“168 Zham” reports that a passenger jet is to land in Armenia on Sunday on a first Istanbul-Yerevan flight of the new year. “There have so far been no flights from Armenia to Turkey this year,” the paper says in the context of the latest outbreak of bird flu in Turkey. It says a special sanitary team tasked with checking passengers arriving from Turkey has already been deployed at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport.
“Azg” sees serious legal problems with the way in which Armenia’s first human rights ombudsperson, Larisa Alaverdian, was relieved of her duties. The paper questions the legality of President Robert Kocharian’s decision to set up a three-member commission that will manage the ombudsperson’s staff until the election of Alaverdian’s successor.
“168 Zham” claims that Kocharian and the coalition have decided to hand the job to Armen Harutiunian, rector of Armenia’s School of Public Administration and Kocharian’s chief constitutional lawyer. The paper says Harutiunian will have no trouble getting elected by the Kocharian-controlled National Assembly.
“Hayots Ashkhar” also says Harutiunian is the most likely candidate. “The coalition parties prefer not to name concrete names for now,” writes the paper. “We have not discussed concrete candidacies and believe that the issue must be solved within the coalition framework,” says Dashnaktsutyun’s Levon Mkrtchian.
“Aravot” looks at the ongoing discussion among Armenian intellectuals about why Armenia’s Ministry of Culture has not had decent heads in recent years. “The answer is very simple,” says the paper. “We don’t need such a ministry.”
“168 Zham” reports that Armenia’s Economic Court rejected on Wednesday a lawsuit against the State Customs Committee filed by Royal Armenia, an embattled company specializing in coffee imports. “This was not a surprise for anyone,” says the paper, adding that Royal Armenia expected such an outcome. The company, it says, simply wanted to “show the public what a corrupt body the State Customs Committee is.” “If this was the purpose [of the Royal Armenia suit], then it can be said that there was no need for it. The public has long been well aware of everything.”
“Aravot” quotes the Royal Armenia lawyer, Gevorg Minasian, as pledging to “continue to fight against illegal actions of the Customs Committee.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” writes that contrary to government claims, rural poverty in Armenia will not decrease as a result of planned repairs of country roads to be financed by the U.S. government. The paper alleges that Armenian officials want to spend much of forthcoming U.S. assistance under the Millennium Challenge Account program on road construction because they will be able to pocket a large part of that money. “In this case, those who authored and will implement that program are only reducing their own poverty,” it concludes tartly.