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Armenian President’s Brother’s Foundation Awarded 5 Million to Organize Music Festival

The Gyumri Municipal Council today voted to allocate 5 million AMD (about $12,164 USD) from the municipal budget to the Renaissance International Contest-Festival. Only one Council member, Asparez Journalists' Club President Levon Barseghyan (pictured), voted against the decision. 

Note, the founder and president of the Renaissance International Contest is Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan's brother, Levon Sargsyan, who is also the president of the Pyunik Human Resources Development Foundation, which asked the municipality for the funds for the festival.  

Barseghyan suggested sending the request for financial assistance back and asking the foundation to show how it will spend the 197 million AMD ($479,249) of the budget allocated for the organization of the festival, as well as the 5 million AMD requested from Gyumri City Hall. 

During the discussion, Barseghyan pointed out that the municipality has neither an application nor information about the NGO for which funding is being requested.  A representative of the municipality, however, argued: "I find that the municipality must help, as our city needs [this festival]. The cultural festival has been organized since 2005 and it’s become international — [people] from 30 countries come to Gyumri; it regulates our trade turnover. The festival’s expenses are many, but we find that we can provide only 5 million dram. The [need for an] estimate you're talking about doesn't interest us. We can only ask what will be done with the amount we give. Then they'll give us a report."

Barseghyan provided a few details about the Renaissance International Festival: festival participants from abroad must pay 80–100 EUR ($109–$136), while those from Armenia or Karabakh pay 3000 AMD ($7.30). Except for participants of the gala concert, the other participants cover their own hotel and transportation expenses. The festival only covers the gala concert participants' stay in a hotel for two nights. 

Barseghyan added that the Pyunik Foundation last year had an income equivalent to Gyumri City Hall's budget, 2.9 billion AMD ($7,054,930); thus, it's incomprehensible why the foundation is requesting financial assistance from one of Armenia's poorest cities. Despite Barseghyan's arguments, the decision was adopted.

Note, the Pyunik Human Resources Development Foundation received a donation of 742.5 million AMD ($1,806,310) in 2011, and 2.893 billion AMD ($7,037,900) in 2012.