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“Aravot” and “Haykakan Zhamanak” carry sarcastic comments on President Robert Kocharian’s harsh criticism of Armenia’s State Taxation Service voiced on Tuesday. The two pro-opposition dailies allege that the country’s main tax fraudsters are members of his own inner circle.

“In reality, the enterprises that have for years not been inspected belong to individuals from his political entourage, while the inspected ones either operate without a [government] ‘tutelage’ or have come links with the opposition. So one should start not from employees of the Taxation Service and their relatives, but from Kocharian and his relatives,” snaps “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “That would be more fair.”

The chief executive of one of Armenia’s leading fuel importers tells “Aravot” that the shadow sector of the economy will exist as long as long as personal and family connections remain strong among Armenians. “The only question is its scale,” says Barsegh Beglarian of the Flash company. Beglarian goes on to heap praise on Kocharian, saying that Armenians are lucky to have such a president. “Maybe this sounds subjective because I am close to him. But this is really the case,” the Karabakh-born businessman assures the paper. Beglarian admits that he was a “nobody” in business until Kocharian’s appointment as prime minister in 1997. “But today I pay approximately 15 million [dollars] in taxes,” he adds.

According to “Hayots Ashkhar,” political stability in Armenia is “deceptive.” “It is hard to get rid of a feeling that an unpleasant unrest is hanging in the air,” says the paper. It says Kocharian alone can not make things better and has to rely on the state bureaucracy. “But the majority of those people are not interested in any idea and are ready to support any government. Their intellectual and cultural level is below the average. They display fantastic resourcefulness only when it comes to securing their personal material well-being and maintaining their social and administrative status.”

“In essence, the existing national elite is absolutely indifferent to the fate of the state, the society and the people,” continues “Hayots Ashkhar.” “Having such an elite, the president can not move forward and is only left to maintain the status quo. But that is possible only if the West gives Armenia an opportunity for that. But one gets the impression that time given to us by the West is running out.” Therefore, Kocharian “must himself start a revolution from above,” concludes the pro-presidential daily.

“Haykakan Zhamanak” claims that the creation of a new, pro-Western, opposition alliance in Armenia could be announced as early as this month. The paper says the sole concern of its would-be leader is “whether the public will trust and support them.” They fear that the setting up of the bloc could simply go unnoticed.

(Vache Sarkisian)
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