Saturday, 10 May 2008

ex-KGB surveillance of Armenian gays and swingers

Prominent Armenian opposition figure and well known editor of popular Haikakan Zhamanak newspaper  Nicol Pashinyan writes about the role of former KGB (now - (NSS) National Security Service) in Armenia and the need to dismantle it. Part 3 of his piece, translated in English by Armenaker Kamilion, along with other issues, reflects also surveillance of Armenian gays and swingers by ex-KGB (NSS) to collect a "compromising dossier" and use it whenever suits them. Original article by Pashinyan (in Armenian) is available here.

Nicol Pashinyan is a close associate of Armenia's first president and leader of opposition movement Levon Ter-Petrosyan. Pashinyan is in hiding now to avoid political persecutions by Armenian authorities following the recent violent crackdown on opposition in Armenia in the aftermath of disputed presidential election.

Armenian Kamilion notes that "Pashinian is bringing into the conversation important changes in sexual practice that a portion of the Armenian upper-middle class is adopting, namely, wife-swapping."

It was always known that secret services (and not only in Armenia) conduct surveillance of gay people or - in general - individual's private life to collect a "dossier" and use it.  However, it was perhaps for the first time that the existence of Armenian swingers has been noted. I heard rumours from here and there about Armenian swingers before but I did not know that they became organised to the extent of having own club. Watch out England!

Below is a relevant extract from Pashinyan's article:

"[...] But in public political life there are also young people that have not had connections to the KGB. How should they be treated? [Pashinian is asking this question from Kocharian/Sargsyan's point of view] [Unzipped: Gay Armenia - Kocharyan/Sargsyan - Armenia's former and current presidents]. Their lives should be put under the microscope. If their lives contain nothing that is compromising, then it is necessary to dig into the life-histories of their relatives and find something that is compromising. Of course, compromising facts of a sexual nature have always been considered to be the best ones. People sometimes have unusual inclinations: One likes to have sex with men, while being a man, himself; another betrays his wife, has a lover, or spends time with prostitutes; a third's wife is unfaithful to him; a fourth visits suspicious clubs with his own wife. Naturally, the National Security Service must spend time investigating these matters, preparing relevant dossiers, and securing them with "video-materials."

In other words, if someone is gay, the NSS must take photographs of him, photograph the sexual act. This is not an easy thing to do, you understand, and requires physical access, technical equipment, and detailed plans of operations and their realization. And our country's National Security has carried out numerous such operations. If you have been surprised by any given politician's sudden reversal of position, betrayal, don't be: It means that that politician or his relatives have engaged in one or another kind of shady dealings or have unusual sexual preferences. People are wont to explain the "sale" of our political functionaries through the money factor. What can be said about this? Money does play a decisive role in all this, but, in order to put the person in the mood to be sold for money, they first present him with the compromising fact. This is logical, because, after taking the money, the person in question might decide to change his mind; it is, therefore, necessary to have something on him. And, on the other hand, the mere operation to put someone in a compromised situation renders "the victim" hostile toward "the client," which is an unacceptable situation. This is the famous biscuit and whip [the carrot and the stick] method. And, incidentally, notice how well Serzh Sargsyan's favorite word--"customer"--fits the situation described. And now, as a summary of this chapter, let me tell the story of a government functionary and his family, a story of events that have been essential in the internal progress of the country.

It turns out that there is a club in Armenia that married couples go to, meaning--the husband goes there with his wife. Numerous other couples go there as well, and the point of [going to the] club is to swap partners. In other words, the members of the club hand their wives over to others for a few hours, and they, themselves, choose another woman. After this club gathering, they go home again as a loving married couple. There are similar such clubs in numerous other countries, and it is natural the NSS would not fail to notice the appearance of one in our country and, especially, the political figures turning up there. And while some cannot understand the meaning of recent events and the political bobbings up-and-down, everything is extremely clear: The NSS has the relevant photographs."

1 comment:

Onnik Krikorian said...

Interesting, and also remember the scandal with Aravot's editor scandalized with photos of him with a prostitute. Anyway, I wonder which club it is. I'm divorced so don't think I'm asking for personal reasons. ;-)

Anyway, the point about keeping a list of homosexuals is an interesting one.

After the Josh Haglund murder, for example, the police rounded up homosexuals. They had a list, basically and I remember that many gays were really scared. One prominent Armenian-American who knew Haglund, and I think had been involved with him, even left the country.

However, if it is to be argued that the authorities are using the gay card when it suits them, remember that just recently the Ter-Petrossian-linked Chorrord Ishkhanutyun did the same with the new prime minister, Tigran Sargsyan.

In fact, given the mentality prevalent in society here, one supposes that every political grouping uses the issue of sexuality when it suits them. In fact, we can see that they do. It's probably the easiest way to discredit anyone in the eyes of the population, I suppose.

In fact, I've heard prominent pro-opposition journalists refer to the sexuality of those they don't like as "gomik." That's not to say that one side is more guilty than the other.

Instead, I don't think the issue is a political one in so much that the fact that it can be used as a tool to discredit opponents is a reflection on society and its values.

For example, I'm surprised that anyone would even bat an eyelid about "swingers" or extra-marital affairs. It's considered acceptable from a male-perspective. Homosexuality, however, is another matter entirely.