54-year-old Armen Khaloyan, who got out of jail last year, hasn’t been able to find work and expects to live on the streets of Yerevan this winter.
The former boxer, who’s worked as an engineer and guard, spent last winter living rough as well.
Armen says there are no permanent shelters for the homeless in Armenia. The Armenian-Danish Benevolent Fund runs a temporary shelter that now houses more than 100. In the winter, it’s packed to capacity.
“All the doors are closed in my face when they find out about my prison record,” says Albert, who spent 2012-2016 behind bars.
Armen’s prison saga began in 2003 when he began his mission to recoup property he claims was illegally seized. He sent off petitions to various state bodies but got nowhere.
Frustrated by the lack of progress, in 2012, Armen went to see the police chief and got into an argument with the chief’s adviser. He was sentenced to five years for striking the adviser, and was released one year early under a general amnesty.
The property that Armenia has been struggling to get back is an apartment, co-owned by his mother, in Yerevan’s Shengavit District. The mother sold the apartment in 1999, but Armen never signed the contract. He was in Latvia at the time and only found about the sale when he returned to Armenia in 2003. (His mother died soon after selling the apartment)
Armen took the case to court and won, only to have the appeals court reverse the decision in favor of the new owner. Armen alleged that the judge had accepted a bribe and filed a formal complaint with police investigators. The complaint went unanswered.
In 2010, a criminal investigation into Armen’s case was finally launched but was soon dropped because the statute of limitations had expired. (Armen had originally filed a criminal in 2003)
“Law enforcement officials told me to drop the case,” says Armen.
The former boxer isn’t ready the throw in the towel just yet.
“I’ll keep fighting with all my might,” Armen says, pointing to corruption as the main obstacle preventing him from winning.
If he had the money to grease some palms, Armen believes he’d get the apartment back pronto.