27 june 2019

The Service of National Security of Armenia Will Erect a Monument to the Legendary Intelligence Officers Gevorg and Gohar Vardanyan

The Service of National Security of Armenia Will Erect a Monument to the Legendary Intelligence Officers Gevorg and Gohar Vardanyan

...It is hard to believe that seven years have already flown since Gevorg Vardanyan, one of the best intelligence officers of all time, passed away.
... Last year a revolution swept Armenia, and, as they say, "the situation has changed"... But there are some PEOPLE, ARMENIANS, memory of whom does not fade regardless of any situation changes, and Gevorg and Gohar Vardanyan, without any doubt, belong in that category.

Being their biographer, I, for understandable reasons, felt certain anxiety as to the
undying memory of the HEROES of our people, which should remain, well,
But when on January 28, the Day of the Victorious Armenian Army, at the "Yerablur" Military
Pantheon I met Arthur Vanetsyan, the Director of the Service of NATIONAL Security (SNS) of the "postrevolutionary" Republic of Armenia, my doubts were dispelled...
 "...We intend to erect a large monument to Gevorg Andreevich and Gohar Levonovna Vardanyans on the Nalbandyan Street, right next to the Service HQ, so that all our officers (especially young) could see it, along with the people of Yerevan, and foreigners visiting our country, and the State Committee for Urban Development has already declared a contest for the best project for the monument..."
 And Arthur Vanetsyan elaborates:
 - I heard about Gevorg Vardanyan when I was a student, but in those days I could not even imagine myself joining the ranks of the security service.
 When in 2000 I arrived in Moscow and was enrolled in the Academy of the Federal Security Service of the RF, members of the faculty when learning I was Armenian, were telling me: "You Armenians have many first-class intelligence officers, but the best of them is the legendary Gevorg Vardanyan".
That is how my interest grew and I tried to find out as much as I could about that man. As soon as I was appointed Commander of the Armenian group of cadets, I asked the Academy to help us to set up a meeting with the Vardanyans. It was 2001, our group numbered 47 or 48 cadets and when that meeting took place, the legendary intelligence operatives shared different
stories with us, mainly about the meeting in Tehran in 1943 of Stalin, Churchill and Roosewelt. They chuckled remembering how they rode their bikes following German agents, how they sent coded messages to Moscow, how Gevorg Andreevich learned everything there was to know about Persian carpets, and later started his own business buying and selling Persian carpets, which helped him to gain access to various circles... We listened open-mouthed, for us it was like science fiction...
They have certainly deserved their legendary status, but what I really want to tell you about is how kind and humane they were to us, the young cadets...
They helped us with everything - one of us received permission to attend the library of the FSB, where foreigners are denied entry, another with their help received a fair grade for the test during the exams period – yes such things did happen, and they helped with other problems, too. When last year I was appointed Director of the SNS and had a chance to meet my counterparts from Russia, other countries, only then I could fully realize just what an honour it is for us Armenians to have such legendary compatriots.
A secret service Chief from the country I cannot mention, suffice it to say it is considered an exotic country, when hearing I was from Armenia, immediately exclaimed: "Oh, Gevorg Vardanyan!"
And intelligence chiefs are influential people...
That's why in my very first month as Director of the SNS I, having discussed the idea with my colleagues and our veterans, decided we should immortalize the memory of our legendary compatriots by erecting a monument to them in front of the SNS HQ to be seen by our staff, by the Yerevan residents, by tourists, by everybody.

(You know), I have this personal trait - if an idea is formulated, it takes over my entire existence. I was thinking it over and over and arrived at the point when it was clear the monument should represent them together, because it is hard to visualize one without
the other. And I would clearly like Gohar Levonovna to personally open the
What else can I add? I would like to hope that our young intelligence officers would resemble Gevorg and Goar Vardanyans, first and foremost as human beings, as patriots, honest and decent people. To be a decent person is the most important professional characteristic of a secret service officer, because when you are compiling a memorandum or writing a report
you may be directly affecting the life of another person or persons, their destiny.

And while I am in charge of our special service, along with professional qualities, decency and honesty would be the main, decisive qualities for those who want to join us. Our employee must be a kind, fair, decent and intellectually advanced person. In my opinion, that is the definition of professionalism.

And I hope that after reading these lines our compatriots will recognize the SNS not as a punitive service, or as some fear-mongering repressive entity, but as an organization that is REALLY defending their peaceful life, their honest toil, their families, and therefore will
respect the work of the officers of the security service. And without false modesty, I can say that in that year that I am leading the SNS we have achieved respect from our people, and why not, even love. That is the most important result of our work. On the other hand, it is a huge responsibility as well".
Several months ago the State Committee of Urban Development of the RA declared a contest for the best project of the monument to the Vardanyans, ordered by the SNS, and 15 applications were submitted.

As the secretary of the contest commission Gayane Verdyan told us, the winner will be awarded the equivalent of USD 6000 in AMD, the runner-up will get USD 4000, and the
third place will bring USD 2000, so the amounts mentioned above are not bad money for the current situation, and so initially I thought that participation could be larger.

But after talking to the Committee Chairman Vahagn Vermishyan I saw the reason and even thought: "Well, I should have guessed myself…".
The architects and sculptors in general have learned not to trust the state bodies in charge of such contests, as the winners were predetermined and they had close ties to the-then government. As a result we are saddled with the monument to Garegin Nzhdeh, closely resembling the Russian Emperor Peter the Great, or Marshal Babajanian looking like, well, a Sicilian Don, etc...
But times are changing: the first stage of the contest is over, and the three applicants selected for the second stage will receive AMD 500 000 (USD 1000) each as a bonus, and the 4 and 5 place holders will receive AMD 250 000 each. If Mr Vermishian is not mistaken, this is an unprecedented decision. He also expressed his hope that such a decision will build
confidence in the fairness of all stat-sponsored competitions.
Well, it only remains for us to wait impatiently for the new monument in the Nalbandyan

By Gourgen Khazhakian