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Tirayr Muradyan

Armenian Defense Minister Purchased Yerevan Apartment for $168K, Way Below Market Rate  

Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan purchased an expensive apartment in Yerevan in the summer of 2022 with a loan from ArmEonomBank.

A Hetq investigation reveals that a company owned by former MP Ashot Arsenyan, which now enjoys the support of the current government, constructed the building now nearing final completion. 

According to the data received from the Cadastre Committee, the apartment, at 18/4 Arshakunyats Avenue, is in the name of Suren Papikyan and his wife Armineh.

An unnamed source close to the transaction told Hetq the price for the 165 square meter apartment was 69 million drams (US$168,000 at the time). This translates to $1,019 per square meter.

The going market rate today in the neighborhood is $2,500 per square meter. If the Papikyans were to sell the apartment today, the asking price would be 168 million AMD ($412,000).

Hetq wrote to Defense Minister Suren Papikyan asking him to explain how he was able to buy the apartment for so much below the market rate.

Papikyan verified that he bought the apartment in July 2022 with an ArmEconomBank loan, adding, somewhat evasively, that Hetq would have to contact the real estate agency involved to “get more precise information about the market price of the mentioned apartment”.

Hetq also wrote to Vladimir Poghosyan, the director of Jermuk Group CJSC, the company building the Byuregh residential complex, for clarification. We followed up with a phone call and a company representative couldn’t say when we could expect a reply. Thus, we decided to publish our findings anyway. If the company responds, we publish it.

Defense Minister Papikyan purchased an apartment for $168K. It’s now worth $412K.

Who built the apartment and who financed the deal?

The residential complex at Ashakunyats 18/4, in downtown Yerevan, is being built by Jermuk Group CJSC, which belongs to former deputy Ashot Arsenyan

Arsenyan was a deputy of the National Assembly in 2003-2012, after joining the Republican Party led by former Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan. 

In 2019, one year after the “Velvet Revolution” spearheaded by Nikol Pashinyan, Jermuk Group donated snow removal equipment to the Yerevan Municipality. The company was then granted permission to build a high-rise apartment complex on Arshakunyats Avenue.

That same year, a criminal investigation was launched to ascertain why Arsenyan’s son Vahagn was exempted from mandatory military service. The case was later dropped.

In October 2021, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan appointed Vahagn Arsenyan as acting head of the Jermuk resort town.  He was half a step from an official to a community leader. In December, Vahagn headed Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party ballot, and was elected Jermuk mayor.

Khachatur Sukiasyan, a member of the Civil Contract parliamentary faction owns 50% of ArmEconomBank that gave Papikyan a loan to buy the apartment.

In 2019, when serving as Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure, Suren Papikyan purchased an 86 square meter apartment in a newly built building on Adontsi Street in Yerevan’s Arabkir district for 27 million drams. Mikshin LLC was the developer. That same year, Suren Papikyan took loans from two different banks. He took a 18.7 million dram loan from ArdShinBank and a 1.million dram loan from VTB-Armenia bank. When purchasing the apartment, the official used the privilege defined by the "income tax refund" decision.

Comments (2)

I don't understand what Hetq is alleging in this article. Is it that Papikyan purchased the apartment via illegal means or at a lowewr price via his contacts with the developer and the government? Does Hetq have evidence of wrongdoing? It's great that Hetq raises questions about the transaction and provides specifics, but that's where the article ends. There's no incriminating evidence of illegality. To say that the apartment's market value is now worth much more doesn't imply wrongdoing. Has Papikyan addressed any of this?
Mr. Papikian should live under a tent with front-line Armenian soldiers to be ready for combat positions to boost their morale.

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