“Zhamanak” says that Armenians supporting the opposition understood Levon Ter-Petrosian’s decision in October to suspend rallies in Yerevan but their patience with the continuing imprisonment of opposition members is wearing thin. The paper says they are now demanding a “resumption of mass public events.”
The Gyumri-based newspaper “Shrjapat” carries an interview with Ashot Zakarian, the jailed leader of the Yerkrapah Union’s regional chapter. “The crisis in Armenia has not been overcome,” he says. “Furthermore, it is deepening day by day.” Zakarian points to the continuing Council of Europe monitoring of Armenia and three PACE resolutions criticizing the government crackdown on the opposition. “There is only one way out of the situation,” he says. “First of all, to free all political prisoners. To identify and punish the real organizers of March 1, those responsible for ten casualties. To hold new presidential and parliamentary elections after that.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” advocates the introduction of a “special luxury tax” in Armenia. The paper thinks that the government would be able to use proceeds from that tax for spending on job creation and social programs. “Not to mention the fact that such a measure could increase public trust in both the authorities and business structures,” says the paper. “And that is also extremely important. Finally, luxury tax would send an important, decisive signal for the wealthiest citizens.” The paper believes that they must shoulder responsibility for Armenia’s transformation into a “social state.”
“Kapital” anticipates an upsurge in inflation in Armenia this spring, saying that the gas and energy tariffs are set to go up from April 1. “At a regular meeting on February 27, the Public Services Regulatory Commission will finally approve the prices of electricity supplied from power plants, and electricity and natural gas supplied to consumers,” says the business daily. The paper notes that it is the commission, rather than the national power utility, that is initiating the electricity price rise.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” claims that Armenia’s hard currency reserves are “melting down day by day” because of government efforts to bolster the national currency, the dram. The paper says the country is rapidly approaching a point where “it will no longer be possible [for the government] to conceal the real state of the economy.” It dismisses the government’s stated anti-crisis measures as a public relations stunt. “They are so expensive and inefficient that serious problems will soon arise for the economy because of that,” concludes “Haykakan Zhamanak.”