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Moscow Reaffirms Support For Yerevan Redevelopment

Cinema 'Moscow' in downtown Yerevan
Cinema 'Moscow' in downtown Yerevan
YEREVAN -- The municipality of Moscow has reaffirmed a pledge to support a massive redevelopment project in Yerevan that the Armenian government says will require billions of dollars in investment, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The Armenian government announced earlier this year plans to build a new upscale residential and financial district in place of a rundown neighborhood perched on a hill outside the city center.

Longtime Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov endorsed the ambitious project, estimated at $6 billion, after inspecting the site during a January visit to Yerevan. Luzhkov, who has presided over a post-Soviet construction boom in the Russian capital, expressed his readiness to help attract large-scale Russian investments sought by Armenia.

Moscow First Deputy Mayor Vladimir Resin discussed the matter with Yerevan Mayor Gagik Beglarian and other Armenian officials in Yerevan on June 30.

"We agreed to jointly promote this project," Resin told journalists in the Noragyugh neighborhood. "In many ways, it is similar to projects that we have been implementing in Moscow and that will be completed in the next two or three years."

"Most importantly, we agreed not to allow construction mistakes committed in Moscow to be repeated here and, conversely, to make sure that all the positive things that we have achieved in Moscow are used here," Resin said.

Beglarian likewise skirted questions about funding for the project and possible dates for its launch. He said only that construction will not get under way until the authorities resettle Noragyugh's 1,500 or so families in apartment blocks to be built for them elsewhere in the city.

The Armenian capital, and especially its center, has already undergone considerable redevelopment over the past decade. The process has been marred by the forced expulsions of hundreds of families unhappy with what they saw as meager government compensation for their properties.

Some Noragyugh residents are worried that they, too, may not be properly compensated for their properties.

"If I could repair my house, I would not like to move out," one woman told RFE/RL. "I don't know where they want to resettle us."

But many other locals look forward to the opportunity to swap their mostly decrepit houses for modern apartments. "I'm happy that they are planning to tear down the neighborhood," one of them said. "We don't live in normal conditions here."