Fifty-year-old Sergey Razganyaev has been in Armenia for seven years and is unable to return to his home city of Chelinadolsk in the Tatarstan Autonomous Republic of the Russian Federation.
“I was working for an Armenian migrant worker there," he says. " His name was Pavel Gevorgyan and I believed him when he told me to come to Armenia to help build a house. In general, I'm like that. I trust people, but what to do? He brought two cars to Armenia and I came with him, but now I am in this situation.”
Sergey has had no information as to the whereabouts of Pavel Gevorgyan since 2000 and thinks he might have returned to Tatarstan. Gevorgyan's family, however, lives in the village of Kamo, 7 kilometers outside of Gyumri.
“I did work for him,” continues Sergey, “but we didn’t build a house. Instead I helped him by cultivating the land, planting potatoes, and looking after cattle. Then I left because he didn’t give me normal food. All I received was a piece of bread. I asked him why do I receive only that when I am working. I am a man and need to eat. He then threw my documents into a stove, burning them so that I couldn‘t leave.”
Sergey never told anyone the incident about his documents.
“I was afraid and thought that he’ll find me. Maybe he’d kill me, or do something else,” he says. Sergey has been trying to return to Tatarstan for years, and has received no news from his relatives there. “I have a house in Chelinadolsk and am registered there, but I don’t know what state it‘s in now. Maybe it‘s been taken as it was a state apartment. Nobody knows where I am because I’ve been in away for so long.”
Sergey has been to the Russian Embassy twice, but no one has accepted him.
”I go there, but the guards don’t allow me in,” he says. “There were two Armenian police standing outside and they asked me to show my documents before I could enter. I told them that I have none and so, they didn’t allow me in. What could I do? I had no choice but to leave.”
For the past two years Sergey has led the life of a vagrant in Yerevan, and sleeps wherever he can. In the summer he sleeps on the streets, and in winter under any shelter he can find. Now he lives with two other homeless people, Seryoja Vardazaryan and Susan, in a derelict boiler room in the yard of a building near the central train station.
“I’ve known Sergey for two years, “ says Seryoja.“ We live together and have became close friends. When the weather is warm we find daily work in construction, but when there is no work, like now, we collect bottles and empty bags to exchange for money.”
Sergey says that people in Armenia treat him badly in the streets. They humiliate him when they see that he is homeless.
”On New Year’s Eve I approached a taxi driver and asked, “Brother, will you give me 50 drams as I don‘t have enough money for bread. He uttered a three- word insult at me, telling me to find work. I responded by saying that if he gives me some work I’ll gladly do it.
This is how it is. I need to somehow return to my homeland, but I don’t know how to solve the problem of my documents.”
Photos by Onnik Krikorian