Saturday, 22 September

Gagik Beglaryan Won’t Do Anything Unless He Is Paid

The head of the Kentron District Municipality, Gagik Beglaryan, known as Chorni (Black) Gago has for years refused to reply to letters from the sent by Monte Melkonian Fund. For six years now, the issue of the Yerevan office of the charity has remained unresolved and uncertain.

November 25 is Monte Melkonian's 50th birthday, and according to a government decision it will be celebrated with a lot of fanfare, so on October 5 Seda Melkonian sent one more another letter to Gagik Beglaryan and Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan. Although the letter sent to the prime minister noted that Gagik Beglaryan had not replied to letters from the Monte Melkonian Fund, it was sent to the district mayor as well, in the hopes that he might at last reply to the Fund’s president. 

The mail department of the Kentron district's municipality told us that the letter had been directed to department head Vahe Davtyan, but this official never seems to be at his desk. His secretary always says the same thing - "He’s gone out, try in an hour," but Vahe Davtyan never seems to come back. No one else in the municipal building is able to reply to the letter or provide any explanation. And Chorni Gago doesn't reply, because he sees no benefit in doing so. The president of the country once said that people have to fight for their rights. What does that mean-that they have to go to court every time they write a letter, go through a judicial hassle just because Gagik Beglaryan is protected by the government which itself has granted him the right to ignore questions from citizens, NGOs and journalists?

Several months ago we also wrote to the head of Kentron municipality, asking him to provide us with a list of organizations with whom the municipality had signed agreements for parking lots. We never managed to get that information, because the money received from these parking lots goes straight into the district mayor’s pocket. And according to our calculations these are millions of drams on a monthly basis. Following the president's advice, we should sue Gagik Beglaryan, but our letters are also ignored by the health ministry and many other government structures. Should we sue them all?

The Monte Melkonian Fund was established in 1994. It implements development projects and helps needy families in Armenia and Artsakh. Recently, it has set up youth centers in the village of Azatavan in the Ararat Marz and the village of Khachik in Vayots Dzor Marz, as well as in the village of Karegah in the Kashatagh region of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. It has undertaken agriculture development projects in Kashatagh, and is working with other NGOs to implement drinking water projects in the village of Maghavuz in the Martakert region of Karabakh and in the villages of Arakel and Saraland in the Hadrut region. 

On April 13, 1999, the Kentron District rented office space to the Monte Melkonian Fund in the basement of 5 Koryun Street. At the time, the basement was damp and uninhabitable. The NGO completely renovated the space, rendering it fit for use. On May 18, the NGO asked Ararat Zurabyan, then head of the Kentron District Municipality, to allow the NGO to privatize the space, on the basis of Decision 303 of the Mayor of Yerevan, taken on March 18 1999. This request remains unanswered to this day. Further the municipality has never renewed the rental contract, which expired on January 1, 2004, and the Monte Melkonian has been placed in the position of illegally occupying the space.

All the basements in the buildings on Koryun Street have been privatized, and clearly, municipal employees have taken money for all of these privatizations. Gagik Beglaryan doesn't want to give up this particular space for free, especially, since there are others who are interested in it. But Gagik Beglaryan is going to have to give up the territory for free, because no one in the organization is willing to pay him. He will also have to reply to the foundation's letter, because the organization will be going to court to court - not to start the privatization process of their office, but for violating the Law of Freedom of Information.

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