In a year-end commentary, “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” sees no significant political changes in Armenia in 2015, saying that President Serzh Sarkisian and his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) remain firmly in control. “The public demand for change has not been fulfilled,” writes the pro-opposition paper. It notes, though, the June-July protests in Yerevan against an electricity price hike. They forced the Armenian government to make significant concessions to the protesters. Turning to mass media, the paper says that the Facebook online network emerged as an important outlet in the Armenian media landscape over the course of the year.
“Hayots Ashkhar” quotes Hovannes Sahakian, the chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on legal affairs, as saying that after pushing through Sarkisian’s constitutional changes the HHK will strive to enact a new Electoral Code “acceptable to everyone.” Sahakian says that the proper conduct of the 2017 parliamentary elections depends not only on the Armenian authorities but also the opposition. Both sides should put aside their “parochial partisan interests,” he says.
1in.am notes in this regard that the new Electoral Code will be drafted by the officials and experts who drew up Sarkisian’s controversial constitutional package. The online publication says that two of them, Vartan Poghosian and Hrayr Tovmasian, have already started consultations on the subject with representatives of the Armenian parliamentary factions. “Deputies say that they will definitely submit proposals but they think that it is more important to enforce what is written in the laws,” it says. “Even a toughening of punishment for electoral fraud would not solve the problem because if vote falsifiers feel protected by the state they will think that that punishment is not meant for them.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports on a mysterious 15 price increase in retail prices of bananas in Armenia. “There are no [objective] grounds for that whatsoever,” writes the paper. “In Russia, for instance, bananas are becoming cheaper day by day.” It points out that banana imports to Armenia are controlled by the Katrine Group company owned by a powerful law-enforcement official.