“Aravot” presents a list of the most lucrative forms of economic activity in Armenia, saying that mainly business people with close ties to Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian are allowed to engage in them. The most lucrative business in Armenia, imports of gasoline and alcohol, is controlled by them. Exports of copper, molybdenum and gold are controlled by the defense ministry and the former KGB, Sarkisian’s fiefdoms. Sarkisian’s protégés are also heavily involved in imports of basis foodstuffs, sale of construction materials, aviation and banking. “There is only one clan left in the arena. Many call it a Karabakh clan. The most lucrative sectors [of the Armenian economy] are in the hands of several of its representatives,” the paper claims.
“Iravunk” comments that Robert Kocharian increasingly resemble his predecessor, Levon Ter-Petrossian, with his “smugness and the sense of infallibility.” This “Terpetrossianism” is accompanied by “growing intolerance of dissent.” “Both Ter-Petrossian and Kocharian ended up relying solely on the power ministries and the semi-criminal oligarchy. But while Ter-Petrossian started out with the support of 83 percent of voters, Robert Kocharian’s presidential debut was based on more modest percentage figures. Besides, Ter-Petrossian had a fairly strong political force responsible for his actions – the HHSh.”
One of Ter-Petrossian’s closest associates, former Yerevan mayor Vahagn Khachatrian, tells “Iravunk” that even if official economic data is true the situation on the ground has not improved this year. “That doesn’t mean that our life has improved by six or seven percent this year as only a very small number of people feel [benefits of] that growth,” Khachatrian says. He also claims that economic growth in Armenia is accompanied by growing poverty.
“Aravot” reports that one of Armenia’s largest banks, Credit Yerevan, is on the verge of bankruptcy. Analysts say at least $8 million is needed to rescue Credit Yerevan, but no businessman is willing to prevent its collapse. The paper says one of the bank’s largest clients, an unnamed Diaspora Armenian, has decided to sue the Armenian Central Bank for its failure to foresee the problem.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also blames the situation with Credit Yerevan on its allegedly lax regulation by the Central Bank. The country’s main bank has still not publicly commented on the issue, leaving hundreds of people in uncertainty.
Turning to political affairs, “Haykakan Zhamanak” asserts that some Armenian parties will fight for the privilege of being Kocharian’s support base rather than voters’ support in the next elections. This first of all applies to the Armenia organization of the Ramkavar Azatakan party. After a “long pause” the Ramkavars have resumed attacks on the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), their tradition rival in the Diaspora, through their “Azg” daily.
A Dashnaktsutyun spokesman shrugs off those attacks, telling “Yerkir” that they are not worth a reply.