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What is the responsibility of the Yerevan Council of Elders in the fight against COVID?

Answering the deputies’ questions recently, Commandant Tigran Avinyan said that the local government system is also involved in the fight against the pandemic and carries out certain functions in that direction. In the context of this announcement, we tried to find out what the Municipality of Yerevan is doing during the months of the pandemic to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and insure citizens against the risk of infection.


What is the responsibility of the Yerevan Council of Elders in the fight against COVID? To what extent do the members of the Yerevan Council of Elders control these processes? Does the municipality have control over the condominiums? WomenNet.am talked about these issues with female members of the three factions of the Yerevan Council of Elders.


  • What is being done by Yerevan Municipality to prevent the spread of the epidemic?


According to Lucy Gevorgyan, a member of the “My Step” faction, the disinfection has been done as well as in public transport, and that work has not stopped for a single day. The member of the Council of Elders also mentioned the disinfection of the entrances, which is both a function of the condominiums, but the heads of the administrative district, according to her, control and support both the materials and the works. And in that regard, there is no change, the work continues.


Hripsime Arakelyan, a member of the Prosperous Armenia faction, unlike her colleague, underestimates the activities of the Yerevan municipality, noting that, in her opinion, the structure has been very passive in preventing the spread of the coronavirus. She reminded that both the mayor’s office and the mayor himself have repeatedly stated that this is not their function; if there is an instruction from the Commandant, they will be more active. “It is incomprehensible to me when the mayor of a city of 1 million people says he has to wait until he sees what the Commandant says. Accordingly, we will develop an action plan,” she said.


In the opinion of Tehmina Vardanyan, a member of the Luys faction, the Yerevan Municipality  not only  with regard to pandemic, but for two years now  has not been held any responsibility at all. According to her, everything is done by the dictates of the moment and demonstratively. “Are there any citizens who see that the municipality is fighting against the pandemic, even at a slight scale?” “There are no such people around me,” she said, noting that disinfection in buildings and yards “was done only in the first days of quarantine, and now either it is not done or it is not visible.”


  • Why was the process of disinfection of buildings and other public facilities not continuous?


Isabella Abgaryan, a member of the “My Step” faction of the Yerevan Council of Elders, spoke about the work being done by the municipality to prevent the spread of the pandemic. According to her, in a short period of time it was necessary to equip the polyclinics with the necessary equipment, as well as to organize the doctors’ awareness about the specific features of this infection.


“Another challenge was the organization of transport work, disinfection. Providing transportation work is an additional burden for the community, especially in low-traffic conditions. Since March, the social bloc has been working hard to help single pensioners avoid going shopping. Both the members of the Council of Elders and the public sector joined in this work on a voluntary basis, helping to deliver the necessary food items to the addressees. “It was necessary to provide special conditions in kindergartens for the children of parents who work and have no other caregivers,” she said.


Ani Khachatryan, a member of the Luys faction, approached the issue of disinfection from another angle.


“The condominiums had to carry out the disinfection process only in the first days of quarantine. And the municipality of Yerevan does not have authority over condominiums, we cannot force them. I say this with regret, because we had two years during which we should have been able to bring the amendments to the Law on Condominiums to the National Assembly, which would have allowed us to operate the condominiums. “Because today they only collect money for their own salaries,” she said.


“The pandemic showed that the issue of condominiums must be resolved very quickly in the National Assembly, because if the condominium does not work, it is attributed to the community.


It should be noted that the subdivisions of the Ministry of Emergency Situations carry out daily disinfection in the whole territory of the republic. According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations, on July 15-31, rescuers carried out 18,355 disinfection operations in various places of public importance, of which 12,231 in the regions and 6,124 in Yerevan. The ministry said it supports all communities that apply for disinfection. In other words, the frequently voiced suspicions about the effectiveness of disinfection of public places by the Yerevan Council of Elders are not well-founded.


Why are the fountains off?


Another painful question for the people of Yerevan: this year all the fountains in the city are turned off, and the municipality says that it is watering the streets, but there are many alarms that such a thing is not done or maybe only in the center, the city is saved from dust only due to rain.


Lucy Gevorgyan, a member of the “My Step” faction, assured that the street watering works are carried out not only in the center, including all the administrative districts. “But if there are streets that are left out of the process, then the citizens can apply to me personally,” she said.


As for the fountains, Lucy Gevorgyan mentioned that there is an instruction of the RA Minister of Territorial Administration regarding the fountains, which prohibits the work of the fountains during the days of the pandemic, purely for health reasons. “The work of the fountains will be allowed when the state of emergency is lifted, there will be no danger of harm to health,” she assured.


Tehmina Vardanyan, a member of the Luys faction, noted that in reality there are many fountains in the city that have not been used for two years, such as the fountain in Buenos Aires Park (adjacent to the Republican Hospital Park), which no one talks about. “This year, in general, there is no fountain, and the reasons, in my opinion, are not convincing,” she said.


It should be noted that in late March, the Yerevan Municipality received a guide signed by the RA Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure Suren Papikyan, one of the points of which read as follows: “Until the final end of the pandemic situation, the operation of the fountain economy is prohibited. Naturally, in case of overcoming the pandemic, as a result of a professional conclusion, the fountains will resume their normal work.


Such a decision was made on the grounds that the citizens gather around the fountains, there are gatherings. Papikyan sent the guide to the governors to pass to the communities and addressed the mayor of Yerevan with a proposal.


It should be noted that the claims about the ban on fountains around the world are a bit exaggerated. In Moscow, for example, the fountains began operating on June 10th, the day the isolation was lifted, although in other Russian cities the fountains had been opened earlier and in some places were not even banned. In Rome, for example, it was not the operation of fountains that prohibited the gathering of people near fountains. We decided to be guided by another principle: there is no fountain – there is no problem. Meanwhile, when walking through the streets of Yerevan in the evening, it becomes clear that the dried-up fountains do not guarantee all the crowds, and it turns out that the city authorities are simply torturing the people of Yerevan by turning off the air-purifying fountains in this heat and almost greenery.


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