The next target of the “Aravot” newspaper’s “photo attack” is the chief of the Armenian customs, Armen Avetisian. The color picture of his luxury villa in central Yerevan appears on the daily’s front page. The paper says Avetisian, a former KGB officer, built his mansion in violation of municipal construction regulations and over his neighbors’ objections. This accusation is followed by a traditional “Aravot” question: how did Avetisian make so much money? For one thing, his previous career in the ministry of national security was “a collection of law violations and abuses.”
“Aravot” also says that the government’s customs department and the ministry for state revenues will again be merged into a single agency and that Avetisian is likely to head it. The new agency will be directly controlled by President Robert Kocharian.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Prime Minister Andranik Markarian has ordered all ministries and government departments to submit written reports on their activities in 2001. The paper claims that Markarian will use those reports “to get rid of undesirable ministers.” Transport and Communications Minister Andranik Manukian is one of them.
“Hayots Ashkhar” quotes President Kocharian as saying that the government’s chief task this year is to build upon serious achievements which he says were registered last year. Those, according to Kocharian, are political stability, deeper integration into the international community, a robust economic growth and the creation of thousands of new jobs.
“Hayots Ashkhar” reports that Kocharian’s draft constitutional amendments have again been endorsed by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). A leader of the nationalist party, Vahan Hovannisian, is quoted as explaining that Dashnaktsutyun remains a proponent of the parliamentary republic but at the same time believes that it should not be introduced in Armenia at present. Hovannisian argues that the Armenian political landscape is now “corrupt” and “under the influence of clans.” He says the parties should therefore rally around the constitutional reform proposed by Kocharian.
The leader of the largest Miasnutyun (Unity) faction in the Armenian parliament insists, in an “Aravot” interview, that the five parliament gunmen that have been standing trial must necessarily be sentenced and put to death. Galust Sahakian thinks that failure to execute Nairi Hunanian and his henchmen would adversely affect “Armenia’s development.” Sahakian says Armenia can flout its Council of Europe obligation to abolish the death penalty. “We need the Council of Europe just like it needs us,” he says.