Tuesday, 25 September

Construction Halted near the Chamber Music Hall

"Two of the structures - the billiard-house and the toilet - have been pulled down; construction in the park has been halted. The mayor has promised to remove the concrete structures from the park," announced Aram Gharabekyan, conductor of the Armenian State Chamber Orchestra at a November 6 th concert at the Chamber Music Hall. Gharabekyan had earlier ended his participation in the events organized by the SOS Yerevan coalition and even forbidden members of his group from taking part in the protest march and concert on Opera Square (See also: SOS Yerevan keeps on fighting). He considered the issue of construction work in the Chamber Park closed, and it seems that the preservation of the city's other green spaces did not interest him at all.

Manvel Badalyan, President of the Council for Civil Service, appeared as a guest on the Yerkir Media channel's news program on October 30 th , denying allegation we had published that he was behind the construction. "The information published in that article has no relation to me whatsoever..." He said that the article had been written to order, and he knew who was behind it (See also: Manvel Badalyan Seizes the Public Park Near the Chamber Music Hall). It is not difficult to guess why Manvel Badalyan waited so long to deny the contents of the article. Following discussions of the issue in various state organs, a decision had been made to halt construction for the time being.

We advise President of the Council for Civil Service Manvel Badalyan Badalyan to take us to court for libel if he is convinced that he does not own the structures being built in the park opposite the Chamber Music Hall. Two municipal officials have agreed to testify in court that he is indeed the owner of those structures. It should be noted that municipal officials are all civil servants and all of them are appointed to different posts and are given professional qualification through the competitions organized by the Council for Civil Service headed by Badalyan.

An unsigned clarification was published by Yerevan's Kentron Municipality in the October 27 th issue of the newspaper Aravot : "The Head of the Yerevan Central Municipality, Gagik Beglaryan, had opposed the construction undertaken by Flora Land ltd. near the Chamber Music Hall from the very beginning and tried to stop it for a whole year. We would like to inform everyone that the Mayor of Yerevan confirmed the construction project on May 19, 2004, but the municipality gave permission to build only on May 17, 2005."

The municipality also declared that "As per Article 23 of the law regarding city construction as well as Government Decision no. 91 dated 02.02.2002, community authorities are obliged to provide permission to construct if concordant and confirmed legal documents are presented, and this was done. Denying permission would have been seen as defiance of the law, and would have been overturned by the court."

Beglaryan seems to have forgotten that it is his permission that matters in cases of similar construction work in his municipality, and if he had denied it, nobody would have taken him to court. If he or his lawyer were to peruse the mayor's decision, they would see that it went against the law on a number of counts.

Though our efforts to get a copy of that decision through the channels prescribed by law proved to be in vain, we managed to obtain a copy anyway. Our experience shows that the mayor's decisions are classified documents - he has decided to keep them that way. So what if the law requires them to be public and accessible to society?

If the mayor's decisions had been made public and the people of Yerevan had known beforehand that public parks were to be made into construction sites, then perhaps the destruction of the city's green zones could have been averted.

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