Opposition leader Vazgen Manukian speaks of the “shame of being a citizen of such a country” in an interview with “Aravot.” “There is a struggle among redneck illiterate individuals going on in Armenia today,” he says in an apparent reference to a new political party unveiled by Armenia’s richest oligarch. “My impression is that mafia gangs are fighting each other at the moment. They are not using weapons yet. They are mainly using money and their levers.” This can not be considered a political process because ordinary Armenians have no part in it, he says.
As for the Armenian opposition, Manukian believes its “capabilities are limited because opposition makes sense in countries where you can compete in the political field and receive a vote from the public.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that another government-connected tycoon, Mikhail Baghdasarov, will unveil his own party called Motherland soon. The paper says the party will be chaired by a Yerevan State University professor. The head of a Russian theater in Yerevan and the manager of a cement factory owned by Baghdasarov are expected to join its governing board.
“Hayots Ashkhar” reports that Armen Harutiunian, President Robert Kocharian’s top constitutional lawyer, claims to be unaware of his imminent appointment as Armenia’s new human rights ombudsman. That Harutiunian will likely get the job was confirmed by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian last week. “Armen Harutiunian reacted in that way probably because he wants to stay away from political speculations,” Galust Sahakian, a senior member of Markarian’s Republican Party, tells the paper. “We can understand him because he is not a politician.”
“Why is Armenia refusing a gas loan [from Russia?] Because it does not want to be plundered again,” writes “Hayots Ashkhar.” “Armenia spurned Russian ‘care’ for good reason. Repayment of Russian loans has already caused it a big headache.” The pro-Kocharian paper, which has been quite sympathetic to Russia, also says Armenia and other ex-Soviet states can cope with a “difficult situation” created by the gas price hikes, while Russia “will not only lose its leverage against neighbors but suffer serious losses as a result of a westward reorientation of the economies of those countries.” “For everyone will see that it is possible to live without Russia,” it concludes.