“I made a decision, realizing the risks I was taking: to renounce Russian citizenship and move to Karabakh (internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan, where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily deployed—Ed.) as an Armenian citizen. It was not an easy decision for me, but it is the right thing to do,” he said in a video message in Russian.
Then, in the same video message, the Russian Armenian oligarch went on to make lofty and trite pronouncements, trying to justify his decision—which he made to avoid the sanctions imposed on him.
In January 2022, the US Republican Congressman Jim Banks submitted a new draft of sanctions against Russia. In addition to other famous Russians, the proposed sanctions list included the Editor-in-Chief of RT TV channel Margarita Simonyan, as well as businessman Ruben Vardanyan.
Note that the Armenian government openly assists Russian companies and citizens in circumventing the Western sanctions regime against Russia. One of the key figures here is Ruben Vardanyan, who owns 75% of the shares of the Vardanyan, Broitman and Co investment company, and who moved to Armenia after the beginning of the war in Ukraine.
Vardanyan, who was included in the sanctions list, explained his move by the fact that the new situation had created new opportunities for Armenia, and now the country could become a “window” for many Russian enterprises. Figuratively speaking, he labeled Armenia as Russia’s “savior” in its confrontation with the West.
By the way, after renouncing Russian citizenship and relocating, Vardanyan will transfer all his Russian assets to the family foundation. “I will give everything to my partners to manage and transfer it to the family foundation,” the entrepreneur told RBC.
The Faktyoxla Lab portal tried to find out who Ruben Vardanyan is and why he fled Russia.
To begin with, the Armenians’ betrayal of their country of residence is common knowledge. Their taking advantage of the centrifugal processes in the USSR to betray Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis is a well-known fact. This is modern history, which is still going on.
In the early 20th century, most Armenian population betrayed the Ottoman Empire. It should be said that by that time Armenians had come to play an important role in the economic and cultural life of the Ottoman Empire. Together with Greeks, they got their hands on all the trade in the country. Russian historian M. Pavlovitch, known for his Armenianophile views, states the following facts on the example of the Vilayet of Sivas: “Almost all import trade of the vilayet was in the hands of Armenians. Of 166 big merchants 41, of 150 exporters 127, of 37 bankers 32 were Armenians. Of the 10,000 shops about 7,000, of the 153 factories and large mills 130 belonged to Armenian businessmen.”
In Eastern Anatolia, the majority of the Armenian population was engaged in agriculture. There was not a single major craft in the cities that had no Armenians in it. The technical personnel of all the factories and mills consisted exclusively of Armenians. All in all, in the eastern regions of the Ottoman state where Armenians lived, they had 785 educational institutions with 82,000 students. After the Unity and Progress Party (Young Turks) government came to power in the Ottoman Empire in 1908, new Armenian newspapers and previously banned books began to be published. At various times Armenians held the posts of Ministers of Internal Affairs, Finance, Trade and Post in the Ottoman government. There were Armenian members of parliament, ambassadors, consuls general and consuls, etc.
In short, they lived pretty well.
But then World War I broke out, in which the Ottoman Empire fought Russia. In mid-July 1914, the two weeks-long 8th Congress of the Dashnaktsutyun party was held. It was attended by about 30 delegates. The Armenian leaders decided that their compatriots, who under the 1908 Constitution were drafted into the Ottoman army, must defect from it in the event of the outbreak of hostilities on the Russian-Turkish front. However, the Russian command in the Caucasus also demanded that the Turkish Armenians assist the Russian army in its advancement. Therefore, the Eastern Bureau of the Dashnaktsutyun party in Tiflis made a decision to establish a national Bureau, which began organizing a volunteer army, moving weapons and combat groups to Eastern Anatolia. These preparations, of course, did not go unnoticed by the Ottoman government. It became evident that the Turkish Armenians, like the Russian Armenians, were preparing to actively fight the Turkish troops. Thus, the Armenians, incited by the Dashnaktsutyun, which had violated its earlier obligations to the Ottoman government, embarked on the path of betrayal and rebellion against the state whose subjects they had been for centuries. We know what happened next.
And now the Armenians’ betrayal of Russia and the Russians is gaining momentum.
Incidentally, Speaker of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin said at the Territory of Meanings forum that Russian citizens who had left the country after the start of the special military operation were traitors. “Those who chose to sit this out, to go off to greener pastures, and now watch it all from there should know that they are traitors,” Volodin said.
Armenian oligarchs were among the first to flee Russia. And if anyone had any doubts before, it is now absolutely clear that betrayal has become an Armenian national tradition. Ever since the conflict in Ukraine began and Russia came under numerous sanctions from the West, Russian Armenian oligarchs, who were hiding behind the image of “true patriots of Russia,” have shown their true colors and are trying to flee the country to save their dirty money. Armenian oligarchs have been amassing capital in Russia for a long time, and as soon as hard times came, they started scrambling out of the country, running for dear life.
For example, it became known in March of this year that businessman Albert Avdolyan, the founder of the Russian telecommunications company Yota, a board member of Sibantratsit, the head of Telconet Capital and A-Property, had vanished without a trace in the United Arab Emirates, having hastily changed his last name and taken his fortune with him. Avdolyan became one of the first Armenians thanks to whom Russia witnessed yet another betrayal.
Later, news came out about another Armenian runaway. The Russian media reported that businessman Sergey Aslanyan was the next candidate for emigration.
And now Ruben Vardanyan has fled.
Who is Ruben Vardanyan?
Vardanyan is a Yerevan native, the founder and former owner of the Troika Dialog investment company, which Sberbank bought in 2011. In 2021, Forbes magazine for the first time estimated his fortune at one billion dollars and he was ranked 116th among the 200 richest people in Russia.
In an interview with Forbes Talk in the spring of 2022, Vardanyan said he saw himself as an “evolutionary visionary” and was actively engaged in the communities. “I strongly believe that Armenia and the Armenian world—because the Armenian world is bigger than Armenia, much bigger than the Armenian state—has both a mission and an opportunity to play the highly important role of a unifying glue that we need so much in this world,” he said.
In March 2019, OCCRP released the results of its investigation into Troika Dialog’s system of offshore companies through which money was secretly transferred to the most powerful people in Russia. Following the release of the report, members of the European Parliament demanded that sanctions be imposed on Ruben Vardanyan. It turned out that Troika had created an entire system of offshore companies concurrently with its main business. Over several years, more than $4.5 billion had gone through the accounts of these companies. The money came, in particular, from companies involved in criminal cases of laundering, cashing, or illegal transfer of billions of rubles out of Russia.
Money flowed into Troika’s offshore universe from all kinds of organizations. Not all of them were involved in dubious operations, but some of them were caught in major frauds and involved in Russian and foreign criminal cases.
As it turned out, Vardanyan’s “laundromats” operated like a pipe, where different flows mixed together. And the criminals who controlled those “pipes” often provided their services to ordinary businessmen who wanted to stealthily take their money out of the country or evade taxes.
In a 2019 interview, he said, “You have to understand, I’m no angel. In Russia, you have three ways: be a revolutionary, leave the country, or be a conformist. So, I am a conformist.”
And here we find that he was lying about this, too.
In May 2021, Vardanyan gave an interview to the Russian state-owned Sputnik news agency, headed by Margarita Simonyan. The businessman said that in order to change Armenia, an inventory of assets and certification of human resources were needed, as well as about $15-20 billion of “smart” money. Vardanyan said that he and his partners had implemented about $700 million worth of projects in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh over the past 20 years. But Vardanyan lamented that this was not enough and that some 20 billion more should be pumped into Armenia. This is why Vardanyan believed he and his Future Armenian initiative partners would be more useful not only in politics, where he was occasionally expected to go.
The Future Armenian project, as reported by Simonyan’s Sputnik, is “a public initiative created by Armenians and friends of Armenia to form a common understanding of the sustainable development of the state of Armenia and the Armenian nation. It is not affiliated with any political movement or organization. Its activities are funded by the initiators of Armenia 2041 non-profit foundation: Richard Azarnia, Artur Alaverdyan, Noubar Afeyan, Ruben Vardanyan.”
And what about the Future Russian? Why does Vardanyan, a Russian citizen who became a billionaire in Russia and thanks to Russia, care about investing billions into Armenia?
But what will Vardanyan’s relocation give Armenia and the Armenian people?
Here is an example. Together with former Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, who now resides in Moscow, he developed a charity program called Dilijan International School, which was launched in 2014.
The construction and further operation of the school required a lot of money. And since he did not want to spend his own money, but wanted to implement this project and become a benefactor, Ruben Vardanyan decided to make this money at the expense of Armenia and donate part of the funds to his historical homeland. And that is what happened.
In 2013, the National Assembly of Armenia passed a law specifically for Ruben Vardanyan at the recommendation of the government. The point of this law was for Ruben Vardanyan to make a serious profit in Armenia—through tax and customs benefits, and then to spend part of the profits on the school and share the other part fairly, probably with Tigran Sargsyan.
With this law Vardanyan was given the opportunity to make money out of thin air, to amass a vast fortune without any investment. We know what the exemption from VAT and customs duties means and there is no need to elaborate on it; all we can say is that it is a bottomless source of money. While it is hard to say how much profit Ruben Vardanyan made thanks to this law, one thing is sure: he appropriated enough money, even after deducting the amount intended for the construction of the school, moreover, he became a benefactor. The bottom line is this: Ruben Vardanyan wanted to do charity but did not want to spend his own money, so he worked out a mechanism through which he made a lot of money. That is, he dug right into the state budget of Armenia.
At the time the press reported that Vardanyan was given a quota of $1.5 billion free of all budget payments, which means he made about $300 million, while the construction of the school was estimated at $110 million, although no one has exact figures except Vardanyan and his Armenian associates.
Be that as it may, we now have a definitive proof that neither Vardanyan nor the Armenian lobby are interested in the future of Russia. They are only interested in personal gain, vested interests and corrupt schemes aimed at expanding their wealth. The Armenian greed was proven repeatedly before and after the 44-day war. For example, the millions coaallected by the Hayastan Fund, which they were to have sent as aid to Armenian soldiers, simply disappeared. Where that money went is still unknown. But everyone knows perfectly well in whose pockets it ended up.