“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the Armenian section of a railway that linked Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave is currently being dismantled. The paper quotes the chief of the railway station in Meghri, Zhora Hayrapetian, as saying that law-enforcement bodies have been informed about it but told him that the work is carried out by a local government-run construction firm. Its director, Azat Gasparian, tells the paper that the dismantling began after a “verbal order” from Deputy Defense Minister Artur Aghabekian and that the detached rails are being handed over to a local mining company.
“Aravot” is skeptical about the expected parliament decision to rule out the five parliament hostage-takers’ eventual release from prison. The paper fears that their trial will finish before passage of relevant amendments to the Armenian criminal code.
“Hayots Ashkhar” reports that Armenia’s Central Election Commission has lent 1,000 transparent ballot boxes used in this year’s Armenian elections to the electoral authorities in Georgia which will hold legislative polls this Sunday. The boxes were donated to Armenia by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
“Azg” says the ballot boxes will make a “hefty contribution” to Georgia’s democratization.
But “Aravot” says that will not necessarily be the case. “Given the South Caucasian experience, it is possible that they will reach Tbilisi with ballots marked in favor of [Georgian President Eduard] Shevardnadze,” the paper comments jokingly.
“Hayots Ashkhar” predicts that Georgia’s sizable Armenian community will have a “very modest” representation in the next Georgian parliament and urges it draw lessons from that setback. The paper says the local Armenians “should learn to work with all parties and individual candidates in order to clinch the maximum [concessions] from them.” What they need is a higher level of organization, it adds.
According to “Ayb-Fe,” mounting tensions in Yerevan’s Ajanpyak district demonstrate that even the most insignificant election in Armenia can not be free and fair. Armenian elections will increasingly resemble “a real war or battle.” “Especially in cases where the two candidates facing each other come from the government or pro-government camps,” the paper says, adding that voters will not decide anything in the process.
“Armenia is a very closed country,” a prominent Armenian-born businessman based in Russia, Ruben Vartanian, tells “Aravot.” “I have the impression that Armenian businesspeople’s business goal is to enter the National Assembly, the state apparatus, rather than, say, sell their shares in the New York Stock Exchange.” Vartanian believes that it is a result of a “mono-ethnic society and small internal market.” “We are an Asian country where the state is too involved in the economy,” he says.