The Value of Yerevan Mayor's Word: On September 15, the Indoor Market Will Become Yerevan-City Supermarket

Hasmik Harutiunian
Translated by Vartan Matiossian
During two years, the media and the architects spoke continuously about the issue of the Indoor Market (Փակ շուկայ/Pak Shuka). During two years, there were continuous press conferences, protest demonstrations, hundreds of articles. During two years, the bodies accountable for the fate of the building, the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality, either avoided talking about the Indoor Market or asserted that everything would be OK.

Yerevan Mayor Taron Margaryan, almost always silent, twice asserted that the Indoor Market would be returned to its former aspect. Once, Taron Margaryan made such a promise in an encounter with the members of the Council of Elders, and the other time was after the ceremony of oath, when the journalists directly "forced" Margaryan to talk.
"I assert that the Indoor Market will return to its former aspect.
The Municipality is taking measures in that direction."
These were Taron Margaryan's words in the encounter with the Council of Elders, quoted in an interview by Astghik Gevorgyan, member of the Council, who asserted that the building would be maintained in any case and asked the population of Yerevan to follow her example and trust the word of the mayor.
"It will be as I say," Minister of Culture Hasmik Poghosyan answered to Azg, brief and to the point, after the ceremony of oath of the mayor. The course of events proves that the minister wanted the building of the 1960s to become an "European renovation with dark glass."
For years, the issue of the Indoor Market went back and forth between both bodies. They said in the municipality that the Ministry of Culture had given green light for the permit to build in the area, and they had merely did their job.
They later said that they had issued a fine of some tens of thousands of drams to the owner, the most known oligarch of the state, Samvel Aleksanyan (Lfik), symbol of monopoly and forged merchandise of dubious value, because he was destroying a monument. The "naive" employees of the municipality had the hope that the owner would not commit more violations. Most likely, they do not shop at Yerevan-City and are unaware that Lfik always commits violations; he forges many things, from vodka to toothpaste to child food and medicine. Lfik maintained his stance in the market issue, and four arches collapsed during construction. Construction stopped after each scandal, but some time later, the bulldozers returned to the area and construction resumed. Often Aleksanyan was seen giving directions to the constructors.
During this time, the architects wrote several letters to President Serge Sargsyan; the letters remained unanswered. The state had fallen into inaction and the municipality and the Minister of Culture were slinging mud at each other; meanwhile, the "European renovation" of the Indoor Market finished and, most probably, the Yerevan-City supermarket will operate in the old address, but in a building already distorted, starting on September 15.
Narek Sargsyan, president of the State Committee of Architecture attached to the Government of the Republic of Armenia, made the umpteenth shocking declaration with regard to the market. Sargsyan has criticized the construction of the market in his new position, adding that the construction of stories was inadmissible. Sargsyan had forgotten that he was the chief architect of the city during the past three years, when the Indoor Market was being destroyed, and the "distortion of the monument," as he called it, was being carried one bus stop below his headquarters. Anyway, Narek Sargsyan did not make any declaration or any criticism for two entire years, and now, in his new position, he puts himself in a ridiculous situation, qualifying his own inaction as violation of the law.
"The monument Indoor Market has been deformed, namely, many efforts were useless," Narek Sargsyan said, adding that the Municipality of Yerevan did not approved any project, and such a project was presented, but rejected, and was rejected also by other instances, including the Ministry of Culture. "About the construction of new floors, let me note that 50 per cent of the arches has remained, while the remaining 50 per cent has been destroyed."
Questioned whether the authorities are powerless before an oligarch, Narek Sargsyan said: "I can't give any answer or justification to such a question. I have done a lot in this issue, but nothing has been achieved."
As a matter of fact, a monument was destroyed during two years in the center of the city without any permission, and nobody noticed it or wished to notice it.
This year, the architects addressed the General Prosecution to introduce a report about a crime, but another shocking response came, this time from the prosecution: "There is no violation with regard to the market."
As a matter of fact, the state system, the supervising organism, the bodies of control, the prosecution, and the law are powerless in our country when the matter is about the interests of an oligarch.

"Azg," August 30, 2013

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