Some mega-millionaire philanthropists fund universities and hospitals, while others opt to fund immunization campaigns. But in Armenia, the super-rich seem to prefer building churches.
So far in 2015, some of the country’s most powerful and wealthy public figures, none of them known for being particularly pious, have provided funds for work on five churches. Tycoon Gagik Tsarukian, founder of one of the country’s largest political parties, Prosperous Armenia, accounts for two of the five houses of worship – in Nubarashen, a district of the capital, Yerevan, and Nor Hachn, a town outside Yerevan. Overall, Tsarukian has been involved in the building or reconstruction of seven churches since 2000, spending estimated tens of millions of dollars.
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Gayane Abrahamyan is a freelance reporter and editor in Yerevan.