Thursday, 20 September

Vardenis Mayor: “Our people don’t have the right to die, to get baptized and married”



Cultivable lands in the Aragatzotn village of Vardenis are turning to asphalt.

Village residents no longer work the land to the degree they once did. They don’t have access to the necessary farm equipment.

Kamo Petrosyan, the mayor of Vardenis, says that the plan to construct an equipment depot in the village for use by surrounding communities has since been shelved. What remains are tractors that are thirty years old and barely kept going.

Vardenis, a village of 604 residents just three kilometers from Abaran, is seeing more and more people working abroad in Russia, according to municipality accountant Balabek Petrosyan.

Balabek Petrosyan Kamo Petrosyan

Mayor Petrosyan tells me that only a small fraction of the community’s 2,000 hectares of land is being cultivated.

“The land is turning into asphalt. People can no longer work the land,” he says.

There’s little in the village for young people to do. The community center is a ruined shell of its former self.

“It’s winter in Abaran seven months out of the year. A community center must be built so that people have something to do,” says Mayor Petrosyan. “We could have dance, recital and other clubs in the center. Village kids are more talented than those from the city.”

Vardenis

Some famous individuals trace their roots back to Vardenis and current residents like to mention their names and virtues whenever the opportunity arises. Such notables include Artour Janibegyan, a businessman in Russia, and former National Assembly President Tigran Torosyan. Janibegyan financed the renovation of the village church.

MP Samvel Aleksanyan, a native of Abaran, gifted one million AMD a piece to Vardenis and 19 neighboring villages last year. Aghvan Hovsepyan, the former prosecutor general of Armenia and now the President of the Investigative Commission who was born in the nearby village of Chknagh, is also said to have helped out on various occasions. Residents say, however, that Tigran Torosyan “has gone and forgotten us”.

Renovated Vardenis Church

A new community center is beyond the financial means of Vardenis. The village’s annual budget is 15 million AMD (US$31,400). The community needs a new sewer system.

“The tap water of one home flows through the yard of another. We’re living in the Stone Age,” says the mayor.

Bringing natural gas to Vardenis has been delayed for years. Residents hope to have the gas by this winter. All that remains is to install another 500 meters of pipe. This year budgetary funds will finance two kilometers of a potable water pipeline. Plans are also on the table to install street lights and build an events hall for weddings, funerals, etc.

“There is no place to hold a wedding or funeral. We sometimes use the school’s gym. The regional governor told us not to hold requiem meals in the gym. So where should we? Our people don’t have the right to die, to get baptized and married. So what rights do they have?” Mayor Petrosyan asks.


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