“Aravot” attacks a group of Armenian artists and intellectuals who have denounced their colleagues for alleging a growing presence of “criminal elements” in government. The paper says their weekend statement “smacked of the spirit of the Stalin era.” “The bad thing is that among the signatories were not only those who dealt with the Stalin era but also young names that have not yet been discredited, something which gives rise to very specific reflections,” it says. “It may well be that they were forced to sign the text.”
“Let those people say whatever they want,” one of the signatories, Meruzhan Ter-Gulanian, tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” “It’s their business. After all, this is a free country and they can state whatever they want.” But, he says, calling Armenia an “international crime base” is unacceptable. “Why are they offending all of us and discrediting the nation? … I am not a pro-government figure, I am simply pro-state.”
But according to “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun,” the statement dealt a blow to efforts to form an “anti-criminal movement” in Armenia. The paper alleges that Russia had a hand in its release.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports on Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian’s election as honorary chairman of a newly formed coalition of so-called “compatriots’ unions.” “This fresh structure is created to satisfy the prosecutor-general’s ambitions,” says the paper.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” says the stated aim of the coalition is in conflict with the stated rationale for the existence of the compatriots’ unions: to underline their members’ difference from other Armenians. “Naturally, all this is being done under the guise of ‘national unity,’” writes the paper. “Of course, unity is a good thing. But there is a much more effective way of achieving that. One simply should not create compatriots’ unions.”
“Iravunk” editor Hayk Babukhanian claims that his bitter row with Hrant Khachatrian, the leader of the opposition Union for Constitutional Rights (SIM) party that formally controls his paper, stems from “Iravunk’s and the SIM’s clash with the criminal-oligarchic system.”
“Aravot” reports that a company owned by Hakob Hakobian, a notorious parliamentarian and businessman nicknamed “Choyt,” has “won” a contract to carry 135 million drams ($350,000) worth of construction work resulting from U.S. government assistance to be provided to Armenia under the Millennium Challenge Account program. The paper says Hakobian plans to buy a small plant manufacturing concrete blocks for that purpose.