“Haykakan Zhamanak” anticipates “extremely worrisome” developments in Armenia’s gas dealings with Russia. Energy Minister Armen Movsisian on Wednesday effectively admitted that Gazprom would like to buy the Armenian government’s 20 percent share in Armenia’s ARG gas distribution company. “Armen Movsisian will not explain why we want to give Gazprom 20 percent of ARG,” the paper says. “If in return for that we will buy gas for $190 per thousand cubic meters instead of $270 for a while, then there was no such condition [announced beforehand.] It was officially stated that the Armenian government will subsidize the [higher] gas price. And the government promised to obtain a huge sum needed for the subsidy from Russia, in the form of some grant. If we give up 20 percent of ARG in return, then it’s not a grant anymore. It’s a sale and purchase.”
“Zhamanak” says the Armenian authorities are used to trying to prevent anti-government demonstrations with warnings such as the prospect of another war with Azerbaijan. The paper says most of them are baseless because the greatest security threat to Armenia emanates from the government’s “inept economic policy.” “Let the example of Brazil be a lesson to everyone: a society fed up with social injustice can not only emigrate but also free up its hands,” it says.
“One gets the impression that a state of national nirvana has been created in Armenia,” writes “Hayots Ashkhar.” “A considerable part of the society cannot find a way of its survival whereas state bodies are flooded with solutions. Who doesn’t know that lower-level and mid-level officials illegally make money with the knowledge, connivance and encouragement of more high-level officials?” A crackdown on corruption should therefore primarily affect senior officials. “Cosmetic measures, arresting a couple of petty fish and parading them on television will not produce results. There is really no room for retreat,” the paper says.