Hayk Marutyan, Mayor of Yerevan, announced on 1in.am on August 2 that there is a park in the capital that was turned into a pit. It was privatized under the name of the former district governor’s daughter (40: 25-41: 20).
“People are showing up saying this is my land, I want to build a building here. I look into all of them, and once I see something suspicious I open Google Earth application where one can view the historical image. You go back and what you see is a big park that has turned into a pit,” Marutyan said, adding that the area was designated as park in the master plan, but was alienated for unknown reasons.
“It was alienated, but to whom it was alienated is the question. It was privatized under the name of the former district governor’s daughter,” Marutyan added (11:21:20). Marutyan mentioned in the interview that he had suspended the procedure and sent the case to the prosecutor’s office.”
Who and how took possession of the park
Fact Investigation Platform found out that the area mentioned by the mayor is located at Tigran Petrosyan str. 40, Davtashen district. It is owned by Armenuhi Gevorgyan, daughter of Davitashen district governor Ruben Gevorgyan (Tsaghik Rubo) from 1996-99. Ruben Gevorgyan, however, has publicly stated that the park belongs to him.
Who is Ruben Gevorgyan?
Ruben Gevorgyan occupied the position of Davtashen district governor from October 11, 1996 to May 8, 1999. He was a member of the National Assembly from 1999 to 2003, being elected from constituency No. 7. Until May, 2000 Gevorgyan was a member of the Unity faction formed by Vazgen Sargsyan and Karen Demirchyan, and later a member of the MP Group Armenia.
Gevorgyan later joined the Prosperous Armenia Party led by Gagik Tsarukyan and became a PAP deputy in 2009. In 2012, Gevorgyan was re-elected under the PAP proportional list. He left the PAP in 2017. Ruben Gevorgyan’s relatives have almost always held positions in Davtashen district administration. His nephew Arthur Gevorgyan was the head of Davtashen district administration from 2008-2012, and from 2012-2018 the position was taken over by his another nephew, Ruslan Baghdasaryan.
How was the park privatized?
When studying the cadastral history of the land it becomes clear that in 1997, when her father was the governor of Davtashen district, Armenuhi Gevorgyan built a 577.5 square meter recreation complex in the park adjacent to the formerly existing Davtashen fair without permit. The complex included a children’s play center (342 square meters), a bird showroom (72 square meters), an office (40.5 square meters) and a storage room (123 square meters).
By the decision of Suren Abrahamyan, the mayor of Yerevan at the time, made in October 1998, the municipality recognized Gevorgyan’s ownership of the self-constructed buildings and rented out the land he occupied. Gevorgyan paid AMD 577,770 to legalize illegal buildings. By 1999, Gevorgyan had already rented the entire park of 6452.68 square meters for 15 years.
According to the signed contract, the tenant was allowed to carry out capital construction in the park and the annual rent was only 262,194 drams (21,850 drams a month).
A week after signing the lease contract, Gevorgyan applied to Yerevan Municipality to privatize the park. The municipality approved the application in 2000. The land with a total surface of 6452.68 m2 and buildings of 499 m2 surface became Gevorgyan’s property.
It is noteworthy that measurement documents of 2000 indicate that the area is a “public park.” But in in a letter to the head of the Davitashen Cadastre Department in August 2002, Boris Kocharyan, Deputy Director of the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning of the Municipality of Yerevan, wrote that the plot “is a land with intended use of public construction according to the detailed plan of the district and is not included in the list of restrictions of RA Land Code, Article 60.”
Article 60 of the Land Code of the Republic of Armenia adopted in 2001 prohibits alienation of state and community owned boulevards, parks, gardens, etc.
Gevorgyan’s land was expanded in 2006 and 2014, when the municipality alienated 850 and 535 square meters of land to him for AMD 3,845 and 2.4 million respectively.
In November 2017, Armenuhi Gevorgyan passed on the land of 7,449.17 square meters to Femida Group LLC. The shareholders of this company are Armenuhi Gevorgyan herself and her brother Petros Ruben Gevorgyan. Femida Group plans to build a multifunctional residential complex in the place of the former green space.
“Hetq” had written that Ruben Gevorgyan had put this park known as Daisy on sale in 2011. In addition, this area is designated as a public green space in the zoning project of the Davtashen district posted on the Municipality website.
Media reported that more than 100 trees were cut down in this area in 2013, and the remaining trees were cut down in December 2017. Ruben Gevorgyan had declared then that this territory was his property.
“The trees were dry and rotten. Even if there were no rotting trees, I had the right to cut down the trees I had planted or plant them upside-down or lay them down. It’s my own area and park,” Gevorgyan said.
He noted that at that time the police had not filed any case because “when they came they saw it had been a private property for 20 years, there was a construction permit in place and afterwards they left.”
Multifunctional complex instead of the park
In January 2018 Yerevan Municipality granted permission to demolish existing buildings in the area, and in June of the same year, it granted permission to design new structures. In January 2019, the company received approval from the Ministry of Nature Protection to build a multifunctional residential complex with 14, 16, 18 floors.
The new city authorities in Yerevan, however, have not given the company permission for construction. The Municipality informed Fact Investigation Platform that “the documents of detailed design were not fully submitted. Simultaneously the grounds for land allocation are being examined.”
The Municipality has sent the materials on the grounds for land allocation to law enforcement bodies to investigate.
In fact, one of the largest green areas of Davitashen has now turned into a pit. Whether there will be multifunctional buildings here or the park will be restored remains to be seen.