Armenian Assembly of America Urges Investigation of Azerbaijan’s Ties and Compromising Materials on U.S. Officials

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier this
week, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) sent letters to
the Senate and House Select Committees on Intelligence expressing concern
regarding the undue influence of Azerbaijan on America’s democratic
institutions. 

In their letter to the Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr
(R-NC), Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA), House Intelligence Chairman David
Nunes (R-CA), and Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA), Assembly Co-Chairs Anthony
Barsamian and Van Krikorian stated: “We are writing to express our concern
regarding the undue influence of yet another foreign government on America’s
democratic institutions, namely Azerbaijan. We are deeply troubled by recent reports
about Azerbaijan’s ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and
its nexus to both the Mammadov family and the highest levels of the Azeri
government. We therefore respectfully request that the congressional
investigations of Russian influence be expanded to include Azerbaijan’s
influence peddling and any materials it may have potentially compromising U.S.
officials.”

The Justice Department has previously brought some cases
involving Azerbaijan through the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), but much
more is needed. According to the “Azeri Oil Money Got a Pass From This
Ethics Committee” article in
Bloomberg News,

Azerbaijan continues to shell out over $45,000
monthly to the Podesta Group, of which the columnist states
“It’s hard to tell whether
it’s this creativity and generosity or any real U.S. strategic interest that
makes the U.S. overlook the country’s brutal dictatorship. A combination of
both is likely: Without the ‘caviar diplomacy,’ Azerbaijan might be considered
too small to defy declared U.S. values and principles for its sake.”

“When it comes to the integrity of America’s democracy, the
rule of law, and our governance process, we must not turn a blind eye to
Azerbaijan’s influence peddling, authoritarian regime and human rights
atrocities,” Assembly Co-Chairs Barsamian and Krikorian said.
“Further, we must ensure that Azerbaijan’s rampant corrupt practices do
not compromise U.S. policies and objectives. Additional evidence on Azerbaijani
as well as Turkish wrongdoing is available and growing; we would welcome the
opportunity to help advance a thorough investigation and United States
response.”

In addition to the U.S., Azerbaijan’s caviar diplomacy is also
amply documented in the December 2016 European Stability Initiative (ESI) report,
wherein expensive watches, jewelry, computers, and large sums of money, among
other gifts, were provided to several politicians from a number of countries in
Europe. ESI states that “the ease with which democratic institutions and
safeguards can be undermined has emerged as a fundamental threat to European
democracy.”

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the
largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding
and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501©(3)
tax-exempt membership organization.

Click
here to read the Armenian Assembly of America’s letter to the House Select
Committee on Intelligence.

Click
here to read the Armenian Assembly of America’s letter to the Senate Select
Committee on Intelligence.

About Armenian Assembly of America

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.
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