Friday, 15 February 2008
BBC Radio 4 presents somehow depressing side of routine life in Armenian capital amid upcoming presidential elections
It does not directly touch presidential elections (just a mention at the beginning), but rather presents a kind of background picture of routine life and changes through the eyes of a local resident. A bit too pessimistic, in my opinion, but anyway.
Below are selected extracts. Full transcript is available here
[…] A product of the old Soviet-style education system, Armine speaks five languages, has an engineering degree, and plays the cello expertly.
When I first met her on a visit to Armenia three years ago, she dreamed of setting up a music school for children.
She was fiercely proud of being Armenian and admonished me for my ignorance about the achievements of her people.
Now the talk is only of property and becoming rich.
"It's like so many other places in the old Soviet Union. We gained freedom but somehow we have lost our soul," says Armine.
"The Russians, once again, control most of the economy while gangsters and oligarchs swank about in their limousines and fancy jewellery, all powerful.
"The politicians are hopeless, only filling up their own pockets.
"It's a country that's going nowhere. I just want to make my money and leave."
[…] As Jewish families might buy a second home in Israel, so the Armenian diaspora - present in virtually every major city in the world and many of them extremely wealthy - are buying houses and apartments in Yerevan and the prices keep rising.
[…] The Soviet era was not known for great architecture but old Yerevan had a pleasant, intimate feel.
It is sad to see it disappearing.
The diaspora buys but does not stay, says Armine.
"Meanwhile, locals find they can no longer afford to live here. One day, this could become an empty city."
*photo via BBC