TODAY.AZ / Society

How Armenian Catholicos embezzle state budget through candle business

07 May 2024 [20:37] - TODAY.AZ
By Elnur Enveroglu

Crimes such as blackmail, sabotage, and embezzlement within the state can be carried out not only by state structures and political institutions but also by churches and religious institutions in Armenia. Just like today, the churches in the country, especially the Archbishop and his supporters, are trying to create tensions on the eve of the Armenian government leaning towards peace.

This means that the above-mentioned institutions are engaged in executing the orders of external opposition forces, as well as interfering in state affairs. Meanwhile, the Armenian Apostolic Church became known for its various activities. The church, which wants to strengthen its financial base, had to resort to some tricky ways.

Although it sounds strange, when it comes to the essence of the matter, it is clear that a large amount of funds have been embezzled from the state budget. It is about the candle business of the church which Catholicos Karekin II thinks as a base for raising a fund against the government.

For a long time, there has been an opinion among people that the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin earns large sums from the sale of candles, which are not taxed, while the candle business is a serious resource for money laundering.

Since 2018, the current authorities have offered the church various mechanisms by which it would be possible to keep tax records of the sale of candles, while the state would simultaneously help the church so that this would not affect its normal activities. The purpose of the state proposal was not taxation itself, but the prevention of shadow activities and the fight against money laundering. The Church repeatedly discussed these proposals with the government, and each time rejected them. And suddenly, the church stopped worrying about this.

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Armenian social media sources report that for a long time, the import of candles to Armenia was registered as the import of charity, which was sanctioned by the government. However, recently Catholicos Karekin II has come up with an interesting mechanism by which one can "cheat" the state through his brother. Through this mechanism, Archbishop Ezras began to import candles from Russia to Armenia and formalize it as a donation to the church. In this case, it is recorded that the candles were allegedly already taxed in the territory of the EAEU member country and, therefore, are not subject to taxation in Armenia.

The Armenian social media also writes that it is no coincidence that archbishops from Karekin II’s entourage often voice the idea that the state is not eternal, and the church needs to be strengthened. Their actions over the past weeks most likely serve precisely this purpose: in Armenia, there should be not a state, but a religious community of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and they are the leaders of the community!

Thus, opposing forces against the incumbent government in Yerevan appeared neither in the parliament nor among political parties. The forces trying to break the pillars of the state are hiding in the church...


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