Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Though this will be a long log, I felt that it will give everyone a better understanding how bad and for how long we have been facing high-level corruption in Armenia and how the Diaspora is used by the government which makes things worse for our population and makes officials more powerful and wealthier.

The following text is translated from an audio recording of a meeting that took place in the lobby of the Echmizine hotel on November 4, 1999 at approximately 17:30. Present were Mesrop Asjian Srpazan, Ara Manoogian and the mother of a young man who has been suffering mental illness caused from the loss of his father, older brother and younger brother, the latter who died in his arms on December 31, 1992.

The reason for the meeting was to discuss Vahram Parseghyan, who at that time was the Deputy Minister of Culture and also was the President of the Republic of Armenian’s All Armenian Youth Foundation.

Parseghyan had solicited funds from Mesrop Asjian, who in turn wrote to a man I will call Greg Bedrossian. Mr. Bedrossian became suspicious of the solicitation which was in the amount of $4,000 and was to help pay for a $15,000 “desperately needed medical procedure”, which the first stage of the “necessary surgery” was allegedly paid for by the President of Artsakh and the Ministries of Internal Affairs, National Security and Defense.

After Mr. Bedrossian found out from me that the young man didn’t have a medical condition that required “surgery”, he asked me to look into the matter.

From the time of the November 4, 1999 meeting until today, Parseghyan has become closer to Preident Kocharian and is now Kocharian’s controller, which heads the same department that I reported my initial findings about Parseghyan to, who investigated the matter and to date the only thing that has resulted is that 4 months after my report was filed, Mesrop Srpazan was relieved from his duties as Executive Secretary of the 1700th Anniversary of Christianity.

It should be noted that in January of 2000, I brought this issue to the attention of a couple of Diaspora newspapers and influential family friends, one of whom is a retired Supreme Court Justice. Everyone was upset to learn that such crimes are committed and go unpunished, but it became clear to me that blind patriotism and feelings of not making waves in a fragile government that had suffered a recent loss of their Prime Minster, had a paralyzing effect on everyone but myself until today to get actively involved in pursuing this matter and bringing this issue out into the open. The lack of accountability that Vahram has faced has resulted in him working freely and most probably shaken down the Diaspora for millions more, straightened his ties, moving up in government and becoming more powerful. Some people in government have told me that he has become so powerful that he is untouchable. I don’t believe that anyone is that powerful to be beyond the law and in time will prove this with Vahram and his kind becoming an example to future generations that in the end, crime does not pay.

The following is the November 4th, 1999 meeting:

AM: Okay, you don’t know Era, this is Mesrop Srpazan Asjian from the letter that you received, his name was in it.

MS: What letter?

AM: Greg sent a letter that stated he found Mher through the assistance of Mesrop Surpazan. It
was a letter they received at the time that $300 was sent.

MS: When was this?

AM: This was… What month was it? When you received the $300.

EK: It was at the end of May, the last part. Maybe it was the beginning of June. From what
I remember, Mher had gone to the hospital and returned to Karabagh, so that was in the beginning of June.

MS: When was the last time you saw Vahram?

EK: I saw him yesterday.

MS: Yesterday. And before that?

EK: Before then, a few days before that I saw him.

MS: You always see him?

EK: He usually comes to our house. Until 1996, Vahram had sent Mher to a sanatorium, he helped with the wedding, he has helped quite a bit.

MS: After May how much has he helped you?

EK: $2,000, he gave it to Mher to tell you the truth and that’s why I can’t really be accountable.

MS: To who.

EK: To Mher. He does not bring the money home, and I don’t know what he does with the money and that’s why I told Vaharam not to give money to Mher anymore.

MS: So has he given you money?

EK: Yes.

MS: How much.

EK: In all, $3,000.

MS: So he did give the money. He gave it.

AM: No, that was before that time. Before May.

MS: After May.

EK: After May he has given $2,000 to Mher. But I don’t know.

AM: After May?

MS: After May?

EK: After May, he gave him $2,000 and before that $1,000.

MS: Okay.

EK: One time as I said he brought it home and the other his cousin saw it but we don’t know what happened to it.

MS: Vahram you saw 2 weeks ago, did you say anything? Like Ara came by on Greg’s behalf and upset you?

EK: No, I told him that I got a letter that said that eleven thousand dollars had been collected and it remain an additional four thousand dollars needed.

MS: You said this to Vahram?

EK: Yes, I said it to him. He said there is nothing like that (the $11,000), that’s the way he wrote it so people think that there are others interested in this and so they will give too and we can collect the money.

MS: Okay.

EK: Vahram was suppose to talk to you. He was thinking it would be a good idea.

MS: I have not talked to him for 10 days.

EK: No not 10 days, he wanted to talk to you yesterday so the 3 of us could sit and talk. He tried to call you but he could not get you as there was no answer, even on your cell phone.

MS: I really don’t see a big problem with any of this.

EK: No, no.

AM: No, but at the same time, you know what the problem is…

EK: You know to tell you the truth Srpazan Hyr, the first thing that he was the one to get help to Mher, where he sent him to the sanatorium.

MS: You’re the one that have the most problem with this and Ara is ??? (did not understand the word he used).

AM: Yes. So let him get mad, what should I do. Greg asked what the story was. Go and find out for me. At first he wanted to go to the press with this…

MS: Wait a minute!! What is your problem?!!

AM: What is my problem…?

MS: Excuse me!

AM: Say it.

MS: I wrote a request to Greg to ask for money and he declined.

AM: Yes.

MS: Then he sends money to the woman, “okay”. But then to go after the man what is this, “white knight?”

AM: No, because he sent money to Mher directly to help them…

MS: (in English) Good, let him give them another…

AM: Good, I understand, but Srpazan Hyr, $4,000 was collected for treatment for this kid, right? And now lets say that $2,000 passed through the hands of this kid. What good is that money, that’s not for medical treatment as the letter stated. That’s not helpful.

MS: We don’t have any business with that.

AM: Okay…

MS: Greg Bedrossian he has no business with that.

AM: Okay, let’s put that to one side…

MS: No, no.

AM: I understand…

MS: No, because personally, I am hurt by this, because I wrote to him and requested and he declined and then through other means, he sent it which means that he has suspicions about me that if he gives money to me that it will not get to where it is to go.

AM: No he…

MS: No, my feelings are hurt.

AM: That’s okay if that’s the way you picture it, but I don’t see it that way. I see it that he saw that $15,000 for medical treatment was an absurd amount. Greg comes to Armenia and has an idea as to what things cost here.

EK: But he didn’t receive that much money, he said…

AM: The letter that Greg received stated that.

EK: He wrote that to gain the support of the people.

MS: Yes, but he didn’t have the right to fool me. When he said that President Kocharian gave $4,000 and Vasken Sarkisyan gave $4,000…

EK: To tell you the truth Srpazan Hyr, I don’t know, he didn’t say it right.

MS: Excuse me, $4,000 and $4,000 makes $8,000 and the other one…

AM: And where is the other $3,000, who knows where that is that makes it $11,000 that he says.

EK: I really don’t know anything about this matter in all, about Kocharian.

MS: I’m saying that Greg has no right to look into finding this eleven or twelve thousand. (pointing to Era) She is going to look for it if she wants to, not Greg.

EK: Yes.

AM: Okay, but he didn’t even have an idea of the real story.

MS: But now that you know about it, tell Greg what there is.

AM: Okay.

MS: But I don’t give Greg the right to hurt me and then fall in the middle of this like a “white night” and say that money has been collected for this boy. For him it’s “case closed.” He declined…

AM: Well Greg from the heart wants to help this kid.

MS: He can’t help now…

AM: You can’t tell him he can’t help!!! If Greg wants to help…

MS: Let him not go from behind, let him give new money! Let him not say that Vasken
Sarkisyan gave $4,000…

AM: Wait, but if he reads that $11,000 was given and $15,000 is needed for the treatment by this organization, he knows it’s a fake organization. He’s not going to work with that organization.

MS: Okay, let him give it directly!!

AM: Yes, he already gave $800…

MS: $800 from ours and $4,000 (he was really upset at this point and was not making sense to me).

EK: It was not $300 the first time, I got $180 and left $20 in the bank in case he wanted to send more.

AM: It was $200 the first time, excuse me, I thought $300. Okay, so $700. At the same time, he with he heart wants to help Mher. At the same time, he does not want to see that what he sends, someone puts their hand in and takes and it does not get to Mher. And, excuse me Srpazan Hyr, let's say that $2,000 of the $4,000 was received by Mher, that you collected from Mr. Khoranian in Washington and you gave to Vahram, and that $2,000 got to Mher in his hand, and just a little while ago that Era said never give Mher money as he goes off and buys stereos and t.v. and this that and the other, that’s not helpful to that kid to get better. That kid…

EK: It’s not like that Ara, He didn’t know and I have now warned Vahram not to call Mher directly. His healing, I’m going to do, I am the one that suffers.

MS: If you want to understand.

EK: Yes.

MS: What I wanted from this man, Bedrossian, he didn’t give to me and then he found you and gave it to you. Use it well. Let him give you more. But, he has no right to interfere and to say where is that $8,000…

AM: Yes, but wait!! Just wait Srpazan, I’m not defending Greg, but let me say something. This $8,000 that is not to be found, let’s forget it. The $4,000 that you have collected from Mr. Khoranian in Washington…

MS: That I gave…

AM: to Vahram…

MS: I gave it!

AM: That’s your business. But at the same time since there are other similar situation like this…

MS: Oh… Yes…

AM: Excuse me, but do you know how withdrawn the Diaspora is?

MS: Excuse me, excuse me.

AM: Excuse me, do you know how withdrawn they are?

MS: Listen to me.

EK: Ara, okay, okay.

MS: One minute, listen to me!!!

AM: I’m listening to you.

MS: Greg has no right to fall behind this issue of the money!! If anyone is going to open a case, it’s going to be her (referring to Era)! Not Greg or you have the right to pursue this matter, this is what I have to say!!

AM: Okay. But if she is not going to open a case, and this man has fool the Diaspora, because he is fooling the Diaspora…

MS: You have another personal problem!!

AM: That’s not another problem!!

EK: Ara, don’t get upset.

MS: You do have another problem and now I can understand that the other day that you had an argument with the doctor (an old family friend that we were discussing these kinds of issues) and now I understand why he was upset…

AM: Yea, your right and that’s why Armenia is in this condition. That’s why this country is in such bad shape, a demolished state!!

MS: Okay, you find another “case,” this “case” okay… If Greg Bedrossian wants to help the lady, let him help. But, the two of you have not right to follow after the $4,000 that was given, I will take care of that with Vahram, you have no right to get in the middle of it. Do you understand? (in English) “No one put you a Judge, I am…”

AM: (in English) “And that’s the problem…”

MS: (in English) “No no no, it’s not a difficult case. There are billion of dollars stolen, go after them, not this one, $4,000”

AM: (in English) “You have to start somewhere.”

MS: (in English) “No, this is not the case, because I am involved and I don’t want, find out another case.” (in Armenian) Find another question in the government and call them to court as you like. Do you understand? If you want, I will write to Serg and tell him…

AM: Okay, you write to Greg and tell him what you want…

MS: Okay I will write to him…

AM: because I don’t know what answer I will tell him.

EK: Okay, okay Vahram, I mean Ara, don’t talk like this in front of me…

MS: No, I will write him…

EK: Please…

MS: No, no, these guys are bringing up other problems…

EK: No, no it’s not like that, you guys don’t get upset…

MS: No, we all got upset.

EK: If I’m to say this man does not help (Vahram)

MS: No, madam, madam…

EK: I’ve known him…

MS: Understand me, understand me, besides you there are other issues of the government eating money and they steel from the Diaspora and so on. Let Greg be the one to answer for what he gave and the money that he gave for a solider 4 years ago I have brought that letter, I have it. Do you understand? But, in this situation, let Greg’s flag not fall in the middle of it and I ask the same of you (Ara). And now I have seen the thing and when Vahram talked to me he did something bad.

EK: No no no, Vahram…

MS: There is one thing that I want…

EK: I’m not mad a Vahram…

MS: Excuse me…

EK: I’m very happy with him and from the start he helped my child. After that, whatever he collected, or didn’t collect, I don’t know.

MS: Let me ask one thing. This Vahram said that you sent me vodka.

EK: What is it?

MS: Vodka, with a cucumber in it.

EK: I don’t remember… To tell you the truth, I didn’t do anything like that.

MS: He didn’t have the right to say that and if there was not this boy, Ara, I would not have known and if he was to bring it, the vodka, and a bottle of vodka is not a big thing, the bottle has nothing, but he told me that the mother sent it as a gift of thanks. That’s not a good thing, tell me so I know, I’m not going to do anything. I’m a clergy…

EK: Maybe from me, like I told Ara…

MS: Let him say that and bring it in his name and not in yours.

EK: Well what should I…

MS: Madam, because I was the Primate in America for 20 years and have brought help for a thousand people, this is the first time that it has been ugly like this and I personally am hurt, because first of all Greg didn’t say hello to me when he came here, he thought that I stole money. Or he thinks that I trick and take money. But now what is important is that Mher gets the right medical treatment.

EK: The most important thing is his health.

AM: Okay, so now what can we do for this kid to send him off… the doctors have determined that he has to go off for a rest for one or two months someplace away from here. So now the money that there is, the $4,000, how can that be used to send this kid off?

MS: That $4,000 I gave, right?

AM: Right.

MS: I’ll give the answer for that, okay. If you can find money, then you find money. Okay, if you find new money, then we can use it so he can go. That $4,000 that is there, I have to see. Do you understand?

AM: Okay.

MS: That $2,000 that the lady received that she gave to Mher it’s good that we understood that they received it so we don’t start a fight over it, with the $4,000. It’s good that we met. Some wrong things have happened. Now where is he going to go, Greg recently gave the $500?

AM: He recently gave it and this time it didn’t get into Mher’s hands, because really, he would spend it as soon as he got it.

MS: How old is he?

EK: 23.

MS: Is he married?

EK: He was, but got divorced, his condition was just too bad.

AM: He was not treated in time.

MS: What is his problem?

EK: (explains some details).

MS: The doctors that said he can be cured, how long will it take and how much will it cost?

EK: I’m not sure, but they said it would take a year, but I’m not sure.

MS: So this $2,000 that Vahram gave…

EK: He spent it and it did not make it home.

MS: The $2,000?

EK: Mher, he spent it or something.

MS: Oh, then your to blame, the money passed thought the hands.

EK: No, he…

AM: She didn’t give it to him, Vahram gave him the money.

MS: Vahram did?

AM: Vahram gave it to Mher directly. Vahram is the one to blame for the $2,000.

EK: And then I told him (Vahram) not to give any to Mher, as he has not even told me what he has done with it.

MS: This vacation, how much will it need?

EK: I’m not sure, but all I want is this child to be cured, nothing else.

AM: I’m sorry Era, if I may say, you too need help. The same as what Mher is getting you
need the same. I think you need it more then Mher.

MS: You have lost your husband and 3 children?

AM: 2 children.

EK: 2 children and my husband.

MS: Anything else.

EK: I have nothing else left (eyes started to water up).

MS: The sanatorium that he needs to go to, how much will it cost?

AM: I don’t know, we have no idea. We have to check.

EK: One year that Mher went, Vahram gave him $2,000 and he went to Yelta.

AM: He went to Yelta on $2,000?

EK: Yes.

AM: At that time you could go to Yelta on $2,000

EK: On $2,000 he went and then there is an Armenian church there that helped him. They sent him with a paper to the church and they helped him.

MS: That Srpazan from Yelta is here now, so if you prepare a request, we can take care of the airplane ticket and a place for him to stay at the sanatorium, okay?

AM: Let him go for one or two months.

EK: I’m not sure as to what month he went, but it helped.

MS: Is he in the hospital now?

AM: No, he has been very upset over this issue.

EK: In the evening he was very up set and yelling.

MS: Is there not a doctor here he can see?

EK: There is the stress clinic where he goes.

MS: Where is it?

EK: Lusapanagan garden in Avan, but he does not want to go there anymore.

MS: Another place?

EK: They tell him that he needs to get away from Marduni.

MS: When you come here, where do you stay?

EK: When we come here, we stay at a relatives house.

AM: The doctor says that they need to sell their house…

EK: To me I can’t do that and leave the cemetery, as for me they are still alive.

MS: Let him see a doctor. He was suppose to come here to talk with us and we were going to send him off when we talked about these issues, but you have talked to him about them and now he is worse.

EK: I’m the one to blame, as I asked him about documents that he lost, his passport and I asked him if there was money with them that Vahram gave him? He got very upset and started to yell.

MS: Where in Yerevan do you stay?

EK: Masif.

MS: What does the doctor say?

AM: We need a doctor to say that for this amount of time he needs to go to rest.

EK: The doctors say he has to rest. He is going to come out of Armenia. Go to a place where he does not think about this stuff.

AM: Do you have the number of the doctor so Srpazan can talk to him?

MS: I need your phone number too (Ara).

AM: Didn’t I give it to you?

EK: The number for the doctor is…

MS: Today or tomorrow, I’ll call this doctor.

He tried to call the doctor on his cell phone and there was not answer.

MS: There is no answer, as it’s after 5p.

AM: Did he not give any other phone number?

EK: No.

MS: I’ll call him in the morning. (in English) “I’ll be in touch. I’ll write to Rafi and explain
as much as I can”

End of meeting.

Srpazan never addressed the problem, nor did he write to Greg. A month later, I filed a report with Kocharian’s office.

It really has to make you wonder about Kocharian and who he really is and if he really is thinking of what is best for Armenia, why would he make Vahram Parseghyan is controller?

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