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#261 Yervant1

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 11:01 AM

Commentary
        Ronn Torossian Hired to do PR
        For Turkey; Is He Really an Armenian?
 
        By Harut Sassounian
        Publisher, The California Courier
 
The website Medium.com posted two articles by Louise Neu revealing that Ronn Torossian had signed a contract to represent Turkey as its PR agent! Torossian is President of the 5W Public Relations firm based in New York City.
Justice Department records indicate that Torossian signed the agreement on May 25, 2017. His firm will get paid an additional $60,000 for the period of May 16-Nov. 16, 2017, which is automatically renewable for another six months. This payment is in addition to the amount specified in the contract signed on August 10, 2016.
It is noteworthy that Torossian signed the agreement with Turkey nine days after Pres. Erdogan watched his bodyguards beat up a group of demonstrators in front of Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington, DC. Three days after the protesters were beaten and injured, Torossian published an article in The Algemeiner, titled: “Deport Radical Islamist Preacher [Gulen] and Maintain American Interests.”
Interestingly, Louise Neu revealed that Torossian had written another article in Newsmax on Feb. 17, 2017, criticizing the media coverage of Michael Flynn’s resignation. Ironically, Torossian had written an earlier article in Newsmax on May 20, 2015, critical of PR Firm Levick Communications’ work for the Embassy of Qatar, in which he stated: “There are those who feel it is OK to spin for dictators and terrorists. Yet, this writer [Torossian] agrees with the owner of the world’s largest PR firm, Richard Edelman, who said, ‘PR is not like the law -- Not everyone deserves representation.” Contradicting himself, Torossian engaged in the hypocritical action of defending the interests of Erdogan, the dictator of Turkey!
In addition, Torossian wrote on January 27, 2017, in The Observer, published by Pres. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, criticizing PR firms that “whitewash repressive regimes….” He concluded: “dictators and terrorists don’t deserve any PR help.”
I called Torossian’s office twice. Each time a staff member assured me that he would return my call. I never heard from him. Louise Neu had a similar experience when she tried to reach Torossian. When she tweeted him about his connections to Turkey and Trump associates, Torossian tweeted back: “I shot JFK! My ex-wife is Russian!!!! I even ate caviar this week!” Torossian is not only impolite in not responding to phone messages, but he is reported to have a bad temper against his employees and others! The New York Times described him as “brash and aggressively outspoken.” He is also reported to have business dealings with shady Jewish and Russian oligarchs, according to Louise Neu. Even though Torossian has an Armenian last name, I was not able to confirm if one or both of his parents are Armenians, or neither one!
Ronn Torossian is also “a partner, Chief Marketing Officer and advisory Board member of JetSmarter,” according to his Linkedin profile. JetSmarter is a controversial company described as “uber for planes.” The CEO of JetSmarter is Sergey Petrossov, the son of Vatchagan Petrossov, who definitely has an Armenian name.
The main reason I was interested in Ronn Torossian’s employment as a PR agent for Turkey is that there was a similar situation with Barry Zorthian who worked from October 1980 to February 1984 for the lobbying firm of Gray and Co., hired by Turkey. Zorthian was a former executive for Voice of America and Time, Inc. In 1968-69 he was the chief U.S. spokesman in Saigon, Vietnam.
After I had become aware that Zorthian was simultaneously an executive at a lobbying firm for Turkey and Board Member of the Armenian Assembly of America, I called him to ask if his dual roles did not create a conflict personally or for his firm. As a sign of respect for a fellow Armenian, I cautioned him that if he answered my questions, it could lead to his dismissal from his job. Zorthian, 63, replied that he did not care if he lost his $65,000-a-year job as senior vice president of Gray and Co. He went ahead and honestly answered all my questions. Zorthian explained that he worked in the public relations office and not on the Turkey account which was handled by the firm’s lobbying department.
As soon as my article was published on the front page of the California Courier on January 19, 1984, the Turkish newspaper Tercuman reported my interview with Zorthian which caused a great embarrassment to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, finding out that an Armenian-American was a top executive for the lobbying firm that was getting paid $300,000-a-year by Turkey.
On Feb. 21, 1984, the lobbying firm’s vice chairman, Alejandro Orfila, told Zorthian that the Turkish Ambassador Sukru Elekdag was extremely irate reading the newspaper report. Orfila quoted Amb. Elekdag stating: “I hired you guys to help me with my political problems, and instead you’re creating problems for me… You must do something drastic that I can report back to my government or else I’ll be forced to cancel the contract.”
The PR firm’s chairman, Robert K. Gray, cut his vacation short in Acapulco, Mexico, and immediately returned to Washington. Zorthian was fired after rejecting Mr. Gray’s request to resign.
Even though I was not pleased to see Mr. Zorthian lose his job, but as a young reporter who had started working as a journalist six months earlier, it was very satisfying that my obscure article made the headlines in Turkey and came to the attention of the Turkish Foreign Ministry and Amb. Elekdag. Furthermore, the Washington Post wrote a lengthy article on April 13, 1984, quoting from my article and mentioning my newspaper as the source of this international controversy.
I urged Zorthian to file a lawsuit accusing Gray and Co., of employment discrimination due to his national origin. Zorthian did file charges with the Washington, D.C. Office of Human Rights, claiming he was illegally fired because of his Armenian background.
Unfortunately, I do not know the outcome of Zorthian’s lawsuit. Both he and his wife have passed away since then.
If Mr. Torossian is truly an Armenian, how could he do PR for Turkey? More importantly, how could Turkey hire him given Mr. Zorthian’s experience?


#262 Yervant1

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Posted Yesterday, 12:37 PM

Where is the money? That's where I belong.

Turkish PR Agent Ronn Torossian’s

        Father and Grandparents are Armenians
        By Harut Sassounian
        Publisher, The California Courier
       
Last week I wrote a column about Ronn Torossian, President of 5W Public Relations firm in New York City, who had signed a contract for $60,000 to do PR work for the Republic of Turkey in the United States.
I wrote that I did not know if Torossian was an ethnic Armenian or simply had an Armenian last name, since some Jews and Iranians also have Armenian last names. Before writing the previous column I had attempted to contact him and had left two voice mail messages at his office. But, he did not return my phone calls.
After writing that column, I received several emails and phone calls from Mr. Torossian. However, he requested that our phone conversations be off the record. I also received many emails and phone calls from Armenians around the world who knew the Torossian family.
I also noticed that several readers had posted comments under my column in various websites, insisting that Mr. Torossian was not an Armenian, but simply Jewish or Iranian who carried an Armenian last name. These commentators were basing their presumptions on the fact that all of the articles about Mr. Torossian on the internet referred to him as being Jewish and mentioned his extensive record of activism and involvement in Jewish causes and organizations.
However, I was informed by a Canadian Armenian, a former resident of Jerusalem, that he grew up in that city with Ronn’s father, Harout Torossian, who now lives in New York City. Ronn’s grandfather was Voskan Torossian and the grandmother was Mariam.
Voskan and his family lived in the Convent of Jerusalem’s Armenian Patriarchate. Voskan worked as a handyman at the Patriarchate. Ronn’s father attended Saints Tarkmanchats Armenian School in the Convent. Both Ronn’s father and grandfather were members of Homenetmen (Armenian General Athletic Union and Scouts). Voskan was also a devoted member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.
Since Ronn’s father was married to a Jewish woman, Ronn is considered by the Jewish community to be Jewish. He was raised as a Jew and considers himself to be Jewish and not Armenian. From Ronn’s family friends and his father’s former classmates I have learned a lot more about his relatives and their personal lives, but to protect Ronn’s privacy I decided not to divulge any more details. I only mentioned his father and grandparents to prove that he is partly of Armenian heritage, and not Iranian or fully Jewish.
Interestingly, in one of the emails Ronn Torossian sent me after my first article, he stated: “I am Jewish. I am American born and raised in a Jewish home, and proudly educate my children in Jewish day schools. I do not and never have considered myself to be Armenian. You are conducting a comical, ridiculous and destructive ugly litmus test.” He asked that the rest of his email be considered off the record.
I answered Torossian in an email: “Thank you for finally contacting me. I wish you had responded to the two phone messages I left for you in the past month. I respect that you feel Jewish. That is your choice and decision. However, being Jewish does not exonerate you from the unacceptability of doing PR for a country that denies Genocide whether you are Jewish, Armenian or any other nationality. Being of both Jewish and Armenian ethnic ancestry makes you a descendant of survivors of both the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide which places the double burden on you to be especially sensitive to Genocide deniers. Just because you are making money spinning for Genocide deniers does not justify your professional activities. As I pointed out in my column, you yourself have criticized those who do PR for dictators. Yet you are paid to do PR for the dictator Erdogan. If you don’t consider Erdogan to be a dictator, then you are one of the few individuals in the world who thinks so!”
Ronn Torossian replied to my email: “Criticize me all you wish. Please don’t raise my family or your perceptions of my ethnicity. I have never considered myself Armenian all my life.”
I must inform Ronn Torossian that over the years I have written dozens of columns criticizing all those who have been hired by the Turkish government for the purposes of lobbying or public relations, regardless of their nationality. It is unacceptable to represent Turkey for money, a country that is run by a dictator, violates the human rights of its citizens, and denies the Armenian Genocide.
Ironically, back in June 2010, before Torossian signed a PR contract with Turkey, he had organized an anti-Turkish protest in Manhattan after the Israeli military attacked a Turkish humanitarian flotilla. Torossian was quoted as stating: “what these so called peace activists on the Turkish vessel pulled off was nothing short of a cleverly devised anti-Semitic lynching.”

 






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