Municipal authorities look set to allow a private developer to resume the construction of an apartment building in a Yerevan neighborhood that has sparked angry protests by its residents and civic activists.
The construction was apparently suspended on Monday after the protests gained momentum, resulting in weekend clashes with riot police and a brief detention of 26 mostly young activists.
Yerevan’s chief architect, Tigran Barseghian, met with two dozen local residents opposed to the project late on Tuesday. They said afterwards that Barseghian urged them to stop the campaign that has dominated the Armenian press coverage over the past week.
“The whole point of the meeting was to urge us to be calm and conformist,” one woman told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “We heard no constructive proposals to solve this problem. He just urged us to come to terms with our living conditions that would worsen as a result of the construction.”
“I got a very bad impression,” said another participant of the meeting. “Yerevan’s chief architect probably has a personal interest in the project.”
Residents of the buildings located around the construction site say that the new structure would be too close to their homes and thus block their sunlight. They also claim that the construction is illegal because they did not agree to it. Some of them have also alleged that Edward Abrahamian, the Iranian-Armenian owner of the construction company, has influential backers in the Armenian government.
Municipal officials have dismissed these complaints. They say that the builder already agreed earlier this year to reduce the size of the apartment block from 14 to 7 stories to address the residents’ concerns.