“The president of the republic talked to Gyumri residents, heard about social problems preoccupying them and answered questions,” reports “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun.” “He returned to the capital with a number of letters [from them]. The citizens were pointing out that they are having difficulties related to housing construction.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that a group of angry women were prevented by police from approaching the president.
“The problem of the disaster zone has been heavily exploited by the country’s leadership during all these years,” says “168 Zham.” The paper says the authorities “remembered” its residents only in the run-up to the presidential elections of 1998 and 2003. “Robert Kocharian first promised to rebuild the disaster zone by 2001, then by 2002, then by 2003. But he has still not fulfilled his promise as there are thousands of homeless people in Gyumri.”
But “Hayots Ashkhar” says Kocharian’s personal role in the reconstruction of Gyumri is “undeniable,” equating it to U.S.-Armenian billionaire Kirk Kerkorian’s substantial financial contribution to the effort.
“Hayots Ashkhar” also says any talk of a falsification of Armenia’s constitutional referendum should now be considered a mere “gossip” after the opposition’s withdrawal from its conduct and failure to contest its results at the Constitutional Court. “The fight is over,” declares the paper.
But according to “Aravot,” one of the opposition leaders, Aram Karapetian, finds such claims “premature.” “The real fight is beginning now,” he says.
“We are convinced that the referendum was rigged and the constitutional changes were not adopted,” another oppositionist, Hrant Khachatrian, tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” Khachatrian says appealing the referendum results at the Constitutional Court would have been meaningless, considering the opposition experience of the previous years.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says Russia’s decision to raise the price of natural gas delivered to Armenia will have a real impact on the lives of ordinary Armenians. “The consequences of raising the gas prices can also be political and the expected price hike is being discussed from the standpoint of political causes and consequences,” he says.
“That the price will go up is not denied by anyone,” writes “168 Zham.” “The question is by how much they will go up and to what extent they will affect our economy. It is hard to predict what specifically the government will undertake, but one thing clear. If it doesn’t do anything, a rise in [overall consumer] prices will be inevitable and inflation will exceed the 3-4 percent indicator envisaged by the [government] budget. This would effectively mean a decrease in net revenues of the population, which would further increase public discontent with the current authorities. In other words, Russia is wily nilly playing into the opposition’s hands.”