(Saturday, January 21)
Armenian newspapers report that President Robert Kocharian subjected to harsh criticism the Yerevan municipality at a meeting on Friday. “You won’t find a single person in Yerevan who believes that land auctions [held by the mayor’s office] are fair,” “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” quotes Kocharian as saying. He said the process is riddled with corruption and will now be closely watched by his Oversight Service.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” notes tartly that it took Kocharian eight years to admit that Yerevan mayors handpicked by himself are corrupt. The paper also advises readers, “In the sentence angrily uttered by Kocharian, replace the word auction with the word election and see how vividly it reflects our reality.”
According to “168 Zham,” the meeting sparked rumors that Mayor Yervand Zakharian has been sacked. But the paper says they were denied by Kocharian’s spokesman, Victor Soghomonian.
“There are virtually no green areas left in Yerevan,” writes “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.” “Central Yerevan has been barbarically torn down. Instead, they are building ‘elite buildings’ made of concrete blocks with ludicrous designs.”
“Golos Armenii” reports that hunting for wild birds, including in areas close to the Turkish border, is continuing unabated despite a government ban aimed at preventing a spread of bird flu. The paper says Russian and Armenian border guards are turning a blind eye to the practice.
“Azg” says that Armenian poultry firms can not prevent a slump in poultry consumption simply by saying that their products are safe. They should have also reduced the price of their chickens and eggs. The paper says this has not happened because there is little competition in the sector. It says Armenians had already helped the industry drive imported poultry products out of the local market during the late 1990s. What they got in return was “constant and unfounded price rises.” The poultry industry has only itself to blame for its current woes, concludes “Azg.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” continues to attack Russia for raising the gas price for Armenia, noting that by contrast the United States has never demanded any industrial assets in exchange for its multimillion-dollar assistance to Yerevan. “It is thus becoming evident that with such illogical steps Russia can only repel Armenia, rather than impose political and economic conditions on it,” says the pro-presidential paper.