(Saturday, April 26)
“Zhamanak” accuses Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian of breaking his pledge to suspend the ongoing reform of the national pension system declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. The paper points out that government-drafted amendments on an Armenian law on pensions submitted to parliament would not abolish provisions requiring employers to withhold significant portions of their workers’ wages.
“168 Zham” comments on the gradual appointment by President Serzh Sarkisian of members of Abrahamian’s cabinet. Several of them had served as ministers under former President Robert Kocharian. This fact leads the paper to suggest that Sarkisian consulted with his predecessor before naming them. “Looking at the ministers reappointed or newly appointed, it can be concluded that the new government has been formed by Robert Kocharian until now, with Serzh Sarkisian merely signing decrees on the appointment of individuals nominated by him,” it says.
“168 Zham” insists that many of the ministers have an “organic connection” with Kocharian despite being formally affiliated with Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). “They forget not only whose support base the HHK was until 2008 but also what Robert Kocharian has said of the HHK,” the paper says. “He has said that the name of every candidate on the HHK’s list of candidates in the 2007 parliamentary elections was agreed with him beforehand and that senior government officials joined the HHK at the time at his urging. It has been more than a year since that statement, but none of the Republicans has refuted Kocharian’s claims.”
“Zhoghovurd” reacts to a brief strike that was called by railway workers in Gyumri on Friday. “The workers’ demands are both natural and ethical: proper compensation for their work,” comments the paper. “Their average monthly wage made up 150,000 drams ($360) in the past. But now the highest wage stands at 125,000 drams.” The workers threatened to go on a much longer strike if the Russian management of the railway does not raise their wages. The paper says that growing protests by this and other workers demonstrate that socioeconomic revolts in Armenia are becoming “irreversible.”