Housing evictions–most of which were totally unjust–are evidently continuing in downtown Yerevan. Quite honestly, I thought everyone living in housing built at the turn of the 20th century and even before was gone by now, but that’s clearly not the case. People have managed to hold on, despite the fact that ample compensation for their real estate is on hand.
Here’s what Hetq reports:
On December 9, employees of the CES (Compulsory Enforcement Service of Judicial Acts; an arm of the Ministry of Justice), invaded the home of one of the families residing at Buzand Street #83, threw them out into the street and proceeded to demolish the apartment. The CES employees had a writ to evict the Abrahamyan’s. The family has been paid compensation in the amount of 33 million AMD (about $86,000). The money is sitting in a government escrow account and can be withdrawn at any time.
At first, the family was offered 36 million AMD for the 66 square meter house and the 78 square meter lot it sat on, but the Abrahamyan’s refused this initial offer. Afterwards, the “Bureau of Construction and Investment Program Implementation” (BCIPI) went to the courts, demanding that the property be registered as sold via compensation and that the residents be forcibly evicted, if necessary. Their suit was sustained.
The evicted family, Viloleta Sahakyan, her daughter-in-law and four grandchildren now live with different relatives.
“I have four children. We haven’t been able to all go to one house and be together. We’ve split up and I’ve been separated from my kids,” says Naira Abrahamyan.
Her mother-in-law, Violeta, moved in with her other son also living at Buzand #83. The CES visited them on December 9 and wanted to demolish the place as well but they couldn’t since they didn’t have proper authorization. On the day we arrived, Violeta Sahakyan was moving stuff to her son’s home left at the neighbors.
Her other daughter-in-law, Nuneh Hambardzumyan described how the BCIPI was able to obtain the property at Buzand #83 for businessman Hayk Beglaryan [son of noted businessman Barsegh Beglaryan, who owns the “Flash” chain of gas stations].
Every time I walk down Buzand and Aram Streets I feel depressed for the rest of the day. The shells of homes that were once standing are the eerie reminders of what Yerevan used to be. The unique architecture of these simple, yet graceful one or two-story structures and the narrow streets they were situated on made me fall in love with Yerevan, its quaint corners and nooks, its heart and hearth. Old Yerevan was beautiful, unlike anything you can find in any other major city; it was genuine, comforting and without pretense, it was the vibrant soul of the city, tucked away behind protective high-rise monolith slabs of concrete housing. And now it’s gone.
Many of the homes looked solid enough, made from thick blocks of stone like tuf and basalt, as sturdy as churches were built centuries ago. But they are being torn down for the sake of “progress,” for greed at the expense of historical preservation. Even the building where Aram Manoogian, the leader of the first Armenian republic, lived hasn’t been spared–it’s located directly beside the SIL Plaza on the corner of Abovyan and Aram Streets (the later being named after Manoogian), and only the black stone facade is left intact, at least for the time being. If anything, that building should have been converted into one of several “home-museums” that you find throughout the city, but not this time. History matters very little to these businessmen-turned-government officials. The city’s past means nothing to them. Very little remains to show what Yerevan was like before 1918.
Anyway, many families in those parts never received proper compensation during the last six years or so–they were cruelly thrown out onto the street penniless, and in some areas all you see are empty lots now, demonstrating that the evictions were indeed pointless. But the Abrahamyans at least are entitled to $86,000. That’s a good sum of money, arguably enough to buy a two-room apartment in Nor Nork (Masiv) and probably even a small private home in Malatia, perhaps with cash left over for furnishings. The price of real estate plummeted in 2009, so there should be quite a few bargains out there. Why don’t they take the cash and get as far away from the madness in downtown Yerevan as possible?
Regardless, I think the government picked bad timing to evict this family, with the coming new year holidays especially. They should have waited anyway until they were able to find another place, it’s only fair. You can’t be expected to move out of your house until you have a new home ready and waiting, it’s common sense. But at least the Abrahamyans found temporary shelter. Now all they have to do is figure out where they’re going to permanently live.