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“Recently, a community center was opened in the village of Halidzor in the south of Armenia. It exists thanks to Ruben Vardanyan’s foundation. The prominent philanthropist and public figure detained by Azerbaijani authorities is now in a Baku prison. But his projects continue to live in Armenia, Russia and other countries.

He co-founded the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative. It helps the most disadvantaged people, primarily victims of military action. Since 2014, more than 400 humanitarian projects in over 50 countries have received support. Thanks to Aurora’s programs, 2.7 million people around the world have received direct or indirect aid, more than half of them are children.

In his humanitarian work, Vardanyan paid special attention to education. He founded the Scholae Mundi Charitable Foundation, which is among the top 20 best foundations launched by Russian entrepreneurs according to Forbes Russia. One of Scholae Mundi’s project is the Hand-in-Hand Grant Contest, which promotes the best adaptation procedures for refugee children and adolescents. Vardanyan served on the board of trustees of many universities, including MSU and RANEPA, he was a jury member for the world’s biggest award in education, the Yidan Prize (Hong Kong).

Even this incomplete list outlines a world-scale figure. Therefore, today, when his future is alarming, one cannot indiscriminately believe the rumors that ill-wishers are spreading.

Last year, Vardanyan left the Russian Federation, renouncing Russian citizenship. This measure was necessary to prevent allegations regarding Moscow’s participation in the protracted military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Vardanyan created the territorial development agency ‘We are Our Mountains’ in the NKR. Among other projects, it restored hundreds of residential buildings, supported the energy system and created mobile medical teams. In total, the agency implemented more than 10 targeted charity initiatives.

Later, he assumed the post of state minister, which made it possible to expand the social projects implementation toolkit. It was not about a political career and definitely not about the desire to hide from sanctions in this region.

Helping people living in this war-torn region remained Vardanyan’s key goal. Despite the difficult situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, Ruben Vardanyan did not stop participating in Russian projects — of which there are more than two hundred. Vardanyan was and remains a patriot of both Armenia and Russia, and all his humanitarian initiatives prove it better than words ever could. That is why the philanthropist’s arrest raised such a wave of support in Russian society. I hope it will reach the highest level and help to free Vardanyan.”

Yuri Baranchik, expert in global geopolitics, international relations, language games, Deputy Director of the RUSSTRAT Institute