(Saturday, June 20)
“Zhoghovurd” reports on renewed street protests in Yerevan against a more than 16 percent rise in electricity prices which has been sanctioned by Armenia’s Public Services Regulatory Commission. The paper speculates that if the protests do not die down the Armenian authorities will likely use force against their participants. It says the fact that the Electricity Networks of Armenia (ENA) utility is owned by a Russian company only increases the likelihood of violence.
“The young people [holding a sit-in in Yerevan’s Liberty Square] seem to be in high spirits and that is very good,” writes “Aravot.” “The organizers of the protests only need to organize their struggle in a prudent way.” The paper specifically urges them to avoid confrontations with riot police and to “keep a proper distance” from opposition parties. “Naturally, the parties will try to use any rally attended by at least 1,000 people in order to further their agendas,” it says. “As a rule, those agendas lead to deadlock.”
“168 Zham” reports that the Armenian government has drafted a bill that would raise the maximum level of the state debt which is allowed by an Armenian law. The paper dismisses government assurances that the bill currently debated by the National Assembly is aimed at enabling it to borrow much more from foreign sources. It suggests that the authorities simply see no other ways of tackling Armenia’s socioeconomic problems.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” quotes the head of the International Monetary Fund’s Yerevan office, Teresa Daban Sanchez, as saying that the ratio of Armenia’s public debt to Gross Domestic Product is already rather high. She believes that the authorities in Yerevan should strive to lower that proportion exceeding 40 percent. Daban Sanchez is at the same time careful not to explicitly criticize the relevant government bill submitted to the Armenian parliament.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” speculates that President Serzh Sarkisian is ready to reward “constructive” opposition parties supporting his controversial constitutional reform with a large number of seats in the next parliament. The paper believes that at least two such parties, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and Orinats Yerkir, will cut such deals. The Prosperous Armenia Party formerly led by Gagik Tsarukian may also do that, it says.