(Saturday, February 6)
“168 Zham” notes that Western diplomats in Yerevan have already started emphasizing the importance of Armenia’s 2017 parliamentary elections and their conformity with democratic standards. “Their statements are addressed to the authorities that have learned how to repeatedly rig elections and receive positive reactions from the West,” writes the paper. “The West is now making clear that it will not show such understanding this time around.”
“It is evident that after completing their deal with Dashnaktsutyun, the authorities will get down to more serious business: they will start drafting a new Electoral Code,” writes “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.” “International structures will obviously try to give them advice, put pressure on some issues and so on. And this is quite logical. The only illogical thing is that the new Electoral Code will be written by the authorities. Not because the [ruling] HHK has no good experts but because the issue is such that anyone but the ruling party can be entrusted with this task.”
“Zhamanak” says that a new anti-corruption council that was set up by Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian in July has since held only two meetings and has taken no meaningful steps so far. “Of course, the fact that the justice minister [Arpine Hovannisian] … does not deny that there is corruption in Armenia can be considered a major achievement,” the paper says with sarcasm. “But that does not change the situation with corruption in Armenia.”
“Aravot” says that former President and Armenian National Congress (HAK) Levon Ter-Petrosian was wrong to ridicule domestic opponents of Armenia’s accession to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) two years ago. The paper is at the same time critical of those Armenian civic activists who have mocked Ter-Petrosian in response.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that food prices in Armenia rose by an average of 5 percent in January compared with December. “This is an indicator characteristic of every previous year,” writes the paper. “However, the price hikes for some products were bizarre this time.” In particular, it points to a more than 31 percent surge in the prices of potatoes and vegetables, saying that the reasons for this sharp increase are not yet clear.