Dragon Stones at Risk: Residents of Nor Nork continue protecting their park

Residents of the Nor Nork district of Yerevan continue efforts to protect their “Dragon Stones” park from proposed construction that threatens it.

Along with NGOs and representatives of the Ministry of Nature Protection, they have demanded, unsuccessfully, that public hearings be held. The park covers 3,800 square meters, with eight steles (Dragon stones were pre-Christian idols in pagan Armenia: dragon shaped stones were usually placed at water springs; the majority was later turned into cross-stones) and tombstones – some from BCE. Construction of an apartment building began on the site, but was then suspended due to the clamor of protests.

A hearing was planned for last weekend, but did not take place because representatives of KR Construction Company, which started construction in the park, as well as representatives of Nor Nork district’s local administrative body, who had authorized the construction, did not attend the discussion, even though the order to hold such a hearing was issued by Minister of Nature Protection Aram Harutyunyan.

“If we get a positive expertise conclusion, the construction will continue,” the minister said.

“First the park was surrounded by points of sale, later trees started to be cut down. Now it is impossible to pass through this area at night - there are all types of criminals here. And now they want to destroy the park completely. They have started cutting trees since summer, they burnt the grass in order to say later that the territory is deserted, let’s construct a building here,” Alla Vardanyan, 24, who passed her childhood playing in this park, told ArmeniaNow.

Residents do not believe the former mayor’s promise, saying that the trees would not be cut here, and they do not think that public hearings would have a positive outcome.

They have only managed to suspend the construction for a while through struggle, as well as to remove the gates, designed for the construction, to fill the holes, to clean the area and to plant 100 trees.

The Ombudsman of Armenia has turned to the General Prosecutor’s Office of Armenia to find whether privatization of the park is legal.