Sunday, 23 September

People in Noradus want to live in peace

Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on June 23, 2003 the residents of Noradus blocked the Gavar-Yerevan highway. They are angry about the fact that criminal groups are in control in their village, keeping the locals in a state of constant fear. The situation in Noradus shows once again that the law-enforcement system inArmeniais completely corrupt, serving criminal groups, rather than the law.

This year there have already been two serious clashes in the village. In both cases, various types of guns were involved. The Gavar police make no attempt to disarm the criminal gangs. These gangs have been involved in various murders for years, but the cases are always dismissed. The last incident was too much for the locals.

According to the official police report, on June 12, 2003, Noradus residents Alik and Ara Banduryan shot three people with a submachine gun and a hunting rifle, and stabbed a fourth. One of the wounded died, another one is in serious condition. The Banduryans are on the run. People in Noradus are convinced that this case, like many other crimes involving firearms committed in the village, will be covered up. Protesting villagers are demanding the resignation of Andranik Hakobyan, head of the village administration and uncle of the gunmen. Hakobyan is also related to the former marzpet (governor) of Gegharkunik, Vahagn Hakobyan. The newly appointed Marzpet of Gegharkunik, Stepan Barseghyan, met with the villagers who blocked the highway. At his request, the protesters cleared the road. According to our information, that same day the marzpet called Andranik Hakobyan in to his office and asked for his resignation. The village chief said that he had been elected by the people and would not resign.

Another case involving a murder committed in Noradus last March is now under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Prosecutor General ofArmenia. But there has not been any progress in the case so far, although at the moment of the crime, senior police officers and their men were on the scene. In their presence, a criminal gang was firing submachine guns and pistols, threatening people. However, no weapons have been confiscated in Noradus so far and no one has been arrested. We will publish our investigation into this case soon.

The villagers in Noradus told us that a few days ago, a Noradus-born senior police officer came fromYerevanand told the villagers, “You hand over some six submachine guns, and we will dismiss all the cases.” In all likelihood, this is what will happen, since the perpetrators of the crimes belong to the “fish mafia”, whose activity is protected by certain law-enforcement officials.

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