New Western led Opposition Slogan in Armenia: "Russia wants Armenia without Armenians!" - October, 2011

One of Washington's newest psychological warfare campaign has many Armenians in the diaspora and in the republic's so-called "opposition" claiming that Russia is seeking to depopulate Armenia through an employment program that is cleverly luring Armenians out of Armenia en-mass! And emotionally disturbed political illiterates such as war hero Jirayr Sefilian of the radical Sardarapat movement and Washington funded propaganda outlets disguised as news media in Armenia have once again taken-up their now standard slogan - "Russia wants Armenia without Armenians!" 

The political intentions of these individuals and organizations are as obvious as they are destructive. Jirayr Sefilian is an interesting character, to say the least. Before I go on about the main topic of discussion here, I'd like to say a few words about Sefilian. Jirayr Sefilian repatriated to Armenia from Lebanon during the early stages of the liberation war in Artsakh, where he eventually became a war hero. Sadly, this brave war hero has now become a political psychopath. Several years ago it was reported that Sefilian was involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Armenian officials over contentious political issues regarding Artsakh. The conspirators were supposedly concerned about land concessions Armenian officials were presumably thinking about.

So, here we had Sefilian threatening Armenian officials based on political gossip derived from assumptions. Sefilian's gang was in essence threatening officials that had not only held onto every square inch of liberated Artsakh but had also liberated additional territories in recent years. And that's not the worst part of their act. They were also supporting Levon Petrosian, a political whore and a criminal that to this day has been publicly stating he would be more than willing to pull-back from liberated territories in Artsakh. Despite the very positive reality we see on the ground in Artsakh today, Sefilian and gang were ready to use violence against Armenian officials simply because Yerevan was seen giving the international community some diplomatic lip-service during negotiations from time-to-time. Sefilian and gang were ready to undermine the Armenian state because they were political illiterates.

Amazing, no?! Well, this is what I mean when I say Armenians and politics simply don't mix.

Is Sefilian a nationalist and a war hero? Yes, he is. Is Sefilian an unwavering champion of Artsakh? Perhaps. But Sefilian is also a political illiterate and a psychopath. Being a good soldier has nothing to do with being a good politician or a political analyst. In normal nations soldiers don't get into the business of politics. But as noted, organizing a hit-team was the not the worst part of Sefilian's story. Soon after our brave diasporan war hero got arrested for conspiracy against the state and illegal arms possession, he shamelessly began supporting Levon Petrosian, a treasonous criminal that had more-or-less raped Armenia during the 1990s and to this day continues talking about pulling back from certain parts of Artsakh. Instead of conspiring to assassinate an aspiring traitor and a criminal like Levon Petrosian, these "war heroes" were instead conspiring to kill those who not only have stubbornly defended every square inch of Artsakh's territory but have also increased its size in recent years.

War hero or no war hero, as far as I'm concerned Sefilian is a political psychopath and a self-destructive peasant. Sefilian has absolutely no place anywhere in Armenian politics. His rightful place is either back in the slums of Burjhamud or on the front-lines in Artsakh. What's interesting here is that a dangerous character like Jirayr Sefilian in a nation like the United States would have disappeared from the face of this earth a very long time ago. In fact, it's amazing how loosely, if not haphazardly, Armenia is being run these days. I may anger many reading this but I strongly believe there is currently too much political and press freedoms in Armenia. There are too many political freedoms for a nation who's troublesome population does not yet understand that "freedom" is not about one's right to commit national suicide. Anyway, the following is a sampling of Sefilian acting silly over other matters -
Armenian people should oust current authorities by all means, activist says: 
Getting back to the "Russia is depopulating Armenia" fantasy. A little background to the story. It is well known that Russia today has serious demographic problems. Its population has been shrinking in recent years. Russia today also has an immense surplus of cash as well as great business opportunities across its vast, rich, underdeveloped and underpopulated territory. Russia's eastern regions are essentially like America's west a hundred years ago but without the lawlessness and them pesky American natives. Simply put, many regions across the Russian Federation are ripe for economic development and growth. Many people, especially Armenians, are finding that Russia is in fact an undermanned goldmine and a haven for making money. Realizing all this, Russian officials want to encourage the settlement of these regions by Russian speaking populations from former Soviet republics. As a result, Russian officials have setup a government funded employment agency called The Russian Federal Migration Service to attract such workers. Such an employment office exists in Armenia as well as other former Soviet republics.

The point here is that there is no government "conspiracy to depopulate Armenia" as some Armenians like to present the matter. Such fantasies exist only in minds of Armenian Russophobes. It is interesting to note here that officials at the employment center in question did not publicly advertise its operations in Armenia for the very fear of having too many applicants, that is until Western propaganda operations in Armenia such as Radio Liberty, Lragir, Hetq and ArmeniaNow and nationalist imbeciles at the Sardarapat movement and Paruyr Hayrikian's AIM party decided to advertise it for them. 

Nevertheless, Armenia's so-called "opposition" in Armenia is grossly exaggerating the matter. In fact, as it was recently revealed, only about fifteen hundred Armenians have left Armenia for Russia under the dreaded program in question during the past four years! Do our Russophobic idiots keep track of the number of Armenians that have gotten green-cards to come to America?! Washington provides Armenians in Armenia with the highest number of permanent residency cards (aka. green-cards) in the region. 1200 individuals are said to have "won" the opportunity to move to the United States just in 2011. Washington has been encouraging Armenia's best and brightest to move to the US throughout the past twenty somewhat years, yet not a single one of those who are currently fear-mongering about the Russian employment center have raised any objections about Washington's actions. 

Instead of quietly taking up this matter with high level officials in Yerevan and Moscow, as truly concerned Armenians would have done, these people (who obviously have things on their minds other than simply what's best for their homeland) are using this situation towards self-serving political purposes and in doing so they are encouraging Washington's anti-Russian agenda in the republic. The purpose of Washington's "great game" in the region has been to oust Russia from Armenia and from the Caucasus. And all this fear-mongering and the dissemination of anti-Russian propaganda throughout Armenia and the diaspora actually serves to undermine Armenia's statehood in the Caucasus and it also encourages Armenia's already hopeless citizens to leave for the west.

I personally think centers such as this Russian employment office in Armenia needs to be closely regulated by government officials. The program in question, however, is much less dangerous to Armenia than the granting of thousands of American visas or green-cards to Armenians. In fact, Yerevan needs to closely monitor the operations of one of the largest US embassies in the world. In final analysis, as the positive impact Armenians of Russia have had on Armenia clearly reveals, having a strong Russian-Armenian community is much-much more desirable than having a large American-Armenian community. As I have point out in many previous occasions, the American-Armenian community today is actually a liability for the Armenian state. 

We seriously need to consider yet another important factor in all this. In this time of great political tensions and economic hardships in the world, despite the best efforts of its officials, Armenia will continue to have large numbers of unemployed and underemployed citizens. We have seen throughout history that unemployed people become cannon-fodder for foreign interests. Instead of allowing Armenia's disgruntled masses to be used by Washington's operatives against the Armenian state, similar to what they have been doing throughout the Middle East, Eastern Europe, South America, Central Asia and North Africa, it is better, from an Armenian official perspective, to allow the departure of a predetermined number of potentially troublesome people. And it is better, in my opinion, to allow these people to go to Russia, where they will at least be close to their homeland and also be in a position to perhaps one day play an integral role in the Russian Federation.

Since I don't see the global economic situation improving anytime soon, since I do not see an influx of massive economic aid being poured into Armenia anytime soon, since I do not see the Caucasus transforming itself into a land of milk and honey anytime soon, since I don't see Armenia's primitive/Asiatic sociopolitical culture evolving into something that will help facilitate Armenia's development anytime soon... I realize that Armenia will remain economically stressed for the foreseeable future. As a result, I firmly believe it is better to lessen the stress somewhat by shedding some of the population that the state, simply put, will not be able to feed under current circumstances. I say this with a heavy heart because I realize that Armenia's population is already alarmingly small. But reality is a bitch. Armenia's sociopolitical problems need to be dealt with in a rational manner.

We must realize that proper nation building is a slow and arduous process and it requires many generations as well as peace and stability to acquire. Even if Armenia's dreaded monopolists and so-called oligarchs today turned into innocent angels overnight - Armenia would still continue having severe economic problems simply due to its geographic location, its blockade and the nature of its neighbors. So, let's not fool ourselves into thinking that if we do this or that, Armenia will all of a sudden blossom. It simply doesn't work that way on earth. And this is where our mentally challenged brethren in the United States get it wrong every time. The thing to remember here is that Armenia is not the diaspora's test-tube nor is it the fairytale land the diaspora has been conditioned to think of it as. Armenia is a real nation with real problem. Unfortunately, some Armenian minds these days don't seem to be earthbound. 

It also needs to be mentioned that despite many obstacles and against all odds, both foreign and domestic, Armenia is slowly yet genuinely progressing/developing. Nevertheless, Armenia is progressing today not because of the "democratic" West but actually in-spite of it.

Let's please stop worrying so much about Russia or Russians. I don't know if any one of you has noticed but Bolsheviks aren't around anymore and Yeltsin's spirit has long been exorcised from the Kremlin. Let's please clear our heads and start instead worrying about Armenia's infestation with the English language (the catalyst upon which Western propaganda and its modern form of Bolshevism, Globalism, travels upon) and Western funded subversive individuals and organizations. Let's also start worrying about the high numbers of American visas and permanent residency cards being provided to citizens of Armenia. 

With the help of Armenia's self-destructive peasantry and an army of willing activists in the diaspora, the Western alliance has been attempting to disrupt the forward progress of Armenia. Alarmingly, the decades long psychological warfare campaign against all things Russian has been so powerful and so thorough that a significant portion of Armenians today look at Russia, an entity that allows their homeland to survive the ravages of the Caucasus and what they see is an enemy, and they look at the political West, an entity that essentially wants the destruction of Armenia and what they see is a friend. 

I know the political agenda of the political West well enough to seriously fear for a vulnerable nation like Armenia. The overall situation at hand is very troubling for me and this is essentially the psychological and emotional reasoning behind why I spend my personal time maintaining this blog. Armenia is constantly being bombarded by anti-Russian propaganda and fear-mongering. This is being commissioned by Western political interests and it is shamelessly being carried out by fools and traitors in Armenia and in the diaspora. Their short-term intent is to drive a wedge between Russia and Armenia and their ultimate/long-term intention is to drive Russians out of the strategic Caucasus. 

With Russia out of Armenia, Yerevan will simply become a pathetic servant of the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance and their regional Turkish and Islamic friends. With Russia out of the Caucasus, the region essentially becomes a playground for Turks, Islamists and multi-national corporations seeking energy exploitation. Wake up Armenians! Russia is not the enemy. Russia is in fact a historic opportunity for the fledgling and embattled Armenian homeland in the Caucasus. Armenians need to learn how to properly tap into this opportunity. Russia is not seeking to depopulate Armenia. Moscow in fact wants an Armenia that is well-populated and friendly.

October, 2011


Russia Baits the Hook: Armenians Leave for the “Promised Land”,%20Moscow,%20Russia.jpg

Recently, while riding in a city bus, the following conversation of two boys caught my ear. Ara, don't you get it? They're giving out Russian citizenship for nothing. What are you waiting for? I've already got my documents together. Let's get the heck out of this forsaken country together.

The conversation caught the attention of the others in the bus as well, about 15 passengers. At once, they all started to drill the one boy with the question – will you tell us where to go?
You'd think they were talking about how to get to paradise or something, but it was just Russia's Migration Agency here in Armenia. I decided to check out the office as well. Customer service was top-notch; office staff were courteous and attentive. Staffers at the office, located at 72 Manoushyan Street, take the time to listen to all applicants, reassuring them that by going to Russia a bright future awaits them. To find out more, I sat in at one of the migration agencies seminars. I soon realized that the office needed no additional advertising. The person conducting the seminar confessed the same.

"We run no ads. People find out about us through word of mouth; via friends and family," he said, noting the example of the bus encounter. Nevertheless, I still asked why they didn't advertise "There'd be no one left in Armenia if we advertised," he answered, adding that most come voluntarily. "We do not force anyone to go. Those who do link their bright future only with a powerful country like Russia," said the seminar guy.

Participating in the program are 30 border districts in Russia and a number of selected cities in each. Those making the move are allowed to take their family and possessions with them, even the car, to the Russian city where they will work. Their travel costs are paid and housing awaits them on the other end. Those relocating can also obtain permanent citizenship, employment, legal and health services and a nice sum of money. What else does one need to maintain a family? I asked myself if the government of Armenia would ever be able to launch a similar campaign to attract Armenians overseas back home.

While at the office, I found out that some 50-60 Armenian citizens apply daily. They all have one aim in mind – to leave Armenia. If, as it says on the agency flyers, such a program is of vital strategic importance for Russia, populating its border regions with professionally prepared Armenians, then the natural question arises, what exactly is the benefit for Armenia? Why does official Yerevan allow such a government sponsored program to operate here?

Those leaving Armenia mince no words when they explain why – it's for their children's future. The only concern is making ends meet. Living ion an alien land, with all the unforeseen dangers this entails, is of no consequence to them. A new twist to the program has been unearthed. If those leaving for Russia are granted even temporary residence, they are pressured to renounce their Armenian citizenship. Thus, it's safe to say that those leaving will never return.

Russia is investing huge sums to attract and keep the new "arrivals". Naturally, these Armenians won't be allowed to leave Russia; at least until they pay-back the funds invested in them by Moscow. The bigger the family, the bigger the relocation sum received by each. Sadly, the prospects that any will return to the motherland grow slimmer in proportion.


Some 626 Armenian families move to Russia for permanent residence in four years

Gagik Yeganian, chief of Armenian Migration Agency, an affiliation of Territorial Administration Ministry, said today a total of 626 Armenian families (1,508 people) have moved to Russia for permanent residence as part of a Russian government program designed to encourage citizens of former Soviet republics to settle n Russia’s thinly-populated areas. Speaking to journalists, Yeganian said the program was approved by Russian president in 2006 and its implementation is Russia’s sovereign right.

According to Armenian media stories, 30 border districts in Russia and a number of selected cities in each are involved in this program. Those who decide to move to Russia are allowed to take their family and possessions with them. Their travel costs are paid and housing is said to await them on the other end. Those relocating can also obtain permanent citizenship, employment, legal and health services and a nice sum of money.

According to Gagik Yeganian, some 13,600 Armenians applied to an office of Russian Migration Agency in Armenia to get information about this program in 2007-2010 and another 12,400 people in the following seven months, but only 626 Armenian families decided to relocate to Russia. Russia's population peaked in the early 1990s (at the time of the end of the Soviet Union) with about 148 million people in the country. Today, Russia's population is approximately 143 million.


Armenian migration service chief blames media for “advertising” Russian naturalization program

Head of Armenia’s State Migration Service Gagik Yeganyan has denied media reports claiming that emigration from Armenia is taking place at a rate of 70,000 people a year, at the same time pointing out media’s negative role in what he described as “advertising” a program of the Russian Federation offering naturalization to citizens in former Soviet republics.

At a news conference in Yerevan on Monday, Yeganyan said that in 2008 the negative balance of migration made 23,059 citizens, in 2009 – 24,978, and in 2010 – 29,860. These figures contradict a number of newspaper and online media reports claiming that up to 70,000 people emigrate from Armenia every year, based on the perception of the negative balance of incoming and outgoing citizens. “In these conditions, it is impossible to speak of mass emigration,” the State Migration Service head stressed, according to the Mediamax news agency.

Yeganyan also noted the negative role of the media in “advertising” the “Relocation of Compatriots” program being implemented by the Russian government. According to him, in legal terms, the authorities of Armenia cannot oppose the implementation of the given program. “In four years, 26,000 citizens of Armenia turned to the Embassy of Russia in Armenia within the framework of this program, and only 2,919 of them expressed a wish to participate in the project and filled in the documents, and the status of a migrant was granted to 822 citizens. As a result, 622 families, or 1,508 people, moved to Russia,” Yeganyan said, as quoted by the news agency.

He urged the media to get familiar with the conditions of the program and present the public with balanced and reliable information in order “not to cause interest of the citizens to the program and avoid forming queues at the Embassy.”


Armenia Concerned About Russian Migration Scheme

Though he disputed the figures, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian admitted that a lack of economic opportunities and the resulting emigration remained a serious  problem in Armenia.

Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian says Russian authorities have been told to stop encouraging and helping families in Armenia to migrate to Russia, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports. Sarkisian was referring on July 22 to the Russian government's Compatriots program, which offers employment, accommodation, and financial benefits to married residents of other former Soviet republics willing to settle in Russia. It is designed to address the country's serious demographic problems.

The Russian Federal Migration Service (FSM) began operating the program in Armenia in 2009 and has reportedly attracted hundreds of Armenian families since then. Its activities are sparking a growing uproar from local opposition politicians, public figures, and media worried about the continuing outflow of people from Armenia. Some of them have demanded that the authorities in Yerevan ban the FSM scheme in Armenia.

Sarkisian said Armenian authorities shared those concerns. He said President Serzh Sarkisian (no relation) instructed him to raise the matter at a recent meeting of a Russian-Armenian intergovernmental commission on bilateral cooperation that was held in the southern Russian city of Rostov-na-Donu. "We brought our Russian partners' attention to the fact that that program must not be implemented in the Republic of Armenia with those standards," Tigran Sarkisian said. "This issue will be the subject of intergovernmental discussions."

"We have to solve this issue at the political level," he told a group of prominent Armenian writers, academics, and other intellectuals at a meeting held in Oshakan, a historic village in the central Aragatsotn province.

Some of those intellectuals signed an open letter to the government earlier this month urging it to do more to keep Armenians from leaving their country mainly for economic reasons. They echoed opposition claims that the scale of the emigration had increased of late. President Sarkisian disputed those claims this week at a special meeting with top state officials -- including the prime minister -- that discussed the issue. He said most of the tens of thousands of people leaving the country each year, mainly for Russia, were seasonal workers who eventually return home.

Serzh Sarkisian admitted at the same that a lack of economic opportunities and the resulting emigration remained a serious problem in Armenia. He instructed government bodies to propose more measures to tackle it. Armenia had about 4 million residents when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. At least one-quarter of its population has since emigrated in search of employment abroad.


Envoy Defends Russian Migration Scheme

Armenia -- Russia's Ambassadror to Armenia Vyacheslav Kovalenko addresses the press in Gyumri, 01Sep2011

The Russian ambassador to Armenia, Vyacheslav Kovalenko, dismissed on Thursday a public outcry against a government program encouraging and helping Armenians to migrate to Russia. “Who is forcing Armenians to leave this country against their will?” he said during a visit to Gyumri. “Why are they leaving their country? If they live well in their country, why would they go elsewhere?” “People go [to Russian] at their own initiative,” Kovalenko told journalists.

The diplomat referred to the Russian government’s Compatriots program that offers employment, accommodation and financial benefits to married residents of former Soviet republics willing to settle in Russia. It is designed to address the country’s serious demographic problems.

Russia’s Federal Migration Service (FMS) began operating the program in Armenia in 2009 and has reportedly attracted hundreds of Armenian families since then. The program has sparking an uproar from local opposition politicians, public figures and media worried about the continuing outflow of people from the country. Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian said in July that his government shares their concerns. He revealed that it has told Moscow to halt the scheme’s implementation in Armenia.

The opposition youth movement Hima (Now) dismissed these assurances, saying that the government should simply order the FMS to close its offices in Yerevan and several Armenian regions. “There are people who want to accumulate political capital,” said Kovalenko. “They are wrong to do that. Everything will be fine.” Kovalenko claimed that most of the Armenian migrants work in Russian to support their relatives in Armenia and will eventually return home.


Armenia First in Region in Winning US Green Cards

A total of 1,200 entrants from Armenia have won US Green Card Lottery 2011. And in the 2012 Lottery, the number of winners from Armenia is close to one thousand, US Consul to Armenia Robert Farquhar stated, during a press conference on Thursday, adding that with this indicator Armenia is the clear leader in the region. Farquhar also informed that in 2011 the number of Green Card Lottery winners was around 700 in Georgia, and 350 in Azerbaijan. Also, 2,400 people became Green Card winners in Russia. Green Card Lottery 2013 started on October 4 and it continues until November 5. Every year around 55 thousand Green Cards are played in this lottery, RFE/RL reported.


Russian expert: U.S. ousting Russia from Armenia - October, 2011

This commentary is essentially the continuation of my previous two blog entries. I would like to ask the reader to pardon certain redundancies in rhetoric. In my opinion, repetition of certain facts and reinforcement of certain assessments are desperately needed. Certain political truths, historical realities as well as common sense have been skewed as a result of the decades long propaganda campaign we have all been subjected to. 

Russian-Armenian relations has become a cause of anxiety in certain circles. The primary complaints are that Armenia is too dependent on Russia and that Armenia's top leaders are operating under orders from Moscow. Many would like to see the severing of Armenia's umbilical cord with Russia. Believe it or not, so do I. Many would like to see truly independent and nationalistic leaders in power in Armenia. Believe it or not, so do I. Despite what some of our well-meaning compatriots think, however, if today's Moscow-backed regime in Yerevan is somehow ousted - Armenia will not turn into an "independent" republic and it wont be Armenian nationalists taking over control. Simply put: those poised to take control once Armenia's current government is toppled are political whores seeking to serve Western powers. Any degree of Western control in Yerevan may prove fatal for the Armenian state. For the foreseeable future, our small, impoverished, landlocked, remote and blockaded nation surrounded by enemies in one of the most volatile places on earth will not be able to survive without its ties to the Russian Federation.

Do not trust does who preach closer integration with the political West. The level of engagement Armenia has already gotten into with Western powers is already at its limit. It cannot go beyond. Due to its geographic location, its lack of wealth, its size and its historic rivalries with certain neighbors, Armenia does not serve the interests of Western powers.
On the other hand, as long as Turkic, Islamic and Western interests threaten Russian interests in the south Caucasus, Moscow will continue seeing the small, remote, impoverished and landlocked Armenia as a very valuable strategic asset in the region. Armenia is thus an obstacle for Western interests, but an important geopolitical player for Moscow.

As long as Moscow continues treating the Caucasus as one of its most geostrategically sensitive regions, it will continue jealously and aggressively protecting its foothold in Armenia. Despite the best efforts of Armenia's most warlike nationalists, without Russian boots on the ground in the south Caucasus the entire region would again turn into a Turkic/Islamic cesspool, as it had been for nearly a thousand years before Russian Czars set their imperial sights on the region beginning in early 19th century. Anyone that does not understand this nature of the region in question needs to seek professional help. 

The troubling geopolitical realities of our times is compelling Armenian patriots to seek Russian boots on the ground in Armenia.

Consequently, it's natural that Yerevan may at times be compelled to take directives from Moscow. The Armenian state, as it currently exists, cannot dictate its political will on the international stage. Armenians need to swallow their legendary pride and realize that when it come to politics Yerevan will be playing second fiddle for some time to come. And when it comes to the Caucasus, Moscow is the officially recognized maestro of the region. Despite what Armenia's patriots think, the only alternative to taking directives from Moscow from time-to-time is taking directives from Washington, London, Ankara, Tel Aviv, Tbilisi and Baku every time. Therefore, official Yerevan needs to face reality and concentrate its political efforts on learning how to navigate in Russian waters. Besides, as Armenians learned during the First World War, Western ships are unable to navigate in the mountains of the Caucasus. Nevertheless, this is not be a matter of Armenian patriotism or nationalism, this is a simple matter of understanding the geopolitical reality of Armenia and simply dealing with it. 

Saakashvili's Georgia has shown us in recent years that raw nationalism without a clear, objective or farsighted geopolitical vision is national suicide. Even with the full backing of its British, European, American, Israeli and Turkish allies, when push came to shove in 2008 Georgia was effortlessly mutilated by the Russian Bear. And the Western world stood-by in shock and helplessness. While studying in the United States I guess Saakashvili never took a course on international relations... or did, but failed to understand any of it. Nevertheless, Saakashvili's regime underscores the crucial importance of having political foresight, sanity and humility in government - especially when the regime in question is ruling a nation that is small, dependent and its so-called "friends" are far away.

Due to Armenia's complex geopolitical circumstances in the Caucasus, a Saakashvilian error by Yerevan could very well cost Armenia its hard won nationhood. The Caucasus is a nasty and unforgiving place. Armenian politicians simply do not have the luxury of experimenting with different political formulations and ideas. While official Yerevan must seek cooperation with all political entities, including the West, its primary political alignment needs to be with Moscow. Deeper or closer integration into Western structures was never rally a healthy option for Armenia. In the absence of Russia during the 1990s, nations like Armenia were more-or-less forced to look Westward. Thank God, the geopolitical climate of the globe has changed drastically from that of the 1990s. Dealing with a toxic entity like the Western alliance is no longer a necessity today and thus should be avoided as much as possible. 

For Armenia's sake, Armenian nationalists seriously need to wake-up from their fantastic dreams and begin to better understand the political world Armenia currently finds itself in. What Armenians also need to realize is that Bolsheviks are long gone and Yeltsin's Russia no loner exists. A resurgent Moscow is the main power-broker today, the king-maker and nation-breaker in the Caucasus; and it controls many levers in Armenia. Thus, any foolish attempt by Yerevan to break its dependency on Moscow (despite the fact that Armenia has no real alternatives to Russia) will be met with a swift and ruthless reprisal by Moscow. I reiterate, Armenians need to put aside their pride and begin seriously figuring out an effective way of navigating through Russian waters for the foreseeable future.

Due to the very seriousness of this very important topic I'd like to expand on this with the following.

Some time ago Leonid Reshetnikov, the Russian director of Russia’s Institute for Strategic Studies, made some very revealing comments (see the first article posted below this commentary). For the sake of Armenia's well-being, Armenians need to put aside their debilitating emotions and massive egos (at least temporarily), Armenians also need to put aside their Cold War derived Russophobia and pay close attention to Reshetnikov's message. Leonid Reshetnikov is of the opinion that Moscow cannot fully trust Armenia due to the strong presence of anti-Russian and pro-American political elements within the Armenian nation.

A whole lot of conclusions can be derived from Reshetnikov's comments. In these times of political unrest throughout the region, I personally think Reshetnikov's comments were a stern warning to all Armenians. And, in my humble opinion, he has made a very valid point.

I have been warning Armenians about the very point Reshetnikov raised for many years. Generally speaking, Armenians in Armenia tend to be Russia-friendly. One should not, however, try to derive political conclusions from this simply because the Russia-friendly attitude of Armenians is mostly rooted in a cultural affinity Armenians have with Russians. Armenia's political environment on the other hand cannot be considered a pro-Russian bastion in the Caucasus as many erroneously think. Great many of Armenia's politicians today will even sell their mothers if the price is right, and we know that Washington showers its obedient pimps, whores and mercenaries with lavish gifts. When it comes to buying people, we all know that Washington is the slave-master. To put it bluntly, when it comes to Armenia's well being, I don't trust the political environment in Armenia. Moreover, let's keep in mind that Armenian diasporas of the United States, Europe and the Middle East (significant portion of the world's Armenian population) tend to be quite Russophobic.

Reshetnikov's message/warning was essentially this: due to dire sociopolitical conditions of the past twenty somewhat years a significant portion of Armenia's traditionally pro-Russia population, as well as a significant portion of Armenia's Soviet era intellegencia (or those with higher education) have settled in the Russian Federation, leaving behind a population that is politically ignorant and intellectually immature - thus susceptible to foreign manipulation. The political irrationality of Armenians today is Washington's visa into the heart and minds of Armenians.

It is not a secret that there exists a serious intellectual and ethical void in Armenia today. It is also not a secret that this void is being exploited by Washington and friends.  

Washington is exploiting this void in Armenia by manipulating the nation's news press and the political "opposition" as well as manipulating elements within the Armenian diaspora. It is interesting to note that Leonid Reshetnikov is not the only Russian that has publicly made critical comments about the political competency of Armenian politicians in recent years. Vladimir Putin himself made similar statements several years ago when in a press interview he more-or-less disappointingly suggested that Moscow has had a very hard time in convincing Armenia's - ready to be sold to the highest bidder - officials to stay aligned to Russia.
As a fully certified diasporan Armenian of Cilician ancestry born in the Middle East and raised in the United States), and as one who cannot even put two Russian words together in a coherent manner, I happen to wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments expressed by Leonid Reshetnikov and his greatness, Vladimir Putin.

I'll go even further here by adding that many Armenians today are once again flirting political suicide. In a region of the world where the primary competing geopolitical players are Turks, Western energy interests, Iranians, Islamists and Russians - when it comes to picking an ally our newly (re)created, landlocked and dependent state has only but one choice in the matter - Moscow!
The Armenian state is able to sustain itself today primarily as a result of its close political, economic and military partnership with the Russian Federation and not due to the help of its big talking but grossly under-performing diaspora. This is essentially the source of my continued emphasis on all things Russian. My political opinions and sentiments are based on nearly two decades of studying geopolitics, military affairs and political history. I also have some military experience which enables me to better understand military matters. Moreover, and more importantly, my political opinions are devoid of personal sentiments, cultural biases or self-serving agendas. I assess and analyze politics rationally, objectively, without emotions and without ethical considerations.

In my opinion, the most important factor in Armenia's existence today as a nation-state in the Caucasus is the nature and character of Yerevan's relationship with Moscow. Alarmingly, very few Armenians in and out of Armenia truly seems to understand this. How many of our compatriots look to Washington for guidance? How many of our compatriots obsess over genocide recognition? How many of our compatriots enthusiastically envision seeing Armenia in the EU? In my opinion, compared to the vital importance of Armenia's strategic alliance with the Russian Federation all other matters are of secondary importance!

Instead of making a pan-national effort on Armenia's behalf within the halls of the Kremlin, our politically naive compatriots waste their times and money in an anti-Armenian vipers' nest like Washington. Instead of better utilizing our immense human potential in Russia, a vast majority of our politically ignorant compatriots continue enthusiastically crying at the feet of corrupt Western politicians. Instead of rallying behind the Armenian homeland in this time of great political upheavals, our proud diaspora is busy organizing church picnics...
Armenians need to open their eyes and realize that Washington will never be a strategic partner for Armenia. Armenia simply has nothing to offer Washington. Armenia is in fact an obstacle to Western interests in the Caucasus. At best, Washington can only be a passive antagonist with regards to Armenia. But the problem here is that Washington has not even been merely a passive antagonist regarding Armenia. While not openly hostile (due to various political factors), Washington is nonetheless very comfortably in bed with Armenia's regional enemies and it continues to covertly conspire against the Armenian state.

While I do not think Washington and their petty whores in Armenian society will be able to oust Russia from Armenia, they will nevertheless try their very best and in doing so they will inevitably hurt Armenia's development. Without getting into details, Moscow has fought tooth-and-nail to keep top level Armenian officials within its sphere of influence in the Caucasus. In my opinion, they have used every single weapon in their disposal - blackmail, threats, bribes, military aid, economic aid, affordable energy, nuclear fuel and billions of dollars worth of investments and sometimes perhaps - assassinations - just to make sure Yerevan stayed its "partner" in the region.

Even with all his faults, president Serj Sargsayan's ascension to power in early 2008 proved to be a God sent in this regard. It was under his rule that Yerevan's military alliance with Moscow was finally institutionalized and Armenia's long-term existence within the Caucasus ensured as a result. President Sargsyan's foresight turned Armenia into a major geopolitical player in the Caucasus. On the downside, however, the deepening of relations between Yerevan and Moscow did not go unnoticed in the West. Realizing that it has lost Yerevan, Washington has recently been subjecting Armenia to a massive media assault. As mentioned in many of my previous commentaries, their intent is to break the Armenian spirit and foment unrest in the Armenian homeland. The end-game of course is regime change in Yerevan, which simply means replacing the current Russian-0backed government with one that will obediently serve the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance. And they have a not so little army of Armenian "activists" ready to do their dirty work.

Due to Armenians' political ignorance and the severe emotional/psychological disorders derived from their decades long genocide recognition obsessions, Washington has been able to make deep inroads inside Armenian society. I have tried very hard battling the political illiteracy and self-destructiveness of Armenians but with limited success. Despite my best efforts, even within my own social environment and even amongst well educated Armenians I continue feeling like a lowly voice in our vast and desolate ideological/political wilderness.

A quick look at the major political players in Armenia reveals just how troubling the situation is in reality.

The ARF has long been penetrated by Western operatives and sympathizers and many within its rank and file today readily express anti-Russian sentiments... Raffi Hovannisian's political party in Armenia is clearly serving Washingtonian interests... Levon Petrosian's political party, needless to say, is an indirect tool for Western, Israeli and Turkish interests in Armenia... Richard Giragosian's political think tank in Yerevan, ACNIS and RSC are funded by Washington... Vartan Oskanian's political think tank in Yerevan CIVILITAS is also funded by Washington... Ex-speaker of parliament MP Tigran Torosyan tows a Western agenda... Paruyr Hayrikyan, the beloved nationalist icon has been for all intents and purposes a neocon implant in Armenia... Prominent diasporan organizations like Armenian Assembly of America are nothing but pathetic stooges of the US Department of State...

Moreover, we have a large diaspora that continues to suffer from Cold War related illnesses and are unable to see past genocide recognition... Then we have "historians" such as Richard Hovanissian, Haykak Arshamyan, Rafael Hambartsumyan... And then there is this character called Hayk Demoyan who unfortunately happens to be the director of the Armenian Genocide memorial. Not too long ago this Demoyan character publicly stated that historically it has benefited Armenia when Russia has been expelled from the Caucasus. I don't know what Demoyan is talking about but the last time Russia was forced to fully retreated from the Caucasus there was a near successful genocide of Armenians. Where is this Hayk Demoyan character getting his history lessons from, the university of Ankara?!

More troubling is the fact that we have a new generation of young Armenians being systematically brought into the United States to essentially receive a pro-Globalist and anti-Russian education...

What we essentially
have here on our hands is an embattled nation in the Caucasus that is dependent on Russia for survival - yet a nation that is also utterly saturated with Russophobes!
This folks is the ultimate Armenian paradox!

Not only do the above mentioned individuals and political entities represent a large portion of Armenia's political scene today, they in fact represent a significant portion of Armenians in and out of the homeland. Due to their treachery, psychological disorders and/or severe political ignorance (it really does not matter what their true reasons/intentions/motives are), these people are causing a new rift within Armenian society and their actions are actually endangering the very future of the Armenian republic. This troubling situation on the ground in Armenia today gives credence to Reshetnikov's provocative suggestion that Armenia's best minds are currently in Russia.

Taking all this into consideration, if I were a Kremlin official I'd be looking at Armenia very suspiciously. If I were a Russian official, I'd have a poison dagger with Armenia's name on it not too far from my reach. Although I'm being a bit melodramatic here, this overall situation may in fact help explain some of the actions that have been undertaken by Moscow with regards to Armenia in recent years. All of the Russian aid that has been pouring into Armenia in recent years has had serious political and economic strings attached. In other words, Armenia has not given the benefit of the doubt by Kremlin officials. Reagan's "trust but verify" readily comes to mind.

I reiterate - what Armenians need to be mindful of is the fact that Moscow has reemerged as a major Eurasian superpower - politically, militarily and economically. Moscow has been the Caucasus region's main power-broker since the summer of 2008. As a resurgent superpower, Moscow can make or break nations (as we saw in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan). Moscow is diligently working on reestablishing its political presence in areas where it considers are its traditional spheres of influence. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to come to the realization that Armenia falls wholly within one of Moscow's most important areas of interest. Moreover, Armenians also need to be mindful of the fact that Moscow is also an entity that can make Armenia disappear practically overnight - even without the use of arms.

Knowing that its position in Armenia is vulnerable due to Washington's cleaver machinations, why should Moscow feel comfortable with Armenia's continued suicidal flirtations with the West? Taking into consideration the massive amounts of aid (financial, technical and military) Moscow has been providing Armenia during the past twenty years (especially during the past five to ten years), I'm actually surprised at how well the Kremlin has treated Armenia. In the big picture, although Moscow carries a very big and nasty stick, in its dealing with Armenia Moscow has mostly used a carrot.

Some say, in final analysis nothing is for free. Some say, Russia is making a profit in Armenia. Some say, Russians have in fact bought Armenia. The fact is, profit/investment wise, what Moscow makes in Armenia is minuscule (I suspect sometimes even a lose). Therefore, what Russia is giving Armenia is essentially free. Moscow's generous aid is simply to make sure Armenia stays aligned to it (which Yerevan should be doing anyway). What's more, Armenia has not been sold to Russia. Moscow has simply bought into Armenia's hitherto nonfunctional and dilapidated Soviet era industry and infrastructure. What Russia is doing is ultimately for Armenia's long-term benefit; it's not like they will disassemble Armenia's railroads or telecommunications towers or power-plants or pipelines and take them back to Russia. The Levon Petrosian days when Armenia was truly independent and Armenians were selling the nation's assets at scrap metal prices to Iranians are long gone. What Russia and Armenia have today is a close strategic partnership in all sectors: industrial, technological, political, trade and military. Whats more, what Armenian in his or her right mind put a price figure on the military protection Armenia receives against Turks?

In my opinion, if Russians wants to buy into and build Armenia’s telecommunications networks, Armenia’s railroads, Armenia’s factories and Armenia's power-plants - they can certainly be my guests because I don't see anyone else who is willing to do so (e.g. West) or able to do so (e.g. Armenian diaspora).

Allow me to also remind the reader that if Moscow ever decided to help Baku retake Artsakh - not even a million of our proud nationalists could stop them from doing so. If Moscow ever decided to cutoff its energy deliveries (nuclear fuel, natural gas and oil) to Yerevan, Armenia would retreat back into the stone-age virtually overnight. Before anyone enthusiastically yells out - "what about Iranian energy?" - allow me to simply say that the only thing Iran can provide Armenia with is natural gas. Allow me to also say that Armenia needs much more than natural gas. Moreover, due to various factors, Tehran cannot be considered a serious ally for Armenia. At best, Tehran can only be a non-threatening neighbor with which Armenia can trade. Nevertheless, if Moscow ever decided to stop allowing Armenians to freely work in Russia and send hundreds of millions of dollars of remittances back to Armenia annually (not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars of Russian investments in the country), Armenia would turn into a desolate land of starving people similar to what is was back in 1918. If Moscow ever decided to (or was forced to) take its protective hand off of Armenia - Armenia would turn into a Turkish/Western/Azeri/Georgian/Iranian playground practically overnight.

For the foreseeable future, Armenia has no choice but to fully cooperate with Moscow. In the meanwhile, Armenians need to smarten up and use the opportunity Moscow is currently providing the Armenian state to strengthen the Armenian state so that at an opportune time in the future Armenia would be able to cut its umbilical cord with Russia and become a truly independent state.

I have met a lot of proud or nationalistic Armenians in my lifetime - but I have seldom met individuals that truly understand Armenia's unique geopolitical situation. Sometimes I feel as if Armenians today have actually become a liability for the Armenian state. The so-called political "opposition" in Armenia poses real risks for the Armenian state. Washingtonian activists in Armenia pose real risks for the Armenian state. If this kind of political immaturity and self-destructive behavior continues in Armenia's political circles, I'd expect yet another drastic measure to cleanup the mess. Back in the late 1990s Armenian politicians were again flirting with national suicide, thankfully they were eliminated in spectacular fashion on October 27, 1999. I hope that a reliving of that bloody day in Armenian history is not where we are headed today.

Diasporan Armenians should wake up and realize that it is Moscow that is keeping Armenia afloat in the Caucasus and not the pocket change and handouts they send to their landlocked and blockaded homeland. I have to say that along with handouts, the diaspora also sends agents of Washington - men like Richard Giragosian, Raffi Hovannisian, Vartan Oskanian and Jirayr Libaridian. Consequently, in a real sense, certain diasporan circles have in fact become a serious liability for the Armenian state. I'd like to again remind the reader that I'm a diasporan Armenian. If Armenia is in the Russian camp today it is not due to political maturity or strategic farsightedness of Armenians in general, it isn't even due to the efforts of "Russified" or "Russophile" Armenians. 

Simply put, Armenia is in Moscow’s political orbit today due to the stubborn efforts of very few individuals like Robert Kocharyan and Serj Sargsyan. The "great game" between the West and Russia has only managed to bring death, destruction and misery to the Caucasus. What the region desperately needs today is a Pax-Russicana.

When there are two equally powerful forces acting on an object from opposite sides, the object being impacted will go no where, be it left or right. In my opinion, this is ultimately the problem Armenia has today. The geopolitical tug-of-war taking place in the Caucasus between Moscow and the West is one of the essential reasons why Armenia is economically stagnant and politically volatile. The strong presence of Washingtonian agents in Yerevan and in the Armenian diaspora is also ultimately the reason why Moscow thinks its better to keep Armenia under constant pressure and in fear. This undesirable situation will ultimately delay the socioeconomic development in the region in general and in Armenia in particular. Therefore, thanks to our politically immature and ignorant compatriots, Armenia today is constantly dancing at very the edge of disaster.

What has been occurring in Libya and Syria is ultimately what Washington wants to occur in Armenia. Don't fool yourselves into thinking that the Egyptian or the Tunisian scenarios where the old political systems remained intact is what Washington is really looking for in Armenia. What Washington wants in Yerevan is a complete regime change. They want Yerevan to make a 180 degree reversal. Simply put: it's not about freedom or democracy in Armenia - it's about Russia in Armenia. Had Armenia been in some other strategically important region located some distance away from Russia and had it still refused to obey Washington's directives, forces of freedom and democracy would probably be bombing Yerevan as well.

Washington will eventually find out that despite the political immaturity of Armenians, Armenians also have a very refined sense of survival. I believe this age old Armenian instinct will help the Armenian homeland survive the coming storm, as it has on numerous other occasions in Armenia long and turbulent history. And Armenian survival in the Caucasus simply means sticking close to Moscow. 

Therefore, I have no doubt that Washingtonian machinations in Yerevan will prove to be a failure in the end. The worrying part for me, however, is what will its impact be on Armenia's overall sociopolitical development? The Caucasus will continue to stagnate economically and it will remain vulnerable politically - as long as it remains an object of contention between Moscow and Washington. One side simply has got to give. I pray to God that it's the Western side that gives.

October, 2011


U.S. ousting Russia from Armenia, Russian expert says

The Heritage Party leader was there, but stood among the crowd.

One cannot confidently state that Armenia is a staunch ally of Russia in the South Caucasus, Leonid Reshetnikov, Director of Russia’s Institute for Strategic Studies, told journalists in Rostov, Rosbalt reports. The political and socio-economic situation has worsened in Armenia over the last few years. He pointed out that over 50% of the Armenia’s population emigrated to Russia, including numerous intellectuals that are friendly to Russia. While ordinary people are concerned over the possibility of Russia leaving the Caucasus, intellectuals and government officials are of different opinions, the expert said.

Reshetnikov pointed out the U.S. has become more active in Armenia. It is no coincidence that the U.S. has the “world’s largest embassy” in Armenia. “It means that the Central Intelligence Agency created a regional agent network, which is common knowledge. That is why 300 to 400 officers are working there as diplomatic or technical staff,” the expert said.

According to Reshetnikov, the United State’s aim is to break the only link that is still an obstacle to their efforts to form a “Russia-free” one in the Caucasus. This is also the aim of the United State’s efforts to reconcile Armenia and Turkey. “A few years ago I happened to talk to Armenia’s top officials. Even then, in private talks, they used to say: ‘The United States is a great power, why are we looking at Russia? We had better look at the U.S.’ I said to a top-ranking official: ‘The U.S. will not give you money for the country’s development. It will give a loan for sewerage in Yerevan, and top officials will use the money for personal enrichment. Americans have never given anything except for purpose loans to bribe the ruling top. The face of the official I was talking to showed he shared my opinion of the U.S. line. He liked that idea of Americans giving money for the ruling top,” Reshetnikov said.

He pointed out that Russia’s weaker positions in Armenia will be palpable within the next couple of years.

Related materials:

Russian military base in Armenia: A security guarantee or limitation of independence?

Russian military base in Armenia: A security guarantee or limitation of independence?

On April 12 the Armenian parliament ratified amendments to the treaty with Russia signed last August, according to which the term of the deployment of the Russian military base in Armenia is extended from the original 25 to 49 years, and its functions are expanded to “ensuring the security of Armenia.” The voting took place without any statements from factions – 80 lawmakers of the 131-seat Armenian National Assembly voted in favor of the ratification of the treaty, with one member representing ARF Dashnaktsutyun abstaining. The opposition Heritage faction opted out of the voting. The only “nay” came from the ex-speaker of parliament and former Republican, now independent MP Tigran Torosyan.

In an interview with Torosyan said he did not understand why the term of the Russian base’s deployment in Armenia was being extended 11 years before the completion of the original agreement. He stated that the proposal to extend the term of the base’s deployment had come from Russia, which means that it is Russia and not Armenia that is interested in this development. Moreover, according to the lawmaker, the renewed defense pact has limited the scope of maneuvering for Armenia in its foreign policy. “After the Russo-Georgian war the importance of Armenia in the region has risen sharply, but by signing the treaty we not only failed to use the chance we had, but also limited room for our maneuvering,” Torosyan stressed.

The question about the presence of the Russian military base in Armenia was raised in the European Commission during the visit of Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan to Brussels in March. Then he explained the steps taken by Armenia by the presence of real enemies - Turkey and Azerbaijan. However, many experts argue that the presence of the base is an obstacle to Western investment and reforms of the Armenian public and political system that is too closely linked with the Russian leadership.

The absence of statements from parliamentary factions during the ratification vote appeared to show the concern and absence of positive arguments among lawmakers rather than their confidence in the correctness of the step. Armenia has started paying for Karabakh’s independence with its own, said head of the opposition Heritage faction Stepan Safaryan. He said that the agreement was not at all a document on Armenian-Russian friendship or strategic cooperation between the two countries. “This document is about [Armenia’s] completely giving up the administration of its own borders,” said Safaryan.

The ruling coalition which holds a parliamentary majority made no joint statement. Only separate members made comments after questions from media. “After all, we have Turkey next to us. Can we largely ensure the security of our borders?” commented head of the Republican Party faction in parliament Galust Sahakyan. The original Treaty on the Russian military base in the territory of the Republic of Armenia was signed on March 16, 1995. The base is equipped with S-300 air defense missiles and MiG-29 fighter jets. About 5,000 personnel service at the base.


Russophilia Hinders Us

Haykak, my interlocutors in my recent interviews disbelieve Gallup’s poll results claiming a 5% decline of Russian sentiment in Armenia. But they say Russophilia is deeply rooted. As a historian, could you guide us to the beginning of Russophilia? Is it due to the 70 Soviet years?

In Armenia, Russophilia dates back to the early 18th century when the Armenian national liberation thought gradually faced the Russian empire. It was strengthened in the 19th century as Russia captured East Armenia. The Armenian political thought gradually fell under the influence of the Russian politics. The emergence of the Armenian political parties was mainly the influence of the Russian political parties and movements.

The second layer of Russophilia is deeper and is determined by the period of the Soviet Union. In those notorious 70 years Armenia bore the influence of the Russian empire called the Soviet Union. I think current Russophilia is its consequence because in the late 19th and early 20th century the Armenian people living in the Russian empire were disappointed with the anti-Armenian policy of the Russian government innumerous times. It was not accidental that non-pro-Russian trends emerged in the Armenian political thought. The disappointment with the Russian imperialistic chauvinism was so great that in the early 20th century the Armenian political parties tried to cooperate with the Turkish political parties. One more example. In 1828 East Armenia was annexed by Russia, and after the ensuing Russian-Turkish war most Armenians migrated from Persia and Turkey to East Armenia hoping to get support there but in a few years they got so disappointed with the Russian empire policy and repressions that part of them left back for Turkey and Persia.

The 19th century was marked by Russian advancement toward the Balkans and pan-Slavonism which was a dominant ideology not only in Russia but also in the Slavic nations of Europe who thought they would be saved if Russian empire extended to their region, so the Armenian issue became secondary and marginal to pan-Slavonism. The Russian-Turkish wars of the 19th century had two fronts, Caucasian and Balkan. Every time Russia succeeded on the Caucasian front, it eventually made concessions to gain dividends in the Balkans. It was especially evident after the Russian-Turkish war in 1877-1878, and only in the late 1890s did the Armenian political thought realize that Russia is always ready to ignore the Armenian issue for the sake of its geopolitical interests.

With such experience behind, why is today’s government again facing Russia?

Today’s government with its innumerable roots is tied to and at the same time dependent on Russia. Our government is not only politically and economy dependent on the Russian government but also is facing the problem of reproduction and every time it gets serious support from Moscow. These roots are deep, evidence to which are the debt of 100 million dollars and the notorious project of property for debt which marked another invasion of Armenia by the Russian empire and it gradually came into possession of the greater share of our strategic resources – communication, energy, railway – in the past decade.

In your opinion, does Russia stand a chance of democratic transition and does it set such a goal? What processes are underway now there and here?

Frankly speaking, I have no expectations of democracy or human rights in Russia because it upholds the worst traditions of the same Russian empire and the Soviet Union. There, every democratic wave, every small uprising is cruelly cracked down by the authorities. The Russian imperialism will continue for a long time, the Russian people are used to the whip and believe in the idea of the good king. Even the worst dictator in Russia is perceived as a good ruler, and the surrounding is blamed for everything. The Russian muzhik does not blame the tsar, he blames bad officials surrounding the tsar.

As to Armenia, the situation here is more or less “better” than in Russia because in Russia the opposition has been annihilated and abandoned. Unfortunately, in Russia there is just a handful of opposition led by the chess player Garry Kasparov. The other forces accepted the reality and mainly joined the totalitarian government. Theoretically, of course, it is possible that if a democratic wave rises, changing the situation by miracle, it will affect Armenia. For the time being, however, I think Russia leads Armenia to a democratic deadlock. The deeper Russophilia and Russian sentiment, the slower democratic transition in Armenia will be.

One of our interlocutors says our political forces are the product of the Soviet Union, therefore they bear the influence of the Russian policy. Do you agree?

It is nostalgia for the Soviet Union or just upbringing that people can’t rid of and get a broader view of the world. Russia itself is unaware that the world lives in the 21st century, and the methods with which the country is governed, from economy to external and internal policies, are obsolete. Those political personalities in Armenia who think that we are stuck amid the 90s are badly mistaken, in the world the events succeed each other at such a pace, and such unpredictable vectors emerge, both the government and the opposition of Armenia must be ready to cope with these vectors.

Should we set a goal to rid of Russophilia or say no to the empire and yes to sovereignty?

In fact, I answered this question for me a long time ago. The people who are well-aware of the dangers coming from Russia (although positive waves also come from Russia) must shake off the imperialistic mindset. Actually, I don’t understand the notions “friendship of two nations” and “elder and younger brothers”. People needn’t declare each other friends, as we do with Russians and Georgians (and formerly with Azerbaijan). There are no brothers, in-law, or hostile nations, there are common interests, necessity to coexist in a region, cultural relations and interaction.

What are the positive waves you mentioned?

The culture created within the Russian empire, education, literature, the Russian cultural heritage. When I said positive waves, I meant cultural interrelation and interaction.

Will Turkish-Russian normalization lead to liberation from Russophilia?

As a historian, I will say that the Armenian issue, the Armenian people, Armenian territories were repeatedly sacrificed on the altar of the Russian-Turkish relations. I don’t think a serious politician would not understand this. As to the Russia-Turkey rapprochement, their relations are a cloud in the horizon. Although Turkey is undergoing internal transformation, there are common economic and political interests, and we must keep the Russian-Turkish rapprochement in focus and try to counteract and find alternative solutions. Russia has always tried to keep the Armenian-Turkish relations under control and Russia has a hand in the failure of the Armenian-Turkish protocols. Russia will always keep Armenia’s foreign policies on Turkey and Iran under control.

What causes nostalgia now when the Soviet Union has been unveiled, and everything is clear?

This has two reasons. First, the transition to liberal economy deviated toward a monopolized criminal-oligarchic system. As a result, the majority of the public can’t see the advantages of an economy without monopolies. The Soviet leveled quality of life, almost free from polarization, is still vivid in the memories of the society.

One more observation. The press has recently brought up lustration, declassification of KGB archives. I think it’s a peculiar form of self-clearance, though belated because Eastern Europe and the Baltic states did it earlier at the beginning of their independence, which helped them overcome inhibitions, people who had cooperated with the Soviet Union’s security body were banned from government. In Armenia, it was not done in the 1990s, and it is not done now, but I am sure that declassification of KGB archives will help cleanse the society, as well as uproot Russophilia. However, it is not an end in itself, therefore I think that it must be done only when free elections are held in Armenia, and the society has a genuine participation in government. In Armenia, self-cleansing could be triggered by political forces which will come to government through democratic elections.


Armenia Underestimates its Importance For Russia – Armenian expert

Armenia underestimates its importance for Russia and overestimates Russia’s significance for itself, the head of Center for Regional Studies Richard Giragosian said at a press conference on Monday. He stressed that Russian military base in Armenia is the only example of a base in a foreign state, where local authorities pay for its maintenance. “Russia is paying huge sums for placing its base in Kyrgyzstan, for operating the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan, but the utility costs of Russian base in Armenia are covered by local authorities,” said the expert. Asked which security system Armenia should adopt to protect its borders, Giragosian said that the Armenian people were faced with gravest misfortunes when they began to believe in promises of foreign countries, be it Russia, France or the United States. “We need to increase self-confidence, only then we can achieve success,” he said, reminding that victory in Karabakh war was achieved not because of Russia, but contrary to Russia.


Tricolor Under Russian Boot

In Armenia, the society, and especially the part of the society which is engaged in civil activities, is dissatisfied with the fact that the Russian border troops will march in the military parade dedicated to the 20th anniversary of independence of Armenia under the Russian flag.

In fact, it is something to complain about when the military parade dedicated to the independence of Armenia is concerned. But on the other hand, it is the logical consequence of the circumstances which led to this situation, and if these circumstances are not fought and protested systematically and consistently, they will gradually become more striking and will hurt our national dignity in those who still cherish it.

The point is that year after year, consistently, the independence of Armenia was handed over to Russia, and there did not seem to be serious social opposing, dissatisfaction. Under the silent agreement of the society, the strategic capacities of Armenia, the energy system were handed over to Russia. Armenia gradually fell under the Russian dominance without encountering social protest, political protest goes without saying.

Only recently has it become visible how a considerable part displaying civil activity tries to oppose to the russification, which is, unfortunately, already in the last stage. But again, there is no word about political protest. The so-called main opposition of the country, the Armenian National Congress, obviously avoids the Russian topic, let alone that the Congress leader has hinted in his public speeches about loyalty which hardly differs from the government loyalty.

The other opposition forces which are relatively active, the Heritage Party and the ARF Dashnaktsutyun, sometimes do complain, the ARF Dashnaktsutyun even held a piquet in front of the Russian embassy, while some Heritage activists criticize the current status of the Armenian and Russian relations. However, there does not seem to be reason to consider a systemic political struggle.

Armenia does not have a political pole or wing which would come up with a criticism of the Armenian and Russian relationship with a clear and conceptual position, not only accusing the Armenian government but also accusing Russia for shaping destructive economic and political processes and a destructive social and civil environment in Armenia. The key political forces of Armenia do not dare to set clear political demands before Russia, evidence to which is that despite a lot of reasons, no political force of Armenia has officially organized an action in front of the Russian embassy. At best, they were done on behalf of youth organizations.

Meanwhile, the government for which this environment is quite useful, describes every effort of civil groups to brought up the issue of the Armenian-Russian relationship and the destructive role of Russia in the life of Armenia as anti-Russian. In reality, however, it is the same fairy tale as the criticism of the problems of the army and other spheres of life, and having no objective counterargument, the government refers to the theory of bringing grist to the enemy’s mill.

Similarly, an effort is made to interpret any remark against the Russian politics as anti-Russian. Meanwhile, this is a clear example of misinterpretation of notions. Nobody is against the Russian and Armenian relationship. Moreover, nobody is so stupid as to understand that Armenia cannot afford to have a bad relationship with Armenia.

However, good relationship is one thing, and the present Armenian-Russian relationship is another thing. It is not a good relationship, it is either Armenian masochism or Russian rape. In good relations, countries mutually respect each other’s interests. In the case of Armenia and Russia, there is no mutuality, while for Russia the Armenian interest is something which can be used to step on to mount. In other words, the Armenian interest is a stool for the Russian politics which stands on it from time to time to reach the upper shelf.

This is not a good relationship, this is deception. And the problem is not that Armenia must stop relationship with Russia. Armenia must stop deception with Russia and establish a relationship which is worth an independent and sovereign country which knows how to respect its own interests and knows that any country in the world, including Russia, respects those who respect their own interests.


Whither CSTO: Russian Power, Armenian Sovereignty, and a Region at Risk
By Raffi Hovannisian

The second anniversary of blitzkrieg between Russia and Georgia underscores the unresolved geopolitical undercurrents in this region among the seas. Landlocked by the forces of history from the Caspian, the Black and the Mediterranean, Armenia ’s pivotal position remains encircled by a neighborhood in strategic turmoil. The inherent jeopardy flowing from Turkey ’s now obviously disingenuous engagement of Armenia , the challenges posed by Azerbaijan ’s graduation from its threatening language of war to its launch of a deadly attack in June, and the general escalation of tension across the Caucasus have combined to define the greater region as one at immediate risk of deepening instability.

Against this backdrop of system-wide insecurity, Armenia is now facing a dangerous alignment of outside interests and internal shortcomings. While Yerevan ’s “strategic” relationship with Moscow continues to serve as the bedrock for regional peace and security, the nature of the Armenian-Russian embrace is unduly lopsided. The asymmetry of the Russian-Armenian relationship is most manifest in the fundamental lack of equal and mutually respectful cooperation.

After all, Armenia ’s hosting of the only Russian military base in the area is no simple act of kindness, and must be anchored in a shared regard for each other’s interests. What is more, the Russian base is the only such facility outside of the Russian Federation where the host country receives neither rent nor reimbursement. Armenia pays for the totality of its costs and expenses. Such a mortgaging ofArmenian national security is unacceptable and demands immediate redress. In the new era, Armenian-Russian partnership, in order to be strategic without quotation marks, must be sincere, really reciprocal and based on horizontal respect, despite the differences in size and experience between the two nations.

A case in point is the information recently leaked by the Russian media and reactively confirmed by official Yerevan that the two states, either bilaterally or under the auspices of the CollectiveSecurity Treaty Organization (CSTO), intend to extend up to 49 years the treaty arrangement for the Russian base and the deployment of forces there. Matters of dignity aside, this flies in the face ofArmenian sovereignty, foreign policy independence, and vital national interests. It also flouts the unlimited future potential of an actually strategic partnership between us.

This holds especially true in view of the fact that the existing base agreement does not expire until 2020 and can, if necessary, be extended upon expiration for five or even ten years. Of further consternation is the Kremlin’s military rapport with and sales to Ankara , which stands in occupation of the historic Armenian patrimony, has imposed a modern-day blockade of the Republic of Armenia tantamount to an act of war, and continues to deny and shirk responsibility for the Genocide and GreatArmenian Dispossession of 1915.

A more contemporary source of outrage is Moscow’s military support for Azerbaijan, which having launched a failed war of aggression against Mountainous Karabagh and Armenia is today threatening renewed hostilities, completing its occupation of theArmenian heartlands of Shahumian, Getashen, Artsvashen, and Nakhichevan, and continuing with impunity to destroy and desecrate the Armenian cultural heritage at Jugha and elsewhere. In this connection, in the event that Russia indeed carries through with the reported sale of its S-300 weapon systems or other equivalent armaments to the aggressive, belligerent, and revisionist regime of Azerbaijan, Armenia should withdraw forthwith from the CSTO, of which it is the sole member from the region, or at the very least require full fair-market rent for the Russian base together with reimbursement for water, electricity and other relevant expenses.

And finally, the ultimate achievement of Partnership between Russia and Armenia , and between Russia and the West, will necessarily entail an actual application of the Rule of Law—not only domestic but also international—and hence the recognition of the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh within its constitutional frontiers, as well as of Kosovo and Abkhazia. Anything else is partisan politics, petty political gain and sui generis dissimulation, all of which might make sense for some and for the moment but at bottom run counter to the aims of peace, security, justice and democratic values for the critical landmass amid the seas.


Paruyr Hayrikian Says Pull Russian Troops From Georgia


Paruyr Hayrikian, a prominent Soviet-era Armenian dissident, has written to Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to express his delight at the ongoing withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia, describing it as a “historic achievement.” In a letter made public at the weekend, Hayrikian said the troop withdrawal, due to complete by the end of 2008, will “liberate the Georgian people from one of the last pillars of Russian imperialism and turn Georgia into an outpost of dignified and human way of life in the region.”

The process is proceeding in accordance with a Russian-Georgian agreement ratified recently by Georgia’s parliament. The Russian government has reaffirmed its pledge to honor the time frame for the closure of its two military bases located on Georgian territory. Some of their military hardware has already been transferred to Russian troops stationed in Armenia.

“The withdrawal of the Russian bases and especially the uncovering of a [Russian] spy network is a historic achievement comparable to the declaration of Georgia’s independence,” wrote the ex-dissident who had spent 17 years in Soviet labor camps for campaigning for Armenia’s independence. He was apparently referring to the recent arrest of a member of Saakasvhili’s staff who has reportedly pleaded guilty to accusations that he spied for a foreign country, presumably Russia.

Hayrikian, who was a major actor on the Armenian political scene during the 1990s, also said he believes that Russian intelligence services are behind periodical tensions erupting in Georgia’s Armenian-populated Javakheti region. Russia has always acted like a “conqueror” in the South Caucasus but now resembles a “dying dragon,” he charged.

Incidentally, one of the two Russian military bases slated for closure is stationed in the local town of Akhalkalaki and has long served as the impoverished area’s number one employer. Hence, the local population’s strong opposition to its closure. Many Javakheti Armenians also accuse the government in Tbilisi of neglecting the region’s grave socioeconomic problems because of its ethnic composition.

Hayrikian’s description of Russia also hardly reflects the dominant public mood in Armenia whose government will continue to rely on Russian military presence in the foreseeable future. However, the traditionally strong pro-Russian sentiment in the country is believed to have weakened considerably in the last few years due to Moscow’s perceived hard bargain in its economic dealings with Yerevan. President Robert Kocharian acknowledged this fact through a spokesman last January.

A growing number of Armenian mainstream politicians, mainly affiliated with opposition parties, now question the future of their country’s military alliance with Russia and advocate its eventual accession to NATO. Hayrikian’s views on the Russian state are therefore no longer extreme by Armenian standards.


Rafael Hambartsumyan: "Turkey and Russia Equally Guilty of Armenian Genocide"

The Armenian Genocide was organized equally by Russia and Turkey, historian Rafael Hambartsumyan stated in Yerevan. In his words, when speaking of the Armenian Genocide several important and concealed facts should be emphasized. "30 years before the Genocide Russia put the slogan "Armenia without Armenians" into the mouth of prince Golitsyn," the Armenian historian said. According to Hambartsumyan Russia always used Armenians for its own ends. During the World War II Russia indirectly abetted Turkey in perpetrating the Genocide by sending over 200 thousand soldiers to the Russian-German front. "As result of Moscow Treaty of 1921 Eastern Armenia was almost completely occupied and divided between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The main purpose of the Treaty was the elimination of the Armenian Republic," he said.