A group of fresco painters who worked at the Holy Cross Russian Orthodox church in Yerevan claim they’ve been waiting for seven months to be paid in full.
The eight painters finished working on the church, located on the road leading to Yerevan’s Zvartnots Airport, last December.
Armen Antonyan, one of the painters, told Hetq they’ve only received half of the wages due them.
They’ve received promises of payment from church wardens but are still waiting payment – one million rubles in all ($17,000).
Ara Abrahamyan, President of the Union of Armenians in Russia, is building the church. Seryozha Abrahamyan, Ara’s brother and a former Armenian MP, has overseen construction carried out by Soglasiye-Armenia, a company owned by the Abrahamyans.
In July 2016, the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate in Moscow approved a fresco design submitted by a company called Masterskaya Preobrazhenie Plus. This company was registered in the Russian town of Yaroslavl in September 2015, just ten months before getting the contract. The company is owned by Mikayel Parsyan.
Armen Antonyan says Mikayel Parsyan’s father Karen has spoken to the fresco painters about the wage issue and had handed over part of the wages owed them at their last meeting. Antonyan says he hasn’t been able to contact Karen since.
Hetq tried to contact Karen Parsyan but he’s not answering our calls as well.
We then called the office of Soglasiye-Armenia. A woman identifying herself as Sara, the chief accountant, said the company has no contract with the painters.
When this reporter pressed Sara, asking who signed a work contract with the painters, the accountant got flustered and a bit irritated.
-Didn’t you do the construction work?
-Yes, but they did the work ordered by another company.
-Does that other company have anything to do with yours?
-We ordered that job. They came and painted. How they painted is the problem of another company.
-You aren’t the one who placed the order?
-I placed the order for them to paint. But I have no contracts with any of them, Hakob and the rest. The way you’re interrogating me, it’s like you’re from the special interrogation service. Don’t you know that a reporter should have competency, some work borders. It’s like you’re interrogating me.
Sara then hung up the phone.
It appears that Soglasiye-Armenia contracted for the fresco work and that Masterskaya Preobrazhenie Plus carried it out.
The latter has now gone underground, leaving the eight artists in the lurch.
Photo: Ara and Seryozha Abrahamyan