(Saturday, July 23)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” predicts that the National Unity Party of Artashes Geghamian will heed the Council of Europe calls and campaign for the passage of President Robert Kocharian’s constitutional amendments. The paper says Geghamian will have trouble convincing Armenians that he is opposed to Kocharian despite supporting his constructional reform.
“Aravot” reports that a small history museum in the Armenian town of Echmiadzin is facing eviction at the behest of the city administration that has sold its building to private individuals. The museum director has protested against the dislocation, reminding of the Armenian authorities’ commitments to UNESCO. “I don’t give a damn about UNESCO,” the head of the culture department at the Echmiadzin municipality, Vahan Hovannisian, is said to have replied.
“It must be said that Mr. Hovannisian has all the grounds to give a damn because he is the brother of the culture minister and the mayor’s relative,” comments “Aravot.” The paper says senior government officials in Yerevan similarly don’t care about what ordinary Armenians and the international community alike think of their dubious actions.
“Golos Armenii” finds the Armenian government’s posture in the scandalous sale of the Electricity Networks of Armenia “absolutely incomprehensible.” The paper believes that the government should have “felt offended by such a deal.” “Of course, assuming that it has had no involvement in that complex and quite fishy scenario,” it adds.
“One is already getting the impression that Armenia’s is an outpost of not Russia but RAO UES,” “Haykakan Zhamanak” observes tartly. “RAO UES knows for sure that the government of Armenia will never agree to the sale of the electricity networks to RAO UES,” says the paper. “Not because it doesn’t want to. On the contrary, it wants very much. It won’t give [its consent] because the World Bank is opposed to that deal, and the government can not ignore that fact.”
According to “Azg,” at the heart of the power grid controversy is a “clash of Russian and Western interests.” “Even in 2001, during the first stage of the privatization of Armenia’s [energy] distribution networks, the West was categorically against their acquisition by Russian companies,” says the paper. “Taking into account that fact, the Russians have opted for acquiring the networks through a lease agreement this time around.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” finds and discusses similarities between Kocharian and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. “Both leaders have a desire and urge to control to every single event, even the most insignificant one, taking place in their state,” says the paper. “Nevertheless, Robert Kocharian and Vladimir Putin also have a number of substantial differences. Putin was completely legitimate during his first term in office and less so, but still legitimate, during the second one. Robert Kocharian, however, has never seen the face of legitimacy … When we see what a legitimate Putin is doing to Russia, we have to thank God for having an illegitimate president in Kocharian. That forces him to be more cautious and prudent.”