“Azg” reports that Midland Resources Holding has formally informed the Armenian government that it has handed over the management of the Electricity Networks of Armenia (ENA) to a Russian-owned company. The British-registered firm said the Russians shouldered responsibility for capital investments in the network in return for a right to use its profits.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” discusses implications of a strongly-worded statement issued by the U.S. Agency for International Development on Tuesday in connection with the ENA affair. “The volume of American assistance provided to Armenia could be reduced, projects could be frozen or scrapped altogether,” claims the paper. “The only thing Armenia’s government can do to avoid sanctions is to annul the deal on the grounds that it took place in breach of the existing laws and regulations.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also reports on the unexpected resignation of Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Hayk Chshmaritian. The paper attributes the move to reports linking Chshmaritian to a newly built luxury hotel in Yerevan. The paper says the resignation will not change the fact that many government officials in Armenia own businesses.
“In this case, Hayk Chshmaritian’s function is apparently to deflect attention from more influential figures and close the matter,” continued “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “It’s hard to believe that the real owners of [the hotel] Golden Palace are not the brother of Chshmaritian’s wife, State Customs Committee chief Armen Avetisian, and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian.”
For “Hayots Ashkhar,” more important is the fact that the official is a close relative of Minister of Trade and Economic Development Karen Chshmaritian. “It is not known if the executive authorities lost a valuable cadre or the business field acquired a valuable participant with this resignation,” says the paper. “Neither theory is probably correct.”
“In the last ten years our authorities’ commitment to European values has become like a recurrent disease,” editorializes “Aravot.” “At first, the authorities falsify elections, stuff ballot boxes, ‘paint’ election results, beat, smash and arrest [opposition activists] with the help of criminal elements and security structures and then offer the opposition to engage in a dialogue like the civilized Europeans do. They even take offence if the opposition has legitimate suspicions about the sincerity of those offers.” The paper is also critical of the opposition: “Among those who don’t believe [in the regime’s sincerity] is the Hanrapetutyun party many of whose members falsified the elections of 1995, 1996, 1998 and 1999. Was doing that permissible at that time but not in 2003?”