“Aravot” laments that the sacked energy minister, Karen Galustian, was not allowed to deliver on his pledge to publicize names of high-ranking officials refusing to pay for supplied electricity. “The fateful mistake committed by the only professional member of our government was that he took the president’s words seriously and began to fight against the sector’s shortcomings.” The paper claims that the country’s leaders are creating only a semblance of a crackdown on the corrupt energy officials. “In reality, they are not going to punish their cronies.”
But “Hayots Ashkhar” says Galustian’s two-year tenure has been unsuccessful, pointing to the sector’s continuing losses (estimated at $50 million each year) and the failure to privatize the troubled power grids. These are the reasons why he lost his job. “More and more debts are being incurred due to the sector’s poor management,” the paper says. “The former minister never succeeded in ensuring the privatization of the distribution networks.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” reports that the authorities have discovered serious abuses by energy officials in the southern province of Armavir. Around $1 million is thought to have been embezzled by them. Prosecutors have launched criminal proceedings against several officials. They have arrested the head of the power distribution company in the town of Metsamor, Ashot Grigorian. He is a relative of General Manvel Grigorian, the powerful deputy minister of defense.
“Yerkir” clarifies that Ashot Grigorian has already been released after spending four days in custody. He is said to have promised to “recover the damage inflicted on the state.” The paper says the scale of the problems in the energy sector is so large that they now threaten Armenia’s “economic security.” It demands that the authorities at last move against “the energy mafia” in earnest.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the political situation in the country has reached a point where the opposition is busy collecting “negative statistics” on the state of affairs, whereas the government is searching for some “positive” figures.” The paper believes that the opposition data “is seen as more credible.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also reports that prosecutors in the Shirak province have closed a criminal case against opposition leader Ashot Manucharian. Manucharian was accused of “publicly offending” Robert Kocharian during an anti-government rally in the provincial capital Gyumri last July. The local authorities now feel that the alleged damage to the president’s reputation has not been substantial. However, the prosecutor-general’s office in Yerevan will not necessarily agree with that. The paper says the top law-enforcement agency may still resurrect the case.