“These are not tanks, these are investments,” “Haykakan Zhamanak” quotes Russian electricity boss Anatoly Chubais as saying in response to a question on whether Russia’s tightening grip on the energy sector of Armenia means a loss of the latter’s economic independence. Chubais was speaking on Wednesday during a meeting with students of Yerevan State University. “Nonetheless,” the paper comments, “we should note that the link between tanks and investments is direct, the only difference being that states usually roll tanks to protect their investments, while in this case Russia is making investments to preserve its tanks stationed in Armenia.”
“Our energy sector is on the one hand our pride, but on the other our [Achilles] heel,” “Haykakan Zhamanak” adds. “It can be said that he who controls energy is the master of Armenia.”
“Azg” reports that Chubais’s trip to Yerevan coincided with a decision by Russia’s Russky Alyumini (Rusal) giant to freeze its investment programs in Armenia. The paper says Chubais claimed on Wednesday that the move results from turmoil in the Russian conglomerate’s management.
In an interview with “Aravot,” opposition leader Artashes Geghamian elaborates on his statement that his National Unity Party will not attack the coalition government and will instead target President Robert Kocharian. “It is obvious that Armenian statehood is jeopardized solely because of Robert Kocharian, who usurped power, and his only power base, Serzh Sarkisian,” Geghamian says. He claims that the Sarkisian-Kocharian duo’s days in power will be numbered once the two men sign up to a peace plan on Karabakh to be unveiled soon by the Minsk Group mediators.
The former head of the Armenian delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Hovannes Hovannisian, tells “Haykakan Zhamanak” that his Azerbaijani opposite number, Ilham Aliev, behaved “liked a crown prince, like a future president” in Strasbourg from 2000-2003. “It was evident to all of as that we are dealing with the future president of Azerbaijan,” Hovannisian says. He says Ilham did not leave the impression of a playboy, showing “restraint” and acting like a “serious and flexible politician.”
“Aravot” reports that the Armenian parliament’s former vice-speaker, Gagik Aslanian, has confirmed that his small People’s Democratic Party is considering merging with the governing Orinats Yerkir Party. The paper says Aslanian may become a deputy minister as a result of the merger.
“Azg” reports that Deputy Minister of Culture Karen Aristakesian became this week a member of Orinats Yerkir to “shore up his positions.” (His boss, Minister of Culture Tamara Poghosian, is a senior member of that party.) The paper says Aristakesian tried, unsuccessfully, to join Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s Republican Party a few years ago.