The hardships of the 1990s hit severely state-owned entities like the Mergelyan Institute. In 2003 the Armenian government decided to give it to Russia, alongside three other Armenian entities, as part of a deal to partially repay the gas supply from Russia - the Russian company Sitronics became owner of the Mergelyan, both the institute and the premises housing it. Since then, Sitronics has been renting out part of the building, which features as well an exhibition hall, and the complex is an official free economic zone.
Former employees like Hakobyan are not happy about the deal, as the new ownership is somehow hindering further research and development.
“Before the collapse, the institute used to receive remunerative contracts. Then it was given to Russia, basically for pennies. We hoped to have some new contracts, but nothing happened. The new owners tell us, do whatever you want, just pay taxes [in Russia],” he laments.
Technology in the USSR
A historian by profession, Zhirayr Sevoyan is passionate about radiophysics. After years of collecting various items in 2008 he decided to create a museum of technologies and science. The 60-something enthusiast attracted funds from a few philanthropists and in 2015 his dream materialized in a building in the Nor Nork district of Yerevan. Many items and artefacts are on display, illustrating the achievements of Armenia in the sphere of microelectronics, automatization, and household electronics. Microchips, PC pats, irons, watches, portable TVs, electronic musical instruments, machinery components - you name it, Sevoyan has it.