“Hayots Ashkhar” says if the Armenian authorities fight organized crime the way they have done so far they will not achieve any results. The paper says mafia bosses around the world are getting “severe blows” from governments which, as a rule, are more lenient toward lower echelons of criminal networks. “What we have is just the opposite. Nobody hits the top [of the underworld hierarchy]. Haphazard blows are only directed at the lower echelons.”
“Aravot” comes up with an even more pessimistic scenario, saying that Armenia risks becoming a center of ex-Soviet organized crime. “How is it, for example, that the chief of the Gyumri bus station has (at least officially) more armed bodyguards than the president of the republic?” the paper asks. “Didn’t the Gyumri police notice those bandits? And, in general, how do people who terrorize their fellow citizens with racketeering and robbery dare to speak of patriotism, the national liberation struggle and the Bible?”
“Ayb-Fe” makes a scathing criticism of the Armenian opposition, describing it as a “disorganized and talentless” force that should blame only itself for its troubles. The opposition, the paper says, has “disappointed the public.” “Ayb-Fe,” which is highly critical of the authorities, says Armenians should therefore have no expectations from the opposition.
Citing official statistics, “Haykakan Zhamanak” writes that bread and potatoes make up more than 70 percent of the daily food ration of some 1.5 million Armenians. The same figures show that 73 percent of the country’s population consumes less than the internationally accepted minimum of 2,100 kilocalories of food a day. Residents of Yerevan are “the most underfed.” More than 80 percent of them are malnourished.
In another comment, “Haykakan Zhamanak” dismisses concerns that the reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border could hit hard Armenian manufacturers. The paper argues that many Armenians already buy Turkish goods and pay for them twice as much as they would have paid if the border had been open. It says the “traditional Armenian thinking” does not care about this fact as well as about a segment of the population that can not afford any consumer goods. The same concerns were voiced in the 1990s when the Armenian market was flooded with cheap Iranian goods. “Where are those goods now?” the paper says, adding that Armenian businesses have since driven them out with better quality, not trade barriers.