The U.S. dollar’s surprise rise against the dram makes front-page headlines in Friday’s Armenian newspapers.
“Who is changing the rules of the game?” asks “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun.”
“Aravot” lays the blame on retail currency traders, saying that they are expecting the dollar to strengthen. The paper says “the dollar will indeed go up a little until another attack by oil and cigarette importers.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” sees “some speculative process” behind the exchange rate fluctuations. The paper says Thursday was an unusually successful day currency speculators. “That magic hand put an absolutely real lump sum in its pocket,” it says.
In an interview with “Iravunk,” a member of the Armenian Central Bank board, Vache Gabrielian, admits that any major Armenian entrepreneur can engage in speculative currency trading because “the market is really small.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says ordinary Armenians could not create the “fuss” to which the Central Bank’s referred in its statement on Thursday. The paper says exchange rate manipulations require “large sums of money which are mainly concentrated in the hands of the known groups.” It says it is the Armenian “oligarchs” that began panicking on Thursday by buying up the still cheap dollars. As for ordinary citizens, “they absolutely distrust the authorities in general and the Central Bank in particular.”
“The pro-government parties are trying to distance themselves from semi-criminal and oligarchic circles,” writes “Iravunk.” “However, Robert Kocharian, who condemned the statement by 34 pro-government and opposition parties regarding the provocation carried out in Sevan by criminal elements, is wily nilly publicly siding criminals.” The paper also claims that Russian leaders will express their discontent with Kocharian policies when they meet him in Moscow next week. “Russia’s president is likely to join the leaders of those countries who will demand, in one way or another, to wage a real struggle against criminal elements … and corruption which is thriving in almost all layers of government.”
“Aravot” says the upcoming constitutional referendum is set to follow the familiar pattern of Armenian elections. “The authorities will do everything possible to clinch positive results from the referendum,” the paper says. “The opposition will save no effort to disrupt the referendum this time as well.” Ordinary Armenians, it says, will not care about that. “Our authorities apparently need a constitution only in order to be able to violate it.”
“Kocharian will not willingly limit his power,” writes “Ayb-Fe.” “Others must limit it.”