Directors of 14 booths at the subway near Yeritasardakan metro-station complain that Yerevan municipality has leased the areas they were renting for the last 20 years to some other organization - "Great Victoria" closed joint-stock company for a 25-year period (decision 48452-A of the Mayor of Yerevan of 15.10.2010) without informing them beforehand. Proprietors claim that according to the contract they signed in 2010 they had a first priority right for the areas they rented and that right was ignored by both the representatives of municipally and "Kentron" administrative region.
"Nobody told us anything. We have a clear clause in our agreement that we have the first priority right and that they had to offer it to us first. This year we again wrote an application to the head of the regional administration Gyanjumyan to prolong the agreement and only then we were informed that the area had been given to a third party. They did not inform us about that, but meanwhile, we were paying taxes," Gevorg Manukyan, head of Hrashq Jin Ltd., told www.hra.am.
In the municipality he was offered compensation - 80,000 drams for a square meter which booth heads consider a funny price for the city center. They claim they are ready to pay 800,000 drams for a square meter if their booths are leased to them.
"We know they are working on a good project but I have only these two booths, I earn my living and I do legal business," Manukyan adds.
All other proprietors have similar complains except 75-year-old Robert Sargsyan who agreed to take the compensation from the state.
"Why did I agree? The logic is simple: everybody has to understand that a man can no more than he can. If some people managed that deal it means they are stronger than us. Today I have a 3 million dram debt to doctors, another million we owe for my wife's surgery, so we were forced to agree to that".
Arthur Sarukhanyan, chief expert of the municipality public relations department, neither confirmed nor rejected that proprietors had a first priority right; he only stated that they had been duly informed about the announced tender.
"I say that, based on the information from the informing department", Sarukhanyan said.
He refused to clarify the questions how much compensation they plan and for what time period, on what grounds, since January 2011 rent payments are accepted from the above 14 legal entities, having no legal basis.
The 13 proprietors have applied to the RA President, the Chairman of the National Assembly, the General Prosecutor, the Chief of Police and the Ombudsman to protect their rights.
It is worth reminding that this is not the first step of Mayor Karen Karapetyan to regulate street trade. In the beginning of this year street trade was banned by the decision of the Mayor causing protests by dozens of vendors and increasing the number of protesters who every Thursday, during the Government session, gather in front of the Government building.
The municipality actually achieved its aim and substantiated its deed simply as implementation of law. According to the municipality data, 3000 vendors were offered an alternative - to move their goods from the street to trade halls, those engaged in trade of construction materials - to appropriate markets, and other vendors - to other closed markets (there are around 20 such markets in Yerevan).
Some vendors accepted the alternative offered by the municipality and chose to pay 1300-1500 drams a day for a place (when working in the street they paid nothing).
Others are dissatisfied and continue to fight untill now. The booth owners from Abovyan street subway might also join them. The latter have not yet received an alternative offer; they will think about it when they receive it. The proprietors are concerned that with the compensation offered they won't be able to start another business and many of them will be obliged to emigrate.