“The authorities are persecuting the Hanrapetutyun party,” one of its senior members, Artak Zeynalian, tells “Aravot.” “Members of our party are subjected to political persecution. We have a political prisoner.”
“The authorities’ pointed attention to the Hanrapetutyun party is not weakening,” reports “Iravunk.” The paper says police prevented Hanrapetutyun activists on Saturday from holding an indoors gathering in a village in the Armavir region jointly with representatives of the U.S. National Democratic Institute. It also quotes another Hanrapetutyun leader, Suren Sureniants, as denying the existence of serious internal differences within Armenia’s most radical opposition organization.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says Armenia’s power distribution network has been effectively sold to Russia’s Unified Energy Systems and “this is obvious to everyone, including the government and the World Bank.” “Nonetheless, in the legal sense the deal seems to be flawless,” adds the paper.
“Hayots Ashkhar” asks an aide to Prime Minister Andranik Markarian if the Georgian government has given Yerevan any “guarantees” that it will pay greater attention to the socioeconomic situation in Georgia’s Javakheti region. “There are no guarantees in the form of a legal document because no agreement was signed,” says Stepan Markarian. “But the attitude of the current Georgian authorities and the logic of their behavior give us hope that there will be positive changes. The Georgian side envisages to make the main investments [in Javakheti] in 2007 when it receives the money to be allocated by the USA under the Millennium Challenge Account program. All in all, they intend to make $120 million worth of investments in Javakheti.” Markarian says a large part of the money will be spent on road construction.
“Hayots Ashkhar” is critical of Environment Minister Vartan Ayvazian’s calls for slowing the rise of the water level of Lake Sevan. Ayvazian argues that the process is flooding the lake’s wooded coastal areas that are polluting its clean water. The paper says what Ayvazian is advocating is “definitely good for the owners of coastal hotels, entertainment sites, resorts, restaurants and other businesses.” “That stems from their, not Sevan’s interests,” it says.
“Aravot” reports that authorities in Yerevan have decided to raise public transportation prices by 30 percent. “It is evident that these plans are the best possible manifestation of the poverty reduction strategy adopted by the state,” it comments sarcastically.
“Aravot” also reports that a nephew of the southeastern Syunik region’s governor Suren Khachatrian who stabbed to death a man in February 2004 has been sentenced to only 18 months’ imprisonment. The convict has already been set free. The paper says the judge who handed down the ruling is rumored to have received $24,000 in bribes.