Bowing to pressure from the opposition and media, Yerevan’s municipal administration named on Thursday private entities which it says have donated 21 garbage trucks to it in recent months.
Opposition members of the city council first expressed serious concern over the donations last week, saying that they may be part of shady deals cut by Mayor Hayk Marutian and wealthy individuals. They said that some of the vehicles were secretly provided by Samvel Aleksanian, a controversial businessman who had close ties to Armenia’s former leadership.
Marutian dismissed those concerns on Tuesday while refusing to reveal the donors’ names. He insisted that Aleksanian is not among them.
A company believed to belong to Aleksanian’s family, Alex & Holdings, gifted three trucks to the municipality, according to the list of donors publicized by Marutian’s office. The mayor’s spokesman, Hakob Karapetian, insisted, however, that the mayor did not lie about his dealings with the tycoon.
“Hayk Marutian can’t make statements based on gossips or widely held beliefs,” Karapetian said in reference to the company’s ownership. He also made clear that the municipality would not have rejected a personal donation from Aleksanian made in good faith.
The official list shows that 14 other trucks were donated by a construction company called N & S Constructions. Earlier this week, some opposition councilors said they suspect that the municipality demands equipment or other expensive donations in return for issuing building permissions requested by private firms.
Karapetian said that N & S Constructions received such a permission shortly before donating the trucks. But he denied any quid pro quo between the company and Marutian.
As recently as in October, one of Marutian’s deputies, Tigran Virabian, stated that the current city authorities spend only funds allocated from the municipal budget. He said the former municipal administration dogged by corruption allegations routinely accepted material aid from businesspeople enjoying privileged treatment in Yerevan.
Karapetian denied any contradiction between his and Virabian’s statements. “The city [currently] assumes no obligations in exchange for accepting donations,” the official told reporters.