Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center has published a legal analysis of the construction issue at District 33 or commonly known Firdus in downtown Yerevan. The organization had earlier joined dozens of NGOs, civic initiatives and citizens in a petition to demand immediate halt to ongoing construction. Based on the document, the NGO has filed a report to the Prosecutor’s office with description of criminal offenses present in the matter.
“The legal process around Firdus district started in 2006-2007, when the territory was declared a public eminent domain by various governmental decrees. “City Center Development” company was declared as buyer of the territory. The company was founded by Eduard Melikyan. The constructing company was declared notorious “Glendale Hills” where Eduard Melikyan had an executive post. The construction project was not carried out, in fact, the project that was based on contracts and decisions made in 2007-2008 failed. No financial guarantees were presented by the companies in regards to the implementation of the project,” stated TI expert Hayk Martirosyan in a press conference.
Martirosyan emphasized that the government made efforts to assist these companies and presented a guarantee in 2014 to be used in attracting foreign credits. The credits have been attracted, with the government acting as a third party, however the contracts continue to remain undisclosed, the projects halted.
After all of this, at the end of March 2018, the area was declared a public eminent domain again, with a new buyer founded by the same person whose companies failed the previous project, Eduard Melikyan. “Dianar” was not the only buyer, the additional 17 companies were established by that very company. This was done to imitate a competition. The founder of most of these 17 companies is again Eduar Melikyan.
Starting with the initial commissioning of the project to Glendale Hills, which is implicated in a criminal case around urban development in the Earthquake Zone, all the way to additional commissions to the same persons and affiliated companies, the process contains serious corruption risks.
Based on this, Transparency International filed a report to the prosecutor’s office with claims that public officials abused their power in the above-stated processes.
In the meanwhile, the public remains defiant against the full demolition and construction of the district. The civic committee for Yerevan Heritage Protection has called for an alternative development of Firdus District and is accepting applications at http://alt33.info/.