“[President] Kocharian’s statement about the incompatibility of the Karabakh negotiations and the election process led some to think that Kocharian has already reached agreement with superpowers to continue the negotiation process after completing the operation of reproducing his power,” editorializes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” But, says the paper, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza’s latest statements suggest that this is not quite the case. It claims that the West wants to keep the Karabakh issue on the domestic Armenian political agenda in the coming months.
“Hayots Ashkhar” reports that Armenia’s leading parties are already busy drawing up their lists of candidates for the May parliamentary elections. “That parliament seats in our country are bought and sold is no secret to anyone,” editorializes the paper. “And the price of a [parliament] mandate keeps rising. Parties are gradually becoming monopolists, and, according to the laws of market economy, the price of a mandate must grow.”
In an interview with “Yerkir,” Samvel Nikoyan, a senior member of the governing HHK, shrugs off fears that the upcoming elections will again be falsified. Nikoyan says they are spread by political forces that are not sure they will get enough votes to be represented in the National Assembly. “In order to explain their defeat, they opt for such tactics,” he says.
Vahagn Khachatrian, a former Yerevan mayor close to former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, comments in “Aravot” on Kocharian’s latest criticism of the tax authorities that was voiced at a meeting with top government officials. Khachatrian notes that among them were the chiefs of the Police Service and the National Security Service. “Even more amazing is the fact that the defense minister was not invited to the meeting,” he says.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” says it is ordinary Armenians that will ensure the execution of Armenia’s record-high budget for 2007. “How? Very simply” it says. “Those who live off external cash transfers need to be plundered more intensively. There has arisen a situation where the prices of goods and the dollar’s exchange rate are relatively stable. With the Central Bank doing nothing, the dollar’s value is slowly increasing, and at some point that will affect prices and prices too grow. That’s when the Central Bank again lowers the dollar’s exchange rate, while the prices don’t go down.”
“Hayk” reports that a company controlled by Kocharian’s older son Sedrak has become the official dealer of the Japanese auto-maker Toyota in Armenia. The paper claims that another company controlled by Sedrak Kocharian dominates the Armenian market for mobile phone handsets and avoids paying taxes. “Furthermore, other firms importing mobile phones somehow find it necessary to periodically inform Robert Kocharian’s older son of details of their activities,” it says. “This gives us reason to suggest that the same will be true for car importers.”