Azerbaijan - Global Laundromatit is getting hot...
Posted 26 April 2018 - 03:39 AM
- MosJan likes this
Posted 26 April 2018 - 09:19 AM
Thanks Gams, I'll post the translated article just in case they remove it after a while!
The Council of Europe accuses the senator of the PP Pedro Agramunt of corruption
The visit to the Syrian president, Bachar el Asad, in March of 2017 was the last straw in a sea of corruption orchestrated by the Spanish Pedro Agramunt. This senator of the Popular Party, former president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, participated for years in a corrupt strategy that conditioned decisions of this European body and reached its zenith with the meeting held in Damascus with the Syrian leader, behind the back of the Council of Europe. The independent investigation commissioned by this body, guardian of democracy and human rights in 47 European countries, has credited on Monday a "strong suspicion" that Agramunt was part of that scheme and that he used it to rise to the presidency .
Strange donations that boosted his candidacy for the presidency of this assembly, watches and liquors offered by political offices in Eastern countries and even suspicions of prostitution populate the report of the independent body of investigation disclosed by the Council of Europe. In almost 200 pages distributed with the organization's letterhead, the text includes the alleged corrupt practices carried out by several members of the assembly, including Agramunt, with the main objective of silencing the Council's criticisms of Azerbaijan. This politician of the Valencian PP, who had to leave the presidency of the Assembly of the Council of Europe after an unusual process of loss of confidence on the part of the institution,He maneuvered to get hold of that dossier and soften European criticisms of a country characterized by the lack of democratic mechanisms and the repression of opponents. He managed to stay ahead of the institution between January 2016 and October 2017.
Based on different studies - including the European Stability Initiative ideas laboratory, which uncovered the so-called caviar diplomacy exercised by the Azeri regime - the document highlights the "links between the success of Agramunt's career and his friendship with Azerbaijan." The authorities of this country provided 200,000 euros to boost his candidacy for the presidency of this body, according to the Freedom Files investigation. Other parliamentarians also received money "for them to run for different positions [in the Parliamentary Assembly] that would allow them to control the resolutions or influence them," he adds. This neighboring country of Russia spent 30 million euros on these pressure activities.
Beyond the suspicions of others, Agramunt himself offered some clue to his usual handling of large amounts of cash before the outbreak of the scandal of the visit to Syria. To distance the focus of that trip, for which Agramunt did not ask for authorization, the senator said that his hotel room in Strasbourg had been raided in the days after the meeting with El Asad. As a sign that what the alleged perpetrators were looking for was data, not money, he alleged that in his room there was "an envelope with 15,000 euros in cash that had not been touched," a witness told investigators. Far from exculpating him, Agramunt's words reinforced suspicions of bribes.
This work considers proven that Agramunt "played a key role in the adoption of several decisions of the Assembly perceived, directly or indirectly, as favorable to Azerbaijan". Even violated the rules of the institution to reveal to the Azeri authorities a confidential report on that country. Next, he "received instructions" about what he should include in those reports for which he was responsible. "There is evidence that Agramunt intervened in draft reports to soften criticism of the Azerbaijani authorities," the researchers point out.
From the beginning, the senator showed interest in getting this dossier. Agramunt himself intervened so that another member of the PP, the Swedish Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin, desisted from aspiring to be responsible for the supervision reports of Azerbaijan, a member of the Council of Europe since 2001. Finally, he obtained the position. The result was that "the tone and attitude towards the Azerbaijani authorities softened", from the constant criticism leveled in 2005 to the much friendlier attitude of 2010.
Gerald Knaus, president of the European Stability Initiative, welcomes the conclusions, although he suggests that they only reveal part of the corruption. "Only the tip of the iceberg is shown. But given the limitations, it is important and full of details, "says Knaus, who has revealed many of these irregularities.
In his reports on the country, Agramunt avoided condemning one of the most aired aspects of the institution in Strasbourg with respect to the Azeri authorities: the imprisonment of political dissidents. And although he visited them during his stays in Baku, "I never had anything to say to them, something that only happened in Azerbaijan." As an example of good relations with power, the report cites the presence of Agramunt in Baku two days before the official delegation of the parliamentary assembly arrived.Dating with prostitutes
The document refers to testimonies from the secretariat of the Parliamentary Assembly that say Agramunt "could be bribed with prostitutes" while participating in an electoral mission of the Council of Europe sent to Azerbaijan in 2015. One of those witnesses claims to have seen him one day return to your hotel with three young women. There are two other reported cases, with two women and one respectively. The authors of the work believe that the allegations are "not corroborated" and that, even if they met with prostitutes, "there is no evidence that it was part of a corrupt scheme."
A testimony from the same secretariat ensures that on one occasion he saw Agramunt with "a significant amount of cash" in his possession, an indication of having accepted bribes. The text also includes irregularities of the deputy of the PdeCAT Jordi Xuclà and of the exdiputado of the PP Agustín Conde.
With all these details, the research concludes that there is "a strong suspicion that Pedro Agramunt was part of an activity of a corrupt nature." Experts clarify that the Spanish politician has refused to offer his testimony before the investigation committee. The Council of Europe will now decide possible sanctions against the deputies who still make up the assembly.
Posted 27 April 2018 - 11:17 AM
Australian MP Peter Khalil slams Craig Kelly on Sky News: You had your trip paid by the Azerbaijani government
CANBERRA: Members of the Federal Parliament, Peter Khalil and Craig Kelly have clashed live on Sky News Australia, with the Member for Wills slamming the Member for Hughes for "talking down Australia's democracy in comparison to Azerbaijan's" after he labelled the recent presidential elections in the petro-dictatorship as "democratic" following a state-sponsored trip.
The elections Kelly observed, leading a delegation of Federal MPs in his role as Chair of the Australia - Azerbaijan Friendship Group, saw dictator Ilham Aliyev re-elected for a record 7-year term in office after recent changed to the Constitution supporting an extension to his rule. Incidentally, Kelly also observed the referendum changing these laws, before returning to Australia to say "we have a lot to learn from Azerbaijan's democracy".
Khalil laid into Kelly live on Sky News after highlighting that Azerbaijan's electoral commission released the result of the previous presidential elections in that country "a day before the actual election".
"You've got a despot who specialises in nepotism who hired his wife as Vice-President, and you're telling us that we've got something to learn from them," Khalil said. "That's just utterly ridiculous."
He continued: "You had your trip paid by the Azerbaijani government, I get it. But do not talk down Australia's democracy. We have an independent Australian Electoral Commission, we have one of the most thorough and rigid processes in one of the best, democratic systems in the world."
Kelly did concede, as he had in a Sydney Morning Herald article exposing his comments, that Azerbaijan has "had the same family ruling there as President - father and son - since the Soviet occupation ended", but he still referred to the country as "a fledgling democracy".
Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) Executive Director, Haig Kayserian commented: "We thank Mr. Khalil for once again bringing Mr. Kelly's questionable loyalty to a regime that gives any dictatorship a run for its money when it comes to press and individual freedoms, has been declared as 'not free' by Freedom House, and regularly breaks an internationally-brokered ceasefire to fire across the Line of Contact, murdering Armenians on the border of the Republic of Artsakh."
In response to Kelly's consistent assertions that voter identification laws in Azerbaijan supercede the transparecy of Australia's electoral commission, Kayserian said: "Even in cases of voter fraud, Australia's due processes have revealed parties at fault and brought them to justice. In Azerbaijan, European observers have cited the lack of opposition and any comparable checks and balances."
Kayserian added: "We welcome Mr. Kelly has at least now admitted that Aliyev's Azerbaijan has had one surname leading it for as long as it has been independent, but to still refer to it as a democracy is as basketcase as the 'democracy' he is referring to."
ANC-AU, which has been at the forefront of bringing this saga to public attention, has requested to meet with Craig Kelly.
Posted 24 May 2018 - 10:00 AM
Posted 31 May 2018 - 10:25 AM
Posted 18 June 2018 - 12:04 PM
Azerbaijan’s Secret ‘Laundromat’ Scheme Pays $1.5 Million to US Lobbying Firm
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
The website of Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) revealed last week the possibly illegal lobbying in the United States funded by Azerbaijani sources.
Investigative journalist Jonny Wrate reported on May 23, 2018 that “some of the money that passed through the Azerbaijani Laundromat, a secret money laundering scheme and slush fund that saw $2.9 billion flow out of the country between 2012 and 2014, ended up in the hands of a purportedly private Azerbaijani organization that hired a Virginia firm to lobby the US government for more than a decade.”
OCCRP had reported earlier that “other monies from the fund were used to advance the Azerbaijani government’s political agenda, with some ending up in bank accounts belonging to European politicians who spoke highly of President Ilham Aliyev’s regime even as it arrested journalists and political activists. The precise origins of the funds are unknown, hidden behind secretive shell companies. But there is ample evidence that the authoritarian country’s ruling elite is behind them.”
Last week, OCCRP revealed that two shell companies established by Azerbaijan “funneled over a million and a half dollars to a mysterious Baku-based organization called Renaissance Associates” which in turn hired “a US lobbying firm to orchestrate praise for Azerbaijan and had its representatives make thousands of dollars in campaign donations, including to Senators and Representatives who sat on committees that determine foreign aid budgets.”
Posted 19 June 2018 - 11:51 AM
Another Anti-Armenian Writer Exposed
For Making Baseless Allegations
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
It seems that not a week passes without coming across another
mysterious writer who undertakes to contribute a puff piece about
Azerbaijan and to undermine the reputation of Armenia and Armenians
around the world.
The latest such writer is Peter Tase who posted an article titled,
“Russia’s Foreign Agents in America: Trump Connection of Armenian
Lobbyists,” on June 11, 2018 on the Eurasia Review website.
This extremely biased article resorts to exaggerations and untrue
allegations in order to link Armenia and various Armenian individuals
to Russia, and even more surprisingly, to Pres. Donald Trump.
To begin with, Tase disparages Iranian-Armenian Gevork Vartanian’s
praiseworthy actions during World War II by calling him “one of the
most prolific Soviet Armenian spies.” In fact, Vartanian provided a
major service to the entire world by thwarting Hitler’s plans to
assassinate Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt while meeting as allies
at the Tehran Conference in 1943. Tase undermines his own credibility
by mentioning that CIA director Stansfield Turner and upper echelons
of the agency trusted Vartanian. Why would they trust Vartanian if he
were such a bad guy? Incredibly, Tase even states that he is
suspicious of Vartanian because he spoke Armenian.
Tase then picks on two Russian Armenian journalists—Margarita Simonyan
and Gayane Chichakyan—who work for RT (Russia Today) TV. Their only
guilt is that they are “good looking” women, and without any evidence
Tase accuses them of being “ethnically Armenian, as are many other
‘Russian’ agents of influence.”
Next is the turn of Artur Chilingarov, Vice Speaker of the Russian
Duma, whom Tase attacks for being an Armenian. Chilingarov’s fault is
that he was sitting at the next table over from Russian President
Vladimir Putin at a banquet in Moscow. Chilingarov was honored by the
Soviet Union and the Russian Federation for his exploits as a
prominent polar explorer—and not for being an Armenian, as Tase
Perhaps the most sinister part of Tase’s article is falsely claiming
that Armenian-American reporter Emil Sanamyan is “a foreign agent.”
This is a completely untrue allegation. Mr. Sanamyan told me that he
is not now, nor has he ever been registered with the U.S. Justice
Department as “a foreign agent.” I hope Mr. Sanamyan will sue Peter
Tase and his website for damaging his reputation. To show the degree
of Tase’s blind hatred for anything Armenian, he accuses Sanamyan of
working for “Americans for Artsakh,” an organization “established to
bring legitimacy to the war crimes and illegal occupation by the
Russian-backed Armenian military that has been ruthlessly perpetrated
(long before Ukraine and Georgia, the Russian government has used
Armenian soldiers to occupy Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory, arrest
development and derail a Pro-Western course of Azerbaijan).” Not a
single word is true in that sentence. The Russian government did not
use Armenian soldiers. Armenians liberated themselves from
Azerbaijan’s oppressive regime which committed mass crimes against
Armenians of Artsakh for decades. In fact, Russian soldiers sided with
Azerbaijan and killed many innocent inhabitants of Artsakh.
Furthermore, “Americans for Artsakh” was a non-profit funded by
Armenian-Americans. Sanamyan told me that he worked there as an unpaid
employee. In addition, when Sanamyan worked at the Office of the
Nagorno Karabakh Republic in Washington, D.C., the organization was
not yet registered with the U.S. Justice Department as “a foreign
agent.” Also, Tase makes up a fake title by claiming that “Sanamyan
was in charge of information warfare and propaganda as Director of the
NKR Public Affairs Office.”
There are also several minor errors in Tase’s article which show his
lack of knowledge of Armenian issues. For example, Tase writes about
Armenia’s independence from “Soviet Russia,” instead of the Soviet
Union. The second nonsense is Tase’s comment on a photo of Pres. Serzh
Sargsyan with Pres. and Mrs. Trump at the United Nations in New York.
Tase attributes the photo to the lobbying effort of the
Armenian-American community. However, no lobbying was necessary. If
Tase did a little more research, he would have discovered another
photo of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev with Pres. and Mrs. Trump
at the UN, along with photos of many other heads of state. Another
intentional misrepresentation by Tase is that Sanamyan’s wife, a
graduate of Cass Business School, City University London, was one of
the “Major Donors and Sponsors” of the University in 2012. Tase fails
to mention that Sanamyan’s wife was listed under the smallest amount
category—less than $1,000—which does not make her a major donor.
Tase’s next attack on Armenians is their alleged connection to Pres.
Trump. This is where Tase makes his most ignorant accusation. The
reality is that there are hardly any Armenians who know Pres. Trump;
so Tase invents imaginary connections. Tase even dares to misrepresent
my 2016 article headlined, “Armenians Should Reach Out to Trump
Through Republican Friends in Congress.” If Tase was an honest
reporter, he would have quoted from my article which stated:
“Armenian-American ties with the President-elect are practically
Tase also misrepresents the statement posted by Aram Hamparian,
Executive Director of ANCA, offering to work with the newly-elected
President. There is no indication in that sentence of any link between
Armenian-Americans and Trump. Scraping the bottom of the barrel, Tase
comes up with a totally unknown name, Andy Surabian, as “another
Armenian political operative deep inside the Trump White House.”
Surabian is described as “Steve Bannon’s political advisor in the
Trump administration and a campaign veteran.” Unfortunately for Tase,
neither Bannon nor Surabian work at the White House anymore.
Tase then mentions the name of Keith Nahigian, as “perhaps the most
influential and high-ranking Armenian Diaspora member and registered
lobbyist associated with the Trump campaign…who was tapped to head
Trump’s transition team in 2017.” This is yet another red herring.
Nahigian has no connection with the Armenian community. I sent him an
email two years ago and I am still waiting for his answer. That’s how
close Nahigian is to the Armenian community.
Tase prematurely refers to congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian
(R-Nevada) as a member of “the Armenian lobby with access to President
Trump.” Should Tarkanian win his House seat in November, we shall be
able to determine how close is his connection to the White House.
Incredibly, Tase mentions Kim Kardashian as an Armenian
“home-porn-turned-Twitter lobbyist” who has met Trump on numerous
occasions—most recently in May 2018,” successfully securing a pardon
from Pres. Trump for a (non-Armenian) grandmother serving a
life-sentence in prison. Tase would have made a more convincing case
if Kardashian had made a request from Pres. Trump on an Armenian
issue. There has been no link between Kardashian as “an Armenian
lobbyist” and Pres. Trump.
Tase falsely concludes his baseless and shameful article by stating:
“These extensive and deep links to the incumbent inexperienced
president and his campaign create potential national security
implications and deserve scrutiny to ensure that Putin’s ongoing
meddling into the U. S. Homeland would crumble and miserably fail.”
I don’t think Pres. Trump needs Armenian-Americans to establish
communication with Pres. Putin. Contrary to Tase’s unfounded
allegations, Pres. Trump has had a direct link to the Kremlin for a
long time and does not need anyone else’s assistance.
Posted Today, 08:50 AM
The Azerbaijani military is reported to have purchased U.S.-made Bell-412 helicopters which will be showcased at the country’s military parade in Baku on 26 June.
It is unclear how the Bell-412 copters produced by American aircraft manufacturer Bell Helicopter reached Baku given the U.S. legislation banning the country to supply arms to a party to conflict, political scientist Suren Sargsyan said in a Facebook post.
He calls on the Armenian states structures and U.S.-based organizations to take urgent efforts towards identifying who is behind the copters sales to Azerbaijan.
“The Armenian Foreign and Defense Ministeries, as well as the U.S.-based organizations should immediately take action to figure out who has sold or resold the helicopters to Baku,” Sargsyan stressed.
The armed forces of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and a number of other countries operate Bell-412 helicopters, the expert added.
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