Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Drugs, Guns, the ARF and the Coalition

I recently ran across a piece in a Lebanese online newspaper, El Shark (December 17, 2008), that I thought was quite interesting. Apparently there was a network that manufactured illegal drugs (speed, hallucinogens) in a laboratory in Bourj Hammoud, Lebanon, for years. The network, of approximately 22 people, sold drugs to people near schools, businesses and on the streets. There was an attempt to capture the ring leader, who seems to have escaped off to Belgium. The leader is identified only as K.M. The article says the information is from communications close to a high security source. What I hear is that K.M. is known to be the son of the Chair of the ARF in Lebanon, Hovig Mkhitarian, and that this recent news, though not well publicized by the Armenian sources, is something that everyone is talking about. Not only that, but what I've also heard is that during the raids, many people were arrested, and most of then were sons of the leadership of the ARF.

This story reminded me immediately of an incident in February, 1997. Arthur Kabadaian was arrested for illegally selling guns out of an office and parking lot of St Mary's Armenian Apostolic Church in Glendale, California. Arthur Kabadaian is the son of the chairman of the Board of trustees of the church, which is affiliated with the ARF.

There are other stories like these, including that of March 1999, when "Former Energy Minister Shahe Barsoumian and five others are charged with squandering public funds, embezzlement, abuse of power and forging official documents." That scandal was thought to have cost the Lebanese treasury approximately $1 billion (US). Barsoumian was a member of the Central Committee of the ARF, and was known to have donated very, very large amounts to the ARF.

Now, SS is in a coalition with these folks. Maybe they've changed their ways. Plus, after all, these are individuals, not the entire organization, right? But Haykakan Zhamanak (February 13, 2008) published a letter that Serge Sargsyan himself wrote, back in 1995, about the ARF, after they had been banned from Armenia in December, 1994. Here are some excerpts, translated:

By the decision of the highest body of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation—the Buro—there has been established throughout the expanse of Armenia a so-called "Dro" economic intelligence structure. This structure has been established in secrecy at the bowels of the political organization and its primary aim has been to have at the disposal of the party a multi-branched intelligence network each member of which has been trained to be used under illegal circumstances to effectuate unlawful operations.

The members of "Dro" have worked in the following directions:

-The gathering of information in the military, political, and economic spheres
-Economic activities, both legal and illegal
-Assassinations; terrorism, with political motivations
-Illegal international drug trafficking; smuggling ...

...Having as its goal the development of both legal and illegal economic activities, with the aim of producing short term profits, which was to be used not only to cover the personal needs of these members but also to supply funds to both the legal and illegal structures of the Dashnaktsutyun, they have also created a special team, armed them and have not shied away from securing profits through illegal operations.

Specifically, in the fall of 1994 they organized the smuggling of about five kilograms of heroin to Yerevan by residents of Beirut, by hiding the drug in a variety of articles. Subsequently, they moved two and one half kilograms of the heroin to Moscow and were arrested by agents of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation when attempting to find buyers for the heroin and to sell it. During the interrogation in Moscow it became clear that the balance of the heroin was stashed in an apartment in Yerevan rented for that particular purpose. That portion of the heroin was seized in Yerevan following a special operation. The search of the apartment also led to the discovery of large amounts of arms, ammunition and explosive materials which were also seized.


And, as per the Haykakan Zhamanak article, this document was signed by Sargsyan himself. I don't think he forgot about his original sentiments regarding the ARF.

Let's take a look again at some of Sargsyan's first actions after taking over. Let's take a look at who is in that coalition: Orinats Yerkir (Rule of Law Party) led by Arthur Baghdassaryan, the Republican Party (HHK) led by Sargsyan, Barkavach Hayastan (Prosperous Armenia Party) led by Gagik Tsarukyan, and the Dashnaktsutyun (ARF) led by Armen Rustamyan. As we all know, Arthur Baghdassaryan was opposition prior to losing the election, and claimed his life had been threatened by Sargsyan's people. Gagik Tsarukyan, whom you may recognize as the infamous Dodi Gago, has whole stories to be written about him.

And then there's Armen Rustamyan of the ARF, whom we saw so graciously raising his champagne glass along with Serge Sargsyan in celebration of the formation of the coalition.

It's interesting the lengths people are willing to go to to save their own hides. Sargsyan turned his back on so many, including the people of NK, the people of RoA, and his previously discovered facts and intelligence to save his own skin. While LTP persisted in insisting on peaceful demonstrations as the path to power, even at the height of everything, even when a non-peaceful path would likely have brought him victory. That decision has left at least some of his supporters disillusioned. But that is the price of internal consistency, I suppose.

The ARF and Sargsyan deserve each other. But they most certainly don't deserve the people of Armenia or Nagorno Kharabagh.

7 comments:

Ani said...

FYI, another crime story, from Georgia (U.S.):

http://www.beaconcast.com/articles/20090103/

Armenian Mob Implicated in Credit Card Scheme

[...]
“This was a well financed operation,” said Gordon. APD is now guessing the suspects did not operate alone. The main theory being forwarded by the FBI is that they are foot soldiers in the Armenian mob based in Glendale, Ca. “They were very well organized,” commented one law enforcement official who is not authorized to talk to the media. “We are now looking into bank accounts they controlled, and it could lead much higher up the food chain. There is no telling where this may lead. There are much bigger fish here. We don’t believe they were working independently.”

Anonymous said...

dodi, baghdasar, rustom, sargs
all evils of Hayastan who NEED TO BE ASSASSINATED

nazarian said...

Isn't Hrant Margarian, one of the ARF ringleaders in Armenia, wanted for murder in Iran? I wonder what the details of the investigation are.

Armen Filadelfiatsi said...

Stepan Kabadayan, Arthur Kabadayan's father, was one of the most active members of the Armenian community of Glendale. It would not be an exaggeration to call him a founding father. Arthur Kabadayan was using his father's office to pimp his garbage, to his eternal shame. It destroyed Stepan Kabadayan when his son was caught. He's a pitiful wreck of a human being today. It is a sad, sad story. Stepan Kabadayan, who did so much for the community, couldn't even bring himself to be seen in public anymore.

The sad truth is that Arthur Kabadayan's case is not unique.

Anonymous said...

Hovik Mkhitarian is in LA as keynote speaker of ARF Day celebration at Glendale High this Sunday. Unlike Stepan Kabadayan apparently he can be seen in public not to mention be a key note speaker, hell maybe he is proud of the "bussiness" ventures his son was a leader of, after all if it funds the party, it helps him get elected chairman. oh well.....

Armen Filadelfiatsi said...

Mr. Mkhitarian's message is what now?

Anonymous said...

What, indeed, is Mkhitarian's message or mission?
An equally interesting question is: why was he chosen as a keynote speaker for a major celebraton? What I've heard is that typically either members of the supreme body are invited on such august occasions or, members who have distinguished themselves through a special act of heroism.