BUS WARS: TSARUKYAN’S FREE RIDES CREATES PROBLEMS FOR COMMERCIAL DRIVERS
By Siranuysh Gevorgyan
12.07.12 | 16:23
About 50 bus drivers serving the Abovyan-Yerevan and
Charentsavan-Yerevan routes, resumed their services today after a
one-day strike in protest of a free bus service that was cutting into
Drivers with the King de Luxe Company complain that the buses belonging
to tycoon Gagik Tsarukyan’s charitable foundation offer free rides
along the same routes and take away their passengers.
Consequently the drivers of public buses lose money and hardly cover
Gagik Tsarukyan Foundation’s free buses were initially meant for
students from Abovyan (Kotayk province) studying in Yerevan. However,
in February, prior to the parliamentary elections, the foundation
increased the number of free buses, and made them available for the
public at large. (Tsarukyan is chairman of Prosperous Armenia Party.)
The owner of King de Luxe Company – which holds rights to the routes
– is Artur Harutyunyan. Harutyunyan is Tsarukyan’s godchild, but was
at odds with his influential godfather, and quit the PAP and joined
the Republicans before the April elections. According to some news
speculations, Tsarukyan is punishing his “disobedient” godchild
through the free bus service, successfully driving him to bankruptcy.
King de Luxe has turned to the State Commission for the Protection
of Economic Competition of Armenia (SCPEC) and Armenia’s Ministry of
Transport and Communications. SCPEC press secretary Gayane Sahakyan
told ArmeniaNow they received the appeal ten days ago, and are now
considering it, and if they find a violation of competition, they
will take respective measures.
Economist Samvel Avagyan told ArmeniaNow that it is a case of
“classical dumping” but not illegal.
“That charitable company is interconnected with another company
which has business interest, in this case with renowned businessman
Gagik Tsarukyan, so conditionally it can be called dumping. However,
according to our legislation, a charitable company cannot be accused
of dumping,” Avagyan says.
Meanwhile, the free bus rides continue, and responses from PAP say
there are no personal or political motivations.
“Those criminal-like businessmen unable to manage their businesses try
to blame the charitable foundation. Those drivers forced to strike have
nothing in common with the personal interests of the route owners or
the lack of talent in business,” states Elinar Vardanyan, PAP member,
lawmaker and chairwoman of NA Standing Committee on Protection of
Human Rights and Public Affairs.