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Yerevan Mayor Reluctant To Shed Light On ‘Shady’ Donations


Armenia -- A new Russian-manufactured garbage truck acquired by Yerevan municipality, July 24, 2019.

Yerevan’s Mayor Hayk Marutian on Tuesday refused to reveal the names of wealthy individuals who have donated garbage trucks to the municipal administration and sparked corruption allegations by opposition members of the city council.

The council members representing the opposition Luys bloc claimed last week that at least some of the two dozen vehicles were secretly provided by Samvel Aleksanian, a controversial businessman who had close ties to Armenia’s former leadership. They said the undisclosed donations may have been part of Marutian’s shady deals with Aleksanian or other tycoons.

Luys’s Ani Khachatrian challenged Marutian to shed light on the truck acquisitions which she said carried “corruption risks.”

“Everyone must know who gave these presents to the legitimate authorities and in return for what,” Khachatrian said during a session of the council chaired by the mayor.

Marutian admitted that 20 of the 54 garbage trucks acquired by the municipality over the past year came from private donors. He insisted that Aleksanian is not among them, while claiming that he does not remember the donors’ names.

“I want to thank all those organizations and individuals who make donations or do charitable work for Yerevan,” said Marutian. “I honestly do not remember the names of those organizations. Nor I can recall the names of those individuals.”

The mayor went on to claim that the benefactors themselves had asked not to identified. They have also provided other material assistance to the Yerevan municipality, he said.

Armenia -- Yerevan Mayor Hayk Marutian speaks to journalists, February 15, 2019.
Armenia -- Yerevan Mayor Hayk Marutian speaks to journalists, February 15, 2019.

The municipality purchased and received the trucks during a bitter dispute with the Lebanese company Sanitek which was in charge of waste management in Yerevan under a contract signed in 2014. The situation with garbage collection in the Armenian capital sharply deteriorated last year.

Marutian scrapped the deal with Sanitek recently, accusing the private company of failing to fulfill its contractual obligations. Sanitek denied responsibility for the garage crisis and said it will take the municipal administration to an international court of arbitration.

A former TV comedian, Marutian, 42, is a senior member of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s My Step alliance. He became mayor as a result of the September 2018 municipal elections in which My Step won 80 percent of the vote.

Luys leaders regularly accuse Marutian of incompetence and a lack of transparency. Marutian and his allies holding 57 seats in the 65-member city council dismiss these claims. They say that the mayor has rooted out corruption in the municipal administration.

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