“Hayots Ashkhar” finds President Robert Kocharian’s statements made during his meetings with customs and tax officials encouraging. The paper says many members of Armenia’s state bureaucracy are highly corrupt and engage in illicit business activities. “They simply have no time to manage the country. Now the president’s resolve could drastically change the situation in the country to the better.” Armenians are not impressed with rosy macroeconomic statistics regularly produced by their government because of the extremely uneven distribution of national wealth.
Interviewed by “Aravot,” opposition economist Eduard Aghajanov dismisses government pledges to crack down on tax evasion this year. He says businessmen close to the ruling regime will continue to get away with tax fraud. Still, Aghajanov believes that Kocharian deserves credit for apparently realizing the dangers of the existing situation. Those dangers are not only economic but also political, he says.
According to “168 Zham,” television images of a grim Kocharian lambasting government officials are likely to please many ordinary Armenians. The paper says far more important is Kocharian’s admission that the tax inspectors do not apply the law to their cronies and relatives. “President Kocharian is well aware of that. He had better order the law-enforcement bodies to identify those who evade taxes and bureaucrats making that possible. Unfortunately, the president implied that one can hide their revenues or make disproportionate profits but only, as he put it [last month], ‘within the boundaries of common sense’. It is clear who decides those boundaries.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Tigran Karapetian, the controversial owner of the private ALM television, has blamed his domestic political foes for the fact that his name was mentioned in this month’s U.S. State Department deport on anti-Semitism around the world. But Karapetian says he is untroubled by the U.S. accusations of anti-Semitism. “I have never relied on the West for making a living. I don’t even drink their drinks and prefer our Armenian booze,” he boasts.
Meanwhile, one of Karapetian’s detractors, parliament deputy Hmayak Hovannisian, tells “Haykakan Zhamanak” that ALM’s existence endangers “the national security of our country.” He effectively urges Kocharian and the ruling coalition to pull the plug on the channel.