Երկուշաբթի, Ապրիլ 21, 2014 Ժամանակը Երեւանում 01:20

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Press Review

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Opposition politician Davit Shahnazarian strongly condemns the latest Russian-Armenian gas agreement in an interview with “Zhoghovurd.” Shahnazarian says this “purely political deal” has dealt a further blow to Armenia’s sovereignty. “In effect, Armenia is now being occupied by Russia,” he claims, adding that Armenia is now governed by Russian puppets.

Stepan Safarian, a senior member of the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, similarly tells “Aravot” that giving Russia’s Gazprom monopoly 100 percent control over Armenia’s domestic gas distribution network was a serious mistake. Safarian says that Gazprom “grabbed,” rather than purchased, the Armenian government’s 20 percent stake in the network “just like it got hold of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline.” He says Armenia has for years succumbed to the Russian “blackmail” because its leaders are “mired in various crimes.”

“Haykakan Zhamanak” says that Ukraine has secured far more economic concessions from Russia than Armenia has in return for not signing an Association Agreement with the European Union. “At first, Serzh Sarkisian announced his decision to enter the Russian economic domain, the Customs Union, thereby killing the Association Agreement with the EU,” writes the paper. “He then ceded the 20 percent [government] share in ArmRosGazprom to Russia, gave Gazprom illogical opportunities and powers to do business in Armenia, turned Gyumri into a settlement appended to a Russian military base, handed over the Erebuni airport [in Yerevan] to that base, hastily repaid a $500 million Russian loan, and got only a 30 percent discount in the gas price return.”

“Ukraine received the same 30 percent discount and a $15 billion [Russian] loan,” continues “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “In return, he only avoided signing the Association Agreement with the EU. By contrast, Armenia did not sign the Association Agreement, stated that it is going to join the Customs Union, gave Russia everything it possessed and only had the gas price cut by 30 percent.”

“Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” claims that the Armenian authorities are seriously worried about continuing street protests against their controversial pension reform. The paper says the demonstrations are gaining momentum and could turn into an “unstoppable wave of protests.” “The authorities are so scared that some large Armenian companies, notably VivaCell [mobile phone operator] and the Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Combine, have expressed readiness -- obviously not without orders from above -- to pay extra social security taxes to be levied from their workers,” it says.

(Tigran Avetisian)
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