Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The scam identified by Bruce Tasker is unfolding.

What Bruce Tasker has had to say for a few years now is coming to pass: Kocharian's and Sargsyan's master plan is to come to an agreement with Azerbaijan over the Gharabagh issue whereby Armenia agrees to clear out of the surrounding territories, and Azerbaijan agrees to pay for the refugees moving to a new area and starting a new life. This is all pretty simple stuff; just go to the Azeri administrative divisions map and see for yourself how Armenia is in control of pretty much all of the regions around Gharabagh. The tens of thousands of civilians whom the Armenian authorities have located in those regions in recent years will have to move when the agreement is signed, and Armenia will be calling on the Azeri government to pay for the resettlement. That is step one.

This is step two. The money that the Azeri government pays for the refugees is going to go to paying for Yerevan apartments (and infrastructure that the residents will use) that the Kocharian clan has been building--and building with aid money (Millenium Fund, World Bank, the usual suspects) that it pays to "foreign" companies that are supposedly "investing" in Armenia, but, in fact, are people like, say, Kocharian's cousins starting construction businesses in Russia, getting contracts in Armenia, and starting building in Yerevan. Again, Once Kocharian and Sargsyan get the compensation money from Azerbaijan, they'll move the refugees into these apartments in Yerevan, and pay their own clansmen for them. And that is how Kocharian, Sargsyan, and their Gharabagh clan are going to wind up with the money intended for refugees: indirectly, through the apartments. So there are actually three steps.

1. They built the apartments using front companies.
2. They are on the verge of signing an agreement with Azerbaijan that will displace refugees and oblige Azerbaijan to compensate for the displacement.
3. They will move the refugees into the apartments and pocket the money from Azerbaijan.

That is the scam that Bruce Tasker has identified, and a scam it surely is. And the amount of money involved here is about $3-4,000,000,000 dollars. Consider that average Armenians live on anywhere from $100 to $400 a month. The average income of the people living in the regions surrounding Gharabagh is, I don't know, realistically speaking--air--nothing. I would be surprised if they made $20 a month. The water they get from the well, the fruit they pick from the trees, and the house, well, what the house is worth is strictly the physical comforts it affords, strictly its use-value, nothing else. If you want to feel better about the real estate bubble bursting in the US, go to a war buffer-zone: Electricity is something your parents told you about when you pointed to this strange thing they said is called a "lightbulb," and the only running water is in the river. And the winters are cold. Twenty dollars goes a long, long way in places like buffer zones.

And these are the people that Kocharian and Sargsyan are stealing $4 billion dollars from--and possibly much more. Can you imagine? Can you imagine what utterly shameless reptiles these two are? Their lizard eyes shifting, their crocodile teeth tearing into the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, swallowing whole and slobbering, just so Sargsyan has something to back-up his otherwise lamely executed swagger at Monte Carlo.

Pashinian talks about how Sargsyan wanted to show people in Armenia what a stud he is by talking to Aliyev at the NATO summit in Bucharest, but ended up embarrassing himself and the European delegates with him when the Azeris said that there is no "subject or purpose" to the talks. The Armenian side then had to deny that they had ever made a request for talks. What an incompetent ass this man Sargsyan is. He then chased after Aliyev to St. Petersburg to try to beg a moment from him, because what is his dignity (and Armenia's, in parentheses) worth next to the opportunity to swagger at Monte Carlo?

I'll let Bruce Tasker point out the unfolding evidence for the reasoned prediction that he has made and has been trying to get people to acknowledge for a long time now. Recent events are fast proving him right. Below is a clip from an e-mail that he sent me. He is quoting this article from RFE/RL, written by Elizabeth Fuller. The text in bold is direct evidence for the verity of step 2 of the scam: compensation from Azerbaijan for internally displaced persons.

Elizabeth writes: “Sargsyan’s approach differed slightly from that of his predecessor, Robert Kocharian, in terms of unspecified "nuances." Then Elizabeth refers to a fundamentally important point that “The written text of the Madrid Proposals has not been made public” Followed by the standard Minsk Group line: “These principles include the phased redeployment of Armenian troops from Azerbaijani territories around Nagorno-Karabakh, with special modalities for Kelbacar and Lachin”(No reference to civilian displacements) . And importantly, today Bryza adds that: " International financial assistance would be made available for de-mining, reconstruction, resettlement of internally displaced persons in the formerly occupied territories and the war-affected regions of Nagorno-Karabakh."

Then the article quotes Bryza as saying: “withdrawal will not happen unless the Armenian side feels it has secured from Azerbaijan a concession of comparable magnitude. Similarly, Bryza continued, on the Azerbaijani side there is a political risk to giving to Armenia what Armenia needs to agree to give back the territories”.

Bruce Tasker is not optimistic about whether Kocharian/Sargsyan's plans will be thwarted and whether Armenians will get the just government that they deserve. I am hoping that LTP, Pashinian, and the Opposition will do the right thing.

UPDATE: See here for a .pdf of Arpineh Galfayan's essay about Tasker's work in Tesaket, the journal of the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, based in--Armenia.

UPDATE: Someone put this article up on Khosq.

By the way, the link to Bruce Tasker's website is on the right, like always.


nazarian said...

Quite insightful. I'll need to read the linked references one more time, though.

Anonymous said...

I find Tasker boring. He should go see a psychiatrist. After gobbling up world bank money for "development work, now he suddenly finds a conscience and wants to be Mother Teresa?

How positively post-colonial British. And after all his yammering, he wants to bring back LTP, who presided over the depopulation of Armenia? Too much whiskey, Brucey.

Bruce Tasker said...

“If Anonymous knew anything about Armenia, the Armenian authorities, the World Bank and me, he or she would think a bit more carefully before making claims that I gobbled up money from the Bank and implying that I constantly have a glass of whiskey in my hand.

He/she should understand that if I ever 'gobbled up' WB money, after a year of pounding away at corruption within Bank projects, the Bank would have by now found a way to discredit both me and my claims. As it is, today’s Armenia Bank Country Manager simply announced to the press that the Bank “did not have evidences of deception”, a reckless claim that I shot down with a newspaper article on a one hundred million dollar finance manipulation. To date, the Bank has not been able to defend or discredit any one of my twelve claims. I have never taken, or even received money from the WB, and I have never been involved in a WB funded project.

Also, it is not hard to imagine that, after a year into my action, accusing the Armenian authorities of stealing billions of dollars worth of state assets, murdering several of its people on the 1st March (for which Kocharian is responsible) and preparing for a multi-billion dollar Karabakh conflict resolution scam; if I had been involved in any kind of impropriety in Armenia, they would long ago have put considerable pressure on me and stopped my campaign.

With respect to drinking; most summer evenings I sit for an hour at one or another modest outdoor cafe and have one or two beers, no more, and Brucey has certainly not drunk whiskey for many years.

And that is a far cry from the senior Armenian hierarchy, who hide in restaurants which they monopolize, afraid and/or ashamed to be seen in public, and certainly unlike Roger Robinson, the Bank Country Manager at the center of the corruption, who had the reputation of being an "out-and-out alcoholic.”

LTP was no angel, and depopulaton was problem in his times of difficulty. But the stealing of state assets started with Kocharian (Cognac factory) and depopulation which has been rampant in recent years, is now being limited by a forced restriction on the issuing of visas, after a mass exodus following the February election, when more left Armenia in 2 months than in the previous three years.

Anonymous said...


Wallace Reid said...

This story reads like a classic movie, 'The Grapes of Wrath'.

Destitute immagrents from a dust-bowl are promised farm-land in California, so they pack it all up, and home-stead the San Joaquin Valley. Within 10 years all their farms are owned or leased by corporations.

The value of a rented home, is the price you pay.

The value of your own land, priceless.

Anonymous said...

"... years, is now being limited by a forced restriction on the issuing of visas, after a mass exodus following the February election, when more left Armenia in 2 months than in the previous three years.

Now it explains the grilling at the airports and counculates.
My wife travels with an Armenian passport and after March 1st we noticed that the Counculate computers had a huge flag on Armenia because as soon as staff members type in the word "Armenia" the impression on their faces changes and they start asking all sorts of paperwork. This never happened before.
The same on boarders they ask lots and lots of questions even if there is a valid visa and even residence permits in the passport.

Definetly Armeni is treated differently after March 1st.