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.

Armenian Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny Responds to Biased Article

 – Last week, Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) Executive
 Director Bryan Ardouny responded to
 a biased article posted
 in The Hill earlier
 this month. 

Ardouny wrote: “Christina Gathman’s ‘Armenia’s Russia
 problem’ in The Hill’s Congress Blog published on Dec. 13, 2016 goes to some length to catalogue the
 extent of Russian investments in Armenia and raises the question whether the
 degree of economic cooperation between the two countries affects its foreign
 relations. Without pointing out any valid evidence that this situation has in
 any shape or form influenced Armenia’s relations with the United States, Gathman wants to draw conclusions by implication alone.”

“Rather than exacerbate and conflate the issues, the
 focus should be on what we can do as Americans to help Armenia realize its
 full potential, and like many other countries within the former Soviet Union,
 free itself from the vestiges of the past,” he concluded.

 here to read Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny’s full response.

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.