raising your voice for Vardan Oskanian after being silent when so many Armenians from Armenia were going through the same persecutions does suggest that you discriminate Armenians on the basis of their origin.


  4. Rally Around Oskanian–a response

    Permit me to respond to Aram, with the old adage: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and end all doubts.”

    Today, in recognition of the new technology, the second part of that adage could be read as: “. . .than to write letters without knowing the facts and end all doubt.”

    It is not my intention to establish my credentials and, as my British friends say, my “bona fides,” but suffice it to say that one of the reasons that I am so hard on the oligarchic kelptocracy that is ruining Armenia is that I have a long list of failures in my attempt to help Armenia.

    The good doctor who patiently manages this web-site does not have enough room for me to list them, but from the early 1990s (during the height of the Artsakh War till I left London, in 2004, I tried (and, alas, failed) to get Armenian bureaucrats interested in getting better coverage of the Artsakh War, to build hotels, to set up a duty-free shop, to deal with a major mining company to exploit Armenia’s mineral resources, to provide medical supplies to a children’s hospital, to improve the country’s telecommunications, to get world coverage of the opening of the Yerevan/Stepanakert highway, and to establish contact with an Armenian at the American-British Chamber of Commerce and an Armenian at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) both of whom were more than willing to help Armenia if only that first contact were made.  This list is not in chronological order (except for the better war coverage) and is in the order that my fingers remember.

    I won’t go into detail about these–though some of them have brought a wide smile to my ugly face as I recall my futile attempt to help Armenia despite its incompetent “what’s-in-it-for-me” officials.  Suffice it to say that I needed the co-operation of officials in Yerevan and ambassadors in London and received none.  How do you explain to a vice-president of British Telecom who wants to help Armenia why the Ambassador isn’t calling him to set up a meeting?  How do you explain to an editor why I can’t supply him photos for a Visit Armenia feature he was planning because an official in Armenia never sent them?

    When I have mentioned some of these failures to people, they always ask: “Did you promise to pay the officials?” and I reply, “No, it is part of their job,”  I have been called a variety of choice names, but my favorite is “a stupid jerk,” by my late brother who also tried to help Armenia.

    Without any intention of engaging in a school-yard “who can spit the farthest contest,” Aram, perhaps you might respond to this response and list all your successes in helping Armenia and, thus, embarrass me and my failures.

    I am an admitted and proud fan of Vartan Oskanian because I have seen him in action three times and I could not believe how lucky Armenia was to have him.  Just a half-dozen Vartan Oskanians and Armenia would be at the top of the world, instead of. . .instead of. . .instead of. . . .  Oh, what the Hell, we all know where Armenia is.

    It is very disturbing to be told, as I was, by an American with a non-governmental organization in Yerevan, that the only honest politicians in Armenia are “those who are out of office.”

    But, what puzzles me, as I said, is WHY Oskanian thinks Armenia is worth his efforts.  However, if he thinks that he can help a country that seems not to want to be helped, then I am on his side and I am trying to encourage the Diaspora to rally around him.  The Diaspora must raise the kind of stink that even the CTTs in Yerevan will have to re-think their vilifying and potentially dangerous campaign against Oskanian.

    If that means a boycott to end all boycotts, then so be it.  If it means using the social media to spread the word at the injustice in Yerevan let it be so.  The silence of the Diaspora is the greatest friend of Yerevan’s crooks and thieves and thugs.

    Tell me, Aram, if this effort of mine is a failure, also, will you be happy?

    Avedis Kevorkian
    Philadelphia, PA  USA
    8 October 2012

    1. Failure? Of course it is.


      You partly explained where your hate comes from. I would be more patient when dealing with a country, with its officials, especially if they are potentially corrupt. Unfortunately, many in the Diaspora when dealing with Armenia do it as if it is a mom and dad shop and expect to get a personal response from an ambassador, from the Prime Minister or even from the President. I think a little more respect towards Armenia as a country would exclude a lot of disappointment in the future. In that sense, I am too small a person to expect the ambassador to respond to me whenever I wish. While the reason of a failure in this can indeed be mismanagement by an official, it can also be a mismanagement of the person trying to help but overestimating his/her personal importance compared to other duties of the official. 

      What refers to Vardan Oskanian, the only help Diaspora can bring to him is to produce many more like him: it is simply a hypocrisy to leave him alone in his choice then try to protect him when he is persecuted. If you, instead of advocating boycott left for Armenia yourself and advocated other diasporans to move to Armenia to serve, like Oskanian did, irrespective of potential  dangers ahead, then there might indeed change happen in Armenia. Unfortunately, Oskanian being as much of a victim of the Armenian regime, he also is the victim of the apathy of the Diaspora, not to mention the hate disseminated by your articles.

      Finally, I would like to see the Diaspora being as concerned when a Hayastantsi Armenian is persecuted by the regime as when it happens to a Diasporan. Believe me, local Armenian politicians do deserve a presumption of innocence even though they are local. The origin-based discrimination we witness in the Diaspora's reaction to the Armenian regime's persecution of the politicians is utterly destructive for the unity of our nation and hardly can be helpful for Armenia.


    2. Avedis, All you said might be right


      All you said might be right, except all you said concerned an element of a PR for yourself. It's all too glorified – a European bank of this, a Chamber of Commerce of that, etc.

      Have you tried helping an individual Armenian or Armenians directly? Have you tried identifying groups of those you can trust, not in the government, but in professional circles, and work with them directly?

      Why not pick up the phone, and call some of the honest friends you've (i hope) made in Armenia and suggest them to cooperate – with no photos, no PR, just help them get somewhere, even teach them how to work properly and ethically.

      Are you saying you're not aware of such groups? Or are you saying that every last Armenian in Armenia is a crook and a thief and a thug?


  5. The debate over Oskanian

    The debate over Oskanian is very valuable.  I am humbly urging Aram, whom I know well directly, and Avedis, whom I know well indirectly, to help me and us generally reach a proper conclusion on this issue.  Please throw emotions aside and objectively answer the following questions.  Others welcome to participate of course.  But if we could stick to the following among trusted caring Armenians:

    1) All evidence indicates that Oskanian is a devoted patriot who gave up a heck of a lot to serve in Armenia, and played a major role in the foreign affairs arena.

    2) At the same time Oskanian was part of the kleptocratic government of Kocharyan that caused massive harm to Armenia.

    Those who know him, have spoken with him, can you convey to us precisely, as much as possible, what his thinking was?  Did he hold his nose and serve the foreign affairs ministry?  I mean is the situation that he saw precisely the harm befalling the country through the Kocharyan regime, felt that he could not influence that, but that the country still needed the foreign relations side properly covered, and that's what he did?  I would really like to know the answer to this question.

    As a corollary, why did he join dodi gago subsequently?  What was the thinking there?  I would love to hear from him directly, but in the absence of direct explanation from him, what do we know about this?

    The argument boils down to:

    A) people who know him who seem to say he is GOOD and was doing his best in a situation that would have been much worse without him.

    B) people on the receiving end of the Kocharyan miseries, Hayastantsis in particular, who say: He was just part of the regime, why should we care more about him than any other against whom those in power turned when they were no longer needed.  These people are somewhat offended that the diaspora would jump to try to help Oskanian, when so many Hayastantsis suffered his own fate. 

    The argument can and should be resolved, preferably by an honest document written by Oskanian explaining the above.

Comments are closed.

You May Also Like