Newspapers remain focused on the apparent differences inside Armenia’s ruling coalition. Some of those differences stem from the Dashnaktsutyun party’s insistence that deputy ministers and heads of government departments be appointed on the partisan basis too.
As “Aravot” reports, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s Republican Party (HHK) remains adamant in rejecting the idea. “Do we want to send political commissars to the ministries and departments?” the HHK’s parliamentary faction, Galust Sahakian, tells the paper. “A state bureaucrat must not be inclined to solve party issues and reinforce parties with some levers.” The ministries should not become “divided structures” controlled by various parties, he says. Sahakian goes on to brand the Dashnaktsutyun demands an “attack against the constitution.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” also opposes the idea, warning of a “restoration of the former party nomenklatura.” “In a multi-party system, the latter can become an even greater evil because an official appointed by his party will place its interests above the state interests,” the paper argues. “As a result of that, inter-party competition will spill over into various ministries.”
The Republicans, “Aravot” says, are also against another Dashnaktsutyun proposal to set up a special government agency in charge of anti-corruption initiatives. Sahakian says there is no reason to believe that it would be less corrupt than Armenia’s law-enforcement agencies. “There is no need for such a structure. Nor does it seem that it would have any role,” he says. “This is just a political issue.”
“Aravot” carries an open letter to President Robert Kocharian’s new anti-corruption adviser, Dashnaktsutyun member Bagrat Yesayan, signed by its editor, Aram Abrahamian. Abrahamian says that Dashnaktsutyun leader Vahan Hovannisian is fond of making calls for tackling corruption but always avoids implicating specific officials in the practice. “And yet there are officials who are now wealthier than many of our oligarchs and who have been in business under all regimes,” Abrahamian writes. “But neither you nor Vahan can inflict any damage on them.” The authorities, according to the editor, are creating only a semblance of the fight against corruption to show that they are making good on their election campaign promises.
In an interview with “Haykakan Zhamanak,” millionaire businessman Gagik Tsarukian admits that he and other Armenian tycoons came to parliament for fear of losing their property and investments. “I am sure that the businesspeople will not be personally represented in the next parliament and will instead finance a legislative group representing their interests. An entrepreneur is not a criminal to need an immunity [from prosecution]. Even if we had to pay say 500 million [drams] in taxes but actually gave only 450 million, the remainder, which was not paid, has been returned [to the state] in the form of benevolence.” Tsarukian also says that a possible regime change in Yerevan would not necessarily destroy his businesses as he will not give them away without a fight. He also describes as “short-sighted” belief that the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border would not be good for Armenia.