Yerevan Red Cross chief uses Karabakh Armenians issue to cover up sordid deeds
    Hassle over "fat job"

    ANALYTICS  20 February 2024 - 12:22

    Samir Valiev

    Getting one's hands dirty in the budgets and treasuries of the state and of all sorts of organisations and funds, including humanitarian ones, has long become commonplace in Armenia. It is enough to recall the scandals that rocked the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund, in particular, the charges brought against its former executive director Are Vardanyan for embezzling $8 million. But this is nothing compared to the fact that the Armenian government itself withdrew $100 million from this fund after the 44-day war. Where did it go? "For the needs of the state," said Pashinyan. The opposition, however, launched a parliamentary inquiry into the use of the fund's resources, questioning the veracity of the prime minister's words. However, there was no evidence of any wrongdoing on their part.

    Now, a new embezzlement scandal. This time it is the Armenian Red Cross Society (ARCS). The truth might not have come to light if it hadn't been for the now understandably warm and fuzzy Secretary General's chair getting tangled up. On February 8, 2024, the ARCS Presidium invited Anna Yeghiazaryan, Secretary General of the Society, to report on the activities for 2023 and to explain why the budget for 2023 and the programme for 2024 had not been presented. The question is about the reports on the provision of assistance to persons of Armenian nationality who have moved from the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan to Armenia. Levon Baghdasaryan, the ARCS lawyer, reported to the Armenian law enforcement authorities the embezzlement of more than 60 million drams ($145,000), the disappearance of documents and the illegal use of the organisation's car.

    The ARCS Presidium quickly sacked General Secretary Anna Yeghiazaryan, who claimed that the decision was illegal and called an extraordinary meeting of the society. At the meeting, she was re-elected. The ARCS Presidium then rejected the election results and banned her from entering the ARCS building. Baghdasaryan noted that they have submitted more than a dozen reports on the crime to the law enforcement authorities, but there has been no response yet. Instead of Anna Yeghiazaryan, Artur Aristakesyan was elected head of the Armenian Red Cross Society.

    And now let us recall the events of the recent past, namely last summer when Azerbaijan sent them goods and essential products to meet the food needs of the Armenian inhabitants of the Karabakh region. It should be recalled that the passage of the Azerbaijani cargo on the Aghdam-Askeran road was artificially blocked not only by the separatist remnants but also by the International Committee of the Red Cross itself. The ICRC carried out all its actions in Karabakh through the Armenian office of the ICRC, in defiance of international law. That is to say, the humanitarian organisation actively joined the geopolitics games, expressed the interests of the anti-Azerbaijan forces of the West and became a tool of their own hands. And the Armenian Red Cross Society, under the leadership of Anna Yeghiazaryan, was very much involved in the whole process. Now it is clear that she was guided not so much by "care" for the "starving" Armenians in Karabakh but by her gain. We venture to guess that she was also profiting from the smuggling of goods into Karabakh - Azerbaijani border guards have already caught ICRC workers in this crime. Apparently, the monopoly on supplying the Karabakh Armenians with goods brought the ARCS's secretary-general handsome revenues.

    In this context, Yeghiazaryan's attacks last year on the head of the Azerbaijani Red Crescent Society, MP Novruz Aslan, who was trying to deliver a humanitarian convoy to Armenians in Karabakh, look particularly comical. Yeghiazaryan complained about Aslan and expressed doubts about his impartiality. Liana Ghukasyan, assistant to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies president, actively supported her in this case. Now it is clear why all this happened. After all, there was money at stake, which she could lose if the convoys of humanitarian goods started moving along the Aghdam-Khankendi route. However, as the situation in ARCS shows, even after the full restoration of Azerbaijan's sovereignty and territorial integrity, Yeghiazaryan still had opportunities for personal enrichment at the expense of the Armenians who had voluntarily moved from the Karabakh region to Armenia. The reason for all the commotion outside the ARCS office in Yerevan is that she does not want to lose her "fat job".


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