Armenians in politics: Adopting to the new Russia - May, 2008

I remember getting emotionally choked-up when I first read Christophor Ivanian's story several years ago (see article below). Although Ivanian's story is quite unique, men like Ivanian were not alone in what they did. Nevertheless, for me, Ivanian personifies what I mean when I talk about the great potential of Russian-Armenians and Russian-Armenian relations. Simply put, we need to better organize Russian-Armenians. We need to make Russian-Armenians feel as if they are an important part of the Armenian nation - regardless of whether or not they speak the Armenian language. In this complex world, especially in the unforgiving Caucasus region, Russian-Armenians and Russian-Armenian relations is Armenia's last hope for survival.

Despite how some in the West try to portray Russia (a nasty place where Armenians are murdered on a regular basis)
, Armenians living in Russia are disproportionately represented in all important sectors of Russian society. From the nation's banking sector to its military industrial complex; from the nation's entertainment sector to its academia; from the nation's high level government to its big business - Armenians play a very big role. In my humble opinion, with some foresight and a little effort, Armenians can become in Russia what Jews are in the United States. Of all the Armenian Diaspora's in existence today, the Russian one is by far the most important. Emphasis has to be placed on better organizing Armenian assets in the Russian Federation.

Similar to all other Armenian Diaspor
a's, assimilation of Armenians in Russia is indeed a problem. Many Russian-Armenians, however, posses an inner Armenian pride that is seldom seen elsewhere in the diaspora. Many Russian-Armenians, especially the generation that reached adulthood after Stalin's death, have a deep/organic and a militant pride in the Armenian nation. They have healthy pride in Armenia's national history, its cultural heritage, in Armenian heroism, in Armenian intellect and in Armenian talents. This pride was revealed during the war of liberation in Artsakh when thousands of Armenians from former Soviet republics converged onto Artsakh to save it from impending doom. In comparison, besides several dozen hard-liners that went to Artsakh from Lebanon, Syria and the western world, what did the vast Armenian Diaspora do for the war effort? What they did was the only thing they know how to do best - crying at the feet of Western powers and begging them for mercy.

National pride for Armenians in and around the Caucasus is organic, it's well rooted and it's an integral part of their being - even if they don't speak the Armenian language well, even if they don't live in the Armenian Republic. Armenian pride in a place like the United States is essentially based upon a victims' mentality and not much else. Sadly, Armenian nationalism (if it can be called that) within much of the Armenian Disapora is only expressed by perennially crying about the Armenian Genocide and repeating over-and-over again that Armenians were the first Christian nation (as if anyone cares). Let's put aside for a moment a phenomenon (or an anomaly) like Monte Melkonian and reflect upon the fact that for a vast majority of "
proud" American-Armenians today, their Armenian identity is like a favorite shirt they wear on weekends; it's a superficial fashion statement.

I reiterate: Although they are not nearly as organized as their counterparts elsewhere, Russian-Armenians  are the largest and the most important Armenian Diaspora today. Russian-Armenians hold within them the potential to reach great heights in Russia and thus become a conduit for better, deeper Russian-Armenian relations.




May, 2008

The rules of engagement in Russian politics have changed dramatically since the collapse of the Soviet Union a decade ago, but Arthur Chilingarov has climbed the political ladder to hold the position of Deputy Chairman of the State Duma, the 450-member lower house of the Russian Parliament. Sahak Karapetyan also entered politics after the collapse of the Soviet Union and like Chilingarov, he too was elected to the Duma and served for four years before his appointment to his new position as Senior Assistant to the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation. Lt. Gen. Yevgeni Gurgenovich Batalov may have stayed in active duty if not for his advanced age of 76. All three men are Russian born Armenians who have integrated into Russian society and served their country while maintaining their ethnic identity and adapting to the changes around them.

“I don’t look at my Armenian roots from a narrow perspective,” explained Chilingarov during a recent interview in his Moscow office. “I am a Russian-Armenian and Russia is my country, just like the United States is for American-Armenians. I will serve both as best as I can,” he said.

Chilingarov was born in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) in 1939 and grew up in an Armenian family, but he had few Armenian friends. “I might have had more Armenian friends and interaction with fellow Armenians if we had a working church in St. Petersburg, but things were different then,” he said. Chilingarov, who accompanied President Putin during a visit to Armenia last year, admits that maybe he is not a very religious person, but is quick to add that the church should have a prominent place in modern society.

“I visit Armenia at least once a year and have very close relations with His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II. I am convinced that the stronger the Armenian Church becomes, the stronger will relations between Armenia and Russia become too. “The Russian church is a very powerful institution and has a say in what happens here. The same should be true with the Armenian church,” Chilingarov said. “Russian politics is unique. Despite the large size of the Armenian population in Russia, they cannot have any political clout—not for a long time anyway. But a strong Armenian Church is a different matter. There is respect for the church here,” he said.

A 1963 graduate of the Arctic Faculty of the Leningrad Marine Institute with a degree in engineering-oceanography, Chilingarov began his career at the Tiksi Observatory of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute. Despite his busy schedule as a politician, Chilingarov, who has spent the better part of his adult life on the icebergs of the Arctic and is the author of 50 scientific publications, still finds time for his science and research. During his long career, he has been awarded the Order of Lenin, Hero of the Soviet Union medal, and membership in the Russian Academy of Sciences, and since 1992 assumed the presidency of the Polar Explorers’ Association.

He entered politics “from the back door”—or at least not as a representative of any political party. His work as a scientist had kept him in Russia’s Ninens Autonomous District, some 1,600 kilometers northeast of Moscow, close to the North Pole. According to the Russian constitution, the region was entitled to one deputy to represent it in the Russian Duma, and the choice was Chilingarov. He was elected with an overwhelming majority and upon arrival in Moscow he campaigned and was elected to the prestigious post of deputy Chairman of the State Duma—a position, which he still holds.

“It’s been almost 40 years since my first Arctic experience, and it is still my first love. Politics is a career, but the Arctic is my passion,” he said with a broad smile pointing at the dozens of momentos from his numerous expeditions, including his last one to the South Pole in January, 2002. Chilingarov was the first Armenian to reach the South Pole with a team of scientists who flew on a modified Antonov III aircraft piloted by Ukrainian-born Sergei Tarasuk, whose mother is Armenian.

“As much as I was part of a Russian expedition, I was still an Armenian there. My colleagues found it very amusing when I put up a wooden marker with the distances from where we were to the cities representing the origins of team members. “The marker, which is still there, clearly says Yerevan, 16,116 kilometers. Of course it also gives the distances from Moscow and Kiev, and St. Petersburg, my birthplace. “I also took a bottle of Armenian brandy with me as a gift to the American team which was also involved in the expedition,” Chilingarov said with a huge smile on his face. As an Armenian, I cannot celebrate an important occasion without some Armenian brandy,” he said.

Chilingarov may be the most visible Armenian in Russian politics today, but by far not the only one. Sahak Karapetyan’s route into politics was different. The old communist world was vanishing and a new breed of politicians was moving in when Karapetyan, who is now 42 years old, joined the “Yabloco” (which means apple in Russian) liberal democrat party in his native Rostov in southern Russia. Unlike many in his generation he had tried to join the communist party, but was turned down because “they considered me too liberal, too much of a black sheep, a nationalist.” A graduate of the Rostov Law school, Karapetyan was elected and served in the Duma for four years after practicing law and holding several positions in the public prosecutor’s office. When his term expired, he was offered his old job back in Rostov, but decided to stay in Moscow because of family commitment.

“My party lobbied for me for the position of Senior Assistant to the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation and I got the assignment. It is a very difficult and responsible position because I represent Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov (an appointee of Russian President Vladimir Putin) in the Duma,” he said in an interview.

In his position, which carries the quasi-military rank of Major General of the Justice, Karapetyan oversees all government and military agencies and has the authority to investigate, try and issue arrest warrants of all elected officials along with military personnel. The Prosecutor General’s office maintains 40,000 appointed lawyers and has branch offices in all regions of the Russian Federation. How did an ethnic Armenian make it in such a sensitive and high position? Is the new Russian system really color blind and does not differentiate between the ethnic background of its citizens? Karapetyan, a soft-spoken family man and father of a teenage daughter, has never felt discrimination because of his Armenian roots.

“I tried to join the communist party as a young student, but was turned down. The strange thing is that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, I got a letter saying my application had been approved. I laughed. I did not even reply. It was fashionable to be a communist 20 years ago, and my application had nothing to do with my convictions,” he said. “I am sure that I would not have reached this position if the communists were still in power. My road to success has always been through my hard work, party affiliation and the election process. I received more that 210,000 votes and all were Russians. They voted for the Yabloco Party to which I still belong,” he said.

As a lawyer and a politician—and for that matter a Russian citizen—Karapetyan’s future never depended on an Armenian voting public, but his work and reputation reflect positively on Armenians living in Russia. “Everyone knows that I am an Armenian. I have not changed my name, and denied my ethnic identity. The respect I get from my fellow party members, government officials and the Duma is also respect for us Armenians. I have always wanted to set a good example, and I will continue doing so,” Karapetyan said in Armenian. “Don’t forget that I come from Rostov, where Armenians have a 230-year-old history and culture. We don’t take our history and roots lightly,” he said.

If Chilingarov and Karapetyan have climbed the political ladder through the democratic election process in the past decade, retired Lt. Gen. Yevgeni Gurgenovich Batalov took the communist party route. “You can call me old school. You can call me an old communist, but whatever you say, you must always remember that I have always been not only an Armenia, but an Armenian with roots in Nagorno Karabakh,” the 76-year-old Batalov said during a meeting in the offices of fellow Armenian Major Andranik Babayan, the police chief of Moscow’s populous Khoroshevski District.

The two men smile.

“Imagine … A decade ago we would have been classified as traitors if we had met a Western journalist like you. Just the fact that we can sit here, talk freely as fellow Armenians without any fear is like a dream come true,” Batalov said. Looking a lot younger than his age, whose knowledge of the Armenian language is limited to a few phrases like Ha Jan (yes, my dear) and Lokh Lava (very good, in the Karabakh Armenian dialect), was born in Moscow and spent his life until retirement with the Soviet military. “I’m not exactly a politician as you understand the term today, but all the positions I held had very deep political overtones. The military was, and in some cases still is, a political institution,” he said.

After graduating from engineering school, Batalov was drafted into the army as a junior officer and began climbing up the ranks until 1965 when he was transferred to the Interior Ministry—itself a police unit, which, as Batalov puts it “kept an eye on Soviet society.” In 1967 he was named police chief of Moscow and later was put in charge of a division which coordinated investigations involving all foreign diplomats and nationals living on Soviet soil. But despite all the power he had, nothing came close to the most sensitive assignment of his long career, including police chief of the city of Kirov during the Brezhnev era.

“I was vacationing on the Black Sea with my wife and only daughter in 1974 when I was ordered to move to Armenia and assume the position of Interior Minister—a Moscow-appointed position which was a lot more powerful than that of the Secretary General of the Armenian Communist Party,” Batalov said. “The years between 1974 and 1984 are the most memorable in my life. They were also the most difficult. I was a Soviet, but also an Armenian. I will never forget what my father said when I asked his advice before leaving for Yerevan. He said son, act like a Soviet but feel like a true Armenian. Be sure that they not only respect you, but like you as well. I hope I lived up to my father’s expectations,” Batalov said in an emotional voice. “It was during my service in Yerevan that I realized I was an Armenian, genetically and by nature. I never felt that way growing up in Moscow. We had a lot of Armenian friends, but being on Armenian soil was a totally different experience,” he said.

Batalov can speak for hours about his life long experiences, but stops to single out a few, like the time he went with a police regiment to quell a prison riot, or decided on the fate of a woman who was serving time in jail because she refused to give up her only adopted child. “The top criminal leading the prison riot in Kirov was an Armenian and he only surrendered because he knew I was an Armenian. As for the Armenian mother, that was in Yerevan. It made me realize what an Armenian mother was, and how strong the Armenian family ties were,” he said. “I just could not ignore her love for her child. I set her free. I could not separate mother and daughter,” he said. Years have gone by, the Soviet Union has collapsed, but Batalov’s reputation in Armenia is still alive.

“It was all very much of a surprise when I got a call last year from the Interior Minister of Armenia inviting me to visit Yerevan on my 75th birthday. I had not been back in 16 years, and I hesitated at first, but my daughter, who is married to a young man from Armenia, insisted that we both go,” Batalov said. On his arrival, Batalov was welcomed by not only top Interior Ministry officers, but even his old personal assistant and driver who came to the tarmac in the exact model of car he used during his long tenure in Armenia.

“If returning to Armenia after all these years was difficult at first, leaving was much more traumatic. In my heart, I want to go back again and again, but at my age, I don’t think I can handle the emotional stress of having to leave and return to my home in Moscow. After all I am a Moscovite, and my mother was Russian. I guess my Armenian genes are stronger,” Batalov said turning to Maj. Andranik Babayan—a new generation police officer.

His advice to Maj. Babayan??

“Don’t forget your roots. You can be a good Russian officer and a true Armenian at the same time. Serve both with dignity and honor.”


Christophor Ivanian

"Here I would like to mention, the destiny of an Armenian-Russian 'Diasporan', so particular Legend, that is hardly known outside Artzakh, even less outside Armenia. Kristapor Ivanian, born in the 1920's, in Tiflis, then the biggest Armenian Town of the Trascaucasus.... He was born in a family of generals, serving the Tzars for more than a century, and his father being a Hero of the Russian Army during the liberation of Western Armenia, Garin, Gars... For this reason, merged into the Russianised Nobelty of Tiflis, then the capital of the Russian Regime in the Transcaucasus, was Russian speeking exclusively. He knew virtually nothing of Armenia... Kristapor enteren the Military cavalery acadamy in Tiflis, naturally, according to old family traditions... Still young, he was remarked for his abilities, and sent to St petersburg/leningrad artillary academy... WWII began, and the young Ivanian, stiil a cadet, was sent to the front.....

He ended as a commander of the Red Army Artillary units before Berlin!! He was God knows how many times Hero of the USSR. After the war, he served in different army HQ, became the commander of the USSR artillary and missile academys, commander of missiles in Ukraine... Till the late 70s, when as a hero of the Soviet Union, he had the right to retire with biggest Honors, with a Datcha in St Petersbourg. He was married to a Russian, and his sons and daughter were totally merged to the then Nomenclatura of Moscow,... In 1988, he was already an old man, in his 70's, classified as 'history' by all, forgotten by all... He heard of Artzakh vaguely, or so, as eny 'Grandpa' in Leningrad. Till summer 92, when things went very very bad for Artzakh. The turks captured 45% of the territory, and were close to 10km nort east of Stepanakert. Desperate, Vasken Sarkssian made a speech on Armenian and russian TV, calling all Armenian officers, no matter their location, to save the country...

In Leningrad, by chance, the Ivanian couple, in their datcha were looking the news.... The old General, stood up, and said to his old wife, that maybe he should go too, who knows, he might still be usefull,,?? Her wife laughed at him, saying, 'old man, you are sick, unable to stand 30 minutes on foot, (he had a prostate adenome), with no respiration, what you think those people would do from you?' An hour later, he said, taking his jacket on his shoulder, as usual, at 19:00, 'wife I'm going to buy my cigarettes'... As he was out, his wife caller their son, in a Moscow office, saying: 'you know, your father is going too old, know what, he said he was willing to fight..., maybe we must see a doctor?' General kristapor Ivanian, 72 years old, hero of the USSR, gone to buy cigarettes, was reported missing in Leningrad.... Next day, at the eavening, in all the chaos and brouhaha of a small building, in Central Yerevan, where convoys were sent to Stepanakert, an old man, with 2cm glasses, a tiny brown, hand made jacket on his back , asked to be registered as a Volunteer, in russian!!! The women behind the desk was lost, she asked him to wait next room... At the end of the day, by chance an officer came to give instructions. He asked if there was still problems?? The women ended the list: 'Commander, there is an old fool next by, he's wainting for hours, and still refuses to leave...'

The officer, impressed by the age, went to persuade the old man. He still refused to leave...., asking the commander to call his General! No matter the arguments, he still began to shout loudly, ordering in Russian: 'call your general and tell him that Kristapor Ivanovitch Ivanian is a volonteer for Artzakh'!!! there was an othr officer next stage, who came in and asked: 'Are you the K. ivanian of the Artillary books? i studied in the academy, on your theory books!!!' Next Morning, the old men was in the office of the President of the republic, with the minister of Defense..., all were fullof emotion, and general Ivanian was appointed as military aid of the President, supervising the Armenian Army...' Things were going from bad to worse, and the old man was angry with the President, for giving him 'office work'... One morning, he was reported missing... The same eavening, there was a massive attack on Hadrut front, things were going into chaos, orders were given to evacuate.... in all that hell, when in a panick mood, the last field canon was being taken back, an old man apeared in front of the track, on the Highway to Fizuli. Took the mortars and asked to help him... The boys were annoyed. They had orders to retreat, but this Strong head old man was refusing to leeve'... no matter all their talk, finally, in respect to his big age, they decided to stop for some minutes, and help the old fool...

General Kristapor Ivanian, ex-Hero of the USSR, ex-Theorician of Soviet Artillery Academies, ex-Aid of the President of the Armenian Republic, turned into a simple artillery officer, ordering, shouting in Russian.... And the enemy was stopped! Soon the turkish fire was less and less accurate, less and less intensive.... Soon the little field cannon of the 'Missing' regiment registered new, captured material, Grad missiles.... Kristapor Ivanian, member and adviser of the NKR HQ, was assigned to create, from zero, NKR army's military academy, in a destroyed village, now named after him IVANOVKA. While fighting on 4 fronts, the NKR began forming new, 17-18 year old tank and artillery officers..., next to the front line. One day the boys were in classes, learning in books, and next day, when situation tense, they were in practice, liberating Aghdam or Fizuli... War ended, for the first time after 1041, ani's fall, an Armenian Army liberated lands... Gen Ivanian, called home, ex-Leningrad now St Petersbourg, to inform his whereabouts.... The Government of the NKR, offered a big dacha, next to the Presidential palace to his 75 years Heroe, now Second in Command of its Army....

The Russian wife installed in Stepanakert, but the old general refused comfort.. While he asked his wife to cultivate vegetables and poultry in their garden, to avoid expenses for the state, he went to live in his Division's HQ, near the front line..., turning Home, Stepanakert, once a month only.... Gen Ivanian was Given the most difficult section of the front, the mountains and forests of Chahoumian and Mardakert.... He was used to sleep 3-4 hours a day, the rest touring his positions... He was atheist as the original communists, knew virtually no Armenian, established soviet style discipline in his troops, imposed law and order, has build bunkers and garrisons, with soviet style harshness (the builders were given short terms, with at the end, the obligation to give best quality bunkers, if not, may God help them...)... He was feared as a 'Stalin' in all Mardakert, at 75, sick with uretral and cancer problems, but checked all by his eyes...

He knew nothing of 'comfort/luxury'. Lived in the same places as his officers, his men.... Ate virtually the same as they did, a 'loligov tzevazegh' a day, a piece of bread and a cop of tea...( in 96, things were not as good as now for food). I had the honor to share his officer quarter bank for a short period, and I can't forget that old, severe, Russian speaking, but so emotional and good-heart man, sharing the cold, humid, icy morning ceremonial garnison 'nakhajachs' with 20-30 year old men.... I can't forget the first day I was introduced to him. that 'Stalin' man, tears in his eyes, because he saw a young Diasporan, 'present to give a hand' to those forgotten 'SAVAGES'... Let alone the comic, while 2 different Diasporan's saving the same nation, were obliged to communicate with hands, or a Artsakhian parpar translator...

He had 2 Artzakhian horses, he used to tour the mountain forest positions 2 or tree times a week..., and believe me its easier to say than to do, in such hard terrain, mines everywhere, and the enemy 100-150m away.... He served till his last day of life, past 75, to secure security for his old people...."


In related news:


The recent takeover of the Armenian telecom operator, ArmenTel, by the Russian company Vympelcom, the possible passage of the Iran-Armenian gas pipeline to a company controlled by Russia, and the possible accession of Armenian railroads by Russian railroads renewed the discussion about the role of Russia in the Armenian economy. Pro-western politicians claim the excessive penetration of Russian capital into Armenian economy will lead to the country’s dependence on Russia, which, in turn, may have political consequences. However, there is no indication that Russian investments in the Armenian economy pursue goals other than making profit.

BACKGROUND: Russia is the largest source country of investments in the economy of Armenia, (US$405 million between 1996 and 2005) which is significant for this small country. As a result, a significant part of the country’s economic assets are controlled by Russians, both by the government and state-owned companies, and by private Russian companies. The bulk of the former group of assets came from the 2002 debt-for-equity swap, whereby Armenia repaid its US$97 million dollar debt to Russia accumulated during the crisis of 1990s. The state-controlled Russian companies are especially strong in the energy and power industry. In particular, more than half of the electricity-producing capacities of Armenia are controlled by Interengo, a subsidiary of RAO UES. Among this company’s assets in Armenia are four blocks of the Hrazdan Thermal Power Plant (TPP), the largest power plant in the country, and Armenia’s energy distribution network. Another Russian state-controlled giant, Gazprom, owns 45% of Armrosgazprom, Armenian gas network operator (with another 45% belonging to the Armenian government and 10%, to another Russian- and Gazprom-associated company, Itera).

Recently Gazprom declared its decision to increase its stake in Armrosgazprom to 58 percent, by buying a new issue of shares. This stake will be increased even more when the declared sale of the fifth block of the Hrazdan TPP to Gazprom is completed. Among non-governmental Russian companies, Vympelcom is by far the largest single investor in Armenia, as it took 90 percent of the ArmenTel shares of its previous owner, Greece OTE for some Euros 482 million or US$616 million dollars, equivalent to more than 10 percent of Armenia’s projected GDP this year. Another large private investor is the Russian aluminum giant Rusal, which owns Armenal, a large foil-producing factory. Rusal in recent years invested 80 million dollars to modernize it. The Russian leadership looks interested in activating this process, as seen, in particular, from the statement by president Vladimir Putin, who told his Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharyan on October 30 that he regretted that in recent years Russia “occupied a shameful third place” among foreign investors in Armenia. Not surprisingly, in recent years an increasing number of concerns have been expressed in Armenia about “selling the country to Russians,” or about Armenia “becoming an appendix to Russia,” etc. Concerns are expressed that the penetration of Russian capital may keep Armenia far from approaching the West, and that Armenia may fall out of the prevailing trend for the South Caucasus region which is westward. The government, of course, says this process is beneficial to Armenia. As for the Armenian population, it is neutral if not positive, given the absence of significant anti-Russian sentiments among Armenians.

IMPLICATIONS: The facts show that, at least for the time being, Russian investments in Armenia have had a mostly positive impact with the goals pursued appearing to be purely economic. Whereas in the 1990s, there were cases of politically motivated competition among Russian and western investors for Armenian assets, no such cases are known to have taken place in the past six years. Moreover, Russian funds have often been the only available investments in Armenian assets, with no competitors. This was the case, in particular, with the fifth block of the Hrazdan TPP, which was founded back in Soviet times but has remained unfinished as the Armenian government failed to find interested investors. Under the deal agreed in April 2006, Gazprom not only pledged to invest US$150 million to finalize this block, but also promised to keep gas prices stable at US$110 per 1000 cubic meters for three years to come (meanwhile, most other CIS buyers will pay twice as much in 2007). The political context of these investments, if any, is not obvious.

On the one hand, the Russian government does not conceal its interest in acquiring assets in Armenia, just as Is the case in other countries. However, the real influence of the political factor in these deals is mostly overestimated. The ArmenTel deal is good evidence, as in this case, two out of the four companies participating in the tender were Russian ones, and reportedly, the Armenian government would prefer to see MTS, a company close to the Russian government, as the winner. However, the tender was won by Vympelcom, whose largest shareholder is Telenor of Norway. In addition, the Armenian government used the sale as an opportunity to get rid of the ArmenTel monopoly on many communication services, which strongly hindered development of the IT and telecom sectors in Armenia. Finally, it is not obvious that these deals will make Armenia even more dependent of Russia than it already is. In fact, the opposite may be true. For example, Armenia has long been dependent on supplies of Russian gas, and this is, of course, a leverage of political pressure. However, as Russia has spent money to acquire large energy consuming assets in Armenia, it would be less inclined to stop gas supplies to Armenia as that would harm its own economic interests as well. As for the problem of ownership of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline, its value seems highly overestimated. This is a 40 km long pipeline connecting the Iranian-Armenian border with Armenia’s existing gas distribution network, owned by ArmRosgazprom. It cannot serve as a transit route due to its small diameter, as Russia reportedly purposefully prevented the construction of a larger pipeline. Even if this fragment is given to Russia (in fact, to ArmRosgazprom, a subsidiary of Gazprom, which works according to Armenian laws), the valve of this pipeline is controlled by Iran rather than by Russia. Aside from satisfaction that no Armenia does not transit Iranian gas, it will not be great enhancement of Russia’s influence in this sector.

CONCLUSIONS: For the time being and for an foreseeable future, the large Russian investments look beneficial for the Armenian economy and have no visible political impact in terms of Armenia’s attitude to the West. They do not prevent Armenia from continuing advanced market reforms and establishing closer ties with the USA and the EU, in particular, through the recently signed Action Plan of Armenia in the European Neighborhood Policy.


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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what.Therefore, if you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or simply attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself. Moreover, please appreciate the fact that I have put an enormous amount of information into this blog. In my opinion, most of my blog commentaries and articles, some going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Articles in this blog can therefore be revisited by longtime readers and new comers alike. I therefore ask the reader to treat this blog as a depository of important information relating to Eurasian geopolitics, Russian-Armenian relations and humanity's historic fight against the evils of Globalism and Westernization.

Thank you as always for reading.