Businessman and philanthropist Ruben Vardanyan on Thursday announced that he is renouncing his Russian citizenship and relocating to Artsakh.
Vardanyan, who has various business interests in Armenia and Russia, is the founder of, among other organizations, the UWC Dilijan College, the IDea Foundation, which was pivotal in revitalizing the Tatev Monastery and building the world’s longest tramway, the Foundation of Armenian Science and Technology, as well as the Aurora Project.
“I made a decision to move to Artsakh. Today, the people of Artsakh are experiencing a severe psychological crisis with no confidence in the future. Residents of Artsakh, who have survived two wars and lost their relatives and loved ones in the struggle for independence, feel abandoned, forgotten and ignored. I believe that after the 2020 war, we, Armenians around the world, have an obligation to stand together with the people of Artsakh. We must not just support them symbolically, but help them through concrete work. Artsakh is the center of the Armenian nation that has always been a place of true strength for us and we cannot let everything that was created by our ancestors over the millennia fall into oblivion,” Vardanyan said in announcing his decision to move to Artsakh and renouncing his Russian citizenship.
Vardanyan said that his decision “was not easy” for him but he is sure that it is the right thing to do and he hopes that his Russian partners and friends will accept this decision “with understanding and respect as a decision of their friend.”
Vardanyan thanked Russia for deployment of peacekeeping troops to Artsakh to protect its population.
“I believe that the mandate of the peacekeepers should be clarified and the terms of their stay should be extended until we can ensure the security of the people of Artsakh by our own forces,” he said.
Vardanyan also addressed Armenia’s neighbors, who often use aggressive rhetoric.
“I want to say: stop pushing our buttons. This is a dangerous and a short sighted approach. The force used will one day boomerang. You must understand that we, Armenians, will not allow ethnic cleansing in Artsakh. We will not allow you to gradually push Armenians out of Artsakh. This is impossible because this is the historical homeland of Armenians, the cradle of Armenian identity,” he stressed.
He thanked the French and U.S. Ambassadors to Azerbaijan for refusing to visit Shushi and Hadrut and clearly stated that the status of this territory has not been determined. Vardanyan said he believes that only the international community, which should include the people of Artsakh, Russia, France and the U.S., can together decide on the future status of Artsakh.
Vardanyan also addressed to the world community. “Today there are conflicts everywhere in the world… However, what is happening in Artsakh concerns everyone, because it is not just an ancient land with an ancient people, it is one of the cradles of human civilization—one of the cradles of Christianity. And the cultural and ethnic cleansing of Artsakh is impossible and unthinkable,” he stressed.
Addressing his fellow Armenians, Vardanyan said that he situation is almost the same as 100 years ago, “when Armenians, gathering forces, not having arms, created a miracle, stopping the enemy (the advancing Turkish army) in Sardarabad.”
“Sardarabad was not just a battle. It is a symbol of our nation’s rebirth and the ability to defend itself in the hardest and most critical moment. Now is the existential Sardarabad moment for all Armenians. The new Sardarabad! It is not a battle, it is invisible and not felt, like radiation, and therefore it seems that nothing happens. In fact, radiation is destroying all life. We must wake up. Each of us must do his or her best to stop the catastrophe that will be fatal for everyone, irrespective of where we live,” Vardanyan said.
He said that he made the decision to move to Artsakh to lead by example.
“Together we should create a concrete plan for Artsakh’s development and make it a reality, implementing it systematically and professionally. Otherwise, we will lose what is the backbone of our nation. We have to do everything to make Artsakh strong, secure, developed and happy and make it one of the centers of the world and the Armenian nation. Furthermore, I am confident that together we will succeed. I am confident that we have all opportunities, all resources, because we, Armenians, can do it,” Vardanyan emphasized.