(Saturday, January 18)
Writing ahead of Saturday’s rally against the controversial pension reform, “Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” says the protest should clarify whether Armenians trust any political force or are able to organize without decisive partisan involvement. “We are not talking about attendance at the rally,” explains the paper. “It’s a very volatile indicator. We are talking about the overall public mood.”
“Zhamanak” also wonders if the rally will mark a “breakthrough” in the country’s political life. “There is stagnation in the political arena,” writes the paper. “Political forces are engaged in deals with the authorities or are simply manipulated by Russia … In this quagmire a civil breakthrough is vital.”
“168 Zham” says the campaign against the pension reform reflects dominant popular attitudes towards the government. “If today’s rally is attended by many people that could have a contagious effect and mark the beginning of a street struggle,” writes the paper. It says the authorities are therefore worried about high turnout.
“Hayots Ashkhar” emphasizes the fact that the four opposition parties represented in the Armenian parliament have stopped short of declaring themselves organizers of the rally despite voicing support for it. This is construed by the pro-presidential paper as a clear sign of lingering divisions within the opposition.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” continues to make the point that membership of the Russian-led customs union will not give a boost to Armenian exports to Russia. The paper cites the example of cement which is produced in Armenia and will now be exempt from Russian import duties. “The price of gas makes up half of the cost of cement produced in Armenia,” it says. “That price is three times higher than in Russia. In other words, the manufacturing cost of Russian cement is lower by at least 30 percent.”
“Aravot” contends that the Kremlin now does not care much who holds key government positions in Armenia because of the current government’s plans to join the Customs Union. “All Kremlin objectives in Armenia have been achieved, and our political forces’ desire to look nicer and more loyal in Moscow’s eyes will hardly produce any tangible results,” editorializes the paper. “They say that Robert Kocharian has become more active on Moscow’s orders. We do not believe that either. The scale of issues under discussion is not geopolitical. It is simply bickering over who has governed the country better.”