The court ruled this week that that the eviction of Hovannes Hovannisian, his wife Astghik and daughter Liana violated an article of the European Convention on Human Rights that protects private property.
The three were forced to vacate their old house in December 2005 after rejecting as insufficient a $10,500 compensation offered by the state. The house was located in a downtown Yerevan neighborhood that was bulldozed in 2003-2007 to make room for expensive residential and office buildings.
Hundreds of local families were displaced in the process. Many of them staged protests, saying that financial compensation offered to them was set well below the market value of their properties because of government corruption.
The authorities denied the accusations and insisted that most displaced families are satisfied with the sums paid by the state. The redevelopment overseen by then President Robert Kocharian went ahead even after it was effectively declared illegal by Armenia’s Constitutional Court in 2006.
“We have rented an apartment ever since the eviction,” Hovannes Hovannisian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Thursday. He said he is largely satisfied with the amount of damages awarded by the Strasbourg-based court.
The sum, which the Armenian government must pay within three months, is barely enough to buy a small apartment on the outskirts of Yerevan.
No new building has been constructed yet at the site of the demolished houses of the Hovannisians and their neighbors. According to the family lawyer, Vahe Grigorian, the construction company that bought their land has gone bankrupt and is now facing criminal proceedings.
“That just shows that there was no need to evict those people from their homes,” Grigorian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
The Hovannisians are the third evicted family to receive additional compensation ordered by the European Court of Human Rights. Grigorian said some 20 other families have filed similar lawsuits to Strasbourg.