(Saturday, December 28)
“Hraparak” believes that 2014 will be an unpredictable year for Armenia. The paper says political developments in the country could be specifically affected by continuing rivalry between Russia and the European Union. It says that the EU’s November 2013 summit in Vilnius was only the beginning of a “real fight” with Moscow. The paper speculates that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s post-Soviet integration project will also be increasingly complicated by Kazakhstan, a member of the Russian-led Customs Union whose President Nursultan Nazarbayev has repeatedly raised questions about its transformation into a Eurasian Economic Union.
“We started the year  as a wholehearted carrier of European values but ended up as the most ardent supporter of the Customs Union,” “Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” writes in a yearend commentary. “As a result of ‘exclusive’ agreements signed with Russia, Armenia began receiving Russian gas at the lowest price in the region.” The paper regards a powerful hailstorm in May, which wreaked havoc on tens of thousands of farmers in Armenia’s southern Armavir region, as another significant event of 2013. “Besides, villagers [across the country] had difficulty selling their produce,” it says. “Serzh Sarkisian personally commented on problems in agriculture.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the law-enforcement and judicial systems are “the most impassable obstacle” to Armenia’s development. “It has for years been noted that that not only that system fails to improve but increasingly rots,” claims the pro-opposition paper. “In the past year, that rotten system has had many occasions to demonstrate its true face.” The paper singles out the arrest and prosecution of anti-government activist Shant Harutiunian and 14 other men who clashed with riot police in central Yerevan on November 5. “The detainees have not been able to see their relatives for the past two months,” it says. “The rotten system is giving stupid explanations as to why they should not have such contacts.” The real reason for the incommunicado detention is Harutiunian’s allegations that he was beaten up in custody by Vladimir Gasparian, the chief of the Armenian police, according to “Haykakan Zhamanak.”