Friday, 21 September

Three decisions for Armen Khachatryan

Our efforts to find an ordinary citizen who was given land inYerevanby the Mayor's Office have been in vain. Thus, we are prepared to offer a reward to any such citizen who comes forward, or anyone who provides leading information.

Northern Ray Avenuewill pass through the park adjacent toBabayan Street, as we are reminded by the Haylur TV news program whenever President Kocharyan visits the site. As roads are being laid, new office buildings are going up in the area. And as usual, the government officials, army generals, politicians, and businessmen who are doing the building have violated city-approved designs and expanded their construction in various directions. The several-meter-high walls surrounding existing buildings and those under construction stand exactly where the roads are supposed to pass.

So the city's chief architect will be forced to make adjustments in the designs he approved because those who do the construction work there are above the law. Perhaps the most notable allocation of land in the park nearBabayan Streetwas the one made to Avag Khachatryan, rector of theHrachyaAtcharyanUniversity, when his son, Armen Khachatryan, was the Speaker of the National Assembly. How did the rector acquire the 10,000 square meters (in our estimation) of land there?

In Decision #164 of February 5, 2002, Yerevan Mayor Robert Nazaryan approved the results of the leasehold tender awarding Hrachya Atcharyan University 5,600 square meters of land nearBabayan Streetfor 70 years. According to the documents, the university will build an office building and a hostel on the site. The university undertook to make an investment of 500 million drams and complete the construction by November 2005. On November 19, 2002, the mayor amended this decision and allocated an additional 1,230 square meters of land to the university for 50 years. Before that, residents who had gardens on this territory appealed to the Mayor's Office asking that the land they had cultivated over the years be leased to them. But since none of the residents were government officials, they were turned down, or received no response. Even though the current Mayor of Yerevan, Yervand Zakharyan, denies journalists access to mayoral decisions, we have learned of one more decision, allocating yet another 1,560 square meters of land to Avag Khachatryan.

We have a document at our disposal which predates that final decision. This exceptional document shows that the mayor's office does whatever it likes and whatever is profitable. It is pointless to speak of the law in such cases. The document is a letter written by the head of the city's architecture department, and addressed to the deputy mayor and chief architect ofYerevan, Narek Sargisyan. It reads:

"Regarding the allocation of additional land to the 6,830-square-meter plot leased by Hrachya Atcharyan University on the territory adjacent to Babayan Street to build an office building and a hostel, we would like to inform you that the additional plot in question is 1,560 square meters of territory with existing and planned roads where constructions of uncertain status now exist. Taking into account that the university, at its own expense, has done construction work on the above-mentioned constructions of uncertain status, and that if the plot in question is given to another user, the integrity of the construction work being performed by Hrachya Atcharyan University will be violated, our department considers it suitable to allocate the plot as a whole to Hrachya Atcharyan University without public tender. Attached please find the draft decision by the mayor and please lift the control of the matter."

So it's clear-cut. For one year, and with three decisions, all the departments of the Mayor's Office were busy legalizing the documents granting land to the father of the Speaker of Parliament. Mayor's Office employees did whatever they could for Avag Khachatryan, violating numerous laws, government decisions, and so on in the process. As for those "constructions of uncertain status" mentioned in the letter, they're just fiction.

And you, gentlemen, talk about a national anti-corruption program. Go ahead, keep on talking.

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