In an interview with “Aravot,” former parliament speaker Tigran Torosian criticizes President Serzh Sarkisian for appointing a new Yerevan mayor less than three months before first-ever municipal elections. “I don’t think that Gagik Beglarian got a favor,” he says. Torosian says he is bewildered by the fact that opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian did not mention the May 31 elections in his speech at the March 1 rally. “This was simply bizarre because a political force gearing up for a serious political struggle can not fail to talk about an already scheduled election at a mass rally,” he says.
“Golos Armenii” accuses Western powers of playing “the scenario of the break-up of the Soviet Union” in Armenia. “In the early 1990s, architects of American foreign policy openly joked, ‘The Soviets fell apart because of a shortage of patriotism, rather than goods,’” writes the paper.
Lragir.am believes that the Armenian authorities have still not done anything to address Council of Europe concerns about the continuing imprisonment of scores of government opponents. It notes that the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) will again discuss the matter and could at last impose sanctions against Yerevan at its next session due in late April. The PACE’s Monitoring Committee will discuss it as early as this month. “Frankly speaking, it is hard to imagine just what the Monitoring Committee is going to discuss,” says the online journal. “It is hard to imagine the authorities … doing anything substantive within one and a half months remaining [before the PACE session.] But it is also possible that that substantive thing will be done after all. But not in terms of a reform of internal life or an improvement of the situation with democracy but in a totally different area.”
Speaking to “Hayots Ashkhar,” Galust Sahakian, the parliamentary leader of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), dismisses Ter-Petrosian’s claims that the authorities might soon offer the opposition to form a “government of national unity.” “One gets the impression that the political force acting from radical positions is simply trying to look for new ways in order to somehow continue to move down the deadlocked path,” says Sahakian. He also says that if the Ter-Petrosian-led opposition considers itself a very influential force then it should contest the May 31 elections, instead of demanding fresh presidential or parliamentary elections.
Former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratian tells “Hraparak” that the Armenian authorities will use the $540 million loans promises by the International Monetary Fund only for bolstering the dram. “Even now we don’t have a floating exchange rate of the dram,” says Bagratian. “We have a set rate. Therefore, the dram’s exchange rate will always sharply fluctuate in the end.” A key reason for that, he says, is the fact that large-scale imports of commodities and foodstuffs are effectively monopolized by a handful of businessmen close to the government.