In an interview with “Haykakan Zhamanak,” Konstantin Zatulin, a member of Russia’s parliament, urges Armenia to make a choice between having good relations with Russia and Georgia. “In my view, the fateful moment of making that choice has come,” he says. “I am not imposing anything on Armenia. But if you don’t do that, you have no moral right to blame Russia for not taking into account Armenia’s interests in our conflict with Georgia.”
“On the whole, our ruling elite, with all of its instruments, is united,” writes “Aravot.” “There might arise some creative disputes between, say, [oligarchs’ bodyguards with] shaven heads on how to beat opposition politicians and journalists.”
Opposition leader Stepan Demirchian disagrees with the “Aravot” assertion that the Armenian opposition has been quite “passive” of late, unlike parties supporting the ruling regime. “If by being active you mean village-to-village distribution of potatoes and fertilizers, then that is not our style,” Demirchian tells the paper, attacking Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia. “The opposition must not allow itself to do such things.”
“Hayk” also reports on the ongoing provision of Tsarukian’s politically motivated “humanitarian assistance.” “This patriotic undertaking is covered by newspapers with diligence and delight, and the next day the potatoes distribution process is glorified by domestic TV channels citing the print media,” says the paper. It notes mockingly that the governing Republican Party (HHK) too should hand out “carrots” to the population.
According to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” this is what the HHK and its leader Prime Minister Andranik Markarian are going to do. The paper says that in response to reports that Prosperous Armenia is to start offering poor people medical assistance free of charge, the government will soon be sending groups of doctors to various regions of the country for the same purpose.
“Hayots Ashkhar” reports that the Armenian Central Bank anticipates an impending rise in the prices of bread and other, mostly imported wheat products in Armenia despite the dram’s continuing appreciation. The paper says the bank will blame it on “external factors” such as the latest worse-than-expected wheat harvest in Russia and Ukraine which officials say will push up its international price. “The growth in the white price will continue into the first quarters of 2007, which will inevitably contribute to an overall rise in consumer prices,” it says.