SECOND COMING OF FORBES TO ARMENIA
Vestnik Kavkaza, Russia
Nov 20 2013
20 November 2013 – 11:26am
by David Stepanyan, Yerevan. Exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza
In mid-November, Forbes released its first Armenian version. The
magazine is published in 27 countries and distributed throughout 55.
An attempt to publish Forbes magazines was made in Armenia in 2007,
resulting in a total failure. This is why the second coming of the
magazine should be analyzed with account of the first bitter attempt.
The monthly Forbes Armenia is published by a little-known company
Media Partners and the portal. There are plans to
make special releases of Forbes Life and organization of business
conferences. The names of publishers and the editor-in-chief of Forbes
Armenia say nothing. The specifics of the magazine’s work speak for
themselves. The magazine studies and publishes lists of billionaires,
most influential and notable people of the world.
Despite the well-developed rating systems of Forbes, Armenian
publishers will have to consider the peculiarities of the Armenian
media market. One of them is the absolute inseparability of Armenian
business billionaires and millionaires with all branches of the
government and unification of Armenian capital and crime. The best
confirmation of the statement is the latest exposures made by hetq.am.
The agency found some very suspicious offshore accounts of Prime
Minister Tigran Sargsyan and Archbishop of the Ararat Eparchy Navasard
By the way, Sargsyan has recently been highlighted in another
scandalous story. The Zhokhovurd paper, quoting reliable sources,
accused the prime minister of bribing rating agencies. In particular,
the prime minister’s godson, Minister for Finances David Sarkisyan,
spent $217,000 on Fitch Ratings LD and $120,000 on Moody’s Investors
Service for positive ratings which give no reflection of the real
economic situation in Armenia.
Considering this, it is interesting to understand who is really
behind the second coming of the US magazine to Armenia. The answer to
this question would clarify who and how Forbes Armenia will manage
to cover the quite complicated tangle of relations between business
and government. Back to 2007. It is notable that the first release of
Forbes in Armenia listed the names of the richest people starting with
the then President Robert Kocharyan, the unsinkable head of the State
Committee for Income Gagik Khachatryan and some businessmen affiliated
with the government. Then, Editor-in-Chief of the magazine Petros
Kazaryan was called in for a conversation. Rumours say that Bagramyan
characterized his first release of Forbes as a gag. It is still unclear
why an authoritative magazine well-known all around the world made
such a poor joke specially in Armenia, quite far from April 1.
Nonetheless, the Forbes ‘joke’ ended up not as funny as expected,
the magazine was closed down. Although, during the iron reign of the
Kocharyan regime, such ‘impudence’ could not expect any other outcome.
Considering 60 years of Forbes’ experience, the ability of the
magazine to calculate ratings of Armenia’s richest people using its
system provokes doubts. Armenian oligarchic functionaries regularly
register assets as property of wives, distant relatives and even
mothers-in-law. Journalists will have to do a lot of work in their
running after relatives of billionaire functionaries.
Thus, another appearance of Forbes in Armenia is probably a scheme
of very serious people mistakenly viewed as the highest elite in
the republic. In other words, competitors for power. If so, Forbes
Armenia will turn into a powerful weapon to fight mudslinging between
both active and ex-functionaries.
According to another explanation, Armenian discreet
millionaires/billionaires could have become a target of foreign
powers. In this case, everything will seem far from obvious because
materials for mudslinging of foreign counterparts is what the Armenian
government lacks. Anyway, the second coming of Forbes to Armenia
looks promising and will doubtlessly be followed by very interesting
information about national functionaries.
The Forbes Armenia team will fill the rate ranks of Armenian magazines
doing serious journalist work in the light of the increasingly tabloid
press. Tabloid popularity has become a global tendency but releases
of pointless and blank information has become a typical phenomenon in
Armenia. In the context of stupid headlines about love-related and
anatomical peculiarities of US television personality of Armenian
origin Kim Kardashian Armenian mass media are filled with, the
news section has lost all real value. In this background of junky
information space, Armenia feels a lack of reasonable and balanced
comments, not to mention analysis.
Considering that emissions of senseless information are made
purposefully by authorities of oligarch-owned sources of mass media,
appearance of Forbes in Armenia, on condition that it is not under
control of oligarchic functionaries, may become a bright spot on the
junkyard called the Armenian information space.