“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Armenian and Russian officials were already celebrating late Thursday an agreement that would allegedly commit Russia to not raising the price of its gas until 2009 in exchange for a further tightening of its grip on Armenia’s energy sector. The paper denounces the agreement as “the most disgraceful in Armenia’s history.” Its correspondent claims to have spotted a “dead drunk” official from Gazprom being carried away from the Armenian Energy Ministry’s building in Yerevan and shoved into a Russian embassy car.
“In return for receiving a slightly cheaper gas for only two and a half years, we are giving Gazprom a hen that lays golden eggs, the Fifth Unit of the Hrazdan thermal power plant. But the thing is that those two and a half years will expire right at the end of [Robert] Kocharian’s term in office,” concludes “Haykakan Zhamanak.”
“That Armenia’s economy will go through cataclysms after the gas price hike is known to everyone,” writes “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.” The paper, which is also critical of Kocharian, claims that the Armenian authorities are striving to make sure that ordinary people blame not their government but businessmen for the anticipated increase in inflation.
“Aravot” says the Zharangutyun party of Raffi Hovannisian has alleged “repressions” unleashed by the authorities against some of its members. “People have been summoned [to police] and plainly told that if they don’t want to lose their jobs, then they must leave the Zharangutyun party’s ranks,” a top aide to Hovannisian, Vartan Khachatrian, tells the paper. “They have even been warned that in case of their non-departure [from Zharangutyun] measures will be taken against their relatives as well.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the opposition Hanrapetutyun party of Aram Sarkisian will not form new groupings with other opposition forces “in the coming months.” “Such a decision has been made at a meeting of the party’s political council,” says the paper. A senior party member, Suren Sureniants, is quoted as saying that Hanrapetutyun instead wants to become “the central force that will unite Armenian citizens with liberal values.”
Another oppositionist, Hrant Khachatrian of the Union for Constitutional Rights party, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that the Armenian opposition has “no revolutionary plans for achieving pre-term elections.” “There are no prerequisites for pre-term changes yet,” he says.