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‘There are No Men in Armenia, They’re All Women’: Yerevan Street Vendors Protest

Yerevan street traders were once again protesting outside the Armenian government building today. Street vendors, who say they have no other means of earning a living, have been protesting the city’s ban on street trade for over 6 months.

Speaking to Epress.am, Yerevan street trader and economics graduate Lyova Ulikhanyan, 75, scoffed that since he is prohibited from earning his daily bread, he is earning a living from trash cans.

“The president, a thief; the prime minister, a thief; and us, poor and wretched, have fallen in the hands of thieves. I have worked everywhere; one time I worked on the street — they prohibited that too. Now those garbage bins that people have divided among themselves — I’ve taken one too. I go, whatever they throw out, I get out from there. I consider the solution to this issue to be closed because the thieves don’t allow it. I’ll live as long as my breath goes out. They need money; it’s a small country; it’s mafia country,” he said.

Ulikhanyan was complaining not only of the current authorities, but also of [former president] Robert Kocharian’s presidency. “Kocharian with his slippers came from Karabakh — he acquired 6 billion in capital in 10 years. Well now go and say, where did you get all this money? He and his son, shaking the people, go hunting in Africa. Where did you get all this money — is it your father’s goods, or your grandfather’s? We don’t even know what his ethnicity is. Can you do anything against a gang of thieves? You can’t. When he said there are no men in Armenia, let him stand before me; he was right, there are no men in Armenia, they’re all women. Too bad, I wish I was 40 years old and not 75.”

The street traders were also complaining of Yerevan deputy mayor Kamo Areyan, who they say said that they can trade only over his dead body.

“Are these the words of an official? How can I struggle before them, it’s all theirs, what are these poor people to do, they’ve put us in a jar and closed the lid. The president too has shut his eyes; he doesn’t see anything. Why, doesn’t he see? Of course he does. They want those who protest to leave, so that there isn’t a revolution suddenly,” they said.