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Armenian Government Fined Again By European Court For Evictions

YEREVAN -- The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Armenian authorities to pay 18,500 euros ($25,500) to yet another Yerevan family that was evicted from its home as a result of controversial redevelopment in the center of the capital city, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The court ruled this week that the eviction of Hovannes Hovannisian, his wife, Astghik, and daughter Liana violated an article of the European Convention on
Human Rights that protects private property.

The three were forced to vacate their house in December 2005 after rejecting as insufficient $10,500 in compensation offered by the state. The house was
located in a downtown Yerevan neighborhood that was bulldozed from 2003 to 2007 to make room for expensive residential and office buildings.

Hundreds of local families were displaced in the process. Many of them staged
protests, saying the financial compensation offered to them was well below the
market value of their properties because of government corruption.

The authorities denied the accusations and insisted that most displaced
families are satisfied with the sums paid by the state. The redevelopment
overseen by then-President Robert Kocharian went ahead even after it was
effectively declared illegal by Armenia's Constitutional Court in 2006.

"We have rented an apartment ever since the eviction," Hovannisian told RFE/RL today. He said he is largely satisfied with the amount of damages awarded by the Strasbourg-based court.

The sum, which the Armenian government must pay within three months, is barely enough to buy a small apartment on the outskirts of Yerevan.

No new building has been constructed yet at the site of the demolished houses
of the Hovannisians and their neighbors. According to the family lawyer, Vahe
Grigorian, the construction company that bought their land has gone bankrupt
and is now facing criminal proceedings.

"That just shows that there was no need to evict those people from their
homes," Grigorian told RFE/RL.

The Hovannisians are the third evicted family to receive additional compensation ordered by the European Court of Human Rights. Grigorian said some 20 other families have filed similar lawsuits in the Strasbourg court.