In our article titled “Destitution of the Armenian people or Sarkisyan’s business empire” we provided extensive information about the companies affiliated with the Armenia’s President and announced that we were to follow up on the topic by presenting information about the individuals running his businesses.
On this occasion we present an investigative article on the activity of criminal/business partners of Sarkisyan – M. Bagdasarov, B. Baylaryan, S. Aleksanyan, A. Sarkisyan (aka Shashik), R. Hayrapetyan and H. Vartanyan.
Mikhail Bagdasarov – born in Baku in 1959. Sarkisyan, who controls the company through Bagdasarov’s “MIKA Group” has completely monopolized import of petroleum products and lubricants and their subsequent marketing. Considering that problem of petroleum provision was a problematic issue for the Armenia’s Defense Ministry, he was directly involved in both legal and illicit import of petroleum for the needs of the Defense Ministry in the height of military clashes. Under the pretext of “national security” and “national defense” demands Sarkisyan managed to monopolize this area, successfully transforming it into legitimate business by means of some circles affiliated with him.
Allegedly, Armenia purchases oil products from Romania, Russia and Bulgaria, and both monopolies – “MIKA” and “Flash” – dictate the market prices. There are recent reports that the companies also purchase diesel fuel from Kazakhstan.
Barseg Baylaryan is the boss of “Flash” – the second company to “MIKA” to operate in the field of petroleum imports. His petroleum refueling stations are scattered all over the country. He also happens to be the owner of the “Ararat Bank”.
Samvel Aleksnayan (aka Lfik Samo) is seen as a “defector” oligarch, who was initially associated with the Kocharyan’s camp. He oversees a monopoly of wheat, flour, sugar and poultry products. Owner of the “Yerevan City” supermarket chain, Aleksanyan also controls 50% of pharmaceutical imports to Armenia. As someone with close ties to the former Prosecutor General Agvan Hovsepyan, S.Aleksanyan, through his gang groups, carried out intimidation of candidates and voters in the Malatia-Sebestia province of Armenia during the 2008 presidential elections.
Mikhael Minasyan (Misha) is Sarkisyan’s son-in-law who owns the “Pares Armenia” company that runs “Jazzve” coffeehouse chain and holds “Phillip Morris” distributorship. As of March 2013 he was appointed Armenia’s ambassador to Vatican. It must be highlighted that in 2008 “Pares Armenia” was basically confiscated from its previous owner Khachatur Sukyasan – the boss of the “SIL Group” who opted to support Levon Ter-Petrosyan during the presidential elections, and handed over to Minasyan.
Aleksandr (Shashik) Sarkisyan is Serj Sarkisyan’s problematic and controversial brother. Although not involved with any major business, he nevertheless holds stakes in various fields and is entitled to “cuts” from the business community. Those who have problems with law enforcement or taxes view Shashik as a remedy. He also oversees appointments of governors, police chiefs, tax department chiefs and other lucrative positions in Armenia and “Nagorno Karabakh”.
In the Nagorno Karabakh he used to be a bus driver and gas repairman. Shashik joined gasoline refueling business in 1998, as Sarkisyan-Kocharyan group took over this sector. Later, he went on to become a Member of the Parliament sessions of which frequently skipped and was known to the local media as being forever drunk. Spending most of his time in expensive restaurants of Yerevan, Shashik is famous for his altercations and use of firearms. Last such incident took place in Moscow where he was severely bitten.
Recently, while dining in one of Yerevan’s restaurants, Shashik requested the singer Ayko from Spitak to sing a song but was outraged to see that his order was not immediately satisfied and thus, started shooting the ground beneath the singer’s feet.
Shashik is currently expanding his business and already owns real estate and companies in California and some European countries. In one of his recent visits to the U.S. he was denied the entry owing to violation of customs regulations by carrying $30 million in cash. Shashik spoke openly with journalists on the matter and insisted funds were legitimately earned through business activity. One of the journalists ended up being cursed and offended by the enraged Shashik for reminding him that it was illegal for MP to be engaged with business activity. In 2005, he purchased a $3 million villa in Los Angeles (Tarzan city, 4935 Avenida Oriente, Tarzana, CA 91356-4632) and spent another $300.000 on renovation.
Another area is the fines collected for traffic violations in the country, including capital Yerevan. The company affiliated with him imports radars and other speed measuring equipment. According to Armenia’s opposition media, fines paid throughout the day make up a hefty amount of some 50 million drams (over $120.000) and are channeled to Sarkisyans’ family budget via Shashik.
Through an offshore company called “Global Contact” Sarkisyans were able to purchase the “Dzora” hydroelectric power plant that plays an important role in power generation in the country. After that, they succeeded in putting their hands on “Vorotan” hydroelectric power plant. “Dzora”, with 25 megawatt output, was sold to Sarkisyans for mere 3 million dollars. Prior to this arrangement, electricity produced by the very power plant was sold for 6 drams per kilowatt. Once the acquisition was completed the Shashik and Minasyan hiked the price to 12 drams/kilowatt.
Estimated value of “Vorotan” power plant is $250 million. The output of “Vorotan” is 400 megawatts. Its construction began in 1965 and took 12 years to complete. After the transfer of ownership is completed market price for energy suggested by the Sarkisyans is expected to reach 16 drams per kilowatt.
Ruben Ayrapetyan (aka Rubo the German) is one of the most criminalized oligarchs. He is rumored to have belonged to the inner circle of notorious Russian criminal lord “Yaponchik”. Rubo who is currently a president of Armenia’s Football Association, also holds large shares in “Grand Candy” and “Grand Tobacco” companies, although he was compelled by Sarkisyan to cede part of his shares to Hrant Vartanyan. He is among the shareholders of the Armenian Development Bank and also owns a casino in Russia. He allegedly organizes casino evenings for S.Sarkisyan who is known to be an avid gambler.
According to other piece of information, in 2003 Sarkisyan lost large sum of money in a Monte Carlo casino. That amount is said to have been paid by Rubo and then the Chairman of the National Bank Tigran Sarkisyan. The former resorted to profiteering in the National Bank to arrange the money to be wired abroad.
Another area of Rubo’s shady business dealings is illicit drug trafficking. Rubo is allegedly oversees drug trafficking along occupied territories-Georgia-Bulgaria, occupied territories-Georgia-Ukraine, and occupied territories-Georgia-Romania routes. It implies that Sarkisyan actually controls the operations through his closest friend Rubo.
Serving as a Member of Armenia’s Parliament Rubo was compelled to give up his mandate on June 17, 2013, following harsh public reaction to a brutal beating of several military medical servicemen with the Military Hospital of the Ministry of Defense in a restaurant belonging to Ayrapetyan that left one of the victims – Vage Avetyan dead. Rubo with his bodyguards and group of thugs was rumored to have personally taken part in the brawl.
Hrant Vartanyan is considered one of the richest persons in Armenia. Together with his sons and business partner and a Member of Parliament nicknamed “Mikhail” he controls “Grand” and “Masis” tobacco companies. He also oversees the activity of “Grand Candy” that was previously owned by Rubo. Mainly engaged with Iran related trade operations, he also finances Arya University that is focused on Iran studies. Albeit member of the Kocharyan’s camp in the past, he has managed to switch sides and now belongs to Sarkisyan’s inner circle.
Thus, this mafia group has seized Armenia’s resources and has ensured themselves a luxurious life. Fate of the Armenians means nothing to these individuals, for they do their utmost to retain the positions. Therefore, protraction of the conflict with Azerbaijan at all costs serves their interests because such a situation distracts public attention from the main subject. Thanks to the propaganda, either brainwashed or frightened, pitiable population views not their criminal/mafia leadership but Azerbaijan and Turkey as the reason for dire situation the country remains in. And grudge they hold against the formers only makes the conflict all the more intractable.