“Hayots Ashkhar” reports that the ArmRosGazprom (ARG) operator has asked state regulators to allow it to nearly double the retail price of Russian gas supplied to individual consumers in Armenia. The paper expects that the Public Service Regulatory Commission will rule on the application before April 1, the day when Russia intends to begin charging Armenia twice as much for its gas.
“Azg” also expects the decision to be announced this month. The paper notes that as a rule, the commission approves less drastic increase in utility prices.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” links Tuesday’s government-organized rally in Yerevan, devoted to the 18th anniversary of anti-Armenian pogroms in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait, to the collapse of the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks at Rambouillet. The paper claims that President Robert Kocharian is thereby trying to counter international pressure for Armenian withdrawal from occupied territories in Azerbaijan.
“Aravot” quotes Dashnaktsutyun leader Vahan Hovannisian as saying in his speech at the rally that Armenian officials involved in corruption “contribute to Azerbaijan’s success.” “Those extremely wealthy individuals who are trying to avoid paying taxes are causing us no less damage than the Turks or the Azerbaijanis,” added Hovannisian.
“Who will defend this country at difficult moments?” Hovannisian asked, referring to Armenian “oligarchs,” according to “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “They and their thick-necked bodyguards or the poor people whom they have oppressed and disappointed?” The paper says standing alongside Hovannisian on the makeshift podium were Minister for Local Government Hovik Abrahamian, Yerevan Mayor Yervand Zakharian and other influential figures. “This is probably the reason why participants of the rally did not doubt the sincerity of the statements,” it comments with sarcasm.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says a breakthrough in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains elusive because of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev’s “exceptional stubbornness.” “He has repeatedly and explicitly stated after Rambouillet that he will not sign the proposals put forward by the OSCE Minsk Group,” argues the paper.
“Azg” claims that the European Union is not against the construction of a new and more modern nuclear power plant in Armenia after the decommissioning of the Metsamor plant. The paper says Armenia will need as much as $1.5 billion to put the project into practice, adding that the EU has already expressed readiness to contribute $100 million for that purpose.