The Russian Bank Was Interested In Bad Comments About Prime Minister Pashinyan

Arshaluys Barseghyan


On the evening of June 11, a user named “Dianita La Reina” posted on Facebook that she was no longer an employee of the public relations department of VTB Bank (Armenia).

Among the problematic relations between the employer and the employee, the user mentioned the final straw behind her decision to leave․ “The demand of the bank’s management was to translate the disgusting comments about the Prime Minister into Russian under her notes to be sent to Moscow.”

She also noted, “In short, the ‘Best Employee of 2019,’ quit. Yes, I lost my job, but I did not lose my face and my dignity.”

Now in more detail

Dianita La Reina, also known as Diana Aghabekyan, worked for the Russian bank for about a year and a half. In a conversation with Media.am, she said that she received the task on June 5 from her immediate supervisor.

“The task was given over the phone, in a high and ugly tone, saying, ‘I know you’re not going to like having to do the job, you will say you’re against it, but right now you have to do it, it is the director’s order.’ My boss said it was urgent and that we were sending it to Moscow,” says Diana, explaining that this is what they call the bank’s head office.

Diana says that at first, not imagining the seriousness of the issue, she translated several neutral comments under her manager’s coercions and sent it using her work email address.

“After receiving the translation, my boss called and demanded that I translate the bad comments, noting that more aggressive and bad ones are needed, not the neutral things like the ones I sent. On the same day, I said that I would file my resignation and leave the bank,” said Diana.

She does not know who else was given such a task. She had never received such an assignment before.

“I consider this demand not only a betrayal of the country’s leader but also of my conscience and my nation. I do not fully understand the purpose of this directive. I have published my post so that the bank’s management understands that banking activities should not be confused with politics and international relations,” Diana Aghabekyan told us.

Diana insisted that she had facts to prove it.

VTB Bank’s (Armenia) response

Diana Aghabekyan’s post on the evening of June 11 received a great response on Facebook. The Russian publication was translated and spread on news websites. As of June 25, the post has 1000 likes and has been shared 213 times.

The employer bank did not respond to this publication. He did not deny, did not confirm or comment.

To get a comment, on June 16, we contacted the bank’s public relations department by phone, from where we were offered to send a written request.

After not receiving the answer to the inquiry sent on the same day, on June 25, we contacted the bank again, where we were informed that the bank’s position was to not comment.

The coincidence of the task and the days of developments in internal politics

The day that former employer of VTB Bank (Armenia) Diana Aghabekyan received the task, coincides with the urgent sitting of the Political Council of the Prosperous Armenia Party.

On this day, the leader of the parliamentary opposition faction Gagik Tsarukyan strongly criticized the government, insisting that all branches of the economy have failed, the struggle against the coronavirus has failed. He also stated that “not 97, but 100% of the government should be changed” and suggested “all possible and healthy forces, let’s unite. Let’s unite our forces for the future of our country. “

After this event, the ring of criminal cases became tighter around Tsarukyan.

Tsarukyan was deprived of his parliamentary immunity on June 16.

The next day, on June 17, PAP member Vahe Enfiajyan and Mikael Melkumyan met with Russian Ambassador to Armenia Sergey Kopirkin.

On June 18, the Commission on International Affairs of the Presidency of the General Council of the ruling United Russia Party expressed its concern over the developments around Tsarukyan.

The statement said that “since 2008, the United Russia and Prosperous Armenia parties have been cooperating successfully on the basis of an agreement between them and the common interests of the peoples of the two countries.”

Earlier, the BBC’s Russian service referred to the connection between the Prosperous Armenia Party and United Russia.

What does VTB Bank have to do with it?

VTB is the second-largest bank in Russia. It has offices in Asia, Europe and Africa, including post-Soviet Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

Information about the VTB Group is not available in Armenian on the VTB-Armenia website. The link leads to vtb.com.

According to the available information, VTB Bank was established in 1990. Its founders are:

  • State Bank of the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic
  • and the Ministry of Finance.

The goal of the bank is to serve Russia’s foreign economic transactions and promote the country’s integration into the world economy.

60.93% of the bank’s shares belong to the Russian Federation, and 2.95% to the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan.

The United States also imposed sanctions on VTB Bank in 2014 in response to Russia’s efforts to destabilize eastern Ukraine.

Andrei Kostin, Chairman of VTB Bank, is a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a member of the Supreme Council of the ruling United Russia party and a former employee of the KGB.

In December 2019, Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, spoke about Kostin’s love affair with Russia 1 television company’s host Natalia Asker-Zade, expensive houses and trips taken by a plane purchased by VTB Bank.

Arshaluys Barseghyan

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