A Russian website, which claims to be a partner to whistleblowing website Wikileaks, has published a number documents, which it says come from the U.S. Embassy in Armenia and are part of thousands of secret diplomatic cables leaked in November.
Even though I wasn’t able to find the original cables on Wikileaks website, there is no reason to believe, that the released documents are not genuine. Below is a short recount of their content.
Charge d’Affaires Joseph Pennington writes from Yerevan, that the political crisis which followed Presidential elections in 2008, even successful middle class Armenians are emigrating. In addition to these voices from the middle class, the diplomat says they’ve begun to hear how disenchanted officials contemplate emigration. The cable quotes Deputy Finance Minister David Avetissian, who says President Sargsian is making nothing more than empty gestures at reform to satisfy international and domestic audiences, but behind the scenes, the new president is marginalizing reformist voices, and empowering thuggish elements in and out of government. Another interesting detail, prominent members of Levon Ter-Petrossian-led opposition, Armenian National Congress, approached the U.S. Embassy seeking asylum and/or the issuance of tourist visas to ride out the crisis in the United States.
U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch analyzed a string of high-profile killings and other violent incidents that happened in Armenia in October 2009. In one of those incidents, a nephew of President Serzh Sarkisian reportedly beat up and badly injured a man at a Yerevan nightclub. The cable attributed to Yovanovitch says violence perpetrated by senior Armenian officials, government-linked businessmen and their relatives appears to have become the norm in the country. There is a widespread sense of impunity among such individuals, she allegedly wrote.
U.S. Ambassador John M. Evans writes about prostitution and trafficking in Armenia. Sharing information from meetings with prostitutes, police and NGOs, the Ambassador says Armenian girls go to Turkey and UAE knowing quite well, that they’ll be working as prostitutes and they prefer to work there, because money is better. Furthermore, Mr. Evans highlights, how a police officer told him that parents send their daughters to Turkey fully understanding the cost at which remittances will be sent home. Another interesting detail, turns out Armenian prostitutes prefer working in Turkey to UAE. There are a couple of words about how prostitutes allege corruption in Armenia’s Prosecutor General Aghvan Hovsepyan’s office, along with PG’s negligent and disrespectful attitude towards victims of trafficking and prostitutes.
Cable sent by U.S. Charge d’Affaires Anthony F. Godfrey, tells about Global Gold Corporation’s allegations, that Armenian Minister of Nature Protection Vartan Aivazyan had requested a $3 million bribe in April 2006.
The most interesting point about all of the above cables is that there’s nothing new and unknown in either of them. There are some related discussions on Unzipped’s blog, who covered these cables in much greater detail.