“Haykakan Zhamanak” continues to comment on President Kocharian’s visit to Moscow earlier this week. It says his talks with Vladimir Putin produced “disgraceful” results for Armenia. For all the talk of “strategic partnership” between the two nations, Armenia is seen by Russia as a country that owes it some money. A 30-second report on Kocharian’s aired by the state-run Russian ORT channel summed up the situation. Viewers were told that Putin invited his Armenian counterpart to the Kremlin in order to tell him to speed up repayment of Armenia’s debts.
“Aravot” runs an editorial on Kocharian’s statements made at his last news conference. The paper says that debate on the credibility of Kocharian’s employment figures is irrelevant because the creation of new jobs is not the president’s task in the first place. At least that is not among his constitutional duties. Kocharian is also attacked for “insulting” his opponents and “disdaining” the public. His news conference was meant to be a show of force. But that force may prove to be illusory. “Aravot” also plays down the importance of changing Armenia’s constitution. Constitutional reform, it says, will not change Armenian society unless it becomes more intolerant towards injustice and despotism.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says the endless anti-corruption initiatives announced by the authorities are not making a difference for the simple reason that many of the country’s rulers have a vested interest in maintaining the current situation. For them economic power is the key to maintaining political power. No wonder that the ruling and business elites are becoming increasingly intertwined. This means that some business “oligarchs” and “clans” now have a say in the government’s decision-making process. “Corruption has become a mechanism for the sale of power,” the paper concludes.
A front-page headline in “Yerkir” has similar connotations. “When mafia can feel
free,” it reads. The paper reports that government ministers, including David Zadoyan and Vartan Ayvazian, have concluded that the scale of financial abuses in the mining sector alleged by some whistle blowers is exaggerated. Not surprisingly, law-enforcement authorities “have refrained from uncovering instances of illegal mining.” Journalists could have done that, but their attempted investigations have been obstructed by the chief of the customs department, Armen Avetisian. The paper says Avetisian is withholding important statistical information about the sector not for altruistic purposes.
Meanwhile the new head of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s oversight service assures “Zhamanak” that the state of affairs in the mining sector will be high in the list of his agency’s priorities. Pandukht Manukian promises to inspect private firms suspected of exploiting the country’s natural resources in violation of the law.