“Moscow moderator for the return of Russian businessman Ruben Vardanyan to NK”? Opinion
Businessman Ruben Vardanyan in Nagorno-Karabakh
Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh have been discussing the decision of Russian businessman of Armenian origin, Ruben Vardanyan, who on Sep 1 said he would renounce Russian citizenship and move to NK, for a week now. Today he was received by the President of the unrecognized republic, Arayik Harutyunyan. It is reported that prospects of cooperation were discussed at the meeting.
During a press conference after his announcement, Vardanyan stressed that he is not jockeying for any public position in NK. But a few days later, in an interview for Forbes magazine, he said that a situation could arise when he “would be forced and consider it right to accept a public position.”
According to political scientist Suren Surenyants, the businessman did not make the decision to move to Nagorno-Karabakh alone. Surenyants posits that Moscow may be behind the move. He believes that this is perhaps “one of the moves in a multi-polar combination invented in Russia.”
From Vardanyan’s press conference, and commentary from a political scientist.
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“I am not in Artsakh for the sake of a position”
During the press conference, Vardanyan said that is crossing the Rubicon by his own decision, but did claim it will definitely work out. At the same time, he vowed that he intends to use his resources and connections to solve the problems of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Since 2011, Vardanyan has been included in the rating of the richest people in Russia, according to Forbes. He is the founder of the investment company Troika Dialog. He made it on the Russian Forbes list in 2007, and in 2021 his fortune was estimated at $ 1 billion. Now he owns the Romanov Dvor business center in Russia, and has a stake in the Kamaz company.
The businessman announced that, first, issues related to education and healthcare should be resolved in NK; then it is necessary to deal with the introduction of technologies, domestic tourism, etc. According to Vardanyan, security problems cannot be solved if the number of people living in Nagorno-Karabakh falls, so housing conditions must also be improved.
“Power and position make sense only if they help Armenia and Artsakh maintain their independence, strengthen security and fulfill development programs,” he said.
Vardanyan announced his more active participation in the socio-political life of Armenia in October last year on air of the Public Television of Armenia. He said the 2020 44-day war was the “red line” that led to this decision.
“Having crossed this red line, I realized that I could have serious problems both in Russia and in Armenia. I realized that I would be subjected to various attacks. I am ready for this, since today we are faced with a crisis, and I must take responsibility and participate in discussions in the name of saving the motherland,” he stressed.
The businessman also stated that he puts the future of Armenia and NK “above his own well-being and security.”
Political scientist Suren Surenyants is refraining from premature assessment of the businessman’s steps. He says that Vardanyan’s Karabakh mission consists of several components.
“Perhaps this is his personal devotion and selflessness, but there is also a Russian component – Vardanyan’s personal political calculation. I cannot say which of these components will prevail and at what stage,” Surenyants said in an interview with JAMnews.
He is sure that Vardanyan did not make the decision to renounce Russian citizenship and move to Nagorno-Karabakh:
“Let’s not forget that he is the owner of big capital, that this capital is located in the Russian Federation, and Russia is not a democratic country at all. Capital there is closely connected with power. We know the fate of the big Russian capitalists when they acted against the will of the political authorities.”
Surenyants does not even discuss Vardanyan going political in NK – after all, Vardanyan himself did not rule out this scenario.
According to Surenyants, it is quite possible that in the event of the resignation of the president of the unrecognized NKR, Araik Harutyunyan, it is Ruben Vardanyan who will take on some kind of mission. It may also be a long play by Moscow to prevent a “power vacuum” in NK.
“Vardanyan’s plans would not go undiscussed in the Kremlin offices in Moscow, but I don’t know at what levels. Vardanyan cannot pursue a political process alone. It also depends on what plans Moscow has with respect to Armenia. In Russia, they may have developed a multipolar combination, one of the components of which is Vardanyan’s move.”
At the same time, the political scientist is convinced that there can be no “transit of power” from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, because “this route is no longer valid.” He recalls that a similar precedent was set with ex-president Robert Kocharyan. According to him, this incident left very bad impressions on Armenian society.
“No one can use Artsakh as a platform for receiving internal political dividends in Armenia. I can give a thousand arguments, but I will limit myself to stating that now, Artsakh does not have the soviereignty to influence the internal political processes in Armenia,” the political scientist said.
He believes that one should not rush to conclusions.
“Many things will change drastically when, after some time, a peace treaty is signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan. After that, tectonic changes will take place in the political system of Armenia,” Surenyants predicts.
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Businessman Ruben Vardanyan in Nagorno-Karabakh