The half-hour tumult in front of the Amasia procurement facility of the Yerevan Ararat Brandy-Wine-Vodka Factory kicked off with the words “Make a way for Tsarukyan!” as former leader of Prosperous Armenia Party, factory owner Gagik Tsarukyan came to “address the vinegrowers’ concerns” and to tell the farmers how much grapes his factory was going to procure after all.
Prior to the businessman’s arrival, vinegrowers told reporters they had acquired equipment in spring from a factory-owned company and expanded their vineyards since Tsarukyan had “promised to purchase their entire harvest.” Currently, however, the procurement facility refuses to buy the unprecedentedly rich harvest, or does so in limited amounts, leaving farmers unsure about what to do with the rest of the crop.
The procurement facility, villagers said, closes at 9 PM; as a result, a queue has formed in front of the office that stretches for more than 500 meters. In addition, the farmers have to pay about $21 to truck drivers for each day they remain lined up at the spot.
The vinegrowers expected Tsarukyan to answer their main question – whether his factory was going to procure the entire harvest, and the businessman started his speech claiming he was going to buy “as much as I’ve promised.” The procurement office, he added, worked around the clock, while the employees “leave for only a couple of hours to rest,” and the queues have formed because of the farmers’ impatience and their concerns that their grape would not be procured.
“My dear, you know I’m going to keep my promise; it’s just that you all come here at the same time…” Tsarukyan tried to explain. He urged the farmers to bring their trucks to the facility one by one, and promised once again he was going to buy 45 thousand tonnes of grapes.
Vinegrowers standing close to Tsarukyan seemed reassured with the businessman’s words; however, farmers in the back rows were talking among themselves anxiously trying to raise the issue of the additional harvest. They urged one another to voice the concern; however, no one dared to. Finally, one of the farmers proceeded to the front of the crowd and said that due to the expanded vineyards this year's crop yielded 60 tonnes of grapes, and the factory is only willing to buy 14 tonnes. Meanwhile, he now has debts and tax liabilities due to additional expenses.
Gagik Tsarukyan was not pleased with the farmer’s question: “You’re each trying to push your personal matter…I’ve bought 45 thousand tonnes. Where do you suggest I put all that [produce]?”
“But, Mr. Tsarukyan, what can we do?” a vinegrower tried.
“Is Tsarukyan the only person in this country? I’m asking you – have I gotten myself into a mess dealing with you? What kind of approach is that? I, aware of your situation, looking at your faces, am troubling myself trying to ease your concerns. Tsarukyan is not the only person in this country, my dear. I don’t need this; I’m only doing it so that you’re not troubled, stressed. But you’ve brought [your produce] and want yours to be procured. That’s not how things get done, my friend.”
The vinegrowers were evidently unhappy with the businessman’s statement; one of the farmers even dared to argue that Tsarukyan had been the one to promise to procure the entire produce in the first place. The former politician, however, went on to claim he “physically have no space.” When the villagers wouldn’t stop asking, Tsarukyan promised to procure part of the additional harvest “as a favor," and as for the rest, he said, "there are thousands of factories and businesses."
“No, his arrival did not help. Other factories do not want to buy either,” one of the farmers said after Tsarukyan left.