Vanity Fair: Armenian Police Makes Millions Selling “Cool” Numbers

The Armenian police made 230 760 000 drams ($641,000 US) by selling ‘cool’ car number-plates on an official auction that took place on December 27, 2010.

I don’t know what is the name of this illness, but I’ve tried to classify it in the past. 

The thing is, if you have a mobile phone or a car, it just has to have a “cool number“, otherwise you’re not a real “APE” (bro), which is like really scarry :)))

Here are some examples to help the reader understand what makes a ‘cool’ number:

  1. Repeated digits – repetition is the “mother of learning”
  2. A lot of zero’s – and not only on the car, but also in the bank account…
  3. Ascending or Descending orders – easy to remember!
  4. 02-s: used to mean that the owner of the car has connections with the police, so police were not supposed to stop your car.
  5. 888 / 777 / 666 – you belong to one of the oligarch clans, I still haven’t figured out which one is which.

The demand for such numbers used to be a major issue with police corruption in the past. People used to beg and bribe the police to get a ‘cool’ number. A couple of years ago, as part of governments anti-corruption initiatives, it was announced, that the police will start auctioning such numbers. It appears, that auctions take place regularly, the next one is scheduled on January 27, 2011.

As for the December 27 auction in question, 355 numbers were sold, making for such an impressive total number. The minimum(!) amount for auctioned numbers was 120 000 drams (about $350), the most expensive number(s) were 1 200 000 drams (about $3400 US), which is as much as my old NIVA is worth, including the number-plates!

I’m speechless!

Source: Kornelij


16 thoughts on “Vanity Fair: Armenian Police Makes Millions Selling “Cool” Numbers

    • Funny enough, I just remembered that when I went to register my car, the seller, a Russian friend of mine from my MBA cohort, came with me. He asked the person handling the registration if she could show us available plates. Then he chose a ‘cool’ number/letter combination.

  1. I was thinking of this these days…

    On one hand, its good to have a perfectly marketing police, making money on what’s not forbidden. Fair and classy. I’d prefer them doing this instead of taking bribes or exercising hidden ways of putting money in the pocket in front of the mirror at home.

    On the other hand, I am thinking of those who pay money to have a repeating number or letter on the plate. This is sooooo Arabic, sooo Eastern, sooo Russian, if you will. And what’s ugly, most of those guys are middle or low income, but want to look rich and cool. Soooo stupid.

    In Europe, those who can pay EUR 1000 for a plate (read just give it to someone for nothing) would prefer to make a donation, support a kindergarten, hospital. And these are countries where kindergartens do not have any need for private support. So, the question is, do our kindergartens have this need? Of course yes. But people behave themselves as assholes.

    I would support someone buying a plate, but giving an equal amount to an Armenian homeless or jobless guy. Or just supporting him with paying rent, fee or tax.

    A couple of years ago my friends presented me a VivaCell number, the best number VivaCell could ever produce, I do not use it, because I am shy of this number. Its constantly on auto-response. I had so many calls with offers, I still have them….thankfully my auto response is in English and most people puzzle when they do not hear ALO, and they just hang up.

    I will not sell this number, because its a gift and because I want to stop this arabic number mania, but I would offer this number to any charity, or development project, because its easiest number to remember in Armenia and they can use it for collecting dontions. Please tell me if you have a noteworthy project to support.

  2. I received an email from Hayaser Forever, he is curious to know what my VivaCell number is.

    Dear Hayaser,
    Thank you for your email.
    If you run, manage or know a decent project in Armenia, please post it here and I will contact them on your behalf.
    With kind regards,

      Well this would be my 1st comment on this blog of 2011
      As mentioned in my last comment of 2010, I’m not able to comment anymore on blogs as I was in 2010 because I cant afford internet at home anymore and I turned off my cell phone, because I’m bankrupt trying to get my life back. its been very hard on me last 30 days, but I can still catch up on some blogs here & there…especially Observer
      Hayaserforever is me, I contacted you
      I’m curious to know the number, I’m curious to see which set of numbers you received (meaning its ease to remember)….However, if you wish to donate it to a proper genuine cause to help Hayastan, I would strongly advise you to donate it to maybe to auction it off. you can ask Observer (Artur) about it, he can share more info with you as he blogged about it in Dec 2010.
      de lav eli, misht im Hayerun caver@ tanem, dzezanic lav@ ch’ka u maxtum em im Hayastanin im tankagin Hayreniqin yerjankutyunner yev ayl sax iskakan Hayerun. kecceh mer Hayastan u sax mer Hayutyun

      • No problem
        I promise I will contact Observer right now and will offer the number to Hye Santa so they use it for their campaigns and promotions.
        Be well

  3. Garo,

    To answer your question, based upon my past readings, the following is my understanding of the middle letters on the license plates:

    License plates in Armenia have two letters between numbers. The Armenian alphabet is unique but has only about four letters that closely resemble the L, O, S and U of the Latin alphabet which is widely used in various countries. Since Armenians drive out of the country, authorities have decided to use combination of these four letters that look like Latin letters and are easily identifiable on license plates. Since the military and taxis generally do not leave the country, they use other Armenian letters for them which are uniquely Armenian alphabet only.

    As for the numbers on a license plate being all 666, all 777 or all 888, my guess is that because money and power are most important to the Armenian oligarch clan, these numbers are indications of (1) money 66aa666, (2) power 77aa777, (3) both money and power 88aa888 where the “aa” between the repeated numbers stand for combination of alphabet letters. This is only a guess on my part.

  4. Ibelin, yes, this is only a guess on your part, as now the letters used in between went into D, P, N which have nothing in common with Armenian alphabet, and this is what the auction was organized for.


      The part that is a guess on my part is the numbers 666, 777, 888 standing for money, power, both money and power, respectively.

      The use of the four letters, L, O, S and U as described earlier are not a guess. Those were the original official rules established by Armenian authorities. There can be only sixteen combination of these four letters that resemble Latin alphabet. Therefore, in time they will need more letters as more license plates are needed. Now that they have added more letters shows that need. Also, for the sake of making profits, money and corruption, they are willing to do anything. Interestingly, the newly added letters D, P, N are again in Latin alphabet.


          The report by Observer uses the words “police corruption”: “The demand for such numbers used to be a major issue with police corruption in the past. People used to beg and bribe the police to get a ‘cool’ number. A couple of years ago, as part of governments anti-corruption initiatives, it was announced, that the police will start auctioning such numbers.”

          Before, people used to pay police to get “cool number” and that was called “bribe”. Then, the government joined in and expanded the practice and made the “police corruption” official as long as people pay police for it through auctions and they call it “anti-corruption initiatives”. Now all police are making profits – and possibly the politicians who helped them, may be getting part of the profits. The oligarchs finding ways to benefit and to enrich themselves and their cronies while citizens’ houses are demolished and they are living in tents, as reported in another thread, is corruption. If they use all this money to benefit the poor, the needy, the disadvantaged and society instead of pocketing the profits, then I would agree it is not corruption. Until then, it is corruption and they are corrupt.

          • I though I was meaning auction and I think I need to repeat this again, I do not see any corrupt practice in selling plates via auction.

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