Robert Nazarian, chairman of Armenia’s Public Service Regulatory Commission, assures “Hayots Ashkhar” that the body will be “consistent and determined” in ascertaining all circumstances of the opaque sale of Armenia’s power distribution company to Russia’s Unified Energy Systems (UES). The commission demanded on Tuesday official explanations from the network’s chief executive, Yevgeny Gladunchik. “If we don’t get a reply to questions raised by us within the next 15 days, we will immediately start the process of stripping them of the [operating] license,” says Nazarian. “And if we do get a response in 15 days we will hold public hearings.”
“I don’t know if the network was sold or had a change of management,” former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratian tells “168 Zham.” “What matters to me, however, is the quality of the new management which they will bring.” Bagratian makes the point that Russian-Armenian dealings in the energy sector are politically motivated and “we can’t judge them in economic terms.” He also finds UES’s aggressive expansion across the former Soviet Union “natural.”
Asked if the Armenian authorities can resist pressure from resurgent Russia, Bagratian says, “The Armenian authorities do not even intend to resist it. That is a political issue in the first instance and it probably corresponds to the interests and desires of Armenia’s present policy makers.”
“Who is their Hercules who will crack my head and sit in my chair?” This remark by Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian draws a scornful response from opposition politician Vazgen Manukian. “He is wrong to think that it takes a Hercules to crack their heads,” Manukian tells “Aravot.”
“Aravot” says that the criminal investigation into an alleged foiled conspiracy to assassinate Armenia’s leadership, allegedly hatched by former Transport and Communications Minister Eduard Madatian, is descending into a “farce.” Not least because Madatian is now on the run and can not answer the allegations. “The man who was allegedly supposed to carry out the crime, Misha Khudaverdian nicknamed Ktsan Misha, is not in the dock either,” writes the paper. “Facing charges in court is a third individual, Gagik Grigorian, who was not a participant of the coup attempt.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” continues to criticize the Environment Ministry’s plans to “artificially slow” the rise of Lake Sevan’s water level in order to prevent the flooding of nearby forests. “The forests there are artificial,” Karine Danielian, a prominent ecologist and former environment minister, tells the paper. “The trees were planted temporarily and their destruction poses no danger. Armenia’s most important forests are being destroyed and necessary measures are not being taken. And all of sudden there is a drive to save a forest. How can we believe in the sincerity of those concerns?”
“168 Zham” reports that while the issue was discussed at the Armenian National Academy of Sciences several days ago, Environment Minister Vartan Ayvazian was dancing with Culture Minister Hovik Hoveyan and Armenian-American businessman Vahakn Hovnanian at the latter’s golf club near Yerevan. The paper carries a picture of the dance on its front page.