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Grisha Balasanyan

Son of Former President Robert Kocharyan is Biggest Landowner in Talvorik

 As of 2003, Armenia’s Armavir Province tops the list when it comes to the increase in the number of land sales and purchases in the country.

Such land swaps are the realm of Armenia’s wealthy and government officials that have vast holdings in the province and are constantly increase such holdings.

The villagers sell their plots to these speculators and wind up working on the estates as wage laborers.

The trend really took off when Albert Heroyan, now serving as advisor to National Assembly President Hovik Abrahamyan, was the Regional Governor of Armavir.

Heroyan was a large landowner himself who later sold off some of his holdings or registered them under the names of relatives.

He mostly grows grapes and is considered to be a close friend of Abrahamyan. We’ll discuss Heroyan’s holdings later.

Land transactions are especially frequent in the Armavir and Baghramyan areas. Here, the villages are in a pitiful state and villagers have no alternative but to sell their plots to officials at very cheap prices.

Talvorik village Mayor Kirakos Saghatelyan says he can’t remember an instance when officials or businessmen owning land in the community have made any local investment or launched any project.

Saghatelyan notes that while the community faces a host of problems he hasn’t approached any landowners, hat in hand, because he wants to avoid any dependency on them.

When Hetq visited Talvorik and asked the mayor to provide us with a list of local landowners, Saghatelyan said he’d get his secretary to comprise such a list.

He added that in 2000, the first year that local lands were sold, one hectare went for $500. Today, the market value has skyrocketed to $2,800-3,000. Saghatelyan noted that there have been no real estate transactions for the past three years and pointed to the financial crisis as the probable cause.

Mayor Saghatelyan also thanked those who have purchased land in the area, explaining that prior to 2000, 70-90% of the community’s land hadn’t been farmed. Today, he says, many villagers are now employed as laborers by the large landowners.

It turns out that Sedrak Kocharyan, eldest son of former RA President Robert Kocharyan, is the largest landowner in Talvorik.

He owns 242 hectares on which are grown grapes, pears, peaches and plums.

Mayor Saghatelyan confessed that he didn’t know how much Kocharyan paid for the land back in 2008 but that it depended on the size of the plot. At the time, one hectare went for from 700,000 AMD up to $3,000.

At the time, there was no irrigation water on the land in question and the villagers were eager to sell. After purchasing the plots, Kocharyan installed his own irrigation system.

Mayor Saghatelyan says that the second largest landowner is Emin Yeghiazaryan, owner of the Ijevan Wine Plant and the Baghramyan Flour Mill. He owns 198 hectares, a third of which is devoted to grape growing.

The next in line is Norik Petrosyan who, according to the locals, is a relative of MP Aleksan Petrosyan. He owns 118 hectares.

MP Aleksan Petrosyan, owner of the MAP Plant, owns 102 hectares himself. 98 are allocated to grape growing and the rest for pomegranates.

Another large landowner is MP Gourgen Arsenyan with 84 hectares.