Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s Annual Telethon Raises $11,109,633

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LOS ANGELES — In an annual telethon broadcast from Los Angeles, Hayastan All-Armenian Fund raised more than $11 million that will mostly be spent on its ongoing infrastructure projects in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh).

The Thanksgiving Day telethon featured prominent members of the Armenian community in the United States and Karabakh Armenian leaders. It was broadcast by Armenian and US-Armenian TV channels.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia made a live televised appeal to Armenians around the world when he visited the fund’s headquarters in Yerevan early on Friday, November 23. He urged them to donate more funds to the charity, stressing the importance of its projects implemented in Armenia and Karabakh.

“The money [to be raised in this telethon] will be spent on the improvement of the important infrastructures and development projects in the Republic of Artsakh [(Nagorno-Karabakh Republic/NKR), and the Republic of Armenia,” the acting PM also noted, in particular, live on air, and addressing the followers of Telethon 2018. “We need an exceptional nationwide consolidation. (…). Now there is that opportunity today, and there is no doubt that we will use that opportunity to create a truly united, free, and joyful Armenia.”

In a statement issued shortly afterwards, Armenia Fund  said the sum collected by it this time includes $2.5 million donated by a “benefactor” who did not want to be identified. Two other wealthy donors, Armenian-American businessmen Antranig Baghdassarian and Albert Boyajian, contributed $1 million each.

Armenian President Armen Sarkissian, who is also the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Fund, visited the office of the fund on November 22. In May, Sarkissian had promised to donate his one year’s salary to the fund. He signed a document on donating half of his annual salary, which is 5,753,496 drams ($11,870).

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In addition, Pashinyan donated to the fund 1 million drams (approx. $2,060) from the Prime Minister’s fund, and 500,000 (approx. $1,030) from his personal funds.

Most of the latest donations will be channeled into two projects in Karabakh launched by Armenia Fund last year. One of them is aimed at expanding local irrigation networks while the other seeks to support greater use of solar energy by Karabakh households.

Armenia Fund  has implemented over $350 million worth of projects in Karabakh and Armenia since being set up in 1992. The fund’s current Board of Trustees is headed by Sarkissian and comprises Pashinyan, other senior Armenian state officials, Catholicos Karekin II as well as prominent members of Armenian communities around the world.

In recent years the fund has partly financed, among other things, the construction of a second highway connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. The 116-kilometer-long road was inaugurated last year.

Armenia Fund’s activities were overshadowed in July by the arrest and ensuing resignation of its then executive director, Ara Vardanyan. Although Vardanyan admitted using Armenia Fund’s money for online gambling and other “personal purposes” he avoided prosecution after reportedly compensating the charity.

Pashinyan’s government has since pledged to help ensure greater transparency in the fund’s activities.

The Hayastan All-Armenian Fund received $12.5 million and $15.5 million in donations during similar fundraisers held in 2017 and 2016, respectively.

 

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