“Zhoghovurd” dismisses as disingenuous former President Robert Kocharian’s claims that he criticizes the Armenian government because he cares about problems facing his country. The paper wonders why Kocharian is criticizing the “disgraceful” Russian-Armenian gas agreement, now, rather than when it was debated by Armenia’s parliament in December. “If Kocharian’s concerns are sincere, wouldn’t it make more sense to speak up at that time?” it asks. “His statements could have made a difference.” The paper is equally dismissive about Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian’s arguments that double-digit economic growth during Kocharian’s rule was a “bubble.”
Interviewed by “Aravot,” Yerjanik Abgarian, a veteran politician critical of the government, claims that Russia is behind Kocharian’s latest moves. Abgarian says that Moscow increasingly distrusts President Serzh Sarkisian and will openly try to undercut him after Armenia completes its accession to the Russian-led Customs Union in May. Sarkisian will step down “long before the end of his presidential term” in 2018, he claims.
Political analyst Aleksandr Iskandarian plays down the political significance of Kocharian’s statements in an interview with “Hayots Ashkhar.” He argues that there is nothing unusual about a former president criticizing his predecessor. “Secondly, you cannot change political realities with interviews,” continues Iskandarian. “One or another politician’s interview is not enough for changing the political situation.” He also stresses the importance of the fact that the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) has rejected Kocharian’s criticism of the government.
“Zhamanak” carries a commentary on a recent report by the Washington-based watchdog Global Financial Integrity (GFI) saying that more than $6 billion worth of capital was illegally taken out of Armenia from 2002-2011. The paper believes that this money belongs to senior government officials and their cronies. “Naturally, they could not have invested those billions in Armenia,” it says. “Not because of intra-governmental squabbles … but because there was no room in Armenia for investing that much money. They left no such room. Everything was monopolized and divided.”