Young Yerevantsi rally for open-air-cinema through popular social network

A group protesting plans to tear down Yerevan’s only open-air cinema has collected through Facebook social network – a breakthrough in social activism for Armenia as other parts of the world have rallied causes via internet long before.

At the beginning of March the Armenian government decided to approve a proposal made by the management of Moscow Cinema Ltd to alienate the territory currently occupied by its outdoor theater (18 Abovyan Street, central Yerevan) in favor of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin – for the purpose of building a new church. The St. Paul and Peter (Poghos-Petros) Church that used to stand there until the 1930s was demolished during the Soviet regime.

The decision raised a clamor both among public and architects. Some interested youngsters sent a special letter to Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, and Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II, and they are still waiting for their replies.

“We are against not the Armenian Apostolic Church, but against the idea of constructing churches at the expense of the cultural values,” Sarhat Petrosyan, 28, co-founder of the group «Save Cinema Moscow Open-Air hall» told ArmeniaNow, expressing their protest against the decision.

The group grew to more than 2,000 members ( ) within two days. Those against the project include some familiar personalities – writer-publicist Pertch Zetuntsyan, film director Tigran Khzmalyan, song writer Ruben Hakhverdyan, joined more than 30 architects, and others.

“I do not know who was the first to decide to realize this project, but I am sure that the motives are more demonstrative than patriotic, or church-loving,” Seda Grigoryan (student at Florida State University) told ArmeniaNow. She was informed about the problem just by the Internet, and she immediately registered in the group. “We had numerous cinemas, however our government successively made them cease functioning, leaving only two of them (meaning Moscow and Nairi cinemas), and now they want to destroy the open-air cinema hall.”

Grigoryan remembers the rock concerts organized at the amphitheater, which last summer hosted the popular six-week-long Open Music Fest.