“Zhamanak” reports that Prime Minister Andranik Markarian told officials at the energy ministry to display “responsibility, strong will and resolve” to pull the sector out of crisis late on Tuesday as he presented to them their new boss, Armen Movsisian. Movsisian took over the job immediately after Energy Minister Karen Galustian’s sacking. Markarian’s remarks suggest why he was fired.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says Galustian was caught off guard by the presidential decree relieving him of his duties. After all, he had been getting more and more assignments from Kocharian to crack down on influential persons avoiding to pay their electricity bills. “Either the minister failed to carry out the president’s assignments or the president’s used the implementation of those assignments as a pretext for firing the minister.” The paper says the “extreme secrecy” surrounding Galustian’s replacement points to the credibility of the latter theory.
“Aravot” carries an editorial on the failure of the international tender for the Armenian power utilities. Many Armenians, it says, were convinced that the power grids are so attractive that foreign investors dream about getting hold of them day and night. “Indeed, the networks are a source of serious income, if not for the state, at least for officials running them. It looked as though a potential buyer should expect to earn hefty profits. But this has not been the case. No potential buyer has emerged.” Even the Russians spurned such an opportunity. The paper suggests the following explanation for the Russian companies’ decision to stay away from the bidding: “Why rush to buy something that you can get for free later on?”
“Hayots Ashkhar” says the opposition will heavy exploit the infamous café murder in Yerevan in its fight against President Kocharian. “It’s an exaggeration to claim that a presidential bodyguard deliberately killed Poghos Poghosian,” the paper writes, apparently agreeing with prosecutors’ conclusion that it was an involuntary manslaughter. But “Hayots Ashkhar” makes it clear that such an “impudent act,” punishable by up to three years in prison by the Armenian criminal code, deserves a tougher punishment.
“Yerkir” sees first cracks emerging in a coalition of opposition parties supporting a an alternative draft constitution that provides for Armenia’s transformation into a parliamentary republic. The parties have joined forces to try to put the draft on a referendum along with a package of constitutional amendments proposed by Kocharian. But one of those parties, Hanrapetutyun (Republic), is categorically against a clause allowing dual citizenship.