PM Sargsyan calls Armenian-American businessman’s criticism “misguided”

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Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan has dismissed criticism voiced by successful Armenian-American businessman, real estate developer and philanthropist Vahak Hovnanian about obstacles to business investments in Armenia.

Hovnanian, founder of Vahakni Residential Community, a major real estate project considered a VIP housing site in Northern Yerevan, complained at a press conference a couple of weeks ago, saying he has been prevented from making investments in certain business spheres.

“I wanted to start importing timber, but was told not to, because Russia holds the monopoly there. Tried wheat imports, they warned – wheat crop is burned before it’s ripe,” businessman told a news conference. “Our market is monopolized. This hinders economic development. One player rules the market and doesn’t let small businesses grow. Prices are set at their whim, they have everything at the palm of their hands,” Hovnanian added.

In an interview to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Armenian prime minister addressed businessman’s complaints, saying he’s well aware of problems in the economy.

5429BFB9-F931-47D2-BF91-6CDE141AC927“However, I have to say, that often when we research this or that complaint, we find out, that it’s not always based on reality. I can assure you, that in this concrete example, there is no problem whatsoever with importing wheat to Armenia,” Tigran Sargsyan said.

“It’s just that people often are guided by gossip, rather than fact,” he added.

Despite what the Prime Minister said, there are rumors (call it gossip, if you will), that import of key food products, including wheat, sugar, rice, are controlled by “oligarch” MP Samvel Alexanian. There are also import monopolies in the fuel market, mobile phones and electronic goods markets, etc. Some of those gossips have actually proved true as the State Commission for The Protection of Economic Competition has filed investigations against companies owned by Samvel Alexanian, Mikhail Baghdasarov and other oligarchs.

However, everything is not as simple as it would seem.

Vahakn Hovnanian has become increasingly critical of Armenian economic realities in recent years. This may be a reflection of the fact, that the rich Armenian-American businessman’s fortunes have changed, as he has ceased to enjoy the privileged treatment he was getting under former president Robert Kocharian’s rule. Some are suggesting, that Serzh Sargsian, who is rumored to have vested interests in the real estate business, is reluctant to give edge to his Diasporan competitor. Which would mean, that Mr. Hovnanian had no problem with monopolies, while he was enjoying privileges…

Thanks to Garo for the heads up!

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12 thoughts on “PM Sargsyan calls Armenian-American businessman’s criticism “misguided”

  1. It is funny……, yes, I find it funny

    What would this “businessman” do in US or EU, if he was threatened? Naturally he would report it to police. Right?

    Now, why in Armenia he tells this to media, before even trying to report the case to police? Why, if he blames Armenia for not being a rule of law country, he does not even file a simple report to police?

    Obviously, he is not scared, or else he would not tell this to media.
    You will say he does not believe police, but who cares? If you are the guy who wants to see this country progressive – you just follow the law…Period.

  2. aheeeeee mr. vahakani residential
    he is just pissed off that he cant finish his residential development because of the politico-socio-econo status of Hayastan with gor-gor spyurrq. the reality is he devised his profiteering residential development for the rich gor-gors in usa-euro-aus and else where to buy his homes in Hayastan as a way to get them to come to Hayastan (at very least for the summers) and be more involved with Hayastan in a general scale, but now in the end it has back fired. after what went down in March 2008 and then 1.5 years later in late 2009 w/ protocols signing, futball games, and screw you Hayastan protests, not only can he not sell to the gor-gors anymore, but he has stopped full construction on finishing this development.

    originally he planned to build some 3000 homes in that development, he has only built at best some 300 or less with only 100 or less that are currently occupied 24-7 and another 50 or so used on/off for summer vacationers by moskvaci-Hays and other wealthy stancis who living abroad.

    now in last 1-1.5 yrs he is trying desperately to sell/market this development to more moskvacis and parsikaHays knowing that they have the money to buy and are coming to Hayastan more often for vacation, buisness, and/or for just general usual visitations, but I think he will have now even a more difficult time to sell to them with this …I guess if you want to call it a scandal or name calling war between himself and this tyrannical gov’t

    also, his asking prices are playing a big factor as to why he can NOT sell the finished unsold units. he builds these homes for anywhere between $25k-100k and is selling them for $150-500k depending on square footage, style/design of the unit, and amenities (kitchen appliance, furnishings, etc…). also, the exchange rate is playing a big role too. as it keeps fluctuating up & down not remaining stable for long periods or not giving the outside buyer the upper hand, then buyers are more disinclined to buy. when he started this project 5 yrs ago or 7? I cant remember, the dollar was trading at 475 drams and now its 100 drams less

    and well lets face it, in the end he has to give kick-back bribes to head of the 5 families: tigo-robo-serjo-gago-levo. so yah, I mean there is more to this than meets the eye or what he claims. some how he has to try to make money in Hayastan for all the time and money he has already invested and of course since he cant sell his residential units, then he has to try to dip into other corrupt mafiya oligarchy controlled markets, which of course they will not allow him in and hence why he came out blasting them all over the media

      • @Ani jan
        welcome my precious and priceless sister
        I aim to reveal truth and expose those who are liars-deceivers to us all, from the evil internal tyrannical mafiya to the gor-gors. I will expose all the evils that are anti-Hayutyan

        and I thank you for sharing that link to his shopping mall project
        I didn’t know he had planned to build that ugly hogwarts mogwarts harry potter motter ayl ch’gitem inch shopping mall. I will have to wish him FAILURE and hope he does not succeed to erect such a ugly disgusting looking NON-Armenite structure. it LOOKS nothing Hayqakan what so ever.

        hey vahakan, if you intend to build for the rich and elite only, then ara get out of Hayastan. otherwise, if you intend to remain, then build for the low-income/poor citizens who are suffering in their broken down deteriorating dilapidated disgusting soviet residential buildings. do something good for the common good of Hayastan [edited by moderator]

  3. Well, the whole problem is that the citizenry is deliberately kept ignorant of who owns what, and that’s why there’s gossip and rumor instead of knowledge. The Prime Minister should have been working on this issue for the last three years, instead of helping the Sargsyan-favored oligarchs maximize their profits to the detriment of others. Transparency and a fair playing field is precisely what’s missing and what’s desperately needed to pull the Armenian economy out of its depths and to attract people to move to Armenia instead of away.

    As for Mr. Hovnanian, he is no hero, but I’ve noticed that sometimes the most effective reformers or whistleblowers are those who were once in favor but are now scorned. They know exactly how the system works, and when desperate enough, they disclose the inner workings much more clearly then those who have always been on the outside trying to peer through murky windows.

  4. He doesn’t report it to the police because the police works for the mafia, not the people.

  5. Parev tsez,
    yes gor gor em yev shad siroumem Hayastan yev Hayastanciner@
    manavant Aryan kavkaz@ :-D Apres, tun yete chellas menk inch enenk??

  6. @Observer,
    You’re welcome. When I read your view of things I’m just dumbfounded. The monopolies that are present in Armenia in this day and age is just flabbergasting. I really don’t know how these people are getting away with it. When I look at the Armenian race, I don’t see it as just another race. We are spread all over the world, having a hand in every economy. The first thing we build are churches (keep in mind even in muslim countries), and we are a force to be reckoned with. No matter what end of the world we’re in, an Armenian always remembers the motherland. From the moment we are in existence we are reminded of where we came from and what is close to our heart; the motherland, Armenia.

    How is it that all these Armenians around the world and in Armenia are allowing for such corruption?

    Observer, how do you and all the other people do it? Day in and day out to know that you are basically on a short leash with the elite and the rulers of the country is just unbarring to any persons soul.

    I was just watching this video, it says it all….

  7. I forgot to add, I think people should start boycotting and fight back. Easier said then done, yes, but that’s the only way Armenia ant its citizens will get better. You must fight back against these leaches.

  8. eeeh lav ara, delete the above and plz approve this re-write below:

    I will die for this girl, I will fight & die to protect her and rest of my precious priceless people, those who are the good and not the charamitqov

    I tell to this beautiful precious priceless delicate strong ARmenian girl…..
    ay im tank qurik jan, yes dzez het em, du menak ches ays payqarum@ mer. Hayaserner@ qo het’d en eli u verj.

    just I dont have the dam money to fly and live there
    If I was there I would show her and R.Davidian how we can change it all and that NO ONE needs to back the levons and other corrupt evils pretending to be “opposition”. we can do it ourselves. we are the ppl the real opposition. we can revolt and take it all back.

    btw: this priceless precious Hay girl is a true Aryan-Kavkas beauty

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