By Hrach Melkumian
“Iravunk” takes up President Robert Kocharian’s remarks two days ago at a clothing factory and emphasizes the point that the president apparently had a message to pass on to reporters. The paper believes he hinted at some domestic and foreign policy changes that are on the horizon, the most important of which is related to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s upcoming visit to Armenia. Kocharian underlined that this visit will have a fundamental impact on Russian-Armenian economic relations. The president also voiced disagreement with the World Bank, which is unprecedented in modern Armenian politics. “Iravunk” concludes that the establishment of close economic ties with Russia will displease western financial institutions and they will react.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” which yesterday had already brought up the possibility of exchanging Armenia’s debt to Moscow with Russian ownership of certain enterprises, writes today that no concrete document on the issue is has been drafted yet.
“Aravot” outlines the nature of the agreements that will be signed during Putin’s visit. The paper says that first of all those agreements will outline the underlying concepts of Russian-Armenian trade and economic cooperation for the next decade. The agreements will also address investments and their protection, cooperation in tourism and a range of other economic issues. What is also interesting is that according to “Aravot” the establishment of joint companies in the electrical energy sector will be discussed. Many believe that the privatization of the electricity grid in Armenia has been delayed because Russian companies want to purchase the networks without due competition with western firms. “Aravot” says that the final agenda of Putin’s visit will take shape during an inter-governmental meeting in Yerevan in early September. The paper quotes unofficial sources as saying that the visit itself will start on September 12 and will last three days.
“Iravunk” writing on the emerging anti-Kocharian bloc hints that leaders of the former regime have a hand in bringing together such diverse forces, as the party of former Prime Minister Aram Sarkissian and a [populist] figure like Artashes Geghamian. The paper says that even former president Levon Ter-Petrossian might have a hand in this, knowing well that in the final analysis this coalition will be controlled by Defense Minister Serge Sarkissian who is the only possible force to get rid of Kocharian one day. The paper reminds its readers that Mr.Sarkissian played a crucial role in 1998, when then president Taer-Petrossian was forced to resign in a quiet coup. “Iravunk” adds that in such a scenario, Ter-Petrossian will have a real chance to put forward his candidacy for the office of the presidency.
According to “Aravot”, the leader of the Communist Party Vladimir Darbinian will leave for Moscow on August 20, where he will meet with the Russian communist leader Gennady Zuganov. Sources close to the Armenian communists have told “Aravot” that the internal problems of the party will be discussed in Moscow. The paper says that despite Darbinian’s assurances that Zuganov does not see a need to intervene in the internal issues of the Armenian communists, the Russian party leader is concerned about the situation. Recently, there has been an internal split in the Armenian Communist Party, leading to disciplinary actions.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” writing on a monitoring project by the Armenian Helsinki Association reiterates that detainees consistently complain of beatings, threats and various pressures during investigations and interrogations. The preliminary report of the Association according to the paper reveals that courts often turn a blind eye to these complaints. In one incident, the judge asks a police officer in the court, if he used force against a detainee. When the officer rejects the accusation, the judge voices satisfaction without any further investigation.