(Saturday, March 7)
“Hraparak” describes as unacceptable the methods of “political vendetta” used by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) against its opponents, notably the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) that was effectively bullied into changing its leadership and policy in the past few weeks. The paper calls it a disgrace and “an even bigger sin” when HHK spokesperson Eduard Sharmazanov says that “nobody can achieve political success in Armenia without going through [the HHK headquarters located on Yerevan’s] Melik-Adamian Street.” “With the same success it is possible to say that those who do not go through Melik-Adamian Street will have to go through [tax inspections at] the Ministry of Finance or the office of Police Chief Vladimir Gasparian,” the daily writes.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reminds the words of President Serzh Sarkisian who told senior members of his ruling HHK on February 12 that “unverified reports” implicating tycoon Gagik Tsarukian, then still leader of the BHK, in large-scale tax evasion must be thoroughly examined and the results of this examination must be presented publicly. It says that in this connection it sent an inquiry to the Ministry of Finance about the list of companies owned by Tsarukian that have already been inspected or are going to be inspected by tax officials and also inquired about what these inspections have revealed so far. “By the end of the working day [on Friday] the Ministry did not provide such a list and judging from this situation in some time Finance Minister Gagik Khachatrian will have nothing to tell journalists and the public in this connection as Parliament Speaker Galust Sahakian has nothing to say about the whole story today.”
“Zhamanak” wonders who is going to finance the activities of the BHK if its former millionaire leader Tsarukian has stopped doing that and a number of wealthy businessmen have been quitting the party. In this view, the paper sees an ongoing redistribution of financial and human resources in Armenia’s political arena: “A question also arises about these resources. What will be their fate? Where will they find their place and will they indeed join the HHK? This is also an important matter, because it is possible that this way Sarkisian is also trying to change the balance of forces in his own party.”
Levon Zurabian, the leader of the parliamentary faction of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), tells “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” that there is a “vast field” for cooperation with the BHK considering that the party recently declared that it is now officially in opposition to the Armenian government. “The regime has initiated changes in the Constitution in order to overcome the barrier of the “third [presidential] term” and ensure the reproduction of Serzh Sarkisian’s power. All the healthy forces of the country have united against this program of reproduction and, of course, this is a field in which we can cooperate,” he said.
Member of the HAK parliamentary faction Lyudmila Sarkisian (no relation to the president), meanwhile, denies in an interview with “Aravot” that not specifically blaming former president Robert Kocharian for the deadly post-election clashes in 2008 has become a pattern in the speeches by members of the opposition party. The paper observes that speakers at the March 1 rally of the HAK mentioned only the name of incumbent president Serzh Sarkisian as the official who was mainly responsible for the bloody events. In his connection Lyudmilar Sarkisian says: “I’ve never observed a mood within the HAK to take responsibility off Robert Kocharian. The March 1 rally was not the rally where all the names had to be given. I think it is pointless to repeat the same every time. Who doesn’t know who is responsible for the March 1 events?”