Generally, the world's leading media do not line up for interviews with war criminals, accomplices in war crimes and massacres, or with fraudulent creators of yet another Ponzi scheme. Like Denis Pushilin, the self-proclaimed head of the Donetsk People's Republic, Putin's protege in occupied Ukraine.
But some Western media, without batting an eyelid, provide a platform for Ruben Vardanyan, one of the richest people in Russia (according to Forbes), a man who is much closer to Putin than Pushilin has ever been.
From 2005 to 2022, Ruben Vardanyan was allegedly engaged in money laundering through offshore companies and transferring money to the most influential people from Putin's entourage (for example, Sergei Roldugin). During the same period, he held positions in the "expert councils" under the President and the Government of the Russian Federation, positions accessible only to people who are close to Putin. At the same time, Vardanyan also ran the investment bank Troika Dialog, which became part of Sberbank of the Russian Federation in 2011.
Only in March 2019 members of EU Parliament demanded an investigation into the activities of Vardanyan as the head of Troika Dialog.
The name of Vardanyan and his Troika Dialog surfaced again in connection with the topic of offshore companies: the Organized Crime and Corruption Investigation Center (OCCRP) convincingly proved that Troika Dialog had created an extensive network of offshore companies. These companies worked with other companies accused of laundering, cashing out or illegally withdrawing funds from Russia. We are talking about 4.6 billion dollars passed through 76 companies.
It would seem that it is completely clear who Vardanyan is - "the wallet of Putin and his friends". However, no one asked him sharp questions, and in September 2022, Vardanyan surrendered his Russian citizenship. Obviously, this was an attempt to avoid Western sanctions. It is important to emphasise that Vardanyan was quietly allowed to keep his Russian businesses. In fact, only Ukraine did not succumb to this simple trick with renunciation of the Russian citizenship, and put him on the list of sanctions: for logistical support of the occupying army of the Russian Federation.
In November 2022, without even hiding the fact of "consultations in Moscow'' on this issue, Vardanyan took the post of "head of government" of the separatist enclave in Azerbaijani Karabakh. This enclave is not recognized as an independent entity by the international community. By international law and UN recognition it is legally the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Despite this, after the 2020 war, the Russian military contingent was stationed on this territory for "peacekeeping" (or so it was called by the Russian Federation).
The "peacekeepers" of the Russian Federation are there for only one purpose - they provide support and security for Vardanyan in Karabakh. Nominally distancing himself from the Russian Federation, Vardanyan remains Putin's weapon in his undeclared war with Azerbaijan: the Kremlin is creating a new puppet state out of Karabakh, one that would be completely under Moscow's thumb.
The first steps to create a "hot spot" in Karabakh have already been taken - Vardanyan invented and is actively introducing the narrative of the "Lachin blockade" and "humanitarian catastrophe" into the world media. The noise he created makes it possible to hide what is really happening in Karabakh. Vardanyan took away from the local clan (according to local sources) the Damirli copper and molybdenum deposits belonging to Azerbaijan and the Gizilbulag gold deposits in the vicinity of Lachin. Russian so called "peacekeepers" protect Vardanyan and his henchmen from all attempts to prevent the plundering of these natural resources, which is carried out in violation of not only international law, but also all environmental norms and standards.
The Kremlin's calculation was that this would lead to military actions initiated by Azerbaijan. But the authorities of the Azerbaijan Republic behaved more wisely and did not succumb to Moscow's provocation, demanding only the admission of experts to their territory and mines. Vardanyan refused all demands, the only group of Azerbaijani experts that has managed to get to the territory of the mines was expelled from there by a crowd of Vardanyan's close associates with his personal participation. Azerbaijani and foreign journalists were not allowed to go there by the Russian military. All this clearly indicates that the "Republic of Artsakh" is a puppet formation of the Kremlin, and it exists solely to ensure that Moscow has a hotbed of destabilisation of its most serious competitor in the field of energy supplies to Europe and Israel.
Azerbaijan supplies oil and gas to Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, Romania, Croatia and the Czech Republic. In 2022, the volume of Azerbaijani gas supplies to the EU reached 12 billion cubic meters, and it will double imports of natural gas by 2027.
Azerbaijan also provides 40% of Israel's energy needs.
The "Republic of Artsakh" is a puppet formation of the Kremlin
Since December 12, Azerbaijani environmental activists have been demonstrating on the highway from Lachin. They do not confront the Russian military, but they do not allow natural resources to be taken out of Karabakh - actually, they do not allow Russia to steal the natural resources of Azerbaijan. Eco-activists and representatives of NGOs demand to stop the illegal exploitation of Azerbaijani resources and damage to the environment. From this peaceful action, Vardanyan deliberately inflates a "humanitarian catastrophe."
As Adviser to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Mikhail Podolyak noted, the "crisis" in the Armenian enclave of Karabakh is artificially inflated and incorrect data on the size of the Armenian population in Azerbaijani Karabakh are used to escalate it. The media noise fanned by Vardanyan drowns out the legitimate protests and demands of Azerbaijan and its eco-activists. To reinforce the legend of the "crisis", the assertions are used that the Armenian population of Karabakh is allegedly 120,000 people. According to the central Ukrainian media, "the real population of the Armenian enclave in Karabakh can be no more than 40,000 ... That is, in the zone of control of the Russian military contingent, the number of the Armenian population of Karabakh is 3 times overestimated."
The stories about the "humanitarian catastrophe" and "blockade" are a preparation for the Kremlin's appearance as a "Big brother" on the scene with ready-made Russian passports for the population of the pseudo-republic, just as it happened in occupied Crimea. After the "referendum" on the same Crimean model suddenly Azerbaijani Karabakh will find itself a Russian territory.
But the Kremlin's plans are not limited to Karabakh. Vardanyan is destined for a more significant role - he should replace Pashinyan, who has made a choice in favour of a pro-Western position. As the Versiya newspaper noted in September 2022, "Ruben Vardanyan claims to be the new national leader of Armenia, and in the future he may even become president." On 15th October 2022, the Armenian newspaper Hraparak wrote: "Vardanyan wants to actively participate in the Armenian political processes in the near future, not just in the next parliamentary elections, but also as a candidate for Prime Minister's post. This is Moscow's official plan, which is sponsored by the Russian Federation. Vardanyan is being promoted as a successor to the current government of the Republic of Armenia."
Thus, Armenia will be under Moscow's total control and also potentially Tehran's. The Ayatollah's regime has already stated that "Armenia's security is equal to the security of the Islamic Republic." Recently it was discovered that Iran's support for the Russian war against Ukraine was undertaken through Armenia. Iran Air Cargo, a subsidiary of Iran Air, flew from Yerevan's Zvartnots International, a civilian airport, to Moscow, carrying missiles and drones.
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