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High-Ranking Armenia Fund Official Admits Leadership ‘Keeps Pocketing’ Donations

The Truth Must Be Told, American-Armenian human rights activist, investigative journalist Ara Manoogian's web project, released on November 22 the third edition of “To Donate or Not to Donate,” a “white paper on 'Hayastan' All-Armenian Fund,” in which the journalist has published information about the Fund's leadership's corrupt conduct he claims to have obtained in a private conversation with Sarkis Kotanjian, the Executive Director of the Fund's  U.S. Western Region, dating back to December 17, 2010. “You know, all kinds of things have occurred in the Fund’s history. Again, very frankly, openly I’m talking to you: they've stolen money, eaten it, and what not. It has happened,” Kotanjian was quoted as saying.

“Before or after making statements that exposed his own lies carefully manufactured to misguide public opinion, this high-ranking Armenia Fund official was repeatedly asking me not to publicize the content of our conversation. 'I know that your heart is good. If I knew that you were just bashing the Fund just for bashing, I wouldn't meet with you,' he said to me,” Manoogian writes.

Kotanjian, as stated in the paper, admitted that the quality of road construction undertaken by the Fund is sub-par: “For example, if you dig the Yerevan-Sevan highway, removing the asphalt, you’ll find concrete underneath. That’s called a first class road. Those roads, which we build in Armenia or Karabakh are not first class. There’s no concrete underneath.”

Armenian Government officials and President Serzh Sargsyan, who form the majority of the Presidium of the Armenia Fund, Kotanjian continues, “keep pocketing” resources “like there’s no tomorrow.” 

Manoogian claims that the Executive Director envisaged a “guy with balls” as Armenia's savior-president: “We’re talking about BALLS. The only thing that is needed is a guy with BALLS, who will come and say: “F*ck your mothers, have pity on our people. As much as you’ve eaten… Enough is enough!”

“I still chose to honor his multiple requests of privacy even after he fiercely opposed to my suggestion that he should tell these truths publicly as a way of building trust. 'For me, as a Fund official, […] Are you f*cking kidding me?’ he told me in response,” Manoogian says. “Nevertheless, I hoped that one day Mr. Kotanjian himself would eventually realize the importance of honesty. […] During the past 5 years, not only did Mr. Kotanjian fail to tell the people the truth, but also continued using lies, white-washing, and fake identities to mislead hundreds of thousands of people into trusting his organization and donating millions of dollars to it.

According to the report, Kotanjian also launched a “smear campaign” against Manoogian. He created a fake online identity to invalidate the facts presented in [the paper]: “Thus assuming a fake identity, Sarkis Kotanjian was praising and promoting the Fund by giving false testimony.”

The Fund official went on to publicly claim that the facts presented in “To Donate or Not to Donate” were lies: “The thing is that this paper, one could say, is completely based on newspapers, which are strictly oppositional; their publications, which have no facts,” he said during a live interview on Horizon TV in Glendale. 

Manoogian writes that Kotanjian and the Fund’s Executive Director Ara Vardanyan also broke their promise to have a live TV debate with him about the Fund’s activities. “Mr. Kotanjian has abused my promise to honor his appeals for privacy with his actions. I believe it is better to honor the hundreds of thousands of donors’ rights to information than the dishonesty of a single hypocrite who seeks to profit from their ignorance.”

The full transcript of Manoogian's conversation with Sarkis Kotanjian on page 124 of the report.