“168 Zham” comments on the arrest on embezzlement charges of Tigran Virabian, a former senior official in the administration of the southern Ararat province. The paper links the development with a recent Finance Ministry statement essentially implicating the Ararat-based extended family of parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian in the theft of government-subsidized diesel fuel distributed to local farmers. The statement followed Abrahamian’s public support for corruption allegations made by the parliament’s Audit Chamber against the government.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” takes a critical look at Vahe Hakobian, the newly appointed governor of another province, Syunik. The paper points out that Hakobian has very rarely spoken on the parliament floor or made other public statements during his decade-long membership of the National Assembly. It says the 36-year-old owes his appointment to his “powerful dad” Maxim Hakobian, who runs Armenia’s largest metallurgical enterprise.
“Zhamanak” reacts to Dashnaktsutyun leader Hrant Markarian’s harsh attacks on Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian. The paper says that Dashnaktsutyun was previously “at war” with Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian. “Progress is evident,” it says with sarcasm. “If things continue like this, Dashnaktsutyun will go to war with Serzh Sarkisian. But this is only a theoretical prospect as Dashnaktsutyun recognizes Serzh Sarkisian’s legitimacy for the time being.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the government has approved a bill allowing senior officers of Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) to avoid mandatory retirement until the age of 75. Armenian law currently sets the retirement age at 65 years. It can be extended by 5 years in “exceptional cases.” The paper says the measure is aimed at enabling the 67-year-old head of the NSS, Gorik Hakobian, to stay in office for several more years. It says President Sarkisian needs an “absolutely trustworthy individual” like Hakobian at the head of the former KGB to continue neutralizing threats to his rule.