Opposing Sides Clash at Yerevan's Pak Shouka -Photos

Narek Aleksanyan

16:27, August 31, 2013

Mayhem is probably the best word to describe the clash of interests
that took place this afternoon at Yerevan's Pak Shouka (Enclosed

Citizen activists opposed to the construction that is taking place at
the market, which was handed to businessman and ruling republican
Party MP Samvel Aleksanyan, converged on the site, only to be met by a
vociferous group of people in favour of the `improvements' they say
are taking place.

The iconic landmark, one of the few remaining in Yerevan, is seen as a
litmus test for the growing civic movement in Armenia in terms of how
many people it can mobilize to oppose the wanton disregard for the
capital's few remaining structure of historical and cultural value.

Those in favour of the what is taking place at the market called the
protestors `outsiders' and went so far as to rip the banners of the
opposing camp.

Of particular note is that almost all in favour of the construction
were women who claimed the improved market would afford many new
jobs to area residents.

The local rumour mill alleges that these women had been paid-off by
Aleksanyan's henchmen to show up and give the impression that many are
in favour of the construction.

The scores of police at the scene at times seemed incapable of
separating the two opposing sides. As a result, several scuffles broke
out along with the traditional scenario of name calling and more
strongly worded insults.

MP Aleksanyan owns the Yerevan City chain of supermarkets in the
capital and many fear the historic landmark will be converted into yet
another run of the mill supermarket.

The activists argue that the entire process of selling the structure
to Aleksanyan and the granting of permission to make changes to the
building was illegal and riddled with favoritism.

For over a year, various state agencies, the Yerevan Municipality and
the Ministry of Culture have come out with a number of conflicting
statements regarding the matter, each passing the buck and blame to
someone else.

Several sections of the market's famous arches have already been
destroyed and the insides gutted.

The activists opposed to the construction say they will resort to all
legal means, including civil disobedience to halt any further
desecration of the market and to prevent any business from being

From: A. Papazian