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(Saturday, September 3)

“Zhoghovurd” says that if the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) secures victory the upcoming municipal elections in Gyumri in an alliance with other pro-governments groups then it will be likely to also form a similar bloc for the parliamentary elections due in April 2017. The bloc set up by the HHK and its allies in Gyumri is named after the city’s mayor, Samvel Balasanian. “Thus the HHK has admitted that its name leaves it with no chance of a victory,” speculates the paper. “The Republicans have decided to hide their name under the guise of an alliance so that HHK propagandists, especially from the party’s younger wing, can claim that the authorities have changed.”

“Hayots Ashkhar” expects a “tough political struggle” in Armenia in the run-up to the 2017 elections. “But any forecast about concrete dates and peculiarities of the anticipated processes must take into account the possibility that the Azerbaijani leadership, which failed to achieve any results in the negotiating marathon [on the Karabakh conflict] of the spring and summer 2016, may again lose patience, paving the way for renewed, more large-scale hostilities [in Nagorno-Karabakh,]” writes the paper.

“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the Armenian government and the ruling HHK are reluctant to make alternative concessions to the parliamentary opposition after walking away from a compromise agreement that was supposed to preclude serious fraud in the 2017 elections. In particular, the paper says, they are continuing to reject a key legal safeguard against multiple fraudulent voting that has long been demanded by the opposition. Nevertheless, it says, the two sides are continuing to negotiate on alternative amendments to the Electoral Code. They currently involve, though, only the chiefs of President Serzh Sarkisian’s and Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian’s staffs and the deputy chairman of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), Levon Zurabian.

“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” claims that the economic situation in Armenia is “disastrous” at the moment. The pro-opposition paper says even government officials agree that the country is faced with grave socioeconomic woes. “But statements alone would not develop the economy, fill up the state budget or halt emigration,” it says. “It’s not that the authorities are doing nothing. They are now busy fiercely trying to fill the budget [with more tax revenue] at any cost and at the same time doing everything to prevent a wave of social protests. The authorities know only one way of accomplishing that task: brute force. The State Revenue Committee is simply terrorizing businesses.”

(Tigran Avetisian)

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