“Zhamanak” comments on a series of anti-government protests in Azerbaijan that followed the collapse of the Azerbaijani currency, the manat, resulting from the dramatic fall in oil prices. “The authorities are forcibly dispersing them,” writes the paper. “The reasons are clear. Because of the decrease in the oil price Azerbaijan has found itself in an extremely severe financial and economic situation. These developments should be monitored from Armenia with both enthusiasm and vigilance. The thing is that unrest and destabilization brewing up in Azerbaijan could lead to not only systemic collapses and chaos in that country but escalations on the [Armenian-Azerbaijani] borders.” It fears that President Ilham Aliyev’s regime may provoke renewed fighting in the Karabakh conflict zone in order to distract the Azerbaijani public from domestic economic problems.
“Aravot” discusses the surprise resignation of Karen Andreasian, Armenia’s human rights ombudsman. “As long as Karen Andreasian -- as well as his predecessors -- was in office he was a government puppet for the opposition and opposition deputies demanded his resignation,” editorializes the paper.“As soon as he was dismissed he became, let’s face it, the head of the only decent [state] structure and a ray of light in a dark kingdom. It turned out that the people love him as well.” The paper predicts that the next ombudsman will face the same perceptions.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” sees a contradiction between statements made by the head of the State Commission on the Protection of Economic Competition (SCPEC), Artak Shaboyan, and inflation data leased by Armenia’s National Statistical Service (NSS). Shaboyan insisted in late December that key consumer prices in Armenia did not rise and, in some cases, even fell ahead of the New Year and Christmas holidays. The NSS has registered, however, an inflation rate of 1.8 percent in December.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian set up on Thursday a new council tasked with facilitating Armenian exports, including through financial assistance to be provided to manufacturers that will export five types of goods. Those include wine, vodka distilled from fruits, preserves, fresh or processed meat and fish. “It will be interesting to see which businesspeople will receive such assistance and how connected they are to the prime minister and his family,” comments the paper. “Hovik Abrahamian’s relatives have already benefited from diesel fuel [for farmers] subsidized from the state budget.”