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Oligarch is a term used in Armenia to describe a class of super-rich men who appeared after Armenia's independence from the USSR. Their connections with the government have allowed them lucrative businesses privileges, with many of them paying very little taxes relative to their wealth, and some of them having monopoly privileges on the import of certain basic goods into the country.

Tycoons Reloaded: Who Controls What In Armenia

Origin: US Embassy Yerevan
9 Dec 2003

The following is our informal guide to who owns what in Armenia, with the caveat that some of the information is based on rumor and speculation.


The Multi Group is headed by Gagik Tsaroukian (Dodi Gago), MP elected in 2003. A former sportsman (arm wrestling), Tsaroukian is believed to have close ties with the Kocharian family, especially the late Valeriy Kocharian, the President’s brother. Multi Group is a holding company consisting of a number of major enterprises in different industries:

  • Kotayk Brewery: a joint venture with Castel Beer
  • Manana Grain: one of Armenia’s major wheat importers
  • Aviaservice: the GOAM sold the right to service aircrafts (catering, etc.) in November 2003. According to Embassy sources, the President’s late brother Valeriy Kocharian’s family has a stake in this business
  • Armenian International Airways (AIA): Tsaroukian is believed to have already cashed out
  • Ararat winery
  • Multi Group Dairy: his mother is in charge of this branch of the business
  • Multi Stone: travertine export to Europe. The plant is equipped with modern state of the art Italian stone cutting machines.
  • Casino Club Cleopatra, along with a new casino (Pyramid) under construction
  • Gyumri Textile plant: silent co-owner
  • Farm projects: including most of the vegetables sold to the Armenian Military forces
  • Furniture Salon network: the largest importer of European furniture in the country
  • Gas stations and natural gas stations: Multi Leon chain
  • Two major retail markets: GUM and MASHTOTS AVE


The SIL Group is run by Khachatur Sukiassian (Grzo), MP elected in 1999 and again in 2003. Sukiassian is the oldest son of Grzo-the-father, and has taken control of the SIL Group. He is related by marriage to Vano Siradeghian, the notoriously corrupt and powerful former Minister of Internal Affairs (currently in hiding outside Armenia). It is widely believed that the Siradeghian is one of the major shareholders of SIL Group. He is the only businessman who both maintains and admits his ties with ANM and is still a successful businessman. SIL Group is one of the oldest conglomerates, engaged in many industries, particularly:

  • Restaurant chains Pizza di Roma, Queen burger, Chalet
  • SIL Hotel and SIL Plaza department store
  • Official distributor of Phillip Morris
  • Real Estate in downtown Yerevan
  • Golden Wood International: hardwood lumber, flooring strip and finger-joint panel manufacturer
  • Yerevan Furniture Plant panel manufacturer
  • Armeconombank: a leading commercial bank
  • Bjni mineral water plant
  • Yerevan Polyplast OJSC: manufacturer of various plastic household items, pipes, sanitation piping units, polyethylene film and bags, linoleum and artificial leather
  • Zovq Factory OJSC: Zovq natural juices factory
  • Construction business (wood and panel)
  • Star Valley Co. (Dubai): SIL Group’s representative in UAE
  • Masis Gofrotara: cardboard and napkin production
  • Sevan Grain Milling Company.


MIKA Ltd. is managed by Mikhael Bagdasarov, who is believed to have earned his primary capital in Russia. Bagdasarov is the classmate, best friend and business partner to Defense Minister Serzh Sargsyan. His businesses include:

  • ArmSavings Bank, privatized in 2001
  • Viktoria Trade: a major wheat importer
  • Mika Trading: oil products imports and distribution (including 40 percent of gasoline imports)
  • Armavia: chartered flights to major Russian cities
  • Hrazdan Cement Plant, renamed to Mika Cement
  • Gas station chains (called MIKA)
  • Mineral water bottling in Dilijan (Dilijan Frolova)
  • Other major businesses in Russia and Europe


The GRAND Group is run by Hrant Vardanian, a businessman with Russian capital and under the President’s protection. Although he is not an MP, his son, Mikhael Vardanian was elected as MP (2003) on the Dashnak party proportional list. Vardanian enjoys strong popularity within the general public as a successful industrialist and director who reopened several major Soviet-era plants. His businesses include:

  • Grand Candy: major Armenian producer of chocolates, sweets, ice creams, etc.
  • Grand Tobacco: partner with Ruben Hairapetian (Nemets Rubo) and International Masis Tabak (there has been some conflict between the two major cigarette producers)
  • Grand Sun: production of bulbs and lamps on the basis of the privatized Lamp factory. Built a similar factory in Iran.
  • Alcohol production
  • Several Company stores and cafe chains


The Hayrapetian family owns the ‘Hayrapetian Brothers’ Company. Close to the President’s office, especially to advisor Alexan Harutiunian. The younger brother died in a car accident earlier this year. Current business activities:

  • ’Hayastan’ Department store
  • Hotel Ararat
  • BMW dealer
  • Erebuni Textile production plant
  • Hotel on Lake Sevan shore
  • Other additional minor businesses


Ruben Hayrapetian, a.k.a. Nemets (German) Rubo. Hayrapetian is the current Chairman of the Armenian Football Federation. MP (elected in 2003), former Prefect of Avan Community. Hayrapetian appears to be supported by the President’s office. Current business activities:

  • Co-owner of Grand Tobacco
  • Aragats textile production plant
  • Harsnaqar hotel on Sevan shore
  • Several gas stations
  • Other additional minor businesses


Harutiun Pambukian is an MP elected in 1999 and 2003. He defeated Rubo the Flower (Ruben Gevorgian) in the race in Davidashen district. Pambukian is a relatively recent oligarch and major financial supporter of the Presidential campaign in 2003. Believed to have support of Russian capital. Major known business activities:

  • Max Group: farms, gas stations
  • Lusakert Poultry Plant
  • Yeghvard Animal Feed Plant
  • Stakeholder in Midland Resources: owner of electricity distribution networks


Samvel Aleksanian is also known as ‘Lfik Samo.’ Elected Member of Parliament in 2003. A semi-criminal oligarch, Aleksanian maintains an army of bodyguards. He boasts little formal education (maybe the least among oligarchs). Close to the President’s office. Tries to resemble Dodi Gago in everything: his house has the same architecture, he drives the same make of cars, etc. He has the following legal businesses:

  • Lusastgh (Shining Star): produces vodka and vegetable oil, owns supermarkets
  • Informal ‘Feudal Lord’ of Malatia (a district in Yerevan)
  • Major importer of wheat, sugar and butter. Anti-monopoly

Committee recently looked into his case, and admitted that there is a monopoly in sugar and butter importation. Due to his very close ties with the Customs Committee, he is able to import products with best possible privileges, thus minimizing competition in the market for his company

  • Natali Pharm: imports and distributes drugs
  • Other additional minor businesses

Armenian Oligarchs "Occupy" Fly Dubai Airplane - Newspaper

April 03, 2013 | 08:25

YEREVAN. - Prosperous Armenia Party Chairman, businessman Gagik Tsarukyan and ruling Republican Party MP, likewise businessman Samvel Aleksanyan, who were on vacation in Dubai, returned to Armenia on March 31 with a Fly Dubai airlines plane, Zhamanak daily reports.

"[But] we found out that 25-30 passengers of the same flight had not received their baggage [on the same day]. It turns out that the plane's space, which was envisioned for the baggage of close to 25 passengers, was fully occupied by the baggage belonging to Samvel Aleksanyan and Gagik Tsarukyan. And those people, who had not received their baggage on March 31, received it today [Wednesday].

That is to say, Fly Dubai airlines returned the passengers' baggage several days later, considering the baggage of Gagik Tsarukyan and Samvel Aleksanyan as priority," Zhamanak writes.

News from Armenia - NEWS.am

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