“Hayots Ashkhar” says the global economic crisis is starting to have an impact on Armenia. “There is nothing surprising about this as being affected by the crisis is the best indication of the seriousness of business [in a particular country] and its integration into global economic processes,” says the paper. “After all, if one or another player is left out of the crisis, that means they are also out of the world economy.”
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” paints a more grim picture, saying that Armenians are increasingly suffering from the crisis. The paper says thousands of Armenians doing seasonal work in Russia are returning home with less money and may find no jobs at all come next spring. “Understandably, the effects of all that will not be particularly felt in the next one or two months, until they run out of money,” it says. “But February or March a really unpredictable situation could arise in Armenia.” The opposition daily goes on to accuse the government of doing nothing to mitigate the inevitable negative consequences of the worldwide downturn. Instead of easing the tax burden, it says, they are extorting even more taxes from local businesses.
“Kapital” reports that a group of parliament deputies have drafted a bill tripling excise duties on alcoholic beverages and cigarettes imported to Armenia. The business daily notes that most of those deputies own local tobacco and alcohol firms. “At first glance, there is nothing wrong with the deputies’ proposal,” it says. “Alcohol and tobacco are not considered to be among a person’s best friends. But their legislative initiative is not aimed at getting people to give up smoking or to consume alcohol moderately. Quite the opposite. They are advised to drink and smoke more because the [state] budget would benefit from that. The main concern of [those deputies] is to make sure that Armenians buy what they produce, rather than what is imported.” The paper says the proposed bill must not be passed also because local tobacco and alcohol manufacturers are already in a privileged position vis-à-vis the importers.
In an interview with “168 Zham,” Armen Harutiunian, the state human rights ombudsman, praises the Armenian parliamentary commission investigating the March 1 violence in Yerevan. “At least, I see more progress made [by the commission] than by the investigative body,” says Harutiunian. “I still don’t know what intelligence bodies were doing in Liberty Square on the morning of March 1. That was the investigators’ job.” Harutiunian also cites the parliamentary commission’s revelation that security forces deployed at least one sniper close to another area in downtown Yerevan where opposition protesters built barricades later on March 1. He says law-enforcement bodies previously denied that.
Armen Rustamian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), tells “Iravunk – De Facto” that President Serzh Sarkisian should pardon those opposition members who were arrested on what appear to be political charges. Rustamian says he and other Dashnaktsutyun leaders have conveyed this view to Sarkisian on “numerous” occasions and that the latter is now “thinking” about the matter.