“Aravot” says that bodyguards of wealthy and influential Armenians have long ceased to protect them against assassination attempts and other physical dangers. “The more thick-necked people surround you, the more intimidating they are to ordinary citizens,” the paper explains in an editorial. “The longer the motorcade accompanying you is, the higher your position is in the informal government rankings. Russian feudal chieftains of the 17th and 18th centuries bragged about the number of their serfs in an approximately similar way.”
“Zhamanak” says there is growing talk in government circles about reducing the number of “oligarchs” and other individuals with questionable reputations in Armenia’s next parliament to be elected in 2012. “It looks like the authorities want to somewhat change the face of the parliament,” comments the pro-opposition daily. “To give it a civilized, intellectual appearance, so to speak. But the question is whether the oligarchs and nicknamed individuals, who serve as the regime’s heavy artillery during elections, would agree to be left out of the parliament.” The challenge for the authorities, it says, is therefore to find “new mechanisms of security” for them. “Or else, they would not be motivated to ensure election results for these authorities at any cost,” concludes the paper.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says that political life in Armenia this year will be increasingly shaped by preparations for the 2012 elections. “It is known that the Republican, Prosperous Armenia and Orinats Yerkir party making up the ruling coalition will be contesting the elections separately,” the pro-government paper says. “The separate participation could no doubt hamper the government’s coalition work. Especially in the run-up to and during the electoral struggle. But we think that the authorities have enough resources to ensure discipline and a normal atmosphere within the administrative system.”
Economic analyst Mikael Verdian tells “Kapital” that the Armenian dram is now “somewhat overvalued.” “That is conditioned by a substantial dollar supply in the market, the monetary policy of the Armenian Central Bank and a rise in the population’s trust in the national currency observed during 2010,” he says. Verdian predicts that the dram will depreciate against the dollar in the coming months because of seasonal drops in exports and remittances from Armenians working abroad. But he says there will be no drastic exchange rate changes.