Serzh Sargsyan is the President of Armenia and opinions of him are rather mixed in Armenia and in the rest of the world. He won presidential elections in 2008 and once again in 2013. Before becoming a president this man was not a complete political novice. Born in Nagorno-Karabakh, he spent his youth as a zealous Komsomol, the Communist Party agitator and agent of nomenklatura. According to some sources, he participated in attacks against Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh. In 1989 he became a leader of Nagorno-Karabakh “self-defence” troops. From 1993 to 2008 he took various high-ranking posts in Armenia, from the Minister of Defence to the Head of President‘s Administration.

There are numerous dirty stories related to him, but this article is not about the President, but rather about his family, which handles matters according to the greatest traditions of traditional mafia families. In Lithuania we have a web of such traditions in Pagėgiai region, governed by the family of Komskiai brothers. Looking deeper into actions of Sargsyan brothers, a simple question arises – has any member of Komskiai family worked in Armenia? Because similarities are clear, only on a different scale. Let us remind you, that the Mayor of Pagėgiai Virginijus Komskis is often labeled as a contraband king, however, no one has been able to catch him in action. In the preceding Seimas his Brother Kęstas Komskis led a Seimas Anti-corruption Commission until the law enforcement caught him forging results of elections after what he was expelled from the current Seimas.

And what about the third brother Arvydas, who shot Ramzis, a dog belonging to Lithuanian border guards? This shot, which was fired just prior to the Seimas elections, added even more suspicion and speculations of this family relation to smugglers, and even further weakened popularity of “Tvarka ir teisingumas” Political Party belonging to the ousted president Rolandas Paksas. But let us return to Armenia.

While analyzing processes that are happening in Armenia, a conclusion can be made that this brotherly union of the criminal world and the state government reached such a scale that now it would be the time to announce this country as dangerous to the global law and time to start a special Interpol operation in it. No matter how Armenian Diaspora would try to present Armenia as a cradle of global civilization and culture, or an oasis of democracy and justice in Caucasian region, fangs of immoral and dishonest beast are still visible behind the mask of decency.

Armenian government seeks money everywhere, but not in really money-rich places. In other words, they seek money everywhere but their own pockets. While sitting on money bags they look across the world for a small change. Such situation can be observed in all public structures. Many high-ranking Armenian politicians and officials are at the same time rich businessmen. Of course, they claim that an official or politician is not prohibited by law to have personal business and the only prohibition is active management of that business. Millions, maybe billions of dollars are accumulated in both Armenian and foreign bank accounts of these businessmen.

According to calculations of various independent experts, during the last 12 years alone, more than 7 billion dollars were exported from Armenia. It is hard to say, what sum has it become after all investments, but judging by small bank deposit percent, we can only guess how much money was generated by that sum of money exported from Armenia.

One of the leading bosses of contemporary Armenian mafia is none the other but Aleksandr Sargsyan, brother of the current president Serzh Sargsyan. Aleksandr is also called “Sashik 50 percent”. The story of this nickname is as follows: everyone who had business with him knows that he always demands “his” 50 percent share. For example, Aleksandr Sargsyan suddenly takes a liking of some restaurant in Yerevan and he decides to acquire it. Then negotiators are sent with a proposal that cannot be refused. As Sashik takes only his 50 percent, a restaurant usually agrees to such proposal and transfers part of the business to unofficial master of the country economy.

In today‘s Armenia there is no such even slightly profitable branch of business where Sashik would not have his influence. Those businessmen who refute proposals of President‘s brother have very hard times. Some of them are assaulted by unknown attackers, others are forced to leave the country, and others are just simply killed, what exactly happened with the owner of “Vanadur” restaurant in Yerevan Ardon Handian. Such drastic actions take away any intentions to oppose Sashik‘s proposals.

Sashik does not forget to legalize his illegally acclaimed funds which later are transferred from the country and used to buy houses, restaurants, hotels, night clubs and businesses in foreign lands. According to some sources, Sashik exported over 200 million dollars to the United States. For example, in 2005, he bought a luxurious villa in Tarzana, California, for 2.8 million dollars. Now it is worth over 3.5 million.

Of course, Sashik sometimes had some problems with the United States. According to the article on Sargsyan brothers in, during one open interview in 2005 he complained that he was not let into the country because of wrongly filled customs declaration. When he flew to the USA, he had 30 million dollars of undeclared money in his pockets. He was not let into the country and had to take the nearest flight back to Armenia.

Aleksandr Sargsyan has businesses and properties not only in America, but also in Russia, Spain, Czech Republic and Bulgaria. He exports sheep from Armenia to Iran and the United Emirates of Arabia. He even created a monopoly. Since the old times sheep market in Armenia belonged to Kurds, however, President‘s brother decided that such a profitable business cannot belong to some small national minority and Kurds encountered such a pressure that soon had to transfer their businesses to Sashik.

Fruit import in Armenia is also supervised by Sashik‘s companies. A great deal of road traffic cameras and radars in Armenia are the property of companies related to President‘s brother. Only 30 percent of funds gathered from the collected fines goes to country‘s budget, while 70 percent stay in Sargsyan’s pockets.

Sashik coordinate his actions with his brother Serzh and he mentioned this fact more than once in semi-public interviews. Aleksandr is a more simple man than Serzh. He does not talk about incomprehensible values, he does not act as a defender of justice – he makes money and is proud of it. Part of the population likes him and they honestly support him. The other part is afraid of him and thus they only pretend to support him. And if enemies appear, well, Sashik often brags about his professional body guards that are the best not only in Armenia but in the whole Caucasus region.

Even though President Serzh Sargsyan often talks about economic freedom in Armenia, his brother Aleksandr is the best example, that there is no trace of such freedom. Sure, Serzh Sargsyan sometimes likes to talk about interests of Armenian nation, democracy, human rights and advantages of modest life, but the example of Aleksandr Sargsyan shows that all of this are only a meaningless sweet-talk to brainwash local prudes and foreigners. Sashik‘s actions silently inform Armenians that they cannot trust in Sargsyan brothers because all of them are similar, only not so simple and straightforward as Sashik.

Another brother of the President, Levon Sargsyan, manages one of the departments of Yerevan University faculty of Theology and also supervises area of elite constructions. This brother became infamous in his perfectly planned con schemes. Foreign investors are lured to Armenia where they become interested in construction of elite houses but after collaboration with Levon they are left with nothing – no money, no projects. Currently in Armenian court there are five lawsuits by foreign investors, however, it is more than clear, that these cases will not be truthfully and objectively solved while Sargsyan remains in president‘s post.

An important role in laundering illegal Sargsyan money belonged to Serzh Sargsyan’s son-in-law Mikael Minasian, nicknamed Mishik. Three years ago he was appointed Armenian envoy to the Holy See what enabled him to pump family money to Western European banks. He also received help from Armenian ambassador in the Great Britain Armen Sargsyan.

In addition, son-in-law of Armenian President controls 80 percent of Armenian media, including “Panarmenian” media group, Armenia TV, Hay TV, ATV, such websites as,,, and others. Not to mention a directly related cafe network “Jazvee”, tobacco industry, etc.

Thus, Armenian monarchists, if they exist, can be pleased, as their country is ruled by family, which has more influence than most medieval European absolute monarchs. Only time will tell if this family grows into dynasty. Mean while, it is clear that there is no scent of democracy, human rights or transparent government in current Armenia.

2017.10.24; 05:16

Svante Cornell, Research Director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and co-founder of the Stockholm-based Institute for Security and Development Policy, published an article in “The American Interest” called “The Raucous Caucasus” (May 10, 2017) where he reminded that Armenia had long tried to balance its reliance on Russia for security (it had accepted a Russian security umbrella to safeguard its conquest of Nagorno-Karabakh) with its hopes of growing closer to the West.

As a result, there was a deep economic downturn and Armenia accumulated a huge debt to Russia, which Moscow was more than happy to “forgive” in exchange for controlling stakes in the strategic assets of Armenia’s economy. Yerevan sought to develop what positive relations it could with the United States and especially the European Union (in 2010, it began to negotiate an Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA)), but when Moscow soured on the EU, Yerevan’s policy became untenable. And in September 2013, President Serzh Sargsyan announced that Armenia would jettison the EU agreement for membership in the Russian-dominated Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

His decision Armenian president spoke in Moscow, following a meeting with Putin; he had consulted neither his government nor his parliament. Similarly, Putin had not deigned to consult with the leaders of Belarus and Kazakhstan, the other members of the EEU.

Such circumstances obviously had an impact on Armenia’s domestic policies related to democracy and human rights – Moscow intends to make Armenia its vassal by “delegating” its own style of internal organization, where all decisions are made by one person, what can be seen in a regime of the new Russia. Moscow’s control of Armenia extended, although, according to S. Cornell, that submission didn’t have the expected benefits, however: when major fighting broke out in April 2016 between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh, rather than coming to Yerevan’s defense, Moscow assumed a rather neutral stance, hoping to achieve a total domination over all Caucasus region.

Avetik Ishkhanyan, President of the Helsinki Committee of Armenia, in his programme “Armenian Security Improvement Policy” and in report “Situation of Human Rights in Armenia: Systemic Problems in the Light of Old and New Constitutions” ( starts with a statement that usually citizen rights are threatened by executive authority, especially its power structures, and justice, by definition, is reconstructed by judicial system. In case of Armenia, all governmental structures are ruled by and obey commands of one single person – the president can punish one of his own, more specifically, he can issue a command to punish a subordinate from his own circle, and at the same time, people who are part of this circle, especially in power structures, are the main foundation of Armenian government.

Armenia has no honest trials and one of the indirect proofs supporting this claim is that a number of acquittals is as low as 2 percent, also almost all requests from investigators to arrest suspects are granted. The report of 2002-2013 by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture addresses the problem of regular tortures in some penitentiary institutions.

Thus Armenian people are protected not by law but by their official status and financial situation. These two powers usually “overlap” as most of the deputies and government ministers are businessmen as well. Law officers and their family members often get into scandals related to criminal activities, but, as a rule of thumb, they often come out unpunished. Authors of the report call this an impunity or selective justice. In Armenia, the authority means not only governance but also wealth and profitable business which needs to be preserved by all means necessary, sometimes even illegally.

Such fusion of business and authority is related to constant electoral fraud and absence of separation of power principle, and it confirms that human rights violations are already systematic. In everyday life people are indifferent to such state if it does not apply to them personally or violations do not grow to such proportions as in March 2008, when 10 people were killed and 250 injured during the clash between police and protesters. The guilty was not found and no one was punished. According to authors of the report, the worst situation is of socially unprotected part of society: they do not get basic medical aid; labour law is no use for them (they work like slaves, without any contracts, days-off or leave). Absence of separation of power principle allows businessmen=officials, who pursue maximum profit, get out of control; there are no independent labour unions; and the most influential political parties almost never talk about social justice.

Instead, in 2013, President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan organized a referendum (December 6, 2015) which proposed some constitutional amendments that would lead country towards parliamentary system. According to authors of “Situation of Human Rights in Armenia: Systemic Problems in the Light of Old and New Constitutions”, the main reason of these amendments were to help ruling party (related to President) to stay in power – Article 50 of the old constitution restricted the same person to be reelected as Armenian President two times in a row. The Parliament, however, can be ruled by the same political party (it appoints the Prime Minister) for the unlimited duration. 

Article 89 of the new Constitution requires a mandatory formation of stable (about 60 percent) parliamentary majority after elections. Having in mind what was said, it can be presumed, that ruling Republican Party would pursue this “stable majority” at all costs. It was confirmed during Referendum on constitutional amendments, when many blatant violations were witnessed: voter bribery, voter impersonation, forgery of the electoral list, offering voters a “ride” to constituency, putting pressure on and threatening election observers and journalists.

On April 2, 2017, for the first time elections were held according to party list system (almost 61 percent of Armenian nationals attended the elections). A group of civil activists from “Citizen Observer” informed about more than 100 cases of malfunctioning fingerprint registration devices, and more than 150 cases of procedure irregularities (for example, ballots were submitted to ballot boxes by members of Electoral commission). Sisak Gabrielian, a correspondent for the radio station “Svoboda”, was assaulted in Yerevan after he witnessed “good” voters receiving money in headquarters of Akop Beglaryan, candidate of Republican Party). The Pro-President Republican Party won the elections with 46 percent of votes. A new president will be appointed by this political party which now dominates the Parliament.

Authors of this report pessimistically summarizes, that by surrendering its ambitions for the EU membership Armenia distances itself even further from civilized human rights standards. After regaining independence in 1990, Armenia declared loyalty for democracy – with joining the United Nations (UN) it ratified The European Convention on Human Rights. In 2001 Armenia became a full member of the council of Europe; it had satisfied its obligation to establish an independent ombudsman to investigate human rights violations; verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights became valid. Further movement towards the EU membership could have had a dissuasive effect as it could be seen from the historical example of the Baltic States.

Unfortunately, the desire for power at any price, together with a very specific geopolitical situation of the country, left the need of citizens’ rights only on a level of declarations. The decision to join Russian-ruled EES in 2013 distanced Armenia from these standards even further.

Worsening human rights situation was also noted by members of Policy Forum Armenia which was hosted in Washington, on October 20, 2016. Presentations were made by representatives of Armenian Helsinki Committee, “Transparency International”, “Human Rights Watch”, National Endowment for Democracy fund, American Lawyers Association and George Washington University Law School. Once again as the main causes of this situation were indicated Armenian constitutional system that allows accumulation of power in the hands of one man, already consistent corruption, amalgamation of business and political elite, absence of independent judicial system, and finally – strong dependence on authoritarian Russia.

David Grigoryan, one of the cofounders of “Policy Forum Armenia”, noted, that Armenia is one of the leading countries worldwide according to a relative number of policemen (per capita). In such structure, where signs of police state can be seen, the system of government shows more and more confidence and starts displaying inadequate power against its citizens, what exactly happened during protests in July, 2016.

Jane Buchanan, Associate Director of the Europe and Central Asia Division at Human Rights Watch, noticed increase of the so-called Robin Hood effect, when citizens, disappointed with current economic and social conditions, start sympathizing with those who break the law.

2017.07.20; 06:30