“168 Zham” reports on the latest war of words between the governing Republican (HHK) and Orinats Yerkir parties. At issue are controversial privatization policies pursued by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian.
“Aravot” quotes Markarian as dismissing Orinats Yerkir claims that the privatization process has been deeply flawed. “All privatizations were approved at government sessions,” he says. “Representatives of that party were present at the sessions. If they had questions they could ask them and be given explanations.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says among state assets privatized by Markarian is a building in downtown Yerevan that was sold without a tender six months ago. The decision to privatize it was not published in the government’s “Official Gazette.” “The fact that the government decision was kept as a secret has probably to do with the fact that the buyer is the father of Robert Kocharian’s daughter-in-law, National Assembly deputy Vladimir Badalian,” the paper says, adding that the building was sold for $60 per square meter (The price of real estate in that part of the city is at least ten times higher).
“If we calculate the market value of the privatized property at a minimum of $850 per square meter, then the overall cost of the property makes up about $3 million,” continues “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “We can therefore say that being related to Robert Kocharian fetched the buyer about $2.8 million worth of revenues in that particular case. We think this is not a bad tariff for a relation.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also continues to attack the Armenian government over its “equities-for-gas” deal with Russia, saying that it was bad for Armenia even if one assumes that the Russians paid a high price for the incomplete Hrazdan power plant. “If we look at the issue from the standpoint of the state’s development, a very natural question will arise: what will happen after the year 2009? Nobody knows the answer to this question,” writes the paper. It claims that Kocharian does not care what will happen after his exit from power in 2008, while Serzh Sarkisian is only concerned with his victory in the 2008 presidential election.
“Hayots Ashkhar” carries Prime Minister Markarian’s assurances that the deal with Gazprom does not cover the Armenian-Iranian gas pipeline currently under construction. “Regardless of whether the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline will be incorporated into [the Gazprom-controlled] ArmRosGazprom, Iranian gas will be purchased and shipped to any buyer,” he told the National Assembly.