Buzand Battle Update: Neighborhood advocate arrested

An attorney who has represented members of Yerevan’s controversial Buzand Street urban development district has been placed under arrest by Armenia’s National Security Service (formerly the KGB).

Vahe Grigoryan is in jail on charges of fraud, stemming from an incident in 2003.

Last spring information was taken during an NSS raid on his office, after which a criminal investigation was initiated.

At the time the investigation was launched, Grigoryan said charges that he had defrauded a client were groundless, and that he was being targeted because he represented families suing the government over disputes related to property compensation.

Grigoryan has continued his support of the Buzand neighborhood, from which residents have been evicted – according to the Republic of Armenia’s Ombudswoman illegally – and homes torn down even as court decisions on their eviction were pending.

Grigoryan maintains his innocence, and again accuses the Yerevan Municipality of persecution, due to his representation of clients whose claims slow down development of Yerevan’s city center, which is being bought out by oligarchs, Members of Parliament, and other politically well-connected businessmen.

An attorney representing Grigoryan has said the NSS charges are themselves fraudulent, and he questions why an office whose mission is to investigate crimes threatening national security should be investigating a civil issue.

In other related news:

Yesterday, 65-year old Anzheta Muradyan, as she has before, climbed to the roof of her Buzand Street home in protest and refused to come down. Police arrested at least one person, a member of the Hovhanissyan family, whose home was torn down two weeks ago, even though a court ordered their eviction to be stopped. (Click here for previous story)

In the early hours of this morning (October 14), demolition crews took down the Muradyan’s home. According to documents the family showed ArmeniaNow, the Muradyans are still legal owners of the property.

Relevant developments will be reported in next week’s ArmeniaNow.