The destruction of green areas in the center of Yerevan continues. Forty-year-old trees are being cut down; lawns are being dug up. Yerevan Mayor Yervand Zakharyan has twice announced to journalists that no parkland has been signed away during his tenure. Apparently, the mayor doesn't care about getting caught in a lie-we have written about decisions that he made regarding land allocations in Yerevan's green areas.
At the beginning of July, we applied to the mayor's office for information on the land allocation in the park across from the ArmenPress News Agency (28 Isahakyan Street). We haven't received any response so far. But we did manage to find out according to Mayor Robert Nazaryan's Decision # 355A of February 26, 2003, a 580-square-meter plot of land was given to Karen Isakhanyan to build an outdoor café.
Karen Isakhanyan is the assistant to the minister for local governance and infrastructure coordination, Hovik Abrahamyan. On July 16, 2004, it was reported by almost every media outlet that Abrahamyan was the real owner of the land. The minister has yet to respond to the allegation, but when the reports surfaced, the president's supervision service paid a visit to the site. Construction was halted the same day, but the forty-year old trees had already been cut down. Hovik Abrahamyan is still in office, no charges have been filed, and it looks as if a public official has gotten away with it once again.
Environmentalists keep on holding seminars to talk about the ecological situation in Armenia. International organizations keep on funding government studies. And government officials organize tree-plantings a couple times a year. Then for a few days, we get to watch the president or the mayor on TV, digging holes and planting trees. Meanwhile, the mayor goes back to his office to sign away more parkland.
Minister Hovik Abrahamyan buys himself another fancy jeep. The chief of the national security service builds himself another multi-million dollar house. The minister of transport and communications, Andranik Manukyan, may find some time in his busy schedule to publicly criticize ArmenTel, but he and other government officials are mainly preoccupied with their own businesses.
We can only wonder what they talk about at the many meetings of the anti-corruption council, whose members were handpicked by President Kocharyan. But we know that the number of ordinary citizens who visit the office of the Association of Investigative Journalists of Armenia to complain about violations of the law grows with every passing day.