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Larisa Paremuzyan

Lernavan Residents Again Vote for Incumbent Mayor Despite Ongoing Problems in their Village

Of the four candidates proposed in yesterday's local government elections, residents of the village of Lernavan in Armenia's Lori Province once again voted for the incumbent, village mayor Vachagan Vardanyan, saying that despite problems in the village, he can only do so much and the Armenian government should step in and help. 

"Well, he's a good guy. Such a good guy is good for us. He worked for four years […] 99% of the men in our village go abroad for work," said one of the male residents, Varuzhan Avagyan.

"Basically, women manage your households," I told Varuzhan, who replied that women don't manage — they toil. "This is a traditional village," explained Varuzhan. 

"Don't your women take care of problems?" I again asked the men. "All the problems are on our women — the harvest, the land," replied Varuzhan. 

"That man [Vachagan Vardanyan] is a godsend to all," said one of the labor migrants, Garnik Avagyan, adding, "Most importantly, he doesn't bother anyone. When you go to see him, he gives competent answers. Then, these men who go abroad for work — this man behaves very respectfully towards the women of the village."

I spoke to the men about the state of the village. "How it is in all of Armenia, it's the same in our village. We have water, [but] we have no owner. We partially have water. We have 400 hectares of land: half is cultivated; the other half, well it's no one's fault that it's not cultivated. Look, there is land all around us: the state has given it to the villager, but it hasn't justified what you should sow," said Varuzhan, whom those who had gathered had delegated to talk about the concerns of the village.

 In Varuzhan's opinion, it's not possible to ask the village mayor to resolve many of Lernavan's problems.

"Do you see the partly constructed house near that car? They've been unable to complete it for 2 years. Whatever demand you make of the village mayor, if the government of Armenia can't do work — it's began [to build]10 houses and this is the third year it's unable to build [them] — so what are we talking about? It's building Glendale Hills [a developer that builds wealthy homes and gated communities]. There are about 10 partly constructed [homes] like that," said Varuzhan, adding that many go abroad for work but only temporarily, returning to the village.

Lernavan was buried in waste. The dried up ravine going through the center of the village was full of household waste. Newly elected village mayor Vachagan Vardanyan said the village doesn't have a dumping site because he can't find an appropriate place to have a landfill in the village's administrative area. He promised, however, to clean up the waste in the near future.