Manvel Grigoryan (Photo: Photolure)

Maybe he didn’t think he would be caught.

Maybe he was too arrogant.

Maybe he was too cocky.

Maybe he was too plain dumb.

Maybe he thought he was untouchable.

Maybe he is the most flagrant.

Maybe someone was out to get him.

Maybe he thought the stories about his less than savory doings while fighting for Artsakh in the early years would be forgotten.

Maybe he was so full of himself that he couldn’t see the resentment his grotesque activities engendered.

Maybe he has no heart or conscience.

Maybe he is just the tip of the iceberg.

Maybe he will rat out others like him.

Maybe he is just a good representative of the oligarch class and its sense of impunity.

So many maybes, and only one certainty—the oligarchs in the Republic of Armenia will no longer have free rein to wreak misery upon the citizens of the country as they please to satisfy their rapacious economic gluttony.

Of course, all this is about Manvel Grigoryan, “oligarch” and kingpin of Etchmiadzin who was busted last weekend. No doubt you have already seen the YouTube video of footage from the bust. Rooms full of boxes of canned food. Other boxes contained clothing. The crates full of guns and ammunition, even grenades and RPGs, belong on the front lines, not a room in a vacation home. Then there were the dozens of cars and other vehicles packed together warehouse-style that were “owned” by this guy, including some military-use jeep-like vehicles. Let’s not forget the stacks of property deeds shown in the video.

The stash of foodstuffs, munitions, clothing, vehicles, etc. that were found on properties he owns is mind-bogglingly revolting. These supplies and materials had come from all over the country and Diaspora. Some of the boxes full of these supplies seen in the footage still had notes in children’s handwriting on them, children who had worked to gather them for the soldiers on the front during 2016’s Four Day War. Then, to learn that the canned meats were being fed to the wild animals Manvel has caged up—viewers are treated to shots of bears and a tiger (there may have been more)—is beyond despicable. Remember that the backdrop to this story is that we learned, shortly after that April War, that many soldiers on the front were lacking in essentials, both human and military.

As if all this were not shameless enough, after Manvel was arrested, his family and followers took to the streets to protest his “unjust” treatment. The Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), of which he is a member and sits in parliament as one of their deputies, issued a statement expressing “concern” about the “impropriety” of arresting a member of parliament. Recall that they have immunity unless stripped of it by parliament. But it turns out that while this technicality is true and valid, there are other countervailing technicalities that enabled law enforcement to act in the way it did. He has since been stripped of his immunity.

We must resist the temptation to simply sneer at these crocodile tears being shed over a (falsely asserted) lack of due process of law by people who have done nothing but abuse, break, or circumvent the country’s laws for years. Riding roughshod over anyone’s rights, even someone as debauched as Manvel, would simply perpetuate the cycle of lawlessness and impunity that has marked the country’s quarter century of independence. It is good to see that the new government and law enforcement are acting properly.

While you may be ready to wretch, the chatter one hears, though unconfirmable at this point, is that Manvel is not even the “richest” of the oligarchs who have been sucking the country dry. But, I suspect he may have been one of the most blatant, overt, and open about his ill-gotten gains, time will tell (hopefully this is not just a one-off instance of law enforcement).

This depth of depravity may be hard to fathom for many Armenians in the Diaspora who are used to thinking in nurturing, loving, and caring terms about their homeland. It should serve as a stark and painful wake-up call to drive more alert engagement with Yerevan.

Let’s all get busy finding ways to build up the homeland’s economy now that corruption there seems to be getting serious attention and response. This kind of input will create conditions enabling locals to remain and Diasporans to resettle there.

Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.
Garen Yegparian

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  1. He was a truck driver and remained a truck driver in his heart (no offence to the profession, the truck drivers in Soviet era Armenia were a special breed, they will steal part of the load, whatever it was). So, regardless of what he had, in his heart he was the same, there is no surprise. It’s a shame that someone, actually we know exactly who, labeled the trucker a General, thus de-valuing the rank and offending all the military personnel that went thru schools and battles to be raised to the rank of General. It’s the SHAME of the Armenian nation to call this trucker and Andranik generals, that is equal in rank. All that supported him need to be held to answer, from Vazgen to Serzh Sarkissians !!!

  2. The first one to be thrown in prison should be Serzh Sargssian!
    All this was happening under his nose and he was fully aware of it.
    Not to mention that his brother and other members of his family are part of the oligarchy that has been sucking the life out of the poor citizens of the homeland for the past ten years.
    No mercy to these criminals!

  3. Manuvel Grigoryan should be put in front of a firing squad and be shot, with
    all the other people who knew what he was doing.

  4. Garen,

    First, thank you for the “expose” article and the timeliness of your piece.
    I am a 1st generation American whose parents were both survivors of the Genocide perpetrated/organized by the Turkish
    Government in the 1920’s (my parents are deceased). Sadly, your commentary illustrates that the “sick” mentality of those
    Turks, has manifested itself within the mindset of a particular group of ARMENIANS who have leadership roles in the very
    country and people they represent. Instead of “murdering the masses,” through a physical plan, they instead opted to steal
    from and pillage their OWN people through other means.
    My parents and my Grandparents fled Turkey to escape the murder, rape, and pillaging by the Turks in Turkey. Now, in the
    country of Armenia itself, another group, this time, Armenians themselves, are cannibalizing their own people.

  5. Maybe we should learn and remember the lessons from the failed experiment of “Communism” aka tyranny, and its handmaiden ‘Socialism” and the toxic waste of generations caught in its aftermath. Maybe God (obviously I’m not an atheists) created us to have and practice freedom of thought and action. Maybe all deviation from that blueprint will always be a failure. There is no such thing as benevolent government unless it is unrelentingly held to the standard that It, the Government, is meant to serve and be answerable at All Times to its Master, the People, and not the other way around. Hopefully the younger generation of voting Armenians will not fall back on the concept of a Nanny State and entitlement mentality. The only ones to ultimately benefit from Big Brother governments are the Big Brothers and their ilk. Make Armenia Great Again!

  6. title better as un-f’in-belivable… english speakers usually insert the f’in after the main stressed syllable… also, this can be an armenianism which is cute! thanks for the article!

  7. It’s ironic that the corruption and greed that are the root cause of the declining fortunes of the U.S. empire, the richest and one of the largest of Earth’s sovereigns, are the same factors that have prevented the rise of Armenia, one of the smallest and poorest of the world’s occupants, except in the spirit of its people. It’s noble and salutary for an electorate to be idealistic and supportive, but not trusting and complacent. “Those who don’t learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat it.” The history of nations remains constant because human nature does, also. Leaders usually become leaders because they’re strong and ambitious and sooner or later, they inherit a piece of the earth. In every instance, the meek pay the price for it sooner or later, in spite of their blessedness. Amot.

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