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Controversial Land Allocation Sparks Row Between Yerevan Mayor, Oppositionist


Armenia - Yerevan Mayor Taron Markarian (L) and opposition member of the City Council Anahit Bakhshian, 26Oct, 2016

Yerevan Mayor Taron Markarian defended a local prefecture’s controversial allocation of land to a family that lost two members in Armenian-Azerbaijani clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh earlier this year as he argued with an opposition member of the City Council at the body’s regular session on Wednesday.

“We are also being fair, not only you,” Markarian said angrily to Anahit Bakhshian, of the Barev Yerevan faction, after she presented a case in the city’s Davidashen district where an apparently well-groomed and improved public area was designated by the local authorities for shop construction.

“The construction permit presented it as a neglected area, but a photograph of the territory that I got shows it as a well-groomed lawn… I am sure that if you personally saw that area, you wouldn’t have signed that permit,” said Bakhshian.

The mayor, however, dismissed the opposition councilmember’s arguments, saying that in allocating the land the authorities were guided by the needs of a family that lost father and son during the April hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh.He implied that it was immoral of Bakhshian to raise the issue given this circumstance.

“We’ve done the right thing and will continue to do so. We will be next to every family that has lost a member [in the war], no matter how hard you try to speak against it in the press after listening to immoral people,” Markarian stressed.

Bakhshian responded by saying that she did not object to the authorities’ allocating land to a family of killed soldiers, but was simply against “illegal allocation”. She insisted that the decision was made based on false information.

“We don’t need to listen to you,” the mayor continued dismissively. “Stop your PR on the families of victims.”

Residents of Davidashen’s second district for months have been staging protests against the plans to build a trade facility in the area in question.

Head of the administrative district Ruslan Baghdasarian, however, denied that any illegal action was taken. “Before making the decision on the allocation I personally went to the area and inspected it,” he said.

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