“Haykakan Zhamanak” speculates that the killing of senior tax official Shahen Hovasapian “should be regarded as a consequence of a split in Armenia’s ruling Karabakh clan.” “Hovasapian was one of the key representatives of the Karabakh clan and got high positions in Armenia solely thanks to the clan,” editorializes the paper. “The State Taxation Service and its division headed by Hovasapian will play a key role in the intra-clan struggle.” It says most members of the “clan” evade taxes and are therefore dependent on those who control the tax agency. Hovasapian was very close to President Robert Kocharian who seems increasingly at odds with another Karabakh-born man, Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian.
“The criminal world has gone on offensive,” reads a front-page headline in “Azg.” “In all likelihood, this contract killing will not be solved either,” writes the paper. It says failure by the Armenian law-enforcement agencies to deal with such crimes testifies to their incompetence. “Normal countries would at least change their police chiefs after so many murders committed one after the other.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” suggests that Hovasapian’s murder may have been the work of “some big taxpayers who used to pay taxes clearly not commensurate with their economic activities.” The paper goes on to suggest another theory whereby Hovasapian identified an instance of large-scale tax evasion and paid for that with his life.
The reported attack on “Iravunk” editor Hovannes Galajian also makes headlines in Thursday’s Armenian newspapers. “Aravot” says in an editorial that the attack was hardly ordered by the country’s top leaders. “But we have all the grounds to blame the authorities for that violence,” adds the paper, pointing to their failure to take tough action against the perpetrators of other attacks on journalists.
“168 Zham” reports that the leadership of the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) is already discussing “some details” of the upcoming parliamentary elections. “The [HHK] council has even discussed the issue of who will manage the HHK election campaign,” say the paper. Among the top candidates for the job is Minister for Local Government Hovik Abrahamian.
“168 Zham” also reports that President Robert Kocharian has held a confidential meeting with leaders of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) party during which agreement was reached on amendments to Armenia’s electoral legislation that are being discussed in parliament. The paper says the Dashnaks agreed in particular to drop their calls for a further increase in the number of parliament seats contested on the party list basis so long as Kocharian makes sure that Dashnaktsutyun candidates get elected in several single-mandate constituencies.