Գլխավոր > Ara K. Manoogian's Activism > To Donate Or Not To Donate? (PART III)

To Donate Or Not To Donate? (PART III)

White Paper on “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund

Part III

By Ara K. Manoogian

When John Danilovich, Chief Executive Officer for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), warned Robert Kocharyan on March 11, 2008, that the program may suffer because of Armenia’s retreat from democracy—the March 1 crackdown, political prisoners—Robert Kocharyan, then the outgoing self-declared president of Armenia, replied that we would find other sources of money. This irresponsible statement is reminiscent of the King of France Louis XV (1710-1774), who is known to have said: “Après moi, le déluge” (After me, the deluge).

The Millennium Challenges made a decision to cut the aid. As a result, 943 km of rural roads were left unrepaired in 265 rural communities of Armenia, and an estimated 6% poverty reduction remained on paper. The MCC press release issued on March 11, 2009 reads: “The Board’s decision today signals to the government that it has failed over several years to address concerns raised not only by MCC and other U.S. Government agencies, but the international community as well.” Moreover, Armenia has been denied eligibility for a second compact, unlike its northern neighbor, Georgia. At its winter quarterly meeting on January 5, 2011, MCC chose Georgia and Ghana as eligible to apply for second compacts, which are “contingent on successful completion of first compacts and continued good policy performance” (Center For Global Development).

Who had bolstered up Robert Kocharyan’s confidence? Could it be that entities, such as the Lincy Foundation, “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, and other Armenian charitable organizations have contributed to the former self-declared president’s carelessness and arrogance, because of their leniency toward harrowing economic, political and social injustice in Armenia? “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund presents itself as an apolitical entity, which takes care of common people, no matter who rules them and how. The irony of this is that a non-Armenian organization, such as Millennium Challenges Corporation, appears to care more about the rights of Armenian citizens than all the Armenian charitable organizations today.

The 20-year history of Armenia’s independence is full of tragic events and highly undemocratic decision-making by the state leadership—from the brutal crackdown following the rigged 1995 presidential elections to the murderous crackdown following the rigged 2008 presidential elections, including countless violations of human rights in between. However, not even once has the Fund been able to show its attitude toward state injustice because it is the state itself. It is its outright politicization—inclusion of representatives from the major Armenian political parties functioning in the Diaspora, along with the top Armenian and Artsakh officials—that paralyzes the Fund, making it numb to socio-economic disasters, which result in more need for charity.

Of all Board members, it was Louise Simone Manoogian, who eventually gave up her membership on the Board of Trustees in 2009, despite the efforts of top officials to keep her in the game. However, the leadership of the Board was in fact able to talk another member out of quitting. According to a former employee of the Fund, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, Bedros Terzian, another member of the Board of Trustees who was deeply disenchanted with Serzh Sargsyan because of the bloody March 1, 2008 events and wanted to quit, was persuaded to remain on the Board. The withdrawal of France, of which Terzian is a representative, would have been a painful loss for the Armenian government.

However, the government’s refusal to reform itself is inevitably going to lead to bigger losses. The recent news about the Lincy Foundation shutting down and not allocating any of its remaining assets to Armenia indicates a shift in the attitude of American-Armenian billionaire and philanthropist Kirk Kerkorian toward the Armenian authorities.

“A Lincy Foundation representative told the L.A. Times that UCLA was chosen as the recipient of the $200 million financial gift because the foundation has given the campus about $70 million in previous gifts and has been pleased with the way the money was used,” writes Hollywood Reporter .

According to a recent publication at 1in.am alluding to sources from within the government, the withdrawal of MCC from Armenia, shutdown of Lincy Foundation, as well as Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan’s failure to attract funds from Russia, have caused a panic among the government officials who have begun admitting that Armenia’s economy is on the verge of collapse.

Part I and Part II of this white paper have shown that the main flaws of the Fund have, in fact, one common source: the government. Moreover, this is a problem squared, as there are two governments controlling the Fund: the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh. Part III explores other ways the government has been utilizing its unreserved control over “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, the reasons behind them, and the consequences.

1. The More Unpopular the Government, the Less Popular the Fund: Officials don’t let go of the Fund because its good performance is a shortcut to boosting their approval.

Judging from an open letter written in 1998 by a 63-year-old pensioner and addressed to Raffi Hovannisian, then the newly appointed Executive Director of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, the Fund appears to have had a good start:

I’m 63 years old. I graduated from a university in Moscow, returned to Yerevan and worked for over 40 years in various planning institutes as a chief specialist. I have participated in the planning of many beautiful buildings of the city of Yerevan; and even now I feel proud looking at them. I used to be paid well and had a comfortable life. Now I am a pensioner, who gets a pension of 3,760 drams (not dollars) a month. Like many of my compatriots, I was robbed by my “own” state in broad daylight: I was deprived of my modest savings kept in the Savings Bank.

In 1992, “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund was established. Our first president called on the people: “Each person should donate 1 gram of gold to the Fund for the sake of the prosperity of the free and independent homeland.” I gave not just 1 gram, but 6 grams of gold.

Like many of my compatriots, I was also disappointed with the president I had elected and the people that came to power. I became poor, endured the period of darkness, coldness and starvation. I lost many noble and honest young men related to me; I saw the new emigration of my people. I’ve seen and still see how multi-story private mansions of people—while no one knows how they became instantly rich—rise in the center of the city (and environs), including the mansion of Manushak Petrosyan, the former Executive Director of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund.

Now I’m learning from the newspapers that a large sum of money has been transferred to a number of personal bank accounts in Western Europe on behalf of Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s clan.

To Mr. Raffi Hovhannisian: As a citizen of the Republic of Armenia and a donor to the “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, I demand that you:

  • Make an investigation into this fact;
  • If this allegation is proven to be true, publicize the names of all the robbers without exception and launch criminal probes against them.

If none of this is done I demand (not request) that my donation of 6.086 grams of gold to the “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund be returned. Attached is Receipt #1956 as proof of the donation.

/signed/ Laura Barseghyan, citizen of the Republic of Armenia

P.S. To all the citizens who have donated to “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund: if you are concerned about the fate of your donation, please, send the copy of your donation receipt to Iravunk Weekly, in care of Laura Barseghyan. (Iravunk Weekly)

This open letter shows what miracles mere trust can work. The author of the letter is an economically challenged pensioner, making a donation of 6 grams of gold (an amount about ten times her $7 monthly pension). It took as many as 12 years for at least one name—Robert Kocharyan—as the one responsible for extortions, to be publicized by Garin Hovannisian in connection to the allegations, to which she was referring in her letter (see Part I). It’s not known whether Mrs. Barseghyan was still alive to receive the partial answer to her request.

The open letter above clearly shows that often all it takes to enthuse large masses to donate for a good cause is a democratically elected statesman on the Board. But the rapid transition of Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s image of a national hero to that of a national evil in the mid-1990s, cost “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund dearly. How have the authorities been making up for the trust vacuum that emerged in the mid-1990s?

More and more people in the Diaspora, Armenia and Artsakh have become reluctant to donate, because they don’t trust the government, which they identify with “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund. If the leaders of both republics really cared about the fate of the Fund and its productivity, they would voluntarily resign from the Board of Trustees and the Presidium of the Board of Trustees and make sure that every public official and political party representative would do the same. However, they have been doing quite the opposite, because their goal is not so much the productivity of the Fund as it is its symbolic significance.

Throughout its existence, the “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund has evolved into something more than a charity generator. Thanks to its large world-wide donor base and projects of national proportions, the Fund has grown to become a symbolic element uniting the peoples of Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora. And since the head of the Armenia also leads the Fund, the general public and the media tend to see a connection between the Fund’s annual fundraising figures and the government’s popularity.

2. Face-lifting “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund: Officials force state employees to make donations to “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, inflate the real amount of donations, and use other strategies to compensate for the society’s trust crisis. As a result, the simulation of good performance creates an illusion of the government’s popularity.

Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s successors, Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan, have used both external (Diaspora) and internal (Armenia and Artsakh) strategies to face-lift the Fund.

External Strategy

After becoming president of Armenia in 1998, Robert Kocharyan had the intention of winning over the hearts of Diaspora Armenians. He appointed American-Armenian Raffi Hovannisian as Executive Director of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund; lifted the ban on the activities of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun (ARF-D) in Armenia; and, following his dubious reelection in 2003, formed a Government coalition with them. The latter two of the steps not only warmed the hearts of Diaspora Armenians toward the Armenian government, but also contributed to a positive propaganda for “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund in the Diaspora, especially thanks to the enormous influence of ARF-D in the Armenian communities all over the world.

The new authorities needed a new ally, especially after seeing the latter’s teeth. As a reaction to its ban in 1995, ARF-D had already shown its teeth by boycotting of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, as well as its weight in the Diaspora by being able to raise about $7 million in aid for Artsakh in 1995. (When I later asked Hovig Saliba, ARF Central Committee of Western United States, about the fate of the donations, including my own, he said it was used for the party’s needs. But that is a different topic).

Serzh Sargsyan predictably copied his predecessor’s strategic move by having ARF-D join a four-party coalition 20 days after the March 1 bloodshed in 2008. ARF-D denounced Serzh Sargsyan and quit the coalition only a year later on the symbolic date of April 24. The motivation for that act was the eminent signing of the Armenian-Turkish protocols, which, eventually, took place on October 10, 2009. There is no need to be a math-whizz to understand the logic—10 victims is a negligible number against 1.5 million.

One of the effective components of the authorities’ external strategy contributing to the formation of a favorable image of themselves and their initiatives, including “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, is the tendency of making accomplices out of their partners. Cooperation of certain entities with the authorities often implies sharing their responsibility not only for the shortcomings of a joint initiative, but for the mere fact of cooperation, due to the fact that the Armenian authorities have rigged the elections and are corrupt.

Despite the dissent on foreign policy matters, ARF-D has intertwined itself with the authorities too tightly for the past 10 years to become hostile toward them and sever all ties. A very recent incident with Los Angeles-based Asbarez Daily shows that the opposing views on foreign policy issues hasn’t had a negative impact on the Dashnaks’ treatment of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund. This friendly position present since Kocharyan’s rule has been most recently confirmed by the refusal to publish my comments (including links to Part I and Part II of this white paper) under an article about Sarkis Kotanjian’s interview mentioned above. My attempts to reach the editor-in-chief, requesting explanation, were left unanswered. A fragment from “Armenia-Diaspora Relations: 20 Years Since Independence,” a report issued in February 2010 by a Washington-based think tank Policy Forum Armenia (PFA), has an alternative interpretation of the nature of such interaction:

While many among the Diaspora live in democratic countries, democracy is seldom practiced in the Diaspora structures. This may at least partially explain why a sizeable number of Armenians have opted to remain outside the community organizations and become passive and silent members of the Diaspora. Dissent—both from inside and outside of the organizations—is suppressed and at times results in the sidelining of the whistleblowers. While partisan views are commonly rejected by most who stand on the other side of the line, independent positions are viewed with suspicion by all sides. (P. 23)

More recently, Nouvelle d’Arménie magazine in France displayed a similar behavior. After over 200 posts and about 5000 views in about 10 days, the entire thread titled “Toute la vérité sur le Fonds Pan-Arménien” (“The whole truth about the All-Armenian Fund”) in the magazine’s forum was deleted. The forum users were discussing the first two parts of this white paper. Ara Toranian, Editor of Nouvelles d’Arménie, had the following explanation: “À la demande du president du fonds arménien de France les messages estimés calomnieux des internautes HB et Shant Mamaz ont été supprimés du fil de discussion sur le Fonds arménien de France. La suppression du premier message entraînant automatiquement l’effacement du reste des messages dans notre logiciel, c’est toute la discussion qui a été supprimée.” (At the request of the president of the Armenian Fund in France, internauts HB and Shant Mamaz’s messages on “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund being deemed defamatory were deleted from the forum thread. The deletion of the first message automatically resulted in the deletion of the rest of the posts in our software. The entire thread was deleted).

Ara Toranian’s explanation was disheartening for most of the forum users and has eventually turned into an ongoing forum discussion here. And the first message, to which Ara Toranian refers, was just a link to the Part I of this white paper republished at Hraparak, accompanied by the following words: “Dommage pour ceux qui ne lisent pas l’arménien!” (Too bad for those who do not read Armenian). Luckily, I had saved all 9 pages of the forum thread before its deletion. The recovered discussion (in French) can now be accessed here.

But the most curious point here is that it was Bedros Terzian who had complained about the forum discussions and ordered Mr. Toranian to remove the posts that supposedly defamed the “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund. A person who three years ago wanted to quit the Fund now has to protect it by silencing open public discussion and criticism. Mr. Terzian eventually wrote a response published in Nouvelles d’Arménie, on February 22, 2011, which has turned out to be a very familiar emotionally charged reminder of all the life-saving projects carried out by the Fund within about 20 years of its existence. As if to say that all good deeds automatically bestow forgiveness for bad ones. At the same time, Mr. Terzian’s response fell a little short of the absolutism observed in Sarkis Kotanjian’s interview: outright refusal to admit any shortcomings past or present. He writes: “Mais nous essayons de faire de notre mieux et nos donateurs peuvent en être fiers. Le miracle, quand on y pense, ce n’est pas d’avoir commis des erreurs, mais d’en avoir commis si peu en dépit du contexte extrêmement difficile de ces années” (“We are not infallible. But we are trying to do our best, and our donors can be proud of that. The miracle, when one thinks about it, is of not having committed errors, but of having committed so few, in spite of the extremely difficult context of these years.”)

However, what was particularly glaring throughout Bedros Terzian’s response can be described thus—there is an elephant in the text. There is not a single reference to this white paper, the first two parts of which, in fact, had sparked the heated discussion resulting in his utmost indignation. Instead Mr. Terzian’s aims his tirade at the two forum users mentioned above—HB, who translated the entire first two parts of this white paper into French, posted them piece by piece and raised critical questions about the Fund, and Shant Mamaz, who was often quite vocal about the shortcomings of the Fund. The motives behind Mr. Terzian’s deliberate circumvention of the white paper and/or its author are not quite clear. However, judging from the information provided by a reliable anonymous source above, Bedros Terzian is practically doomed to defend the Fund.

Internal Strategy

The internal strategy of whitewashing “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund in the eyes of people without first punishing those who squandered the All-Armenian riches, is a little more difficult task. The authorities have been doing what contradicts the very essence of a donation—they forced it (see Part II).

The presentation of pledges as donations has been an alternative strategy of inflating numbers. This circumstance is obviated by the record-breaking $35 million supposedly raised by “Hayastan” All-Armenan Fund during the Telethon-2008. This astonishing amount, reportedly raised in as few as 8 months after the bloody March 1 events, was interpreted by many in Armenia and Artsakh as a slap in their face; a clear statement of the Diaspora’s support for the illicit regime. However, by October 17, 2009, about a year after the 2008 Telethon, “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund had reportedly been able to collect only about $10 million of the $35 million pledged. Subsequently, a well-informed former Fund insider said that no more than $7 million was collected that year, which was less than the past four years. This sum, of course, is a mild but more plausible reaction of “all Armenians” toward the March 1 bloodshed and what followed.

The same well-informed insider confirmed that some of the million-dollar donations are made on condition of getting a part of it back; at least a half.

3.      The Board Maniac: “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund as Victim of Serzh Sargsyan’s Board Addiction.

Apart from all the logical arguments, there is also a psychological reason why Serzh Sargsyan would not part from his post as the President of the Board of Trustees. As a self-appointed president, having developed a complex of an undesirable person in the country he rules, Serzh Sargsyan has made sure he is a fairly elected president of all kinds of boards of strategic importance in the Republic of Armenia. A die-hard collector of chairs, Serzh Sargsyan, President of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, has recently been reelected President of the Board of the Yerevan State University, and President of the Chess Federation. In both cases, he was reelected with 100% of the votes—it appears no one dared think otherwise. These mini-elections are a source of consolation for someone who is constantly reminded of and blamed for rigging the presidential elections in 2008.

To further cement his total control over the country, Serzh Sargsyan has had two of his closest allies who hold key Government positions—Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan and National Assembly Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan—follow his example and become presidents of the Boards of Yerevan State Pedagogical University and the Yerevan State Engineering University, respectively.

This ubiquitous presidency is also a veil for Serzh Sargsyan’s totalitarian intentions. In September of 2008, he used his alternative presidency to have four professors from the Yerevan State University fired due to their oppositional views—among them, prominent representatives of the civil society in Armenia, investigative journalist Edik Baghdasaryan, and film director Tigran Xmalyan (Khzmalyan).

4.      Picking Up the Slack: Officials make “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund fix or restore whatever an official or a crony has damaged or destroyed without being punished.

As long as there is “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, and the authorities have enough control to steer its funds in whatever direction they wish, public officials and their cronies can get away with pillaging infrastructures for their personal gains. Below, two persons are presented who have either wasted or destroyed what “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund had to later restore at the expense of the good-will of donors. The continuing disastrous ascent of these persons is the consequence of not stopping them in time.

A) Grisha (Grigori) Harutiunyan

Back in 2002, Aravot was publishing a series of articles about the mansions erected in Armenia in the years following the collapse of the USSR. The articles were aimed at uncovering the owners of the villas and the financial sources used for their construction. One of the articles in the series about a fortress-like mansion in Bjni read: “No one has forgotten the scandal during the construction of the Military Academy.” The mansion in question belongs to Grisha Harutiunyan, one of the tycoons of Armenia’s shadow economy.

Becoming Armenia’s Minister of Defense in 1994, Serzh Sargsyan appointed Grisha Harutiunyan deputy Minister and entrusted him with supervising the construction of a military academy in Yerevan. The construction of the academy was sponsored by Diaspora Armenians. A year later, upon replacing Serzh Sargsyan as Minister of Defense, Vazgen Sargsyan decided to scrutinize construction papers. When he grasped the scale of the financial manipulations, he became so furious that, according to Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun, he broke a chair on the builder’s head. Whereas Grisha Harutiunyan, deputy Minister of Defense, fled the room before another chair could land on his head.

Vazgen Sargsyan engaged “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund to finish the construction of the Military Academy. Within three years, the Fund completed the construction of the 3rd, 9th, 4th and 7th buildings of the Academy, spending a total of over $2 million. According to the official website of the Fund, the sponsor for the 4th and 7th buildings of the Military Academy was the Izmirlian Foundation from Switzerland.

As for Grisha Harutiunyan, he was fired from the Defense Ministry, but instead of facing criminal charges, he was appointed deputy Minister of National Security. His boss was once again his patron, Serzh Sargsyan, who was now the Minister of National Security. Why wasn’t Grisha Harutiunyan prosecuted? Was Serzh Sargsyan’s protection more powerful than Vazgen Sargsyan’s rage? Quite unlikely. Then what was done to mitigate Vazgen Sargsyan’s anger? Although there are vague indications that Vazgen Sargsyan intended to pursue an appropriate punishment for Grisha Harutiunyan, the final outcome was that Diaspora donors and “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund were used to sweep the consequences of the misappropriations under the carpet. They were not powerful and independent enough to demand that the government punish the thief, recover the stolen money and use it to finish the construction.

Encouraged by his impunity and the authority granted by his public office, Grisha Harutiunyan was actively involved in the Armenian business underworld and became one of the main distributors of monopolies in Armenia. In 1998, despite the fact that his past was smeared by financial manipulations, Grisha Harutiunyan was, according to Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun, appointed head of financial affairs for Robert Kocharyan’s election campaign. A year later, he was entrusted with handling the finances for the 1999-parliamentary election campaign. These responsibilities imply a great deal of trust, which Serzh Sargsyan and Robert Kocharyan had in him. This trust, in its turn, implies that the past misappropriations were indicative of something more than Grisha Harutiunyan’s personal greed. He was carrying out a mission that benefited the two future self-proclaimed presidents.

In 2003, Grisha Harutiunyan established a construction company, Griar (the first syllables of his first name and that of his son-in-law, Artur Yordanyan). The company, according to Aravot, was granted a permit in 2004 for the lion’s share of the construction of Main Avenue in Yerevan—8,000 sq. m., including Buzand and Aram Streets. The company took over real estate by forcing payments upon the owners at a considerably lower price for their houses than the going rate in the same area. The former owners’ complaints in court yielded no results, thanks to Grisha Harutiunyan’s power and connections. The residents were later brutally forced out of their homes by the Judicial Acts Compulsory Enforcement Service.

Further details about Grisha Harutiunyan’s illicit commercial activities will be provided in Part IV of this white paper.

B) Levon Yeranosyan

This story is closely related to “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund’s current large-scale project of providing water supplies to villages in Artsakh. The project was promoted during the Telethon-2010. Perhaps, this project would not have been needed at all if the same government officials, begging for donations from the Diaspora today, had been responsible enough not to waste the irrigation system and the pipes of post-war Artsakh.

In 2001, I was very concerned by the situation in Karegah, a large village in the Kashatagh region with a population of over a hundred families. The village lacked a proper water supply. I had resolved to help them get it.

Misha Hovhannesyan, Governor of Martuni Region, had granted me the right to salvage a 216 mm idle gas pipeline stretching from Martuni to Fizuli and use it for water supply projects that would benefit the people of Artsakh. But our efforts to dig up and disassemble the pipes were hindered by various obstacles created by the leadership of the region, such as temporary impounding of our equipment by orders from Hovhannesyan himself, who later claimed to have done it in error. While unearthing the pipes, the administration of the 2nd Defense Region of Martuni notified me of their decision to use the pipes for a gas supply line to their military base. I consulted a gas specialist in our region, who told me that the pipes we were removing were, in fact, 4 times larger than the pipe needed for the base. I sensed that something was not right.

With great difficulty and only thanks to the intervention of a high ranking official in the Armenian army in Yerevan, I was able to secure a meeting with General Ohanyan, then Defense Minister of Artsakh, in 2002. I told him that I would supply him with 75mm pipes (which were easier to get) for the base, if he let me use the 216 mm pipes for Karegah’s water needs. He explained to me that it had been decided in 2001, a year prior to our meeting, no pipes would be allowed to be removed from Artsakh for any reason. He concluded that all the pipes were under the protection of the army. The future Defense Minister of Armenia advised that I negotiate the issue with General Levon Yeranosyan, who might have pipes to salvage in his region for our project. General Yeranosyan, then Commander of the Hadrut Region, said they had no pipes for us. He added that all pipes have strategic value, and no one is allowed to remove them from our territory. So I left my meetings defeated, and the project to supply water to over 100 families in Kashatagh was not realized.

A year later, in October of 2003, Hetq ran a story titled “No One Can Stop the General” about the fate of those and many other pipes:

The Max Group—Armenian businessmen from the United States and Lebanon—does business in the territories liberated by Nagorno Karabakh. In Soviet times, an excellent irrigation network was built in the area, supplying every village with water for their crops. The pipelines’ routes, diameters, and other details were accurately marked on Soviet military maps. Today, General Levon Yeranosyan, the commander of one of our military units, is using these maps to dig up the pipes and send them off various directions. We have discovered that some of the pipes turn up on the Armenian market, and the rest goes to Iran. At the moment, they’re working on pipes with a diameter of 800 millimeters. Naturally, Army equipment and military personnel are being used for the job.

We’ve been informed that the Max Group asked President Arkady Ghukasyan and Prime Minister Anushavan Danielyan of Nagorno Karabakh to stop the general. But their response was, more or less, that there was nothing they could do to stop the general. Within the Karabakh government, Serge Amirkhanyan is the man responsible for the territories in question, taking care of resettlement issues as well. But he hasn’t been able to do anything about the pipes, either. It’s ridiculous that on the one hand, the Karabakh government invests huge amounts of money to settle the villages in those territories, and on the other hand, one of the most important preconditions for doing so—the irrigation system—is being destroyed. (The Armenian version ends with the following sentence: “We have been informed that the businessmen have notified Armenian President Robert Kocharyan about this problem.” A.K.M.)

The General was free to finish what Azeris hadn’t managed by 1994. Let’s see where a crime not punished in time can lead. In September of 2006, Armenian media sounded an alarm that about 220 meters of the brand new sewage pipeline under construction in Dilijan was stolen. 168 Zham quotes an Armenian news outlet, which claimed General Levon Yeranosyan was behind the theft. A year later, the Armenian Prosecutor’s Office announced that a criminal case was instituted in regards to a grand theft from a wastewater treatment plant, which covers an area of 24 hectares. The marz administration estimated the value of the stolen goods at AMD 247 million (over $730,000). Vanadzor residents told the Aravot reporter that the theft, which went on for a few years, was carried out by soldiers serving in Vanadzor with an order from their superiors—General Levon Yeranosyan and Arshaluys Paytyan. A year later, on August 25, 2007, the prosecutor of Lori marz, Albert Ghazaryan was murdered. Aghvan Hovsepyan, Armenia’s Chief Prosecutor, admitted that Ghazaryan’s murder was “in connection with his professional duties” (Panorama.am).

For years, as a deputy Prosecutor General of Lori, Albert Ghazaryan was aware of the ongoing robbery of the wastewater treatment plant in question. However, he either didn’t dare or wasn’t allowed by his superior to start criminal proceedings until he became Prosecutor General himself. A week following his murder, people in Vanadzor were linking the murder to a criminal case Albert Ghazaryan was launching in connection with large scale unauthorized tree-felling. The wood business, according to 168 Zham, is run by Armenia’s top military leaders, such as Levon Yeranosyan, Manvel Grigoryan, Arshaluys Paytyan. Two years later, Haykakan Zhamanak inquired about the progress of the murder case, but was told that it was discontinued. “Garnik Ghabuzyan, a witness of the murder, had seen and described the murderer who wore no mask. The prosecutor, who died half an hour after the four shots, provided the same information about the looks of the person who shot him dead. But it turns out that this hasn’t been helpful to the law-enforcers at all,” writes Anna Zakharyan.

Following these events, Yeranosyan had only minor issues with the law with unknown outcome—in 2007, article 238, part 3, clause 2 (confiscation or extortion of arms, using the privileges of the office); article 182, part 2, clause 1 (extortion by committing violence against a person or someone related to him/her); article 235, part 1 (up to 3 years of imprisonment for illegal obtainment, realization, possession and transportation of arms). Although the official website of the Armenian judicial system doesn’t provide any more details about these cases, their outcomes do not seem to have affected the General’s soaring business success. Already by 2008, Levon Yeranosyan reportedly owned compressed natural gas stations, an electronics store in Yerevan and a fishery in the Tavush marz.

While devotees of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund were selflessly putting the final touches on the Telethon-2010, and while the popular well-off anchors were preparing themselves psychologically for a session of altruistic nationwide pleading for change to build water supplies for the people in Artsakh, General Levon Yeranosyan in October of 2010, was pouring his sizable earnings from the Artsakh pipe down the drain at Casino Senator in Parakar. “According to our trustworthy sources, Yeranosyan kept placing his bet on 33, but didn’t win anything. He then cursed everybody, the number, and left at dawn,” reports Hraparak. Why 33? Because it’s a lucky number. That is when Jesus absolved Levon Yeranosyan of all his sins ahead of time, in a wholesale manner, so he wouldn’t have to worry about them later.

Yeranosyan is not the only military big shot who has multiple successful businesses through similar methods; among them are such well-known Generals as Samvel Babayan, Manvel Grigoryan, Seyran Ohanyan, Haykaz Baghmanyan, Yuri Khachaturov, Arshaluys Paytyan, Samvel Hovsepyan, Movses Hakobyan. In 2003, Serzh Sargsyan was an equal business partner for these big shots. “The Deputy Ministers—Manvel Grigoryan, Artur Aghabekyan—Major-General Levon Yeranosyan and two other people run a wheat business in all the southern regions captured from Azerbaijan (Zangelan, Kubatli, Horadiz, Jebrayil and Fizuli), which are notable for their fertility, and where grapes used to be grown. A large portion of those lands, as much as cultivated on behalf of some of the above-mentioned people, is realized by Serzh Sargsyan. It has been calculated that the Minister (Serzh Sargsyan, A.M.) and all the others make about $12 million a year,” writes Norayr Azatyan of Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun in October of 2003. But things weren’t the same when Serzh Sargsyan ascended to the throne.

When, in November of 2008, the Generals in Artsakh voiced their dissatisfaction with the Meindorf Declaration regarding the future of Artsakh, Serzh Sargsyan was able to quickly quell their patriotic fervor by threatening to deprive them of their lifetime achievements in business.

It is common knowledge that the authorities encourage illicit ownership of key players, since it is an invaluable political asset for blackmailing and settling disagreements. Such tactics has been exemplified by the consent of Gagik Tsarukyan, head of Prosperous Armenia Party, to sign the Coalition Memorandum on February 17, 2011. Many Armenian media outlets have referred to one of the playing-cards used by Serzh Sargsyan to persuade Gagik Tsarukyan: impartial auditing of his companies. Armenia’s richest oligarch, better known as Dodi Gago, does have something to hide.

Thus, regarding both Grisha Harutiunyan and Levon Yeranosyan, instead of indicting these businessmen, forcing them to pay for the damages caused to the country’s economy, and to invest the penalty in fixing the damage, the authorities have spared the criminals and use the readily available resources of and their full power over “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund to make up for the losses.

Conclusions

In stark contrast to “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, Millennium Challenges Corporation sets a good example of a responsible organization, which places high importance on evaluating the beneficiary’s deservedness for the aid to be provided. With the present structure, where beneficiaries—the government—preside over benefactors, “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund is unable to adopt a similar policy. The consequence is that the government hasn’t had enough incentive to utilize the funds responsibly.

Due to the enrichment of privileged individuals and bad quality of work, Armenians in the Diaspora, Armenia and Artsakh have lost their trust in the Fund. Instead of instituting necessary reforms to make the work of the Fund efficient, Armenian authorities tend to regain the donors’ trust by creating an illusion thereof. The sum of the collected donations is exaggerated, and state employees are forced to make donations. To ensure the Diaspora’s support of the Fund, both Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan learned from Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s mistake, not only by lifting the ban on the activities of ARF-D in Armenia, but also by including them in the government coalition.

One of the reasons why the authorities are keen on perpetuating “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund appears to be its popular image of an entity uniting all Armenians. The authorities tend to exaggerate the Fund’s success, since its performance in a given year is commonly alluded to in assessment of the popularity of the incumbent leadership of both republics. In its current format, “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund serves more for strengthening the incumbent authorities, rather than for satisfying the country’s socio-economic needs. Thus, any donation to “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund is a vote of confidence for the corrupt Armenian and Artsakh governments.

The examples of Grisha Harutiunyan and Levon Yeranosyan demonstrate the consequences of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund’s complete subordination to the Armenian authorities. The subordination becomes a disincentive for the latter to prosecute criminal activity and be resourceful in finding means to carry out projects, which are eventually imposed on the Fund.

The feedbacks to the first two parts of the white paper on “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund have necessitated a little enlargement of the scope of research. As a result, there is going to be the concluding Part IV, which will cover the following topic: Armenia at 20, No Longer Needs a Baby Walker. Officials haven’t felt obliged enough to provide better governance, since charitable organizations have neither ceased their aid, nor used it as a bargaining chip for realization of meaningful reforms. How unpunished large-scale tax evasion and government corruption suck Armenia’s potential to sustain itself.

Ara K. Manoogian is a human rights activist representing the Shahan Natalie Family Foundation in Artsakh and Armenia, as well as a Fellow of the Washington-based Policy Forum Armenia (PFA), creator of www.thetruthmustbetold.com

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  1. LG
    Փետրվարի 26, 2011, ժ. 10:43 ե.

    Nice piece of propaganda that pfa has put out. Who pays your bills, the cia?

    • Փետրվարի 27, 2011, ժ. 1:49 ա.

      LG, this is not a product of PFA and no one pays any of my bills other than myself. If you read more about me, then you may better understand my motivation to publish this white paper.

  2. Christian
    Փետրվարի 27, 2011, ժ. 10:20 ա.

    What’s PFA?

    • Փետրվարի 27, 2011, ժ. 12:15 ե.

      Policy Forum Armenia (PFA) is an independent professional non-profit association aimed at strengthening discourse on Armenia’s economic development and national security and through that helping to shape public policy in Armenia. PFA has a hybrid mission, operating as a think tank as well as an advocacy group. Its main objective is to offer alternative views and professional analysis containing innovative and practical recommendations for public policy design and implementation. Through its activities, PFA aims to contribute to the creation of an informed public and more effective and accountable government. PFA’s main asset is its worldwide network of professionals and leaders in their respective fields, with dedication to Armenia.

      I am a member of PFA, but this white paper is not a product of PFA. I’ve written this paper on my own.

  3. Փետրվարի 28, 2011, ժ. 5:30 ա.

    The content of these articles simply amazes me. A bulk of the provided information simply does not correspond to the reality. As the present Executive Director of Hayastan All Armenian Fund I hereby state that articles published by Ara Manoogian are purely slanderous. Ara Manoogian’s purpose is to tarnish the well-established reputation of the Fund. However, I am confident that he cannot achieve this goal. As the director of the Fund’s executive board I have always been open to any dialogue and it surprises me that Ara Manoogian has never contacted us with a request to set up a meeting for an interview.
    We are not exaggerating any facts that we make public. The number of our beneficiaries increases continuously each year and it is a fact! This is the best answer to Ara Manoogian. Certainly, there will be beneficiaries who will stop making donations after reading your articles and as a result a new school, hospital, water main, or such will not be constructed in a village in Armenia or Artsakh and you will be responsible for that — a person who is ignorant towards thousands of benefactors’ loyalty and devotion to their homeland…
    What amuses me the most, is the fact that while Azeri media enviously discusses our deeds and fills up with anger towards our high-level unity each time after annual Telethons, you are doing just the opposite. One cannot identify himself as an Armenian by words only, but act as an Armenian. We, our donors and the Fund, are legitimate owners of our motherland and will continue our devoted work. If you think being Armenian presumes yourself the right to throw trash and slander towards your homeland then you should seriously reconsider your national identity.
    I’d like to take this chance and once again express my deepest gratitude to all the benefactors of Hayastan All Armenian Fund from Armenia, Artsakh and our inseparable Diaspora. Be confident that each and every donated penny goes to the strengthening and prosperity of our homeland.

    Regards,
    Ara Vardanyan
    Executive Director
    Hayastan All Armenian Fund

  4. K
    Մարտի 1, 2011, ժ. 1:19 ե.

    Thank you for your article, time and efforts. As a donor to the Hayastan All Armenia Fund, I am disheartened by your findings and revelations. While Mr. Vardanyan disputes your findings, he does not offer any insight to his position. If we were to give the Administrators of the fund the benefit of doubt and trust that they are doing the best they can do given the circumstances they operate in, it still does not address the Armenian Governments blatant disregard for the well being of the country and its people. And for that alone donations should be withheld until such time when the government can renew its commitment to its purpose – to serve the people, not themselves. As long as the government is populated by self-serving leeches, what we donate to Hayastan All Armenia Fund only serves to counterbalance the damage the government does and I am sure, whether Mr. Vardanyan disputes it or not, to line the pockets of the self-serving leeches and enable them to continue robbing the country and the people. Sadly, I am now a FORMER donor.

    • Մարտի 1, 2011, ժ. 10:25 ե.

      Dear K

      I am not defending myself, but am providing the info about the Hayastan All Armenian Fund. What you say is truly selfdestructive — lets all not help Armenia and Artsakh and see what happens. Is this truly the right way to approach you motherland? I don’t think so. There are problems in all countries of the world, somewhere more somewhere less, but that does not make people stop helping their country!! Hayastan All Armenian Fund is a perfect mechanism which is here to help you to help Armenia. So the only deceision we all have to make is very simple— do we want to be a part of the Nation Building or not?
      I do understand your frustration with some elements of the current Armenia, but plsease do not forget that these are people that you talk about, whereas we talk about the country where our kids live. People live and go, but what we do stayes forever, so lets not concentrate on different officils but rather see what we can do so that when our kids grow up they feel proud.

      Regards

      Ara Vardanyan

      • Hilda Grigorian
        Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 12:44 ա.

        Mr. Vardanyan…..YOU ARE NOT DOING NATION BUILDING, the NATION is built, has been for centuries and enough of “HELPING”, you should be in the “stability and sustainability” mode, NOT HELP.

        You want to build a stronger generation, concentrate on YOUTH DEVELOPMENT through capacity building, vocational training, NOT NATION BUILDING. You want our kids to be proud…teach them how to stand on their own feet rather than falling back on others.

        Enough already.

      • pahakazor
        Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 12:57 ա.

        Hilda — “capacity building”, “democracy building”, “voter education”, “civil society training” — enough of THESE! There is a sleuth of so called “non-profit” organizations in Armenia that get foreign funding for this while in reality they simply pocket the money. Of course they write hundreds of pages of reports on what a significant difference they made in the Armenian society. But we all now that the only purpose of these organizations that get funding for endless “trainings” is to enrich the people who run it in Armenia. The consultants that they have hire from the donor countries and pay them $20,000 a month, outrageously expensive airline tickets that need to be bought only from airlines of the donor countries, etc — this is what the “capacity building” means in reality, Hilda. Enough of this bullsh*t — if 5% of the hundreds of millions that got pumped into Armenia by the foreign donors like the USAID, Eurasia, CARD, Soros, etc on “trainings” went to schools, hospitals, waterways, kindergartens, Armenia would have been a different place today. So please, Hilda, give me a break!

      • K
        Մարտի 4, 2011, ժ. 1:36 ե.

        Dear Mr. Vardanyan,

        I want to believe nothing more than that the Fund is not at all tainted by corruption. And I have chosen in the past not to believe “rumors” when I have heard them spoken in my circle of family and friends and chose to donate anyway. I personally made posts and updates on my Facebook page encouraging friends to donate. My excuse was that even if some of the funds are to line the pockets of the corrupt, there is still so much being done.

        But after reading this article, my position is “No! Why should any of it go to corrupt politicians or why should contracts be offered to only certain contractors.” All of it should go to benefit its purpose. All or nothing! I am enabling corruption with each dollar I donate.

        As for not helping my country, by not donating to the fund I will not stop helping my country. I help my country by sending money directly to relatives, I donate to other organizations in Armenia, I also contribute to ANCA in the US.

        There is no doubt that the fund has a badly damaged reputation!!! When I donated in 2010, I was the only one of 15 adults in my gathering for Thanksgiving that day that donated. Everyone else thought the fund was corrupt and didn’t want to have anything to do with it.

        I think the fund would benefit immensely if you embark on a campaign to clear up the fund’s reputation – if you can, that is, if it is not truly corrupt. You can’t just brush off accusations as rumors. Where there is smoke there is fire. Imagine if the 15 people I was with each didn’t think that the fund was corrupt, thanks to “rumors” and also donated. Think how helpful that would be to Our Country.

        And you invite Arthur to come to your offices to see what has been done. Well everyone does not have the means to come to your offices. Why don’t you make your financial documents public, available on your website and a line item breakdown of how all the money is spent? So the next time I am donating and defending why I am donating I can refer people to your site to verify how much money was spent on each project, who was the contractor that completed the project, and maybe even other information such as what similar projects cost elsewhere. No ONE I know donates!

        I want to believe. But you have work to do.

  5. pahakazor
    Մարտի 1, 2011, ժ. 3:29 ե.

    One thing I don’t understand. What does this have to do with Armenia Fund? Corrupt government officials, generals, etc — what does Armenia Fund has to do with this? What Manoushak did 18-20 years ago doesn’t really bother me — the hell with her — whole country was a mess back then and the Diaspora did not have ANY mechanisms to control what goes on there. Remember the amount of assistance that we sent to Armenia after the earthquake in 1988 and 1989? Pretty much all of it was stolen (and no, Armenia Fund WAS NOT around back then.) Anyhow, I am not impressed with this “white paper” — “this guy said this” and “that gal said that” and some two-bit tabloid in Armenia wrote something — that doesn’t fly with me, I’m sorry… I traveled on Goris-Stepanakert, talked to real people living in villages where Armenia Fund did projects, saw the fair-face concrete on Gishi School and I am quite satisfied with Armenia Fund’s work and will continue donating. These government officials and generals will soon disappear, but the the work of Armenia Fund will remain.

  6. Arthur
    Մարտի 1, 2011, ժ. 11:19 ե.

    I have a feeling that Ara Vardanyan is not able to read and understand a simple text! He clearly did not understand the subject. I therefore advised him to return to school and then reapply for the position he currently holds.

    Language scholar, his answers would be annotated as follows: Off-topic

  7. Pahakazor
    Մարտի 1, 2011, ժ. 11:30 ե.

    Arthur — this “white paper” is not a simple text, but ra compilation ofrather a compilation of irrelevant development veracity of which are in question. The whole “white paper” is off-topic: “donate or not to donate?” — a lot of people chose to donate and we all see the resulnating we are not adding anything positive to the situation in Armenia. Let’s say we stop donating and what will happen? The schools, hospitals won’t be built, people won’t have water and people in the border villages will start leaving Armenia in packs. Is that what we want? Is that a patriotic thing to do? Abandoning our brothers and sisters in Armenia is a cowerdly thing to consider. So you make up your mind — donate or not to donate.

  8. pahakazor
    Մարտի 1, 2011, ժ. 11:47 ե.

    Some of the text got chopped off. This is the correct text of my post: Arthur – this “white paper” is not a simple text, but rather a compilation of irrelevant developments veracity of which are in question. The whole “white paper” is off-topic: “donate or not to donate?” – a lot of people chose to donate and we all see the results. By not donating we are not adding anything positive to the situation in Armenia. Let’s say we stop donating and what will happen? The schools, hospitals won’t be built, people won’t have water and people in the border villages will start leaving Armenia in packs. Is that what we want? Is that a patriotic thing to do? Abandoning our brothers and sisters in Armenia is a cowardly thing to consider. So you make up your mind – donate or not to donate.

  9. Arthur
    Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 12:08 ա.

    Pahakazor — I plan to continue to donate or I should say I will continue to donate once I better understand what the Armenia Fund is going to do to correct or provide clarification of the concerns that are addressed in this document. From what I read so far it seems that the problem of migration is not a result of us not giving, but because we do give and our gifts gets into the hands of corrupt officials who are not helping the people you are referring to. And of these officials, some are the ones calling the shots of how the Armenia Fund operates. This of course is how I read the paper and understand how things are done in Armenia. If what we have read is not true, why would the author publish such things. If they are not true, why is Ara Vardanyan not refuting them one by one with counter arguments? Though I just discovered this document, it appears that it has been posted on the internet for over 2 months and the first reaction to this document by the Armenian Fund was only made public 2 days ago. Did the Armenia Fund not know about this paper until now or did they ignore it because there is truth to the allegations? As a donor to the Armenia Fund I ask from Ara Vardanyan answers to each question these documents raise so that my many friends and I who ALL donate to the Armenia Fund, most $100 each and a few much larger amounts, can make an educated decision if our investment into nation building is best trusted with the Armenia Fund or if we should find another fund to get our help to the motherland? One way or another I’m going to give to Armenia, so don’t think I will turn my back on my brothers and sisters in their time of need. The question is who should we trust? Right now the determining factor of continued support of the Armenia Fund is going to be based on the answers Ara Vardanyan gives us.

    • Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 1:33 ա.

      Dear Arthur,

      I am very glad that you are interested in our fund. Please note that the facts that are given in the article are all rumors and furthermore have nothing to do with our organization. Why don’t you come to our office and I will personally escort you to any project that you would like to see, and provide you with any financial info that you might be interested in !!! Do you really think that a corrupted organization would do so?? Try getting a report from other charities and see what you will receive from them. From our side, we are fully open. We are the only organization of such type that undergoes international audit and not some local rutine checks. You could go to http://www.youtube.com and search for “dzerq Dzerqi” and watch the films that we prepare each month and provide info about the projects that we do with the help of people like you. Have you ever seen a charity which is fully opening its financial info, if yes please name it! We are accountable for each and every cent that we receive from our donors. This organization does not belong to any single person but belongs to us all and you too. Please feel free to come and meet with me, with our staff and you will see with your own eyes that the work that we jointly do is really unique. Right at this moment we are working on more than 30 huge projects in Armenia and Artsakh, these projects will drastically change the lives of people living there. And all this is thanks to people like you. I would answer the article in details, but trust me there is nothing to respond— rumors, lies and irrelevant info.

      Waiting to see you in our office.

      With kind regards

      Ara Vardanyan

      • Arthur
        Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 1:57 ա.

        Dear Mr. Vardanyan — Thank you for taking the time to write back to me so quickly.

        Though I would like to believe everything you have stated, the arguments that are presented in the paper in question are convincing and I think your brushing the whole issue off as rumors, lies and irrelevant information is alarming.

        I would strongly encourage you to reconsider your approach to this and if Ara Manoogian is wrong, then expose him and if need be sue him so that he will never do such a thing again. But if he is not wrong, let us not waste our time debating the accuracy of the paper and discuss how we can fix OUR Armenian Fund so that it can never again be scrutinized by anyone.

        I await your constructive response to our concerns.

  10. pahakazor
    Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 12:47 ա.

    Dear Arthur — I don’t see any “concerns” that need addressing in this piece simply because they are not based on anything factual — “this guys said this” and “this gal said that” isn’t bases for concern. So some Armenian government officials are corrupt. So what? I purposefully say “some Armenian government officials” because I have come across many Armenian government officials, especially from the new generation, who are true patriots and are clean. Yeah, like we needed Ara Manoogian to tell us that Armenia is no Disneyland. When you say “we read how things are done in Armenia” — this is a gross generalization. Armenia is an independent state with thousands of institutions, agencies and organizations, big and small. Some of them are corrupt, some of them enrich themselves on grants coming from the States, EU and organizations like the Soros Foundation, but some of them are clean and efficient. To treat every organization equally saying — they are all corrupt simply because they work in Armenia is foolish to say the least.

    I am not surprised that the Fund discovered this post recently. I myself discovered it about a week ago — it’s not like this is a widely popular blog. 🙂

    When you say alternatives to Armenia Fund — I don’t see an alternative to Armenia Fund in a sense that if Armenia Fund does $20 million worth of projects a year, other organizations do $200,000 worth of projects. Armenia Fund is a concerted effort of tens of thousands of donors who collectively try to do something good in Armenia. I am a donor who tries to travel to Armenia at least once every year. Last year I visited the Fund, went to see some projects and I liked what I saw. Arthur — have you bothered to stop at the Armenia Fund office in Yerevan? It’s right by the Vernisage. I highly recommend that you do — speak to the people at the financial department, go meet with Ara Vardanyan, take a day trip to some of the projects and talk to the real people in a real village where your dollars made a difference. Talk is cheap bro…

    It doesn’t really bother me who’s on the Board of Trustees as long as the work is being done, donations serve their purpose and the quality of construction is good. LTP was the Chairman of the Board, Robert Kocharian was, now it’s Serzh Sarkissian, tomorrow it will be Ghougas Avedissian or Margos Gazanchian — does it really matter? Do you truly believe that Serzh Sarkissian takes a cut? Give me a break! Like someone in his position would care about the meager couple of million that we collectively donate dollar-by-dollar when they have access to billions? Wake up bro…

  11. Arthur
    Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 1:43 ա.

    Dear Pahakazor — I am very envious of you that you have been to Armenia and once a year at that. Though this should not change anything, I have not yet been to Armenia, but when I do go one day, one of my stops will be the Armenia Fund office. If they do offer to take me on a road trip to see the villages where my money has helped, I will go for sure.

    As for the issues that are addressed in the paper we are now talking about, it may not be important to you, but for someone who has not witnessed what you have first hand, it makes me wonder what is really going on? I did a search of your name and you seem to comment other places and have some inside information about the Armenia Fund. Do you work for them or are you a volunteer that you know so much about the inner workings?

    I would not take such a strong stance, but before posting my first comment, I searched Ara Manoogian on Google and I found that in the past he has reported on very serious issues regarding government corruption in Armenia, Karabakh, the liberated territories and Dubai. In every case from what I can tell, he came out being right. I also found that he is the grandson of Shahan Natali, a man who in Lebanon, everyone is taught about in school. If you don’t know who Shahan Natali is, you may want to educate yourself. On the flip-side of the coin, I know who all the people you mention are who control the Armenia Fund and their bloody past. For this reason, I don’t want to discount anything that is presented in this very enlightening document.

    At this time based on everything I have stated in my comments, the burden of proof weighs more on the Armenia Fund. Let Ara Vardanyan present his arguments/evidence to counter the claims presented. I hope that Vardanyan does a much better job than was done in the video interview with the executive director of the Armenia Fund in Los Angeles. Now that we know the other side of the story, I feel that a great depiction was committed by the Los Angeles director of the Armenia Fund whose name I will not mention since it is not worthy of my recognizing him. All my friends and I saw that interview and because of it were tricked into giving more than we had given in past years since we believed that OUR Armenia Fund was under attack and need our help more than ever. My friends and I have decided that if the Armenia Fund can not or will not give answers to the issues being addressed, we will demand our money back and will give it to another fund in Armenia or better yet, maybe one of us should go to Armenia and deliver it to one of the boarder villages you mentioned so that 100% gets to where it is most needed.

    • Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 2:04 ա.

      Dear Arthur,

      I feel so bad that you have not been to Armenia, because if you did you would not need any info from us, you would see everything with your own eyes. I personally invite you to Armenia.
      If I said that the weather is bad and you are the one to blame, what would you answer? Nothing, as what I say is rediculous. the same is with the article, the things that are said have nothing to do with Armenia Fund and therefor are not of our concern. Please do not go into personal insults, that really does suit us — Armenians. The executive director of Hayastan All Armenian Fund in Los Angeles is Sarkis Kotanjian— very well educated young person who has devoted his live to helping Armenia and Karabakh and really do not think that anyone has the right to talk about people working in our organization in that tone. Go and meet with him and you will get all the info you want!! I do not see why you and others prefer reading an article and saying that its true rather than going and meeting with relevant people in person and finding out the truth???? There are people, who by thier nature are against everything, Ara Manugian is one of those. If you read his so called articles you will note that he is against everthing in this world when the subject is about Armenia. Does this help??????? Sitting in a cozy apartment or house and blackmailing people is so easy, any of us could do that for months. But doing something good for your country is much more difficult, especially when there are people like Ara Manugian. I hereby outloud reapeat— ARA COME TO OUR OFFICE AND TALK TO US YOU WILL SEE THAT WHATEVER YOU WROTE IS ABSURD!!!!! I AM PERSONALLY READY TO ESCORT YOU TO ANY PROJECT THAT WE HAVE DONE SO FAR, RIGHT AFTER WE WILL JOINTLY VISIT THE PROJECTS HILDA TALKS ABOUT AND THEN HAVE JOINT DISCUSSION ON WHAT WE SAW AND WHO DOES WHAT. Arthur do you find this fair?

      • Arthur
        Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 2:23 ա.

        Dear Mr. Vardanyan — I am sorry to have upset you with my tone towards the director in Los Angeles. The first and second part of the document we are discussing does not draw a rosy picture of the funds representative in Los Angeles and is very convincing that the person giving the interview is in fact deceiving us. If this is not accurate and Ara Manoogian is what you say he is, than you need to put a stop to him since I can tell you that everyone in my circle of friends are talking about the revelations that the report is addressing. The feeling right now is that we are feeling tricked and taken advantage of.

        Once again for the sake of getting the word out to the masses, even if you feel issues are irrelevant, you provide us with explanations so that we can once again regain our confidence in the Armenia Fund.

      • pahakazor
        Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 2:43 ա.

        Arthur — I am not sure who your friends are and what they are guided by, but I myself and my friends feel very confident about Armenia Fund. So please do not try drawing a picture that the public en masse is up in arms against Armenia Fund because of Ara Manoogian’s “paper”. It is not the case. So please, drop it. Take Mr. Vardanyan’s advice — go to Armenia, visit the Fund’s office, go to the ongoing construction sites, talk to the beneficiaries, talk to the contractors. The Los Angeles director that speaks on youtube about Armenia Fund actually makes sense to me as a pragmatic down to business type.

  12. Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 1:48 ա.

    I fully agree with “pahakazor”. But one thing I will add— if the nation has been built, as you state, we would not have peole who do everything to cut assistance to Armenia and Artsakh. Being Armenian does not mean that you have to blackmail everything that is going on there, but rather do something to help as thousands do!!!
    Again and again, I repeat whoever has any doubts, please visit our office in Yerevan or go to any of our offices worldwide. I am sure that you will get the answers to all questions and will then understand what we do and how we do it!!!

    • Arthur
      Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 2:08 ա.

      Dear Mr. Vardanyan — Though I could take a trip to the Armenia Fund in Los Angeles, as could anyone in France, Lebanon or Armenia, but think it would be more more beneficial to post what we will find at your office on the internet so that those of us who can’t go to an Armenia Fund office will also be enlightened. And this information should come directly from you since you are the executive director who is paid from donation from me and my friends. This would also save OUR funds workers thousands of hours of work to entertain the requests of so many people flooding your offices with requests for information. That time that would have to be spent could be used better to carry out the important work of the Armenian Fund.

      Again, I look forward to your numerated responses to each and every question that is asked in the documents we are discussing so that we can all make an educated decision as to who we are going to trust with our contribution to the building of our nation.

  13. pahakazor
    Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 2:12 ա.

    Dear Arthur, unlike yourself when I donate money to a charity, I do my due diligence first and after I make my donation I do follow the money trail. I actually do stop by at the Himnadram office in Armenia, I try hard to go to the villages where the projects are and I do check with the Himnadram’s financial department to see where my money goes. I do not have any “inside” information on Armenia Fund. If you are referring to a comment I made on Asbarez site about a week ago about the fact that Ramgavar Azadagan Party USA West has unpaid pledges amounting to $100,000 — I checked the info and it turned out to be true. I wonder why Ara Manoogian doesn’t bother to dig into stuff like this? I am not sure who Ara Manoogian is. Yes it appears that he lives in Martouni region of Artsakh and he has a general dislike of the current authorities in Armenia and Artsakh. I have no problem with that. But I think we have reached a stage when moving to Armenia or Artsakh and living there should no longer be seen as an act of heroism. The mere fact that he is the grandson of Shahan Natalie (too bad we didn’t have more Shahan Natalies when we needed them so many times in our history) doesn’t mean much. I expected a lot more from a grandson of Shahan Natalie…

    • Arthur
      Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 2:46 ա.

      Dear Pahakazor — I have visited the youtube channel that Mr. Vardanyan has directed me to and am very impressed. Equally I have prior to this visited Ara Manoogian’s youtube channel which you can find at http://www.youtube.com/user/aramanoogian

      There is not much bad I can find about Ara Manoogian in the videos and if they are not staged, this guy has done quite a bit in Karabakh to help common people who are having trouble with the corrupt government. There are also videos of Monte Melkonian on his channel as well as videos that indicate that he was in Karabakh during the war. Though I searched his name with Monte Melkonian’s on google to see what connection he has with him and could not find any other than the videos posted and some mention of his involvement with a fund in Monte’s name, I have to wonder being that he is Shahan Natali’s grandson and Monte was in ASALA (which we all know in Lebanon that Shahan Natali had some connection to), is Ara Manoogian one of Monte’s freedom fighters and for this reason is able to get away with confronting the corrupt blood thirsty governments in Armenia and Karabakh? Regardless of who he is, for someone who is born in America and living within in our cultural homeland, I can’t find any fault with him. I am become more and more convinced that what he wrote could in fact be accurate and now with Mr. Vardanyan who keeps trying to put me on a scavenger hunt in the Armenia Fund office in Los Angeles with his director their who I don’t get a good feeling about or worse yet, to invite me to hop on the next airplane to Armenia (I don’t even have a valid passport, so can’t go until I get one,) is further pulling me to believe what Ara Manoogian is reporting about the Armenia Fund. At this point for me and my friends, the proof of innocents falls on the shoulders of Ara Vardanyan, not Ara Manoogian.

      • pahakazor
        Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 2:59 ա.

        Bro — you can believe whatever you choose to believe, I can’t help you with that. Maybe this guy Ara Manoogian is a decent guy, who knows — neither you are me have met him in person. Maybe he was a freedom fighter and maybe he wasn’t. Even if he was, it doesn’t mean that everything he says or he does is right. I am indebted eternally to each and every soldier of Artsakh war who spent a day fighting for our magnificent Homeland while the rats fled the country to dodge the draft. However, some freedom fighters who fought valiantly in the war in post-war years turned into thugs, warlord types and muscle men for oligarkhs.

        You actually made me do a google search on Ara Manoogian myself 🙂 The sad thing is that he doesn’t write about anything that’s good. It’s always something bad — if you read his posts it seems like half of Armenia is corrupt and the other half is bloodthirsty killers of innocent souls. The Armenia that I saw is a lot more complex and interesting than that. Good things do happen in Armenia, and Armenia Fund is one of them.

      • Arthur
        Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 3:29 ա.

        Pahakazor — You may be right about him, though I can’t say that will yet agree with you. I discovered a bio on Ara Manoogian at http://www.snff.org/ara.html

        This guy is not only Shahan Natali’s grandson, but his uncle is one of the most respected Armenian religious leaders around. And to top it off, he is a direct decedent of Armenia’s last royal family, the Bagratuni’s. Is this guy for real or is some made up person. Why have we not heard of him before? Something does not seem right here. Are we sure he is a real person? I’ve seen videos of him in interviews and a video of him in Dubai almost punching it out with some drunk guy and then toying with some undercover cop and this danger all in the name of exposing dangerous criminals. I don’t know about you, but if this guy is everything he is selling himself to be, he’s my hero and it’s going to take a great deal of convincing by the Armenia Fund to question what is in this report. If Ara Manoogian is really on the up and up, then the Armenia Fund better not try to cover anything up since he will most probably uncover every bit of their dirty laundry, if he has not already. I can only wonder what part 4 of his report will reveal.

      • pahakazor
        Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 3:51 ա.

        So what that his uncle is a well respected religious leader? So what that he is a Bagratuni? Do you suggest we reinstate the Kingdom of Armenia and make him King — Ara Bagratunyats? My problem with his reports is that he bases his “papers” on gossip and reports in Armenian tabloids like Zhamanak — the same newspaper that published a report before Telethon 2010 that Armenia’s Chief of Police Alik Sargsian is flying in to Los Angeles to assist in Armenia Fund’s fundraising. A total absurdity, yet it was published. How can I trust a source that routinely publishes horsesh*t? Same with Hraparak, Haykakan Zhamanak, Chorrord Ishkhanutyun, etc.

  14. Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 2:17 ա.

    Dear Arthur,

    The mission of the Hayastan All Armenian Fund from its very inception was to assist the people of Armenia and Karabakh by doing so needed infrustructure projects. For the past 20 years we have done thousands of prjoject for a total sum of around 215 million dollars. All this time we had thousands of people coming from all over the world and commenting the work that we do. I surely can say that in some cases we did have problems with quality, but in all cases if anything came out we would make sure that the work is redone. Construction is very difficult and surely problems happen, but we solve those very quickly. The vast majority of the problems is due to the simple fact that the construction companies in Armenia are reletivly newly established and in some cases they cannot give you the quality that you request. So here is where we come in and thanks to our system of overseeing the projects make sure that everything is done in the best possible way. Why don’t you visit our website: http://www.himnadram.org and see the pictures of the projects that we do. Its so easy to do. The website contains some errors but we are working on it day and night to make sure that nothing is forgotten. The article of Ara is about corruption in Armenia in general. Now you tell me what does that have to do with our fund. We cannot and should do participate in this kind of dicussions as this is not our business. Just let me tell you two things that did relate to us. 1. Raffi Hovhannissian’s name and Petros Terzian’s name. In both cases the info presented was fully wrong and you can read Petros Terzian’s response to Ara about this. All the other info mentioned has nothing to do with us. I have idea what the generals did or did not do, this is not my business. My businesss is to make sure that there is no corruption in this organization and that the work we do is good. Now if you have questions here, then be my quest. But again, come to Armenia. You cannot discuss something without even seeing it.

    Best

    Ara Vardanyan

    • Arthur
      Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 3:14 ա.

      AV: “For the past 20 years we have done thousands of prjoject for a total sum of around 215 million dollars.”

      AP?: Does this $215 million include the $1 million of work done in Sevan for a windsurfing center? Who does this center belong to?

      AV: “I surely can say that in some cases we did have problems with quality, but in all cases if anything came out we would make sure that the work is redone.”

      AP?: Did the corrections to the work come at an additional cost to the Armenia Fund?

      AV: “The article of Ara is about corruption in Armenia in general. Now you tell me what does that have to do with our fund. We cannot and should do participate in this kind of dicussions as this is not our business.”

      AP?: The Presidium of the Board of Trustees of the Armenia Fund is controlled by the top corrupt people of Armenia. Don’t you think that this in fact should concern us?

      AV: “Just let me tell you two things that did relate to us. 1. Raffi Hovhannissian’s name and Petros Terzian’s name. In both cases the info presented was fully wrong and you can read Petros Terzian’s response to Ara about this.”

      AP: According to the report in question “…a former employee of the Fund, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, Bedros Terzian, another member of the Board of Trustees who was deeply disenchanted with Serzh Sargsyan because of the bloody March 1, 2008 events and wanted to quit…” It appears that a former employee of the Armenia Fund provided this information. I have read the response from Bedros Terzian, but did not see any mention that this particular statement was being refuted. Can you please provide a link to such a statement?

      As for Raffi Hovhannissian and the claims made in a book that was written by his sone Garin, if in fact these are false statements, is the Armenia Fund taking legal action against him and demanding a retraction?

      AV: “All the other info mentioned has nothing to do with us. I have idea what the generals did or did not do, this is not my business. My businesss is to make sure that there is no corruption in this organization and that the work we do is good.”

      AP: Don’t you feel that it is in fact your business that Armenia Fund money is being used to fix or do construction work that the government should or could have provided, but thanks to those corrupt generals the money I donated was used for and in effect, MY DONATION ended up in the corrupt generals pockets? I hope this would concern you.

      AV: “Now if you have questions here, then be my quest. But again, come to Armenia. You cannot discuss something without even seeing it.”

      AP: I will one day come to Armenia, but until that time, please provide answers to my questions above and also whatever other questions the paper in question asks.

      Thank you Mr. Vardanyan for taking the time to try to shed light on the issues that concern me and many other people who are trying their best to help Armenia is a way that will make for a more promising future.

      • pahakazor
        Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 3:24 ա.

        Arthur — no one is concerned about the damn paper that Ara Manoogian wrote out of boredom. It’s only you, Hilda and maybe Davit Grigorian (while taking breaks between worshiping LTP). Stop implying that people en masse care about Ara Manoogian’s so called “paper”.

        Bedros Terzian said that the reason Raffi Hovhannisian resigned was because he wanted to see Armenia Fund expand its mission beyond its mandate — he wanted to turn Armenia Fund to something like what Diaspora Ministry is today. Trustees and local affiliates didn’t like the idea and he moved on. Read the Nouvelle Armenie article.

      • Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 3:58 ա.

        Well here you go:

        1. The Sevan windsurfing project was sponsered by a donor from Russian Federation. This project was done as a special project as the donor had requested to do this particular project. The center belongs to Armenian Olimpic Assosiation and is not and cannot be privitized. You should go there in summer and see the quantity of Armenian kids who stay there and have great time. Again, the money for this project was provided by one person only and no one can blame him/her for making such a deceison. He/she in his/her mind created a place where our kids can have great time.
        2. All the corrections to our work is always done at the expense of the contractor. We make the final payment to the constructors a year after the project is completed so if anything comes up they have to fix it, otherwise they will not get the last payment which is 5 percent of hte whole contract.
        3. I will not go into discussions about the corruption in the government as we are a non profit, non political organization and most of the statements done are purely political, and without any bases. But one thing should be stated. ARMENIA FUND IS NOT CONTROLLED BY ANYONE. ARMENIA FUND HAS A BOARD OF TRUSTEES WHICH HAS AROUND 35 MEMBERS OUT OF WHICH ONLY 10 ARE FROM ARMENIA AND KARABAKH THE REST REPRESENT DIASPORA. ALL DECEISIONS ARE MADE ON THE BASES OF CONCENSUS. NO ONE CAN AT ANY TIME MAKE A DECEISION WITHOUT THE AGREEMENT OF THE MEMBERS OF THE BOARD. I guess should be enough for an educated person to understand that the fund is not controlled by anyone.
        4. I do not usually answer these type of questions. What does it mean “a former employee of the Fund”? I need the name and I want that person to stand up and say whatever he/she has to say. Concering Raffi Hovhannisyan and Petros Terzian, I stated that you should read the answer given by Mr. Terzian who has been in the Board of Trustees from the very begining and who played huge role in the development of our organization. The info about Petros Terzian wanting to quit was in the third article, whereas Mr. Terzian was reffering to the first two articles. But I think when reading his response you should have got the feeling that this person is never leaving the organzation and never wanted to. We did not go to court for the things stated in the book, as any person can change his/her words at any time. Lets say if I quit today and tell everybody that the reason is because I am tired, years later I can say that I quit because was fed up with some bad thigs and no one will be able to tell me anything. But there are people who work in the Fund from the very begining and they all say the same concerning Mr. Hovhannisian’s leaving the post.

        5. I as all other people who work in this organization feel that we do the work for the people of Armenia. The facts mentioned in the article are not the facts that should be adressed by us, but by the people who are involved in those. YOUR DONATION HAS NEVER ENDED UP IN ANY POCKET BUT WAS USED FOR BRINGING WATER TO A VILLAGE OR BUILDING A SCHOOL FOR A VILLAGE OR OTHER PROJECT. HERE AGAIN, WE ARE READY TO PROVIDE INFO ABOUT EACH AND EVERY DONATION GIVEN TO OUR ORGANIZATION.

        Now you have my answers to the questions. I do not know if this is enought for you. Arthur, I have been with the fund for around 8 years now, first as head of international department, then as deputy director and now Executive Director. My duty is to make sure that all the money that we receive is spent correcty and to the benefit of our nation. I am not the first director nor I am the last, so whatever we do here now will be continued by people who will follow us. Why don’t you want to see that this organization is truly unique, whould you ever see Dashnaks and Ramkavars and Hncaqs seeting around the same table discussing the problems that Armenia and Artsakh face? No, surely not. But this is the uniqueness of our organization, we are able to discuss the very important questions jointly and then decide what is to be done. But remember this is not politics, this is pure benevolence.

        Best Regards

        Ara Vardanyan

  15. Arthur
    Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 4:02 ա.

    pahakazor :
    So what that his uncle is a well respected religious leader? So what that he is a Bagratuni? Do you suggest we reinstate the Kingdom of Armenia and make him King – Ara Bagratunyats? My problem with his reports is that he bases his “papers” on gossip and reports in Armenian tabloids like Zhamanak – the same newspaper that published a report before Telethon 2010 that Armenia’s Chief of Police Alik Sargsian is flying in to Los Angeles to assist in Armenia Fund’s fundraising. A total absurdity, yet it was published. How can I trust a source that routinely publishes horsesh*t? Same with Hraparak, Haykakan Zhamanak, Chorrord Ishkhanutyun, etc.

    The report does not only rely on news outlets. Many of the more disturbing facts are quoted from the Armenia Funds website itself. Pahakazor, have you read the report and were able to comprehend it? And if what Hraparak, Haykakan Zhamanak, Chorrord Ishkhanutyun, etc. is not true, why at that time did the Armenia Fund not refute it? Can the Armenia Fund provide us with the countering news article to each of the stories that were referenced? Were the papers charged with slander in a court and had to pay for damages? Nothing you are saying Pahakazor is holding water, just like the bucket that the Armenia Fund is trying to fill.

  16. Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 4:48 ա.

    Arthur I have answered all the questions that you had given. If this is not enought, then we are all just wasting our time.

  17. Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 4:52 ա.

    Sarkis Kotanjian is well respected member of our organization and no one has the right to talk to him in this manner. I only can hope that you and people like you do 1 percent of what he did and does for his homeland. I will not write any more as you are not capable of constructive discussions.
    My suggestion is in force. Any time in LA on any Arm TV LIVE with any person that has anything to say about our organization. I stand ready.

  18. Hilda Grigorian
    Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 12:46 ե.

    pahakazor :
    Hilda — “capacity building”, “democracy building”, “voter education”, “civil society training” — enough of THESE! There is a sleuth of so called “non-profit” organizations in Armenia that get foreign funding for this while in reality they simply pocket the money. Of course they write hundreds of pages of reports on what a significant difference they made in the Armenian society. But we all now that the only purpose of these organizations that get funding for endless “trainings” is to enrich the people who run it in Armenia. The consultants that they have hire from the donor countries and pay them $20,000 a month, outrageously expensive airline tickets that need to be bought only from airlines of the donor countries, etc — this is what the “capacity building” means in reality, Hilda. Enough of this bullsh*t — if 5% of the hundreds of millions that got pumped into Armenia by the foreign donors like the USAID, Eurasia, CARD, Soros, etc on “trainings” went to schools, hospitals, waterways, kindergartens, Armenia would have been a different place today. So please, Hilda, give me a break!

  19. Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 12:49 ե.

    Dear Mr. Vartanian,

    I have read the entire exchange under the posting of Part III and will save most of my questions I may have for the live televised discussion you are proposing. Though I would like to accept your invitation immediately, please give me until Monday to give you a definitive answer so that I may consult with my legal advisers.

    I do have one question to ask you regarding your last comment. You have in your defense of the Armenia Fund Executive Director Sarkis Kotanjian, made mention that “…no one has the right to talk to him in this manner.”, while it seems that “Arthur P” was talking about “pahakazor”. By saying this, are you conforming “Arthur P”‘s contention that “pahakazor” is in fact Sarkis Kotanjian? Your answer is very important.

    Very truly yours,
    Ara K. Manoogian
    Artsakh Representative
    Shahan Natalie Family Foundation, Inc.

    • Sarkis Kotanjian
      Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 3:28 ե.

      This is to Ara Manoogian: I read the entire thread. Your failure to moderate this forum in a way not to allow the disgusting personal attack and derogatory language directed at me is utterly unacceptable and I demand an apology. I am deeply offended and I will not appear with you in any forum, televised or not. If Ara Vardanyan is willing to do so it’s his decision.

      Sarkis Kotanjian
      Executive Director
      Armenia Fund, U.S. Western Region

    • Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 11:20 ե.

      I have no idea who Pahakazor is, but if you read the message you will see that while writing to Pahakazor he insulted Sarkis Kotanjian.

  20. Hilda Grigorian
    Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 1:16 ե.

    Mr. Pahakazor: many thanks for your reply. For your and others information, I don’t take sides with anyone in particular, I review and analyze the truth, based on accurate facts and figures. I am a developer and my job is to make an unbiased assessment, so, I respectfully request you to stop judging people and give some of us credit for our education and knowledge, stop making remarks which doesn’t serve a purpose, thank you sir/ma’em.

    For your information, I am getting my Ph.D. in International NGO management/International Development Sustainability, I have over 30 years of international development experience working in conflict/under developed/post conflict countries, so my comments are again, based on thorough knowledge and principles of development. I did not suggest “civil society training”, Armenia had more than enough, I suggested youth development through vocational training to generate a sustainable income, so our young men and women don’t migrate to neighboring countries and take their brilliant minds with them. I never suggested “democracy building”, as democracy DOES NOT exist in Armenia NDI and OSCE has conducted several voter education workshops and obviously didn’t do us any good during the last election. I happen to be one of the “International Consultant” on a volunteer basis to have conducted a “due diligence” of several Armenian NGO/INGOs few years ago, my findings, based on 3 months of ground research and almost a year of information gathering indicate that Armenia no longer needs “training”, Armenia needs “stability” which there is no strategic plan in existence. I agree with you hundred percent that a large sum of donation from multi lateral donor agencies goes to operating expenses and very little reaches the grass roots, believe me, I know from first hand experience, however, what do you suggest as a solution? if you live in Armenia, then, please stop by the U.S. Embassy and USAID and make your case to U.S. Ambassador and USAID Mission Director, U.S. Ambassador is very open to any suggestion, I spoke with her personally during her visit to L.A., if you live in U.S., then reach out to your congress man/woman and plead for a resolution, that’s exactly what I had done, so imagine what we can do if everyone with deep concern units and brings awareness to masses… just imagine!!

    Dear friend, for your information, Ara Manoogian’s report about AF is NOT the only report about the fund, this is the only report which is out in public, Ara’s intent is to bring awareness to donors……if you donate funds to ANY organization, please ensure your funds are allocated properly. If you are happy with your contribution to AF and/or any organization, then by all means, go ahead and keep donating, for as long as you are happy with your contribution.

    One last remark, I have worked with several NGO/INGOs in Armenia, not all of them are BAD APPLES, there are several reputable NGO/INGOs in the country with a clear vision and mission to help people, there are a handful of such organization which receive direct funding from donor agencies. Have you ever thought about why a large donor agencies and diaspora organizations are pulling out of Armenia? (e.g., Lincy Foundation, MCC, European Council). A large group of diaspora community members, including myself spent endless hours to put Armenia on MCC’s map, we succeeded and the Government failed to keep their promises to MCC, resulting in MCC to pull out of Armenia, what a shame. Unless there is a major public administration reform, all other donors will pull the plug and before you know it, Armenia is back to where it was decades ago.

    Thank you for your love and passion to Armenia, I certainly appreciate it.

    Have a blessed day

  21. Մարտի 4, 2011, ժ. 12:06 ա.

    Dear Mr. Kotanjian et al.,

    Please forgive me for my lack of moderation within these comments which were clearly offensive and undeserving derogatory remarks. I apologize for not being able to delete the comments in question right away, as the password for this wordpress account, which is a very long and complex password (used to reduce the risk of hacking), is stored in a gmail account which was disabled for unknown reasons. I contacted gmail and after a few days, they reactivated the account without any explanation. The first thing I did was log on to wordpress and delete the offensive comments that were directed towards you, as well as a couple of offensive comments towards Hilda Grigorian. I also deleted a few, but not all comments that were attacks on me, as by doing so would have deteriorated the comments to the point that they would not be understandable.

    Please note that by not deleting the comments which constitute defamation or slander, which in a United States court of law are punishable, does not mean that I approve of them in any way and do not release my rights to pursue legal action. If at a later date and within the given statue of limitations I can track down those persons who have committed illegal acts within these comments, I will pursue legal action and seek the maximum in damages that the law allows.

    Mr. Kotanjyan, if there are any comments which you still find offensive which need to be deleted, I invite you to send an email to ara@snff.org to let me know which ones and I will delete them as fast is humanly possible.

    With Respect,
    Ara K. Manoogian
    Artsakh Representative
    Shahan Natalie Family Foundation, Inc.

  22. K
    Մարտի 4, 2011, ժ. 1:31 ե.

    Dear Mr. Vardanyan,

    I want to believe nothing more than that the Fund is not at all tainted by corruption. And I have chosen in the past not to believe “rumors” when I have heard them spoken in my circle of family and friends and chose to donate anyway. I personally made posts and updates on my Facebook page encouraging friends to donate. My excuse was that even if some of the funds are to line the pockets of the corrupt, there is still so much being done.

    But after reading this article, my position is “No! Why should any of it go to corrupt politicians or why should contracts be offered to only certain contractors.” All of it should go to benefit its purpose. All or nothing! I am enabling corruption with each dollar I donate.

    As for not helping my country, by not donating to the fund I will not stop helping my country. I help my country by sending money directly to relatives, I donate to other organizations in Armenia, I also contribute to ANCA in the US.

    There is no doubt that the fund has a badly damaged reputation!!! When I donated in 2010, I was the only one of 15 adults in my gathering for Thanksgiving that day that donated. Everyone else thought the fund was corrupt and didn’t want to have anything to do with it.

    I think the fund would benefit immensely if you embark on a campaign to clear up the fund’s reputation – if you can, that is, if it is not truly corrupt. You can’t just brush off accusations as rumors. Where there is smoke there is fire. Imagine if the 15 people I was with each didn’t think that the fund was corrupt, thanks to “rumors” and also donated. Think how helpful that would be to Our Country.

    And you invite Arthur to come to your offices to see what has been done. Well everyone does not have the means to come to your offices. Why don’t you make your financial documents public, available on your website and a line item breakdown of how all the money is spent? So the next time I am donating and defending why I am donating I can refer people to your site to verify how much money was spent on each project, who was the contractor that completed the project, and maybe even other information such as what similar projects cost elsewhere. No ONE I know donates!

    I want to believe. But you have work to do.

    • Մարտի 5, 2011, ժ. 3:39 ե.

      Dear K

      Thanks for the interest in our organization. I am so glad that you bring up the issue of transparency… Our reports are on the website, and they contain the info about each and every project, including the result of the audit. The problem here Is that a few people discuss Hayastan All Armenian Fund without even bothering to see what we do and how we do it. I am truly glad that you are interested in this info, so please visit our website and you will find all the info there. Helping your family in Armenia is also a way of making donation, which we truly welcome, and for which I cordially thank you and people like you. You have also stated that you help other Armenian organizations, would you be so kind to name me one Armenian organization that is as transparent as we are. Just name me one organization that posts it’s audit report on their website and also provides details of the projects that they do including the cost? I really doubt that you will find any….
      Surely the decision on making a donation or not is something that can be decided only by you, and the only thing that I can do is answering your questions. By the way I have answered all the questions given by Arthur in detail, the response is above.

      With kind regards

      Ara Vardanyan

  23. Մարտի 5, 2011, ժ. 11:08 ե.

    Dear Mr. Vardanyan,

    I thank you for all your efforts in answer the questions that are being asked of you within these comments.

    Though I can agree that the fund has made available on the AF website some of the information that K is asking for, it is not detailed and at best is written to provide the minimal needed to satisfy the masses. I myself know from inside information that I have collected over the years and especially within the last three months that in fact the Grant Thornton audits do not paint an accurate picture of the work that the fund has done and in fact serves as a marketing tool so the Fund can claim transparency. To dispel or prove my claim, I would like to propose that you invite me to Armenia for the purpose of conducting a forensic audit. The audit would be conducted by an independent international auditing firm with impeccable credentials. The Armenia Fund would provide full access to the Fund’s archives and the right to interview the contractors, employees, Board members of the Fund and the beneficiaries of the projects in question. In addition to this, the Fund would allow the auditing firm to be accompanied by myself and members of my investigating team. The fund will state in the official invitation that it will make every effort not to hinder the audit and investigation and will instruct in writing to all private and public agencies as well as individuals who will have to provide information to do the same. The findings of the audit and investigation could then be made public.

    Sincerely yours,
    Ara K. Manoogian
    Artsakh Representative
    Shahan Natalie Family Foundation, Inc.

    • Մարտի 6, 2011, ժ. 12:17 ա.

      Wow!!!!! Now you fill like the auditor. Firstly your claims about Grant Thornton Amyot will be passed to them, and it will be up to them to follow up. As I have stated hundred times, we have a board of trustees which consists of 35members, 25 of which are representing diaspora. Theses are the people who make the decesions concerning audit selection and other strategic things. On the other hand you are welcome to visit us and get any info that you find necessary.
      By the way Ara Jan, how projects that you and Hilda have done have ever undergone any audit? I guess not!!!!!! So why don’t you first present to the donors what you did with their money and then talk about well respected organizations .

      Best

      Ara

      • Hilda Grigorian
        Մարտի 6, 2011, ժ. 12:47 ե.

        Dear Ara (I hope you don’t mind me calling you Ara), my projects are fully funded by myself (please refer to my previous posting), I hired an accountant and an auditor to review projects for accuracy, however my project value is minimal and not comparison with AF. I have two projects funded by private donors, and yes, for your information, both donors stopped by the office and went through papers to realize that Hilda has matched their contribution by 60 percent in order to implement the projects, they both were taken to the job site and independently interviewed affected families.

        Dear Ara, please go back and read my comments, I can’t afford to hold extravaganza telethon, as a matter of fact due to high monthly operating expenses, (even for my small NGO), I was obliged to suspend the NGO until I find other means of raising funds. I am sure you are aware that a donor agency is obligated to publicize an itemized expenditures to donors, I have gone through your documents and reports and not much makes sense, perhaps I am missing something, but in any case, I am NOT a donor, so it doesn’t matter to me. I contribute to two INGOs in Armenia and very happy with my contribution.

        Dear Ara, if I implemented a small ONE Water Project to bring water to 50 families, then that’s all I could afford to do, at least I traveled to villages where it’s not on AF’s map (with my personal funds). I traveled to over 50 villages in northern Marzes and personally hired two individuals to conduct a needs assessment in villages in southern Marzes, AF was absent in just about most of the villages, along the side with MCA.

        Frankly, I do have high respect for you and so far found you very professional, all my comments are based on my own findings prior your employment with the fund.

        Dear Ara, we all have a common love and passion to our motherland, hence all deep emotions and hope we unite to serve our people in Armenia.

        I will NO LONGER post any comments as it seems we are going around the circle with no destination, should you wish to discuss this personally, please ask Ara Manoogian for my email address, in any case I will be in Armenia next month and hope to stop by your office to meet you personally.

        Wishing you and AF all the best
        H

    • Մարտի 6, 2011, ժ. 12:33 ա.

      And by the way, the contractors we work with are not under out of not talking. So feel free to talk to them any time you want, the same goes to our employes. And stop saying that you have insider info there are no secrets that you should know as there are no secrets at all.
      Ara, our conversation is not going anywhere. You are a type of a person that wants all things to go wrong!!!! Find some other organization for your purposes, maybe you should start of the organization that along with you and Hilda did the water system in one of Armenian villages, and tell people what was done in fact and what it looks like now. I guess you did not want the audit for that project. I wonder why? I have more that 30 huge projects in progress now and have to make sure that everything is good. I really do not have time for gossips that you spread. I guess you have lots of time so why don’t you come and see everything with your eyes. Ara instead of useless tries to blackmail our organization, do something good for your homeland!!!!!! And when you do it, please let us know what you did and where so that in the future no one blackmails whatever you have done.

      Best

      Ara

      • Մարտի 6, 2011, ժ. 1:31 ա.

        Dear Mr. Vardanyan,

        Please do pass on this information to Grant Thornton. If they choose to take legal action against me, I will be forced with a court order to reveal my confidential sources, which are people from within your organization. In your comments above you state that I never contacted your office. If you ask around to your people, you may learn that I have in fact been in contact with key people, who some did not ask me to make sure you that you don’t find out about our multiple contacts we had including a face to face meeting. In fact I encouraged them to share what we discussed with you. I have nothing to hide and welcome legal action against me from Grant Thornton and/or the Armenia Fund, but know also that it will not serve the purpose I am hoping this white paper will serve and that is to make the All-Armenia Fund the most efficient fund in Armenia that in fact does what you are claiming it is doing.

        I am not claiming to be an auditor. I am not qualified to conduct an audit. I will pay for an independent international auditing firm with impeccable credentials. This does not mean I will conduct the audit, but will simply be with them to point them in the direction that they need to look. Over the years, my people (some who have worked for you) and I have already done the initial investigation and know the problem areas and what the finding will be. For this, it will not be a monumental task for the auditing firm to collect the documents they need for an accurate assessment of the real condition of the Armenia Fund.

        Just so you know, I don’t trust any of your documents the fund has to offer or the public claims of any of the board members. Present and past members in private have told me, “yes there are problems, but even if some of what we send gets to the people, then that’s okay.” The reality is that most of the 35 people you mention at very least have a gut feeling that there is a problem and after reading what has so far been released in this white paper, their suspicions will further solidify. They now no longer have an excuse to keep the truth silent and continue to make erroneous claims about the Armenia Fund in the name of saving their reputations by turning a blind eye to what is really going on. It is now THEIR responsibility to verify the validity of my claims.

        With your response, I have to assume that you in fact do have something to hide. If all your claims are accurate, you have nothing to fear from a forensic audit conducted by an independent international auditing firm with impeccable credentials. In the name of the transparity you preach, you should be happy that I made such a suggestion. In fact such an audit could help the Armenia Fund to better understand the strengths and weaknesses the Fund has. From the findings, corrective measures can be taken to fix whatever problems the Fund may have.

        I have a challenge to all board members of the Armenia Fund. I challenge you to come clean and you yourselves start making inquiries into the workings of the fund. Once you have discovered the answers, please report them back to the donors who you solicit funds from. You have nothing to fear from doing this and your reputations will not be permanently damaged if in fact what I am claiming is discovered to be true. Of course if you continue to keep silent and keep on the course you have been going, this is where the threat of irreversible damage could come to not only your reputation, but to the future existence of the Armenia Fund.

        Mr. Vardanyan, I ask once again. Invite me to bring an independent international auditing firm with impeccable credentials, along with members of my investigative team to Yerevan to conduct a forensic audit. If you cannot do this, then please clearly spell out for me that you are declining my request.

        Sincerely yours,
        Ara K. Manoogian
        Artsakh Representative
        Shahan Natalie Family Foundation, Inc.

        Ps. Unlike the All-Armenia Fund, Hilda Grigorian’s charitable organization, Armenian Village Operation (http://www.armeniavillageoperation.com/) and the Shahan Natalie Family Foundation (www.snff.org), are private charitable organizations who only have to answer directly to the donors of projects. I can count on my one hand how many donations SNFF has received since it started up 12 years ago. I’m sure the same holds true for Hilda. Believe it or not, both organizations are supported for the most part by funds from our own pockets and I for one know how the funds are being spent, thus don’t need to see any kind of audit.

    • pahakazor
      Մարտի 6, 2011, ժ. 12:57 ա.

      Ara (Manoogian), now you are trying to push on people that Grant Thornton is not a reputable auditing firm? Is that a new thing for you now? What do you have to prove that as you say that “Grant Thornton audits do not paint an accurate picture of the work that the fund has done and in fact serves as a marketing tool so the Fund can claim transparency.”? You sound just like “Zhamanak” newspaper you LOVE to quote in your so called “white paper” — “according to our sources” or “according to information that became known to us…” Give me a break. What makes you think that Grant Thornton would jeopardize its reputation by not doing a true audit — both financial and physical?

      You are attacking Grant Thornton, which in fact IS an “independent international auditing firm with impeccable credentials” exactly the kind of an auditing firm you want to see auditing Armenia Fund.

      On top of this what makes you qualified to do a “forensic audit”? What is your background, education? Are you an auditor? Are you a lawyer?

      There are hundreds of other organizations that operate in Armenia using the donations of people like me who live outside of Armenia. Have you inquired whether other non-profit organizations undergo an audit? Are you putting them under the same levels of scrutiny? Apparently not as you are not interested in that. All you want to accomplish is to tarnish Armenia Fund’s reputation by throwing unwarranted accusations out there. Your tactics is clear: you are randomly accusing Armenia Fund of something that is not there and demand Armenia Fund to show prove that your accusations are not true. Stop looking for a black cat in a dark room, especially when the cat is not there…

      • Մարտի 6, 2011, ժ. 1:37 ա.

        “Pahakazor”, why don’t you reveal who you really are. As Ara Vardanyan has said in his comment,”This is why I dislike internet, you write whatever you want and no one knows who you are.” I think in all fairness, you should tell us who you are that you have so much knowledge of the Fund. What do you have to hide?

    • Մարտի 6, 2011, ժ. 5:48 ա.

      Ara, now you try to provoke the members of the Board of Trustees. These people are very well respected people both in their communities as well as world wide. I really do not think that you can insult them. You take way too much on you!!!!
      I have to repeat. Grant Toronton Amyot is one the three leaders in the audit business worldwide, are you challenging them? Cause if you are then you should consult with people in that business.
      And, come on , stop theatenning me that my employees have told you some things that I am sure do not exist. As I said give me names and info, otherwise whatever you say is total 0. I trust that our staff here in Yerevan is comprised of well educated and good people who are all donors to this organization. And I am sure that none of them would tell you any lies about the fund. You see as soon as we come to the issue of what have you and Hilda done you start talking that there is no audit needed. Well, I know for a fact that quite a few people had donated to the few projects that you have done, but have never received a quialified report. So Ara, before starting to blackmail others, why don’t you clean up the mess in our own house. I do not want to get deeper into this. Unlike you we don’t beleive the rumors and do not publish those. There arew million of negative things that are around about you, but I would never even bring those up as I do not think that it is the right thing to do.
      As I said, we I am overseeing more than 30 projects daily and have some reporting to do to our donors (who by the way are very happy with it), and I do not have time for this kind of discussions.
      In the last four years we have at least doubled the number of donors worldwide and I am sure that we will continue doing so, inspite that there are people like you….
      Take care, and one peice of advice if I may… Try to do something good for your homeland if you can. If by any reason you cannot, then let others do it instead of trying to mass up their work.

      Ara Vardanyan

      • Մարտի 6, 2011, ժ. 7:44 ա.

        Dear Mr. Vardanyan,

        First of all I would ask that you please act as professional as the position you hold at the Armenia Fund. It is not becoming of an Executive Director of a multimillion dollar fund to act so unprofessionally and with so many insults and misinterpretations of what I have stated in my message to you. I would also ask that you do not cloud the issues with irrelevant and inaccurate information to divert the focus of the matter at hand.

        I don’t have a problem answering each and every question you have, point by point, but would say that it is in fact a waste of valuable time that could be spent instead fixing what ails the Fund.

        I really feel very sorry for you and what I am about to say reminds me of the debate between Kocharyan and Dermichyan a decade ago, where Kocharyan asked a question to Dermichyan that he could not give a definitive answer to since his left hand did not know what his right hand was doing. Kocharyan made a snide remark of, “You don’t have control over your team”. Well Mr. Vardanyan, I fear that you are now living a Dermichyan moment, as it is possible that you really don’t have control over your team.

        Mr. Vardanyan, may I inform you that on December 11, 2010, I did exactly what you claimed I had not done and that was to attempt to contact your representative of the All-Armenia Fund in Los Angeles, Sarkis Kotanjian. Mr. Kotanjyan, reciprocated 46 hours and 59 minutes later with a message of “Why are you concerned, Ara?” From our conversation we debated many of my concerns regarding the Fund. We decided that it would be beneficial to have a face to face meeting which we did on December 17, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. We met for lunch at Phoenicia, on Central Avenue in Glendale. We sat at table #111. The meeting lasted two and a half hours. We not only discussed the problems, but also viable solutions and how the fund could be restructured to be more compatible with today’s Armenia. And if you don’t believe that this meeting took place, you can contact Stepan Partamian, who knows both Mr. Kotanjian and I. Stepan came to our table to say Bari Luys. Also, you may want to check your phone records. During our meeting around the mid-point, Mr. Kotanjian received a phone call from someone who he called Ara. I didn’t ask him who he was talking to, but I would guess there is a possibility it was you.

        Mr. Vardanyan, I have been researching the Armenia for over 10 years and dreaming of the day that it changes to what we all would like it to be. I know of no dirt on you personally nor do I expect to find any. I like to think of myself as a good judge of character and would say that if anyone can clean up the Fund, it would have to be you. I also know that in many ways your hands are tied and you are limited to what you are allowed to do by the people who appointed you. For this reason trust me when I say that I am on your side and am ready to do my part in the cleansing process regardless of what negative consequences may come my way. Since you are not allowed to change things and publicly come to terms with the past, which is the most important component to implement change, then I, who has no board of directors breathing down my neck telling what I can and cannot do, will attempt to force the Fund if need be, face the past so that we can then search for a brighter future. Please note that if my goal was to destroy the fund, I could have done it years ago.

        Mr. Vardanyan, I ask of you, do you want the Fund to continue being a united force of Armenians all around the world doing things that will benefit our nation? If you answered this with a yes, then let us all work together to get beyond the he said, she said stage and do something about it. What do you say?

        Very truly yours,
        Ara K. Manoogian
        Artsakh Representative
        Shahan Natalie Family Foundation, Inc.

      • Ara K. Manoogian
        Մարտի 6, 2011, ժ. 8:14 ա.

        AV SAID: “Well, I know for a fact that quite a few people had donated to the few projects that you have done, but have never received a quialified report.”

        Mr. Vardanyan, can you please provide the names of these people who have donated to projects I have done so I can check to see if they are any of the 4 contributing donors we have had since the establishment of our foundation? I know each one of these people personally and am still in contact with them. The only other funds that has been received by SNFF was for a forum that we aranged for Policy Forum Armenia and received a few donations to cover the expenses. As far as I know, none of the donors asked for an accounting, but if they are in need of one, we do have a full report available to them on request.

  24. pahakazor
    Մարտի 6, 2011, ժ. 1:59 ա.

    Ara K. Manoogian :
    “Pahakazor”, why don’t you reveal who you really are. As Ara Vardanyan has said in his comment,”This is why I dislike internet, you write whatever you want and no one knows who you are.” I think is all fairness, you should tell us who you are that you have so much knowledge of the Fund. What do you have to hide?

    Why do I have to reveal who I am? Did all the people who made posting here or on the Neuvelle Armenie with nasty comments and baseless accusations about Armenia Fund reveal who they are? As I said three times before I am a long time donor to Armenia Fund who cares where my donations end up. I visited several Armenia Fund projects, spoken with people in those villages, contractors and office workers of Armenia Fund in Armenia. Years back I volunteered answering phones during the Telethon. There is no “inside” information that my postings contain, everything is out in the open. The only thing was about the Ramgavar Party unfulfilled pledge to Armenia Fund that I heard from some people in the Ramgavar circles. I checked that information and it turned out to be true.

    • Մարտի 6, 2011, ժ. 2:23 ա.

      The people on Neuvelle Armenie who made the alleged baseless accusations you are referring to are well known by the people on that forum and are not hiding behind a fake name. HB is Hratch Bedrossian, who is known for being outspoken about the problems of the Armenia Fund. Even Bedros Terzian knows who he is and how to find him. In fact everyone there who made comments are known and can be contacted without any problem. So far everyone who has commented in a not so civil manor with the exception of you and one other person, can be located without any problem. So Mr. or Mrs. Pahakazor, why are you in hiding? By you not revealing who you really are casts a shadow of doubt on the credibility and accuracy of everything you write. My guess is that you might work in the PR department of the Armenia Fund and if you don’t, then you should apply.

  25. Sarkis Kotanjian
    Մարտի 6, 2011, ժ. 2:21 ե.

    Ara K. Manoogian :
    Dear Mr. Vardanyan,
    First of all I would ask that you please act as professional as the position you hold at the Armenia Fund. It is not becoming of an Executive Director of a multimillion dollar fund to act so unprofessionally and with so many insults and misinterpretations of what I have stated in my message to you. I would also ask that you do not cloud the issues with irrelevant and inaccurate information to divert the focus of the matter at hand.
    I don’t have a problem answering each and every question you have, point by point, but would say that it is in fact a waste of valuable time that could be spent instead fixing what ails the Fund.
    I really feel very sorry for you and what I am about to say reminds me of the debate between Kocharyan and Dermichyan a decade ago, where Kocharyan asked a question to Dermichyan that he could not give a definitive answer to since his left hand did not know what his right hand was doing. Kocharyan made a snide remark of, “You don’t have control over your team”. Well Mr. Vardanyan, I fear that you are now living a Dermichyan moment, as it is possible that you really don’t have control over your team.
    Mr. Vardanyan, may I inform you that on December 11, 2010, I did exactly what you claimed I had not done and that was to attempt to contact your representative of the All-Armenia Fund in Los Angeles, Sarkis Kotanjian. Mr. Kotanjyan, reciprocated 46 hours and 59 minutes later with a message of “Why are you concerned, Ara?” From our conversation we debated many of my concerns regarding the Fund. We decided that it would be beneficial to have a face to face meeting which we did on December 17, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. We met for lunch at Phoenicia, on Central Avenue in Glendale. We sat at table #111. The meeting lasted two and a half hours. We not only discussed the problems, but also viable solutions and how the fund could be restructured to be more compatible with today’s Armenia. And if you don’t believe that this meeting took place, you can contact Stepan Partamian, who knows both Mr. Kotanjian and I. Stepan came to our table to say Bari Luys. Also, you may want to check your phone records. During our meeting around the mid-point, Mr. Kotanjian received a phone call from someone who he called Ara. I didn’t ask him who he was talking to, but I would guess there is a possibility it was you.
    Mr. Vardanyan, I have been researching the Armenia for over 10 years and dreaming of the day that it changes to what we all would like it to be. I know of no dirt on you personally nor do I expect to find any. I like to think of myself as a good judge of character and would say that if anyone can clean up the Fund, it would have to be you. I also know that in many ways your hands are tied and you are limited to what you are allowed to do by the people who appointed you. For this reason trust me when I say that I am on your side and am ready to do my part in the cleansing process regardless of what negative consequences may come my way. Since you are not allowed to change things and publicly come to terms with the past, which is the most important component to implement change, then I, who has no board of directors breathing down my neck telling what I can and cannot do, will attempt to force the Fund if need be, face the past so that we can then search for a brighter future. Please note that if my goal was to destroy the fund, I could have done it years ago.
    Mr. Vardanyan, I ask of you, do you want the Fund to continue being a united force of Armenians all around the world doing things that will benefit our nation? If you answered this with a yes, then let us all work together to get beyond the he said, she said stage and do something about it. What do you say?
    Very truly yours,
    Ara K. Manoogian
    Artsakh Representative
    Shahan Natalie Family Foundation, Inc.

    Dear Mr. Manoogian,

    First of all, I urge you to be more respectful to Mr. Ara Vardanyan, who, despite his young age of 33, is well-respected by Armenia Fund donors, affiliates around the world, trustees, volunteers and employees of Armenia Fund as he brought transparency and efficiency to the organization within the span of short 3 years. He is the first Hayastan Fund Executive Director who got the job as a result of an open competition. He is the first Director in the history of Hayastan All-Armenian Fund who is not a political functionary (unlike all former executive directors) and doesn’t have powerful people behind him (again, unlike all former executive directors), but rather a very effective manager. Ara Vardanyan rose through the ranks of the Fund starting off as a regular employee back in 2003, then becoming head of a division, then head of a department, deputy executive director and later Executive Director. (If your white paper were balanced, you would have mentioned the positive sides of the organization too, like this one, and not only what you consider as negatives). He is clean and he has guts. So, if you are trying to present yourself to the public as a person who genuinely wishes Armenia Fund well, you should be Ara Vardanyan’s number one fan.

    I don’t see where the sensation is with the fact that I have indeed met you several months ago over lunch after you have contacted Armenia Fund with questions. I routinely meet with any members of our community who have questions about Armenia Fund, what it does, how it operates and what results it brings in Armenia and Artsakh. Yes, Ara Vardanyan is well aware of our meeting. And NO, it was another Ara who called me while we were meeting, there are 5 Aras involved with Armenia Fund some of them locally, some internationally.

    For other readers of this blog let me add that during the meeting I explained how Armenia Fund works, it’s successes as well as its challenges. I said it during that meeting and I will say it now that as any organization, Armenia Fund in its 20 years of existence had its share of challenges through which it learned. Why do you think that same problems that were present in the 1990s continue to exist today? New control mechanisms where created throughout these years. Let me give you an example: when construction quality issues arose in 2005-2006, the Trustees added yet another quality control mechanism, which added quality control to the auditing process, meaning that the actual quality of construction, materials, practices and bidding process is checked and assessed. Thanks to this and other internal control mechanisms that were installed, Armenia Fund has not had a construction quality issue since 2007. Armenia Fund is not what it was back in 1994, 1998, 2003 or 2006 — it changes with time and it changes with people.

    Ara, has it ever crossed your mind that there might be people within Armenia Fund, who slowly but surely have improved the organization from within over the years? By putting real sweat into it day in and day out? People both on the Board of Trustees, from affiliates around the world and at the Armenia Fund office in Yerevan? Believe me, Armenia Fund has fully “come to terms with the past” as you word it. It has learned its lessons, fired its share of employees, conducted extensive internal studies, followed on recommendations in those studies, made improvements and continues to make those improvements every day.

    Pahakazor put it well: “Stop looking for a black cat in a dark room, especially when the cat is not there…”

    Sincerely,
    Sarkis Kotanjian
    Executive Director
    Armenia Fund, U.S. Western Region

  26. pahakazor
    Մարտի 8, 2011, ժ. 8:43 ե.

    Ara Manoogian, may I ask where are you going to get the funding for the proposed “independent audit” by some mysterious international auditing firm with an “impeccable reputation”? Given the scope of Armenia Fund’s projects (judging from its annual reports, none of which I don’t think you have read), this audit couldn’t be cheap. I looked around in the internet and these international auditing firms are not cheap — my understanding is that we are talking anywhere between $15,000-$50,000. Who is funding you, Ara? Judging from your “white paper” I don’t exclude the possibility of it being funded by either some obscure radical anarchist group within Armenia, some azeri/turkish influence group or some foreign grant that you got under “democracy building”, “capacity building”, “civil society”, “civil transparency” pretext. Perhaps the last one gets channeled through the PFA? This last one actually makes a lot of sense: the only vocal voices screaming their lungs out about alleged “problems with Armenia Fund” is you, Hilda Grigorian and Davit Grigoryan, all members of the Policy Forum Armenia (PFA). I wouldn’t be saying these things, but after reading all 3 parts of the “white paper” again, I am now convinced that you do have a hidden agenda. And that agenda is to stop the flow of Diaspora funds to Nagorno Karabakh (since Armenia Fund is by far the largest provider of Diaspora’s aid to NK) weakening that holy piece of land by halting critical infrastructure development and employment opportunities that Artsakh people have through Armenia Fund construction projects. With threats of war being heard every day, why did you decide to write this papers now, especially when pretty much all the alleged “abuses” that you write about happened 10-15 years ago? Where were you then? Why didn’t you write back then? I don’t know, Ara Manoogian, this doesn’t smell good to me… Are you even a donor to Armenia Fund? I would appreciate if Mr. Ara Vardanyan could tell us — when and how much Ara Manoogian donated to Armenia Fund.

    • Մարտի 9, 2011, ժ. 12:22 ա.

      pahakazor :

      Ara Manoogian, may I ask where are you going to get the funding for the proposed “independent audit” by some mysterious international auditing firm with an “impeccable reputation”? Given the scope of Armenia Fund’s projects (judging from its annual reports, none of which I don’t think you have read), this audit couldn’t be cheap. I looked around in the internet and these international auditing firms are not cheap — my understanding is that we are talking anywhere between $15,000-$50,000. Who is funding you, Ara? Judging from your “white paper” I don’t exclude the possibility of it being funded by either some obscure radical anarchist group within Armenia, some azeri/turkish influence group or some foreign grant that you got under “democracy building”, “capacity building”, “civil society”, “civil transparency” pretext. Perhaps the last one gets channeled through the PFA? This last one actually makes a lot of sense: the only vocal voices screaming their lungs out about alleged “problems with Armenia Fund” is you, Hilda Grigorian and Davit Grigoryan, all members of the Policy Forum Armenia (PFA). I wouldn’t be saying these things, but after reading all 3 parts of the “white paper” again, I am now convinced that you do have a hidden agenda. And that agenda is to stop the flow of Diaspora funds to Nagorno Karabakh (since Armenia Fund is by far the largest provider of Diaspora’s aid to NK) weakening that holy piece of land by halting critical infrastructure development and employment opportunities that Artsakh people have through Armenia Fund construction projects. With threats of war being heard every day, why did you decide to write this papers now, especially when pretty much all the alleged “abuses” that you write about happened 10-15 years ago? Where were you then? Why didn’t you write back then? I don’t know, Ara Manoogian, this doesn’t smell good to me… Are you even a donor to Armenia Fund? I would appreciate if Mr. Ara Vardanyan could tell us – when and how much Ara Manoogian donated to Armenia Fund.

      My dear Pahakazor,

      Don’t you think that you are putting the cart before the horse? Talking about how much and where the money will come from for a forensic audit (which with all expenses included will cost closer to $100k), is premature. First Ara Vardanyan has to invite me to Armenia to do this and at that time I will do what I have to in order to cover the costs.

      Regarding the rest of your comments, I first want to apologize to Hilda Grigorian, David Grigorian and all the people and supporters of PFA for allowing this comment to remain. I am only doing so to further discredit “pahakazor” so that when he is exposed for who he really is, he will wish that he never started to play the game he has started. Second, until you (pahakazor) are man enough to share your true identity, you are not entitled to any other answers for any questions you post here from me.

      I would also strongly encourage you to refrain from further statements that are clearly slander and defamation. You are not only opening yourself up to personal criminal prosecution, but you are also jeopardizing the person/organization you work for unneeded legal fees and damages that they will be forced to pay.

      Very truly yours,
      Ara K. Manoogian
      Artsakh Representative
      Shahan Natalie Family Foundation, Inc.

  27. pahakazor
    Մարտի 9, 2011, ժ. 12:26 ա.

    Ara K. Manoogian :
    The people on Neuvelle Armenie who made the alleged baseless accusations you are referring to are well known by the people on that forum and are not hiding behind a fake name. HB is Hratch Bedrossian, who is known for being outspoken about the problems of the Armenia Fund. Even Bedros Terzian knows who he is and how to find him. In fact everyone there who made comments are known and can be contacted without any problem. So far everyone who has commented in a not so civil manor with the exception of you and one other person, can be located without any problem. So Mr. or Mrs. Pahakazor, why are you in hiding? By you not revealing who you really are casts a shadow of doubt on the credibility and accuracy of everything you write. My guess is that you might work in the PR department of the Armenia Fund and if you don’t, then you should apply.

    Ara Manoogian, you are only saying who HB is from all the people who made posts on the Nouvelle Armenie blog. How about Dzovig, JP, lenajan2, Haytoug, sms, Papillon, Artour, Louise? They haven’t given their real names, have they?

  28. pahakazor
    Մարտի 9, 2011, ժ. 12:42 ա.

    Ara K. Manoogian :

    pahakazor :
    Ara Manoogian, may I ask where are you going to get the funding for the proposed “independent audit” by some mysterious international auditing firm with an “impeccable reputation”? Given the scope of Armenia Fund’s projects (judging from its annual reports, none of which I don’t think you have read), this audit couldn’t be cheap. I looked around in the internet and these international auditing firms are not cheap — my understanding is that we are talking anywhere between $15,000-$50,000. Who is funding you, Ara? Judging from your “white paper” I don’t exclude the possibility of it being funded by either some obscure radical anarchist group within Armenia, some azeri/turkish influence group or some foreign grant that you got under “democracy building”, “capacity building”, “civil society”, “civil transparency” pretext. Perhaps the last one gets channeled through the PFA? This last one actually makes a lot of sense: the only vocal voices screaming their lungs out about alleged “problems with Armenia Fund” is you, Hilda Grigorian and Davit Grigoryan, all members of the Policy Forum Armenia (PFA). I wouldn’t be saying these things, but after reading all 3 parts of the “white paper” again, I am now convinced that you do have a hidden agenda. And that agenda is to stop the flow of Diaspora funds to Nagorno Karabakh (since Armenia Fund is by far the largest provider of Diaspora’s aid to NK) weakening that holy piece of land by halting critical infrastructure development and employment opportunities that Artsakh people have through Armenia Fund construction projects. With threats of war being heard every day, why did you decide to write this papers now, especially when pretty much all the alleged “abuses” that you write about happened 10-15 years ago? Where were you then? Why didn’t you write back then? I don’t know, Ara Manoogian, this doesn’t smell good to me… Are you even a donor to Armenia Fund? I would appreciate if Mr. Ara Vardanyan could tell us – when and how much Ara Manoogian donated to Armenia Fund.

    My dear Pahakazor,
    Don’t you think that you are putting the cart before the horse? Talking about how much and where the money will come from for a forensic audit (which with all expenses included will cost closer to $100k), is premature. First Ara Vardanyan has to invite me to Armenia to do this and at that time I will do what I have to in order to cover the costs.
    Regarding the rest of your comments, I first want to apologize to Hilda Grigorian, David Grigorian and all the people and supporters of PFA for allowing this comment to remain. I am only doing so to further discredit “pahakazor” so that when he is exposed for who he really is, he will wish that he never started to play the game he has started. Second, until you (pahakazor) are man enough to share your true identity, you are not entitled to any other answers for any questions you post here from me.
    I would also strongly encourage you to refrain from further statements that are clearly slander and defamation. You are not only opening yourself up to personal criminal prosecution, but you are also jeopardizing the person/organization you work for unneeded legal fees and damages that they will be forced to pay.
    Very truly yours,
    Ara K. Manoogian
    Artsakh Representative
    Shahan Natalie Family Foundation, Inc.

    Ara Manoogian, now you are getting all defensive, threatening to sue me. 🙂 I wonder why? Anyhow, there is absolutely nothing slanderous in my comments as they reflect my personal opinion on your motives and it is after all a free country last time I checked. I am free to voice my opinion. If I were you I would worry more about the identity of “Arthur” whose comments were in fact defaming a character…

    • Մարտի 9, 2011, ժ. 1:30 ա.

      Defamation and slander comes in all kinds of shapes and forms. We can let the courts decide if it comes down to it.

  29. pahakazor
    Մարտի 9, 2011, ժ. 10:02 ա.

    Ara K. Manoogian :
    Defamation and slander comes in all kinds of shapes and forms. We can let the courts decide if it comes down to it.

    Oh, I am sure you would know!

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