(Saturday, April 27)
“168 Zham” says the ongoing campaigning by Armenian political parties will have a minimal impact on the outcome of the May 5 elections in Yerevan. “In one way or another, most voters have already made up their minds, while others have no expectations from any political force,” writes the paper. “Broadly speaking, the election campaign is a formality … As was the case in the previous elections, money and administrative resources are the main factor in this race.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” heaps praise on Vladimir Gasparian, the Armenian police chief, calling him “the man of the month.” The paper says Gasparian personally prevented serious clashes between riot police and opposition protesters in Yerevan on April 9. It also points to his pledges to put an end to a long-running feud between two rival clans in Gyumri, expressing hope that they will indeed end “the era of impudence” there.
“Aravot” says the fact that none of those clans now controls the municipal administration of Gyumri bodes well for an end to their “bloody vendetta.” The paper says the authorities as well as the media must also publicly state that “those gangs have sponsors in the National Assembly and other government circles.”
“Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” reports that hundreds of traders at a big clothing market in Yerevan went on strike on Friday to demand that its owners lower the rent paid by them for their stalls and kiosks. The paper dismisses the owners’ warnings to kick the traders out of the market if they do not end the strike. “Armenia’s economic situation is not such that the empty stalls would be immediately taken by other traders,” it says. “If everybody is kicked out of there it is the owners that will suffer the most.”
Citing the latest export and import data released by the Armenian customs service, “Haykakan Zhamanak” says that Armenia paid $240 per thousand of imported Russian natural gas in the first quarter of this year. The paper points out that the official price of the gas for Armenia is still $180 per thousand cubic meters. “The issue of Russian gas supplies to Armenia is directly connected with the internal political situation in Armenia,” it says. “Officials have reason to assert that the gas has not become more expensive. If they admit [a price rise] they will have to raise internal [gas] tariffs. They should have gone up last year, but that was postponed for populist considerations: there were parliamentary elections. Then the [ruling] HHK began preparing for the 2013 presidential elections.” The upcoming mayoral elections in Yerevan have resulted in another delay. “Because of these postponements Armenia has accumulated an almost $200 million debt to Russia, which is not shown in [official] data on our foreign debt,” claims “Haykakan Zhamanak.”