“Haykakan Zhamanak” is pessimistic about chances of opposition consolidation ahead of the Armenian parliamentary elections. “If [opposition] consensus really fails to materialize one can only presume two things,” writes the paper. “Either the big opposition forces have already reached an agreement with the authorities to get a few mandates in the future parliament, or leaders of the opposition parties simply can not overcome their ambitions.”
“Leaders of the opposition parties are perfectly aware that the opposition leader who will win the largest number of votes in the parliamentary elections will be able to aspire to the role of a common opposition candidate in the presidential election,” writes “Golos Armenii.” “Despite that and contrary to common sense, the [opposition] radicals will contend that it is the authorities that prevented them from joining forces, that they were betrayed, and so on.”
“Zhamanak Yerevan” alleges that President Robert Kocharian has granted opposition leader Stepan Demirchian a “gasoline import quota” on the condition that he will not join opposition alliances. “Of course, Stepan Demirchian will not be personally engaging petrol imports; that will be done by his associate Paylak Uruslian,” says the paper, adding that Uruslian was involved in the lucrative business when Demirchian’s father Karen was speaker of the parliament in 1999.
“Aravot” comments on the fact that three parliament deputies and an ex-minister formerly affiliated with Artur Baghdasarian’s Orinats Yerkir have joined the electoral list of Tigran Karapetian, the populist owner of ALM television. The paper says these are the people who had failed to join the ruling Republican Party (HHK) in run-up to the May 2003 parliamentary elections. “At that time they were told from above: ‘Go to Orinats Yerkir. It too will enter the National Assembly.’ And so those extremely principled politicians entered the parliament after jumping on the Orinats Yerkir bandwagon. But they have again run out luck: the places in the HHK and Prosperous Armenia are already vacant. Therefore, the country’s bosses sent those people to [Karapetian’s] People’s Party.”
“Azg” asserts that the scale of tax evasion in Armenia increased in 2006, denying government assurances to the contrary. “Naturally, the State Tax Service possesses more comprehensive information and, in case of having the go-ahead or permission of the government, it can tax those who pay measly taxes but are considered oligarchs,” writes the paper. “How is it that some wealthy businessmen like Barsegh Beglarian or Hrant Vartanian or Khachatur Sukiasian pay between 9 and 10 billion drams in taxes each year, while [commodity importer] Samvel Aleksanian pays half that figure?” The paper also points out that another oligarch, Mikhail Baghdasarov, paid only 2.5 billion drams last year. Furthermore, the combined annual contribution of the country’s arguably wealthiest man, Gagik Tsarukian, was only about 1 billion drams.