“Aravot” says that if one is to believe the latest long list of ostensibly loss-making enterprises publicized by the Armenian tax authorities, Armenia’s entire economy operates at a loss. “Judging from the official data, there isn’t a single sector where businesses did not suffer huge losses last year as well,” the paper notes with irony. “Interestingly, those who suffered most are the entities that are being advertised most and presented as the most profitable and leading parts of our economy.”
“Lucrative business continues to evade taxes,” reads a headline in “Azg.” “Nobody believes in the claims about operating at a loss made by most of those companies that were included on the list. But the flawed legislation and the intentional or unintentional impotence enable them to do so. Everyone realizes that the goal of those posting financial losses is to avoid paying profit tax. And when they claim an [aggregate] loss of 200 billion drams ($376 million), it becomes unclear why the several thousand employees of the taxation service work and get paid in the first place.”
“Iravunk” carries yet another report on “deepening disagreements inside the ruling elite.” One of their manifestations, according to the paper, is the upcoming by-election to parliament in a constituency in central Armenia. Observers expect a bitter struggle between two frontrunners representing different government factions. The latter are so uncompromising toward each other that they are ready to secretly cooperate with the radical opposition -- something which President Robert Kocharian finds “extremely dangerous.” “Talk of unity in Armenia’s leadership is, to put it mildly, ax exaggeration,” “Iravunk” concludes.
“With his mentality and work style Kocharian is firmly stuck in the late 19th century, and is fighting against time in vain, failing to realize that nobody has defeated time to date,” opposition leader Aram Sarkisian tells “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “Kocharian’s time is up and we must go. That he is not a politician of our time was also shown by his speech in Strasbourg where he spoke like a 19th century nationalist lance-corporal.” Sarkisian speaks out strongly against any violent means of political struggle against the ruling regime. “I have felt on my skin consequences of revenge and terror,” he says, apparently alluding to the 1999 assassination of his older brother Vazgen Sarkisian. Sarkisian also sees no need to change the existing “format” of Armenia’s broad-based opposition alliance.
“Aravot” points out that the Artarutyun bloc, of which Sarkisian is a leader, can find an unlikely new ally and supporter in the former ruling HHSh party. HHSh leaders have said that Artarutyun may have made “mistakes” but is still able to effect regime change. “The opposition is now facing a dilemma. Either to come to terms with a decline if public and political interest in itself…or to take an unusual step and cooperate with the HHSh.” The paper believes that the HHSh can shore up Artarutyun with a core of extremely loyal activists and a clear-cut ideology.