(Saturday, September 22)
Like other Armenian newspapers, “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” covers former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s first public speech in nearly a decade. “It became obvious from his words that he sees ways of solving the issues of elimination of corruption, systemic reforms, strengthening of democracy and freedom but does not know how to solve the Karabakh problem,” comments the paper. “In essence, Levon Ter-Petrosian’s speech was a bid to return to active politics ahead of the presidential elections of 2008, even if he said that he has not yet made a decision.” The government paper also notes that no Yerevan-based Western ambassador was present at the event organized by the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh).
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” says that most members of Armenia’s parliament faced a difficult dilemma during Friday’s celebration of Armenia’s independence anniversary, having been invited to an official reception organized by President Robert Kocharian and wedding parties involving the sons of two senior lawmakers.
The paper quotes an unnamed deputy from the governing Republican Party as saying, “If we go to the wedding party the president will think he is a man on his way out and that is why we ignored him and rushed to a wedding attended by Serzh Sarkisian. If we go to the president’s reception, the guys will take offense and ask, ‘Didn’t we deserve your presence?’ But the worst thing is that we would have to go the wedding with our wives and to the [presidential] event without them. What should we do with our wives in the process?”
“168 Zham” reports that Kocharian sacked last week the deputy chief of Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS), Grigor Harutiunian, because of the latter’s business activities that came into conflict with law. “The thing is that Harutiunian has long been involved in imports of bananas and has serious problems related to that with tax and customs bodies,” explains the paper. “The company Catherine sponsored by Grigor Harutiunian declared its bananas imports to Armenia as transactions aimed at their re-exports to third countries. As a result of that, it did not pay relevant customs duties.” The company has thereby avoided paying $2 million in taxes, according to “168 Zham.”