“Haykakan Zhamanak” finds Transport and Communications Minister Andranik Manukian’s Wednesday remarks about ArmenTel “sensational.” The paper says that so deep is his dislike of ArmenTel that it resembles an Islamic “jihad against the infidel.” Manukian told reporters that he will do “everything possible against ArmenTel.” “Be aware that if it was possible to oust ArmenTel from Armenia I would oust it,” he said bluntly. But his most serious accusation was that the telecom monopoly’s parent company, OTE, is engaged in “money laundering” in Armenia.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says Dashnaktsutyun is at the forefront of the fight against corruption and this is why the “pro-HHSh media” is keen to “blacken” its image. The former authorities that allegedly fund those media themselves “embody corruption,” the pro-Dashnak and pro-government paper charges.
Meanwhile, “Haykakan Zhamanak,” one of the papers regarded by “Hayots Ashkhar” as “pro-HHSh,” publishes allegations that Dashnak leader Vahan Hovannisian withdrew $50,000 from Credit Yerevan shortly before its collapse. The claim is made by one of the bank’s angry clients demanding their money back.
“Hayots Ashkhar” also discusses the crisis in the Armenian civil aviation, saying that it is the result of corruption and mismanagement in the government body regulating the sector. Instead of spending its scarce funds on the maintenance of the country’s sole modern plane, the leadership of the civil aviation authority has been busy repairing their offices and buying resort houses. It is not clear whether the Armenian Airlines will be able to regain its market share after resuming its European flights.
The office of Armenia’s prosecutor-general denies through “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” an “Aravot” report that it opened two criminal cases against the late Vazgen Sarkisian. One of the opposition activists arrested in the wake of the disputed presidential elections of 1996, Vova Hakhverdian, has testified that he was beaten up in custody by Sarkisian, then minister of defense, and the latter’s chief bodyguard. But the prosecutors say these allegations have not been substantiated by “sufficient evidence” during their investigation.
“Aravot,” however, discloses a January 17 written decision by one senior prosecutor to suspend the proceedings against Sarkisian “due to his death.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” says the US is unlikely to leave the region under full Russian influence. Washington has to either “snatch Azerbaijan from the region” and control it along with Central Asian states or try to create a balance of forces in the South Caucasus based on “Russian and Turkish counterweights.” As for the Russians, no matter how much they improve their relations with Azerbaijan and Georgia they would be unable to play a major role in regional affairs without relying on Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, the paper argues. So the close is the alliance between Moscow and Yerevan will not be at risk in the foreseeable future.
But as “Aravot” argues, “it would be wrong not to take note of the obvious success in the Russian-Azeri relations.” It does have important implications for Armenia. Russia now regards both Armenia and Azerbaijan as its “strategic partners,” leaving the three countries in a “classical love triangle” where Baku is better placed to curry favors from Moscow. “He who loves you less is the one who ignites your passion,” “Aravot” explains.